ProRail is responsible for the Dutch rail network: construction, maintenance, management and safety. As an independent party, they distribute the space on the rails, control all train traffic, build and manage stations, build new tracks and maintain existing tracks, turnouts, signals and level crossings. Together with transporters, ProRail commits itself 24/7 to ensuring that passengers and freight reach their destination safely and on time in an efficient and cost-conscious manner – and always with attention to the impact on the environment and on society.
Marianne Hafkenscheid (Advisor External Quality) & Albert Boersma (Professional Specialist Development) work in the ILM department (Purchasing Intelligence & Suppliers Management) of Procurement at ProRail. “To be able to procure quality and in a price-conscious way,” Albert explains, “we at ProRail need information about how we procure now, how many suppliers we have in a certain category and whether we are satisfied with these suppliers. We can find all of this information in VendorLink.”
Vendor Rating in VendorLink
ProRail started with VendorLink in 2013 to be able to facilitate Vendor Rating as an automated process. “We were already carrying out performance measurements, but that was very difficult to maintain in the Excel sheets that we used at that time,” Marianne explains. “We have decided to carry out our performance measurements in an automated manner and, in collaboration with VendorLink, we succeeded in doing that. We send out approximately 600 surveys per quarter, in which employees can assess our suppliers on a scale from 1 to 10.”
At ProRail, contracts are entered into SAP and forwarded to VendorLink. “We conduct the performance measurements on those contracts,” Marianne says. “Without automation, that would of course be a tremendous burden, and therefore we are very proud that we can now automatically measure contracts and map out supplier performances.”
At ProRail, each department decides for itself what criteria they would like to base supplier performance measurements. The contract size, risk or the importance for ProRail are the priority in that respect.
Last year, ProRail started a pilot with double-sided measurement. That means that ProRail not only assesses its suppliers, but the suppliers also indicate how they experience the collaboration with ProRail. “The double-side measurement offers us a good conversation with the supplier. After all, we can enter into the conversation on a more well-founded basis of our own rating and that of the supplier,” Marianne says. “We started this pilot with engineering firms and we would now
Mapping out spending per category
One of the reasons for starting with VendorLink was to enable smarter procurement by means of category management. “We spend a great deal of money on our core business – the rails – but also on other matters such as office automation and ICT solutions. Thanks to VendorLink, we can now identify these categories very effectively, map out how we procure and see what the money can be spent on.”
Each category has its own category manager(s). Together with the tender managers, procurement managers and cost engineer, these are the people that work with VendorLink within ProRail.
Collaboration with VendorLink
So why is Albert so enthusiastic about VendorLink? “VendorLink truly understands what procurement is. The company moves with the market; both VendorLink itself and its clients continuously identify opportunities to purchase smarter and more effectively. In my eyes, many other software packages lack this purchasing intelligence,” Albert says.
Albert is therefore happy with the complete picture that he gets from suppliers. “I myself always call it a 360-degree view of my suppliers,”Albert says. “I can see what contracts I have with them, what we think of them, what kind of spending I have with them and who at ProRail spends money with this supplier.”
Future with VendorLink
Albert is currently working on implementing the VendorLink category managers organisation-wide. In VendorLink, the spending can be clearly presented in visual dashboards. Each category manager can create a dashboard of their own category and share the dashboard with the team, so that the entire team can see at a glance how the category functions.
The company is also working on automating approvals within ProRail. “What’s nice about VendorLink is that, when developments are made by another user, all VendorLink users can benefit from that,” Marianne explains. “Another VendorLink client, for example, has already done the preliminary work on automating approvals, and now we can benefit from that!”
Additionally, ProRail is also in discussion with a number of other VendorLink users and VendorLink itself on the possibilities of a new functionality in VendorLink. “It is very valuable to sit around the table with various users," Albert says. “In that way, we learn from each other, too!”