ISS Austria: A supplier portal for all
EDI for all?
Yes, it is possible! All it takes is a web-based supplier portal that makes exchanging data with the client a breeze for all participants. ISS Austria shows how it is done.
Under the “taste’njoy” brand, ISS Austria, the international market leader for facility services, has also been offering premium employee catering since 2017. ISS offers this F&B concept at more than 20 locations throughout Austria, including a restaurant open to the public in Vienna. Last year, for instance, a total of 1.8 million meals were prepared directly on the clients’ premises. To make that happen, “we need a lot of fresh and high-quality ingredients from selected suppliers,” said Martin Rainer, Category Manager Food & Beverage at ISS Austria. These suppliers are very diverse, which means they also have different IT environments. For the exchange of data – in the catering industry, this is primarily done with the article catalog (PRICAT) – ISS was looking for a solution that fit all needs, “with the goal of communicating with all business partners in a common language,” Mr. Rainer explained. For the company’s procurement of goods, ISS Austria has been relying on an EDI solution by EDITEL which is directly integrated into its ERP system. This solution was introduced last year. It instantly made it a breeze for ISS to exchange data with business partners who already had an existing EDI connection. An equally adequate solution for all those suppliers who do not use EDI for technical or financial reasons, mostly because they are small businesses, was found in collaboration with EDITEL: a supplier portal!
Getting on the same page
“A supplier portal makes it easy and cost-effective for every single business partner, whether they are EDI-ready or not, to participate in digital business processes,” said Markus Zens, an application analyst at EDITEL who specializes in the development of such solutions. While the web-based portal is easy to use for suppliers since it only requires Internet access, attention to detail is needed when setting it up. Ultimately, all specific client needs have to be taken into account. According to Mr. Zens, the most important thing is “definitely user-friendliness. This means that the portal needs to be so straightforward and visually appealing that users know immediately where to enter what information.” In the case of ISS, article data were the main challenge: “Every supplier had a different understanding of the item input form, depending on whether the pricing was previously done in kilos, units, or for a bulk pack. This had to be clarified so that suppliers and clients have the exact same understanding of an item’s price”, said Mr. Zens. This required ISS and EDITEL to make individual arrangements with specific suppliers during project implementation. Drawing on years of experience, Mr. Zens therefore recommends “analyzing all processes and ideally standardizing them “before implementing a supplier portal, which eliminates possible mistakes before they happen. At ISS, executives are positive that the effort pays off: “Once this has been done right, all we have to do is maintain article data,” said Martin Rainer.
How it works
In the first phase introduced this summer, 15 suppliers of ISS Austria started using the new portal, exchanging orders (ORDERS), despatch advices (DESADV), and article catalogs (PRICAT) exclusively in a digital format. “Our processes are much faster now because all paper handling and related manual entries are a thing of the past,” said Harald Denk, Head of Country IT at ISS Austria, in a first reaction. Mr. Denk is also very pleased with the solution’s technical background: “Installing and maintaining this portal involves zero effort for our suppliers or us. All data are transferred in a secure environment.” Martin Rainer thinks that the goal, “namely to find a fully functioning solution that all suppliers are happy to use”, was achieved as well. In his opinion, this is ultimately a result of “the good collaboration with EDITEL”, especially “the entire team’s subject-matter expertise and flexibility,” as he emphasized. ISS Austria has already set more goals for the future: the company plans to exchange invoices (INVOIC) via the supplier portal and is considering connecting other business areas, including suppliers from its facility management business.
Benefits of a supplier portal
- Ideal solution to reach smaller, non-EDI-ready
companies via EDI
- Electronic handling of the entire order-to-cash process
- Adapts to the company-specific environment
About ISS Austria
ISS Austria is the market leader for facility services. With roughly 7,000 employees, the company offers a comprehensive portfolio of services for office and industrial buildings as well as airports and healthcare facilities in the following areas: cleaning (hygiene solutions), technical (building services), food (employee catering), security (security solutions) & support services (reception and internal support), workplace (workplace design), and IFS (integrated facility services). In 2021, ISS Austria achieved roughly EUR 280 million in sales at a total of 13 locations.
Logo copyright ISS Austria
Symbolic image copyright ISS Austria
Screenshot copyright EDITEL Austria