Detailed Outline of the 12 Core Criteria

For each core criteria, the group will learn about and discuss the challenges inherent to the subject and various solutions for overcoming those challenges.

1.       Ecommerce and B2B (punch-out)
Ecommerce is one of the most under-estimated challenges in enterprise contracting. It is not a simple as putting up an electronic store-front through amazon or other online retail system. It requires implementing an online system that integrates deeply into the customer’s financial system and is compliant with their procurement processes and rules:

  •  Access rules and purchasing restrictions based on individual user rights
  • Pricing and delivery time compliance issues
  •  Variable purchase request approval process depending on what is being purchased and who the requestor is
  • Multiple payment forms, including purchase orders and credit cards
  • Electronic data interchange of numerous purchasing documents including purchase orders, changes, cancellations as well as order status

Further complicating the issue is the fact that many enterprise agreements, especially those with the federal government, will require implementing separate store fronts, catalogs, rules, processes, and B2B system integrations for each site that uses the agreement (e.g. NNSA’s SCMC agreements require its suppliers to integrate into as many as 25 different systems, one for each DOE NNSA and EM site that will use the contract).


2.       Catalog and Pricing Management
It is critical that your catalog be complete, accurate, and compliant. Challenges include:

  • Managing a catalog for a single customer with potentially hundreds of thousands of items and ensuring that every item in the catalog is allowed on the contract, is correctly described and priced, and has accurate availability and delivery information
  • Addressing price changes to the catalog – for example, how do you handle a price change for an item that is in the process of being orders?
  • Adding and removing items from the catalog. Understanding the impact to open orders in process for a cancelled
  • Adhering to the customer’s catalog and price change approval process and managing separate approval processes for multiple sites using the same contract

3.       Order Management
How do you efficiently handle large order volumes, potentially in the thousands of orders a month or more? In this session, we will look at:

  • Order entry and updating
  • Status tracking and updating
  • High volume and complex orders
  • Varying processing requirements depending on product and customer
  • Proactive issue detection and escalation
  • Quality and error control

4.       Shipping, Receiving, and Handling
In many cases, you will not be able to simply have product drop-shipped from your distributor/supplier directly to your customer. Each contract generally imposes specific material handling, value-added services, labelling, and custom delivery requirements. In this session, we will look at how you can do this efficiently, accurately, and timely on a regional and national basis.

5.       Customer Service and Support (pre and post sales)
Customers have high expectations for rapid, thorough, accurate, timely, and friendly responses to their requests. In this session we look at the challenges and various solutions for taking, tracking, managing, and escalating hundreds of concurrent requests. We’ll pay close attention to issues such as:

  • Supporting multiple customer communication methods across multiple time zones
  • Request tracking systems
  • The importance of monitoring and escalating open requests
  • Key policies and procedures

6.       Communications and Reporting
Keeping the customer informed, both the individuals and management, is critical to maintaining their trust and growing your business. In this session we’ll look at:

  • Rules for communicating and reporting – frequency, detail, and to whom
  • Turning bad news into a positive outcome and happy customer
  • Methods and systems for documenting and reporting on customer interactions

7.       Contract Compliance and Auditing
Enterprise agreements are immensely complicated, with numerous terms, conditions, rules, etc. Often, these are documented across dozens of separate documents. You are responsible for ensuring that all terms are met, even when the customer doesn’t understand them or doesn’t enforce them. Failure to do so could not only cost you the contract, but destroy your business and personal life. In this session we’ll look at:

  • How to identify and track all of the terms that apply to your contract
  • Resolving conflicting terms
  • Tracking and reporting on compliance
  • Managing the audit process
  • Controlling the risk and reducing liability

8.       Quality and Security
When evaluating potential suppliers, enterprises will take a hard look at your business’ quality and security (both physical and information) processes and systems. In this session, we’ll look at the various requirements and challenges you’ll face for both as well as approaches to addressing them. Further, Certifications will mean a lot to them. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of certification programs such as ISO 9001:2015 as well as options for cost-effectively achieving and maintaining these certifications.

9.       Marketing and Sales
In most cases, getting a contract doesn’t mean you’ll immediately get all the business for the items on your contract. Contracts are generally non-exclusive and are frequently awarded to multiple suppliers. So, once you have the contract, you still have to actively market and sell your solutions to the customers. We will look at how you can do that effectively across multiple customer sites and within the constraints most contracts will impose on your business (e.g. restrictions on directly selling to end-users via email or phone calls).

10.   Accounting and Finance
In this session, we’ll discuss:

  • The factors evaluated on your financials in determining if you will be awarded a contract
  • Addressing the upfront costs to implement a new contract before any sales or cash-flow happen
  • Invoicing and payment requirements and challenges with enterprise agreements

11.   Partnerships and Supply Chain
Enterprise clients will be especially concerned about your ability to successfully and consistently deliver on the contract requirements throughout the entire life of the contract. Past experience is important. Redundancy is important. Partnering with other businesses and your suppliers can make a big difference:

  • Demonstrates to the client that you understand your strengths and weaknesses and are willing to bring in help where needed
  • Provides redundancy in case one business fails, allowing the contract to continue to operate
  • Potentially provide for greater regional coverage
  • Reduces your dependency on single suppliers, thus reducing the risk of an issue with a single supplier from interrupting your ability to deliver
  • Brings diversity

However, there are numerous challenges with partnering. In this session, we’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of partnering and methods for maximizing the success of partnerships.

12.   Leadership
Ultimately, it takes strong leadership to put everything together and keep your business moving in a positive direction. In this session, we’ll discuss various leadership topics, including:

  • The difference between management and leadership and the role of both in your business
  • Effective visioning and planning
  • Team building