Supplier Management Software and the Silver Screen

By Jeremy Owsley

Remember this? Doc, the scattered-brained genius from the movie Back to the Future falls in the shower and comes up with the idea for the flux capacitor. Everyone knows the franchise story—Marty, Doc, even Einstein the dog, use a re-purposed DeLorean time-machine invention to move back and forth through time and space.

So, you ask, what does 1955 have to do with supplier management software?

Good question. When I volunteered to write this blog, I had a hard time figuring out what to write about supplier management software. My day-to-day job isn’t directly tied to supplier management, but I run constant parallels to it in my role as Onspring’s client success manager. For days I thought about what I would write and I came up short every time.

And then.

Less than a week out from my due date, while showering, I was struck with brilliance, just like Doc. Everything ran through my head, all the things a business has to go through to work with suppliers, RFP’s, onboarding, due diligence processes and dealing with compliances, with suppliers and internally. And that reminded me of one quote that most supplier specialists would believe true—Doc morphed into Tom Hanks, and from another movie classic, Forrest Gump, it hit me—“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Thinking of this quote made me chuckle, and I knew I had found my hook.

Getting It Right

Our economy has many parallels to the food chain. In that chain, consumers buy chocolate, businesses make the chocolate, chocolate can’t be made without ingredients (milk, sugar, cocoa butter, etc.), ingredients can’t be delivered without suppliers and so on and so on with the loop never ending. Keeping track of this loop of suppliers used to be done manually in spreadsheets. This antiquated process sparked a plethora of revolutionary automation solutions—supplier management software. This software was designed with type A personalities in mind, people who are responsible for mitigating risks at the most vulnerable point in their business, and managing their suppliers. If you think about it, a supplier specialists’ job is to open and organize that box of chocolates so they know what they are getting. While they are organizing and gathering information, they are making sure that RFP information is gathered, due diligence has been performed and compliances are met with both the suppliers, as well as internally. While sifting through this assorted box of random flavors, they are praying that the cellophane paper dictating what flavors are, are correct. Every supplier is like a new box of chocolates—some have a perfectly organized valentines’ box, some have a box of “whoops chocolates” that didn’t pass QA and were put into the discount bin. It is these people’s job to make sure that the “whoops” pieces don’t mix with the perfect pieces in a valentine’s box.

As these specialists search for ways to ease the pain of digging through sticky boxes of chocolate, they look to and for companies that offer a supplier management solution. Onspring, as many of you know, has a robust solution in the supplier management world. We have clients come on board that use Onspring out of the box as their supplier management tool; we also have clients who build a completely custom solution to automate the dirtier part of their jobs. With Onspring, they are able to send out surveys and messages, and then assess vendor risks with ease, eliminating the need to dig through those boxes ever again. Our chocolate sorting specialists have become our thought leadership in the world of supplier management and help drive our solution forward every day. As the recent Info-tech review of GRC products shows, our clients know that we listen to the ways they want to sort their chocolates and drive our product in ways they never dreamed possible. This allows our clients to go home everyday without sticky fingers and smelling of caramel or nougat.


Having a place to organize your chocolates and keep everyone from getting overly sticky is critical for businesses trying to make an impact in their field. Most people grow tired of manual processes and look for the best way, or a new way, to complete a task. Onspring offers a fantastic solution to those in the supplier management world who gather information and leverage it to keep their business safe.

Forrest Gump will inspire millions of movie lovers for generations to come—the inspiration could be in a blog using a pivotal quote or it could be a chef researching for ways to prepare shrimp. We will always revere the humble man wearing white Nike Cortez’s offering a box of chocolates to strangers in Savannah, Georgia, as an American hero.

You never know what you’re going to get—users of Supplier Management Software can be heroes, too.

Featured Resource:

Vendor Management Data Sheet

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