October 2019 Product Update

October 2019 Product Update

We’ve finally shaken off the Halloween sugar shock and are able to share our October 2019 product update with you. This month, we spent a lot of time enhancing and refreshing existing components of the Vendorful application. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we continued working on some new modules that will be released in the coming months. A cliffhanger? Perhaps. But we won’t keep you in suspense for very long. And feel free to drop us a note if you want us to share the news when they’re released.

More Improvements to the Advanced Pricing Table

Pricing tables are a broadly-used part of Strategic Sourcing events. While the advanced pricing table usually leverages Excel or other offline spreadsheet, we want to give users who would prefer to work in the browser an opportunity to do so. This entailed a few enhancements.

First, we eliminated the spreadsheet import requirement. You can now create an advanced pricing table right inside the Vendorful app.

Create an Advanced Pricing Table in the browserCreate an Advanced Pricing Table in the browser

Second, we added the ability for vendors to do the same.

Online pricing table completion by vendors

And finally, we added a quick high-low price identification feature.

Indentify high and low prices in the pricing table

New Form Builder

Our new form builder further simplifies the process of creating forms like the surveys that underpin Supplier Scorecards. Users can select what data they want to capture as well as the layout of the form. We’ve added support for column-based layouts made it even easier to get elements to line up. And don’t worry, it’s still got that same drag-and-drop magic.

New Form Builder

React.js Upgrade

Our application’s user interface is built on a web framework called React.js. It is open source and has extremely wide adoption. For the most part, it saves us lots of time, but in software development — as in life — there are tradeoffs. We alluded to this in our September update; the aforementioned form builder required the latest version of React to work. This meant updating every single page of our web application!

This was a bit of a slog. However, having completed this process, we’re already reaping the benefits!

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September 2019 Product Updates

September 2019 Product Update

We’re pleased to report that many members of the Vendorful team traveled in August. Some of that was pure vacation time and some of it was simply working in a more exotic locale. Despite our not operating at full strength for the better part of the month, we’re excited to announce a bunch of features and enhancements.

More Granular Permissions for RFX

When we consider Vendorful as a product — not a company — we are constantly balancing simplicity and power. Usually, there’s a trade-off. However, when it came to this feature, we were excited that we could provide more value to power users while simplifying things for more conventional users. We revisited how we provide permissions for stakeholders during strategic sourcing events and the result is something that is more intuitive and granular. Rather than lumping permissions together, we simply provide a list that correspond to specific steps (or pages) in specific stages of the process, i.e., drafting, submitting/evaluating, awarding/declining.

Granulare Permissions for Strategic Sourcing

Lest you think that’s all of the changes we made to the Strategic Sourcing module, however, we’re delighted to bring you more.

New Question Type: Table

Usually, text-based or multiple choice-based questions are enough to collect the information you want. But sometimes when you want to collect it in the format you want, a table makes all the difference. Vendorful has supported pricing tables for years, but now buyers can create tables for any type of question and configure the columns and rows however they see fit.

Tables for Questions

Expand/Collapse Questions in Builder

Buyers love to use Vendorful’s questionnaire builder for their strategic sourcing events. And who can blame them? There are loads of import options, the ability to create and edit sections and questions right in the app, and collaboration options up the wazoo. In fact, if two people are working on the same questionnaire at the same time, their screens will automatically update in real time as their colleague makes changes. We have one customer that generates very large RFPs though. Not only were we sympathetic, we gave them a way out. The questionnaire can now be expanded or collapsed with the click of a button.

Expand and Collapse the Questionnaire

Instructions Section

When building an RFX using the Strategic Sourcing module, buyers would use the Summary section or add an attachment to include instructions. But instructions always felt like it should have its own home in the UI. Now it does.

RFX Instructions for Vendors

Attachments on Vendor Notes

If you’re working in a VMO (Vendor Management Office) and think that we’ve forgotten you, think again! Users of the Vendor Management module can now add attachments alongside their notes.

Attachments on Vendor Management Notes

Vendorful + Kubernetes

Vendorful now runs on Kubernetes. What does this mean for our users? Better performance, reliability, and resiliency for our SaaS application.

Want to check out these new features? Sign up for a free Vendorful trial.

Interested in being the first to know about new Vendorful features or just want to keep up on procurement news? Subscribe to the blog!

August 2019 Product Updates

August 2019 Product Update

We’re pleased to report that many members of the Vendorful team traveled in August. Some of that was pure vacation time and some of it was simply working in a more exotic locale. Despite our not operating at full strength for the better part of the month, we’re excited to announce a bunch of features and enhancements.

More Granular Permissions for RFX

When we consider Vendorful as a product — not a company — we are constantly balancing simplicity and power. Usually, there’s a trade-off. However, when it came to this feature, we were excited that we could provide more value to power users while simplifying things for more conventional users. We revisited how we provide permissions for stakeholders during strategic sourcing events and the result is something that is more intuitive and granular. Rather than lumping permissions together, we simply provide a list that correspond to specific steps (or pages) in specific stages of the process, i.e., drafting, submitting/evaluating, awarding/declining.

Granulare Permissions for Strategic Sourcing

Lest you think that’s all of the changes we made to the Strategic Sourcing module, however, we’re delighted to bring you more.

New Question Type: Table

Usually, text-based or multiple choice-based questions are enough to collect the information you want. But sometimes when you want to collect it in the format you want, a table makes all the difference. Vendorful has supported pricing tables for years, but now buyers can create tables for any type of question and configure the columns and rows however they see fit.

Tables for Questions

Expand/Collapse Questions in Builder

Buyers love to use Vendorful’s questionnaire builder for their strategic sourcing events. And who can blame them? There are loads of import options, the ability to create and edit sections and questions right in the app, and collaboration options up the wazoo. In fact, if two people are working on the same questionnaire at the same time, their screens will automatically update in real time as their colleague makes changes. We have one customer that generates very large RFPs though. Not only were we sympathetic, we gave them a way out. The questionnaire can now be expanded or collapsed with the click of a button.

Expand and Collapse the Questionnaire

Instructions Section

When building an RFX using the Strategic Sourcing module, buyers would use the Summary section or add an attachment to include instructions. But instructions always felt like it should have its own home in the UI. Now it does.

RFX Instructions for Vendors

Attachments on Vendor Notes

If you’re working in a VMO (Vendor Management Office) and think that we’ve forgotten you, think again! Users of the Vendor Management module can now add attachments alongside their notes.

Attachments on Vendor Management Notes

Vendorful + Kubernetes

Vendorful now runs on Kubernetes. What does this mean for our users? Better performance, reliability, and resiliency for our SaaS application.

Want to check out these new features? Sign up for a free Vendorful trial.

Interested in being the first to know about new Vendorful features or just want to keep up on procurement news? Subscribe to the blog!

July 2019 Product Updates

July 2019 Product Update

July is the height of summer in the United States. And since we provide out team tons of flexibility regarding their hours and location, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that some of these features were developed poolside. Put on your sunblock and shades as we walk through some of July’s more interesting enhancements.

An Overhauled RFX Response Experience

When buyers run strategic sourcing events, they want to maximize vendor participation. If vendors are disengaged, the competitive dynamics are limited, which results in less value. Some of the feedback we’ve received from buyers who use our system is that they see better engagement from vendors when RFX are issued through Vendorful rather than through email and attachments.

Despite offering the vendors a good experience, we’ve felt that there’s been something missing. We want them to have a great experience. Simple. Intuitive. Collaborative. So we went back to the drawing board and are delighted to announce the release of the new response experience. Some of the key improvements:

  • Fewer clicks. Vendors can simply click into a text box and start typing.
  • Easier attachments.
  • Question states, i.e., questions can be answered, in a drafting state, or unanswered.
  • Enhanced task assignment.
  • Better filtering.
  • Point-and-click navigation to specific sections and subsections.
  • A persistent progress bar that shows the vendors how close they are to the finish line.
  • Better performance.

Responding to an RFX

Now let’s look specifically at questions. Note the states, the ability to assign tasks, upload files, and more.

Questions for RFX Response

Organization-Wide Request Settings

Are you tired of entering the same Terms and Conditions for every RFP? Are there certain questions that you want considered for every strategic sourcing event you run? Vendorful now allows you to capture those preferences and apply them to all of your RFX. You can even set up different configurations for RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, and IFBs. This ties seamlessly into the Strategic Sourcing module. Our buyers who are using this are not just saving time, but also ensuring that their sourcing events conform to organizational policy.

Request Settings

More Org-Level Settings

In addition to providing granular control over your strategic sourcing events, Vendorful also rolled out some additional configuration options. The first is “Business Unit.” You can create and name business units that correspond with those in your organization, e.g. sales, legal, HR, etc. Once they’ve been created, you can capture which business unit is connected to the strategic sourcing event. Now, you’ll be able to slice and dice your data in an additional way.

We also added a “Message Settings” for organizations that have strict policies around the use of chat or regulations in place that govern how they communicate with suppliers during a strategic sourcing event.​​

Configure your messaging settings

The Need for (Even More) Speed

We added additional features around list filtering and more. July also saw more changes to support better performance of the application. A key change is how we handle embedded images. If you’d like to get into the weeds on the change, please feel free to contact us!

Want to check out these new features? Sign up for a free Vendorful trial.

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June 2019 Product Updates

June 2019 Product Update

We hope you had a good solstice and enjoyed the longest day of the year…if you are north of the equator. Indeed, summer has arrived and while school may have let out, Vendorful’s open vacation policy means that people can pick and choose when to take time off. And our team was at full strength for most of June. Consequently, it was another very productive month.

More Contracts Improvements

In our last update, we talked about the changes that we were making to the Contracts module. We’ve continued to iterate on it and make additional improvements. Rather than overwhelm you with screenshots, we’ll underwhelm you with bullet points.

  • Custom views of the contracts list page. Each user’s view gets saved as his or her default.
  • Custom fields are now “orderable,” making it easier to find relevant information as well as group logically-connected data elements.
  • Contracts can be filtered by category if you’ve set up a taxonomy in our category management setting.
  • A few small splashes of color and a bit more information have been added to the contracts list page.
  • Contracts now have states: Pending, Active, Expired, and Archived.

Ready for a couple of screenshots? First, we’ll take a look at the updated listing page.

Contract List Page

And now an example of how we indicate what state the contract is in. Here’s one that’s pending signature.

Contract in a pending state

And one that’s expired….

Contract in an expired state

Better Tasks

A key benefit of collaboration is the ability to divide work among two or more people. For this reason, we’ve made tasks more comprehensive and have incorporated them into the Contracts module. Need someone to review a contract before it’s signed? Assign a task. How about a quick one-over before a renewal? Assign a task.

Assign a task to a colleague

Once a task has been assigned — to or by you — it can be watched and updated.

Incomplete Tasks

Uh-oh! Looks like one of your tasks is overdue.

Vendor Attribute Configuration

Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take many steps forward. Such was the case for how vendor/supplier data in organized in the Vendor Management module. We had a user interface for it, removed it, and replaced it with a UI that is both easier and more powerful. We call each piece of data that you want to collect from your vendors an attribute. Those attributes can be organized into groups. And those groups can be organized into templates. This creates incredible flexibility to manager supplier data any way you’d like.

Below, you’ll see that a template is composed of one or more groups.

Edit a Vendor Template

And those groups, themselves, can be created and edited.

Vendor Attrivute Groups

But wait, there’s more….

In addition to fixing some small bugs, we added a Scorecarding portlet that can be displayed on a user’s dashboard. And while it’s appreciably less sexy, a more significant change where loads of performance improvements under the hood. The Vendorful application is faster and more responsive than it has ever been.

Want to check out these new features? Sign up for a free Vendorful trial.

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May 2019 Product Updates

May 2019 Product Update

In the northeastern part of the United States, May brought with it blooming flowers, leaves on trees, and the many sounds of spring. Our developers, on the other hand, brought our customers new features, bug fixes, and enhancements. We had a lot going on last month and not everything will make the cut, but this post might be a tad longer than most product update posts.

Contracts Refresh

As part of our “spring cleaning,” we’ve taken a fresh look at our Contracts module. We’re going to be iteratively improving just about everything in it and May saw the first of those changes. Below, we highlight two of them. The first is built-in filtering so you can see which contracts are set to expire in 30, 60, or 90 days. (We also give you a hint by showing you how many contracts fall into each category.)

Contracts Landing Page

We’re in the midst of overhauling the user interface on the individual contract pages. Our goal? Less clicking around and more relevant data front and center. By reorganizing this page, we’re able to capture more information. Below, you can see an example as we now allow you to record key clauses right on the contract page. Want to know what your termination provision looks like without having to sift through the contract? How about an SLA? You can now surface any key contract terms you want and quickly access them.

Key Terms/Provisions

Advanced Pricing Tables

With some of our customers working in categories where they have pricing tables with over 100 rows and columns, we’ve collected a lot of feedback about their pain points. First of all, moving this evaluation into the browser doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. For this narrow use case, Excel — or some other spreadsheet — is the best tool for the job. However, using a spreadsheet poses some challenges. The two we heard the most were

  1. concerns about the data provided by the vendors.
  2. frustration around manually collating all of the data.

We’re excited to announce a solution to these problems. The Advanced Pricing Table allows buyers to continue to leverage Excel. They can upload their Excel, select data types (e.g. number, date, text) for their columns, mark which columns should be filled out by vendors, and voilà — it just works. Vendorful takes care of the data validation and collation of the data.

Advanced Pricing Table Configuration

Load in your Excel file and this is what you’ll see.

Attack of the Clones

We hope you’ll excuse the gratuitous Star Wars reference. And we assure you that you won’t feel attacked by this new feature. Now, in addition to being able to use templates to shorten your RFX prep time, you can clone an entire Request. And when we say “all of it,” we mean all of it. The only change we make is with the timeline, where all of the milestones (key dates) are preserved, but the dates need to be updated. This makes sense as an RFP you sent last year will have key dates that are in the past. Aside from that, once you click the clone button, you are essentially ready to issue your RFX.

Clone Your RFP

Easier Team Building

At Vendorful, simplifying collaboration is one of our guiding principles when we develop our application. For this reason, we’ve also had a simple process for buyers (and vendors) to invite colleagues into the system. However, as easy as this was, it required a context shift as the user needed to navigate to a different screen. In May, we addressed this by adding an Invitation button in context.

Invite Colleagues from the Team page

Once you click the button to invite your colleague, you’ll see an intuitive pop-up where you enter your colleague’s information:

Invite Colleague Pop-up

Yes, We’ve Got the Time

When setting up a Reverse Auction, specifying the exact time of the auction is critically important. In a long-running process like a strategic sourcing event, e.g., RFP, it’s less critical. However, after hearing from a customer of ours that there was some ambiguity around due dates, we thought it made sense to allow buyers to specify deadlines with dates and times. “But what about time zones?” you’re wondering. We’ve got you covered. Vendorful looks at your system clock and automatically adjusts the time as necessary.

Set Key Dates and Times

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April 2019 Product Updates

April 2019 Product Update

If you look back at last month’s update, you’ll note that March was largely a time for code maintenance. We weren’t ready to share it yet, but lots of new and/or improved functionality was on the horizon. So with April in the rear view mirror, we have one important sentiment to share with you….

I love it when a plan comes together.

Vendor Management Overhaul

We rebuilt our Vendor Management module. If you’ll forgive more old TV references, we did a 6-Million Dollar Man upgrade — “better, stronger, faster.” Several months ago, we realized that it was going to be very challenging to achieve high performance at scale with the data model that we had for vendor management. Simply put, the cost of allowing complete customization of attributes was going to be speed.

After significant internal discussion, we ultimately decided a complete re-write of the module made more sense than a band-aid solution. We’ve been working on this code for months and we’re delighted to release it. The user interface is a bit easier to use, but the major changes are under the surface where there is no longer a speed penalty for customization. The module is incredibly fast and we have, in fact, rolled out additional options for customization.

Vendor Drilldown Page

New Module: Compliance!

The above might be the first time in recorded history that an exclamation point followed the word “compliance.” But we’re excited, so give us a break! 🙂 The compliance module dramatically simplifies the process of issuing IT Security Questionnaires and Due Diligence Questionnaires (DDQs).

Set up a compliance questionnaireCompliance Detailed Scoring

More Support for Attachments

Attachments have been part of Vendorful since the earliest iterations of the product. In listening to customer feedback, however, we’ve found that there were places in the application that could really benefit from attachments. As a result, we’ve added support for attachments in two new places. First, we’ve given our users the ability to not just add general attachments to RFX, but to specific RFX questions:

Add an Attachment to a Question

On the other side, vendors will see that attachment connected to the question:

View Attachment on Question

We also added support for attachments in the Vendorful mail system.

Vendorful Email Attachments

Response Exporting

For a bunch of people who decided to use Vendorful in large part because they were tired of using spreadsheets, Excel remains surprisingly popular. Per the requests of our customers, we’ve added the ability to export RFX responses. And we kicked it up a notch by allowing buyers to specify which sections and subsections they want to export as well.

Export supplier responses

Walkthroughs for Vendors

While we’ve tried making the user experience and interface super easy for everyone, especially vendors, we know that people can use a little extra support sometimes. For that reason, we’ve added walkthroughs so that vendors can quickly watch and learn how to use the product via a guided tour.

RFX Response Guided Tour

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March 2019 Product Updates

March 2019 Product Update

Spring technically began on March 21, 2019, but we began our spring cleaning earlier in the month. In fact, this month we spent more time than usual cleaning up code, re-factoring, and updating third-party libraries. The good news? A more stable, reliable, maintainable Vendorful. The bad news? A less exciting product update.

Enhanced RFP Importing

For those of you have have used Vendorful’s Strategic Sourcing module, you know that we want to simplify re-use of content that you’ve already created. For that reason, we’ve endeavored to make it easy to get RFP questionnaires that you’ve developed offline into Vendorful. In March, we upgraded our importer so that you can construct your entire RFP questionnaire as a spreadsheet and upload it in one shot.

Spreadsheet Questionnaire Tempalte

New Attribute Type: Document

In our Vendor Management module, we’ve long supported a pretty broad array of data types: dropdowns, text boxes (long and short), number, dates, and more. We’ve now added a new attribute type: document. Now you — or your vendors– can upload W-9s, Certificates of Insurance, and more. 

Mailbox Magic

We’ve surfaced a bit more data in the Vendorful mailbox. For example, we know share more information about when a message was sent.

Mailbox with more info

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February 2019 Product Updates

February 2019 Product Update

At Vendorful HQ in New York City, February feels like the coldest month of the year. The data shows that the coldest month is January, but with March (and Spring) in the offing, February feels particularly oppressive. Thank goodness it’s a short month! Despite the fact that calendar showed February had but 28 days, our team was just as productive as they are during more standard-sized months. 🙂

Presenting the IFB (Invitation for Bid)

With more customers that take federal funding using Vendorful and our “Customer-Driven Development” approach to writing software, it’s only natural that we’ve added some features that reflect this kind of usage. Now, in addition to the suite of RFX (RFP, RFI, RFQ) options, we also support IFB, or Invitation For Bid. This works similarly to standard RFX, but has some additional rules governing bid evaluation and disclosures. If you’re a Vendorful user, all you have to do is click “IFB” when creating a Request, and you’ll be prompted to set up an additional Key Date.

Create New Invitation For BidSet Key Dates for IFB

Spend-by-Year View

A few months ago, we added the ability to import spend data. In February, we improved the flexibility of the parser so we have more ways to identify distinct vendors from the data. What’s more fun for our users, however, is that we now offer a quick way to view spending trends by vendor. Simply navigate to the Vendor Management UI, click on the vendor in question, go to the spend tab and look.

Spend by Year

Certifications and Representations

Promises, promises.” More than the subject of a Hall & Oates song, a promise can be a legally binding. So to help buyers ensure that vendors are going to honor whatever representations they make, we’ve added a “Certification” option. The buyer can specify the appropriate text.

Specify the Certification Language

On the other side, once vendors agree, they’ll be prompted to enter some information and sign.

Signing the Certification

Offline Responses for Vendors

We get a surprising amount of unsolicited positive feedback from vendors who use Vendorful to respond to RFPs. They usually tell us how much they love the simplicity of the user interface and the collaboration features. But we realize that not everyone is comfortable working in a browser. So we rolled out export and import capabilities for RFX response. Vendors can now log in, export the RFX to spreadsheet format, complete it in Excel or another spreadsheet application, and then upload the completed response.

Work Offline - Export the Questionnaire

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January 2019 Product Updates

January 2019 Product Update

We turned over a new year and with that, we turned over more code. One of the things that never makes it into these release notes is refactoring, which our development team does constantly. Refactoring is, in effect, cleaning up code that already works. We do this to make our code more efficient and maintainable. It doesn’t grab headlines, but by being diligent about this, we are able to build the headline-grabbing features much more quickly than we would otherwise. Anyway, we know why you’re here, so onto the fun stuff….

Open/Public RFX

If you work at an organization that takes public funding or simply want to increase the number of vendors that can bid on your RFP, then the new “Open RFP” feature might scratch your itch. Heretofore, vendors would need to be explicitly invited to a Request in order to participate in it. Now, if a buyer checks a box, Vendorful will generate a URL that is accessible without requiring a username and password. Vendors that are interested can simply click a button and create a free account to respond.

Select an Open RFX

Once selected, vendors that weren’t invited will see something like this:

Open RFX Landing Page

More SSO

There’s nothing to see here. Really. It doesn’t make sense to include a screenshot. However, it is nice to tell you that in addition to SAML, Vendorful now has OpenID Connect and general OAuth2 federated auth support. For the non-technical among you, this means that Vendorful has more integration options with your Single Sign-On system.

Audit History in the Questionnaire

One of the core beliefs we had before we wrote a single line of code is that the product that we built should be collaborative. As a consequence, Vendorful was built on top of a real-time collaboration engine. This allows us to do a variety of “Wow!” things like offer a real-time, collaborative questionnaire builder. Imagine that you’re running an IT RFP and you’re focused on the Security section while you’re coworker is building out the Support questions. And as each of you makes changes, your colleague’s screen updates in real time to reflect them. Pretty cool, right?

But what we were missing is way to keep track of who changed what and when. This was remedied with the introduction of an Audit History.

Questionnaire Audit History

Confetti!

Have you ever been nervous about getting a shot at the doctor’s office? And then, the shot is administered and is painless, leaving you to ask, “Is it done?” We found that this was happening to vendors who used Vendorful to respond to RFPs. They expected it to be painful, but found it so easy that, upon submitting the response, many of them were waiting for the other shoe to drop!

Now, we let them know that they’re all done and ready to celebrate with some confetti!

Post Submission Confetti!

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