There were no Halloween frights at Vendorful. And social distancing kept the team far from candy. But we did roll out a variety of improvements to our product. Again, since we don't want to put you to sleep, we'll focus pretty narrowly on some of the more impactful changes.
More Efficient Auctions
When you begin building software, you invariably go through a series of discussions about "use cases." The idea is to walk through all the different ways that people might use your product or perhaps a feature of your product. The problem is that no matter how creative or thoughtful the group of people engaged in these conversations are, there are invariably use cases that are never contemplated.
We encountered this recently when we had a customer that wanted to have a live real-time reverse auction with 60 bidders. On its face, 60 doesn't seem like a scale challenge, but with reverse auctions, there is complexity that is hidden below the surface.
Fairness is the most important component of a reverse auction. If the suppliers don't all have the same information and opportunities, the integrity of the even will be undermined. How does an unusually large auction post a challenge?
- There is a lot more data that is being generated. It's not an unreasonably large amount, but it's compounded by that fact that
- All the bidders need to have all the key information about their own bids as well as the other bids. (In this case, we were dealing with a ranked auction so it's not a matter of simply determining if the new bid is the best bid, but rather seeing where the new bid ranks among all the current bids.) And again, this isn't necessarily a huge technical challenge, but
- Some users have very slow Internet connections. Since an auction is a real-time event, we need to ensure that all users have the same information at the same time. A user that is has poor connectivity runs the risk of getting information after its competitors. That can't be allowed to happen.
There are a variety of changes that we implemented to make sure that the Vendorful reverse auctions remain fair, even when scaling to many more participants than is typical, and even when those participants are spread across the world with latency and network slowdowns. But, since there was no change in the user interface, we don't have a cute screenshot for you. 😊
Multiple Warning Stages for Expiring Attributes
When a Certificate of Insurance or other key documents or data expire, the buying organization takes on unnecessary risk. Expired data is often why lawsuits are lost, audits are failed, and people are fired. Historically, Vendorful would alert users to expiring data a week in advance and then again once the data has expired. The challenge here is that a week might not provide enough time to correct the problem.
Now Vendorful has four different states for expiring data, each of which is associated with a color:
- White: attribute is not expiring soon.
- Yellow: attribute is expiring between 8 and 30 days.
- Orange: attribute is expiring between 0 and 7 days.
- Red: attribute is expired.
In addition to the visual changes, Vendorful now sends notifications when entering any of the expiration stages to proactively remind the recipient.
Whether they are using existing enterprise systems and filling gaps or if the current state of the art at an organization is the MS Office Suite, many of our prospective customers are using Excel for an inordinate amount of their work day. So they reach out to us, hoping that they can leverage an easy-to-use application that automates processes and "de-silos" information. And this is what we do. So it's more than a little ironic that one of the most frequently recurring asks is for more export capabilities, particularly to Excel!
Ask and ye shall receive! This month, we added more export options. Vendor attributes can now be exported to PDF in addition to Excel. We also made the spreadsheet pricing table — which typically involves with an Excel-created document being imported into Vendorful — exportable as a native Excel file.
Want to check out these new features in action? Sign up for a Vendorful demo.