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PIM 2.6 Release Notes

PIM 2.6 Release Notes – May 2019

Please see the Supplier Profile page to review step-by-step processes on viewing and updating your Organization's Supplier Profile, and please see the Form Completion page to view updated instructions. For additional supplemental training materials, please review the materials below:

2.6 Introduction

The Exostar Partner Information Manager (PIM) solution was developed in conjunction with leading Aerospace and Defense industry companies to address a critical challenge within the supply chain ecosystem. PIM allows Buyers to assess, measure, and mitigate risk across their partner and supplier networks with respect to points of potential vulnerability, including supplier cybersecurity.

The PIM 2.6 release provides two very important features:  

  • Supplier Profile Repository
    • First phase of a ubiquitous supplier profile repository
    • Capabilities for suppliers to complete and update their profiles
    • Capabilities for buyers to find suppliers that match their criteria in the profiles for business selection
  • MDA Pilot - Phase III Features
      • Powerful search capability across the above repository
      • Automated selection and onboarding of suppliers by buyers

Also there are some other PIM enhancements that improve the user experience. This page expands on the above features.

Supplier Profile

The Supplier Profile is a foundational component to the Exostar supply chain solution architecture. This is the first phase of the Exostar Envision program, whose objective it is to assist buyers and suppliers in the A&D market to establish profitable collaborations in a secure community marketplace.

The supplier profile is information about the suppliers’ businesses, that can be made available to potential buyers or customers. The business objectives of the profiles are to:

  • Provide buyers with a comprehensive set of information about suppliers within the Exostar community. Buyers want more data about their suppliers and other potential suppliers in the Exostar community.
  • Allow buying organizations to search for organizations using various search attributes like location, NAICS codes, business types, certifications, forms types completed in PIM, contact information, etc. 
  • Maintain a current set of contacts within organizations for your buyers. One of the biggest barriers of doing business with buyers and suppliers is the lack of current contact information within organizations. This information will be used by several Exostar applications and will be relied upon as a source of contacts’ information by the buyers. 
  • Provide suppliers with the ability to keep their information as complete and as current as possible for buyers’ review.
  • Provide both buyers and suppliers business intelligence / analytics about the position of individual suppliers with respect to the buyers’ supplier population and across all suppliers in the Exostar system.
  • Provide suppliers with another significant business benefit of being part of the Exostar supplier-buyer community.

The supplier profile form can be updated by the supplier PIM application administrator at any time. The system will indicate the completeness of the form by the percent of the information provided. The more complete the form, the easier it is for a buyer to quickly determine a fit to their business needs.  In the future, the system will, on occasion, remind suppliers to confirm the accuracy and “freshness” of their data.

Supplier Profile Attributes

The profile has the following set of common business attributes that can be provided by a supplier:

Supplier Profile Update

The Supplier Profile Update feature is a tool designed to help Suppliers describe their organization’s business attributes within the Exostar system and provide the buyer community with a more comprehensive supplier profile. The PIM Supplier Profile Update feature is able to extract the Supplier profile data from the supplier profile repository and prefill the profile information. The supplier Application Administrator can update the profile at any time. Supplier users that do not have permission to edit the Supplier profile may still view their organization’s profile at any time to view the profile in a read-only view.

Supplier Profile Read-Only View for Buyers

The PIM 2.6 release has introduced a read-only view of the Supplier Profile, which allows buyers to view the profile of all of their suppliers that are active in PIM.  The profile can provide significantly more information than the previous PIM versions.

Other Enhancements

One-click Switch Between “Buyer” and “Supplier” View

Within the header of all pages within PIM, a dropdown list now exists to allow the supplier and/or buyer organization end-user to switch between the “Buyer” and “Supplier” view via clicking one of these options.  This dropdown list is next to the “You are viewing as” label, and replaces the “Modify” link that existed in previous releases.  Switching to (i.e. clicking) a different view option navigates the user back to the system homepage for the selected buyer or supplier view.  

Expand/Collapse of Right-hand Pane on Buyer/Supplier Homepage

In the application homepage for buyer and supplier users, the right-hand pane, containing the “My Organization” and “Resources” information and links, can now be collapsed or expanded.  This is similar to the expand/collapse functionality for the left-hand navigation menu that already existed prior to this release.  The new functionality exists so that the page can show more of the contents of the tables (such as the “Forms” or “Contract Forms” table) on the main body of the homepage, if the user requires.

New CS Form

Question 1.1 of the DFARS 252 CS form was updated to display text as follows:

"Has your organization implemented the security controls required in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171r1, Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations (or detailed a Plan of Action and Milestones)?”

Features of Phase 3 of the MDA pilot

The release of PIM 2.6 has several enhancements related to the N-tier (or multi-tier) supply-chain functionality that is incorporated into PIM.  These features are associated with the Phase 3 of the MDA pilot program.

Brief Background of N-Tier Functionality in PIM

N-tier functionality predominantly exists in PIM in order to allow users in an agency organization (such as the Missile Defense Agency) to have visibility into certain compliance-related information for each individual organization that handles (generates or shares) Controlled Unclassified (CUI) information within a multi-tier supply chain for a contract.  Specifically, these organizations that handle CUI are required to be in compliance with DFARS 252.204-7012, Safeguarding Covered Defense Information (CDI) and Cyber Incident Reporting (OCT 2016). 

For collecting this compliance-related information across a contract’s supply chain, organizations (subcontractors) in these contracts are requested to complete contract forms (specifically the “DFARS 252.204-7012 Compliance Assertion” contract form) within PIM.  The form request goes to an organization if the organization is listed (cited) by a buyer (its customer on a contract) as an organization (i.e. a supplier) with whom the buyer shares or generates CUI. 

The main focus of PIM release 2.6 for N-tier was to automate processes to onboard supplier organizations and/or users in these organizations to PIM in order to complete assigned contract forms if the supplier organization or its user (as specified on a buyer’s contract form) does not already exist in PIM.  This would take the place of some manual processing done by Exostar’s internal support teams. 

The following notes specifically cover new functionality (enhancements) made in the release of PIM 2.6 for the N-tier functionality specifically.  A brief explanation of each new functionality is also provided. 

New Functionality in PIM 2.6

The following is a summary of all new features or functionality in PIM 2.6 specifically for or related to N-tier.  Each of the items listed below is explained in more detail within the following sections of this section.

  • “Search & Add Supplier” Method for Adding Suppliers to a Contract Form: Within the DFARS 252 contract form’s list of suppliers (subcontractors) with whom an organization shares or generates Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), new “Search and Add Supplier” functionality exists that allows the end-user to search for a supplier organization within Exostar’s existing organizations in order to add the supplier to the list on the form.  This is provided as an alternate to manually inputting the data for each supplier the end-user wants to add to this list in the contract form. 
  • Matches Found for Manually Added Supplier: In a contract form, when manually adding a supplier to the list of suppliers with whom CUI is generated or shared, functionality now exists to display a list of suppliers already within Exostar that may be a match for the supplier information as input by the user.  This allows the user to select an existing Exostar supplier to add to the form if it is the supplier organization he/she wanted to include in the list.   
  • Automated Onboarding of Supplier Organizations and Users: Once a contract form is submitted with a list of suppliers with whom the submitter (buyer) organization shares or generates CUI, automated processes now exist to initiate onboarding of any specified supplier organization and/or supplier contact person in the list that does not currently have a subscription to PIM.  In addition, once onboarded to PIM, all supplier organizations are automatically assigned a contract form of their own to complete for the contract as a supplier to their respective buyer in the contract. 
  • Buyer/Supplier View of Data About Suppliers on a Submitted Contract Form: For contracts listed in the “Contract Forms” tab on the homepage when viewing as a “Supplier” as well as for contracts displayed in the “Contract” tab of the profile page of the organization (in the “Buyer” view), details about each supplier currently listed on the contract form are provided.  These include those suppliers that are somewhere in the process of being onboarded to PIM.  This functionality provides visibility into the overall status (for both onboarding to PIM as well as progress toward completing a contract form) of each supplier currently listed in a contract form. 
  • System Admin’s View of Data about Suppliers on a Submitted Contract Form: For the System Administrator, the ability to see the onboarding status as well as information about the form progress or status is included in System Administrator’s pages such as the Contract Connections page and the Contract Association Requests (CAR) page. 
  • System Admin’s View of Pending Onboarding Requests: System Administrators have a new “Pending Onboarding Requests” page that allows them to view onboarding requests that have failed after multiple attempts to onboard, or still are not complete (in being onboarded to PIM with the appropriate contract forms assigned to them) after two days (or whatever time period configured in the system).  This page provides visibility into these requests so that the administrator may try to manually complete onboarding tasks for the requests via TPM/MAG or PIM as needed. 

“Search & Add” Method for Adding Suppliers to a Contract Form

When an end-user is editing the DFARS 252 contract form, there are now two options for inputting information for the form question that asks for all suppliers (subcontractors) with whom the end-user’s organization is sharing or generating CUI. 

As existed prior to this release, the user may still manually input the information for each supplier in order to add the supplier to the list of those with whom the organization shares CUI.  Or, with the release of PIM 2.6, the user may now use the “Search and Add Supplier” method in order to search for an existing organization within Exostar in order to add the organization to the supplier’s list on the form. 

For this “Search and Add Supplier” method, a new user interface (UI) called “Supplier Lookup” exists. This UI allows the user to search for an organization that exists within Exostar by inputting the organization name.  In addition, on the UI, filter criteria can also be input by the end-user in order to narrow down the search results when looking for a particular organization to add to the form.  Filter criteria include Exostar ID, DUNS number, country, state, city and postal code of the organization. 

The search in this Supplier Lookup UI returns results of all organizations within Exostar that are similar to the input organization name and satisfy one or more of the filter criteria (if input by the user).  Therefore, the search results return any organization that might be a possible match based on the end-user’s search inputs.  The “% Match” column in the results also show how close a match the particular organization in the search results is to the input search and filter criteria.

Within the displayed search results, the user may then select one organization to add to the list of suppliers on the contract form.  When a supplier is selected though, PIM prompts the user to add (or edit) some additional data required for the supplier including contact information, whether the DFARS clause was flowed down to the suppler, and whether the MDA pilot contractual requirements were flowed-down to the supplier. 

Once all of this required data is input and confirmed by the user, the new supplier can be added to the contract form via the “Save & Exit” button or “Save & New” button on the Supplier Lookup UI.  “Save & Exit” saves all the input supplier information for the one selected supplier back to the contract form.  After the data is saved, the user is returned to the contract form, and can see his/her newly added supplier on the suppliers list.  “Save & New” also saves the supplier data just input on this “Supplier Lookup” UI, but then resets this Supplier Lookup UI so that the user can continue onward to search for and add the next supplier he/she wishes to place in the suppliers list on the contract form.  The user can keep on adding and saving suppliers via the “Save & New” option.  Once done, “Save & Exit” can be clicked, and the user should see every supplier he/she just added in the suppliers list of the contract form. 

Note all other functionality to edit and submit the actual form itself works exactly as prior to this release 2.6. 

Matches Found for Manually Added Supplier

For a contract form, when manually adding a supplier with whom CUI is generated or shared, new functionality now exists to allow the user to see and add an existing Exostar supplier organization that may be a match for his/her manually input supplier information.  Via this functionality, the user can now select the existing Exostar supplier to add to his/her form with the supplier details for this organization exactly as they are captured in Exostar. 

When choosing the “Manually Add” option to add a supplier manually, the “New Supplier” user interface (UI) still appears as before, and all required data for the supplier must be input in proper format by the user.  However, now, upon clicking “Save” in this UI, if any existing supplier organization exists already within Exostar that could be a possible match for the one input by the user, the system displays a list of all these possible matches in a new “Supplier Match Found” UI. 

In the “Supplier Match Found” UI, the end-user may select a possible match via this UI, and click the available “Yes, Select” option to have the selected supplier’s data default back into the “New Supplier” UI.  Once back in the “New Supplier UI”, the user must complete or may edit (contact name and contact email address) other required information before saving the supplier data back to the contract form.  Or, if the user does not want to select any possible match, the user may simply click “No, Continue” in the “Supplier Match Found” UI to just add his/her manual entry exactly as entered back to the contract form.    

Once a contract form is submitted by an end-user (i.e. the “buyer”) in PIM with a list of suppliers with whom CUI is shared or generated, PIM will now automatically initiate onboarding processes to start registration of any supplier organization and subscription of that organization to PIM for any organization that is not already an organization within PIM.  In addition, as part of this overall onboarding process, the newly-created supplier organization will also have a business and contract connection set with its buyer in the contract (to which the contract form pertains), as well as be assigned the DFARS 252 contract form in PIM to complete for that particular contract. 

Buyer/Supplier View of Data about Suppliers on a Submitted Contract Form

For each contract form that an organization has already submitted, users in the organization can now see key details regarding the onboarding and form progress of each supplier (with whom CUI is shared or generated) listed on the contract form.  There are two places in which this data is now displayed: (1) the “Contract Forms” tab of the system homepage when viewing as “Supplier”; (2) the “Contracts” tab of the main (landing) page of the organizational profile page (accessed from a link on the organization name in the right-hand menu of the system homepage) for the organization. 

In both the Contract Forms and Contracts tab, for each submitted contract (for the respective organization) displayed, status-related details for every supplier currently on the submitted contract form is shown.  Regardless of if the supplier organization on the form has been onboarded to PIM yet, information such as the onboarding status as well as the progress toward form completion exists.  This is to provide visibility to the buyer (the organization that completed and submitted the contract form) of where in the process of onboarding to PIM as well as progress on form completion a supplier (subcontractor) currently resides. 

Note in the Contract Forms tab, the data regarding the contract form as well as the “edit” link functionality to still edit the contract form (if a user is currently assigned the form), exists as before.  However, now, a link on the leftmost column next to a contract name listed in the table of this tab provides expand/collapse functionality that shows/hides another table, the “Contract Details” table.  This Contract Details table has the onboarding and form progress for each supplier currently listed in the last submitted contract form (if one exists) for the contract.

Similarly, the Contracts tab on the Organization Profile page, when viewing as “Buyer”, now shows onboarding status and form progress for each supplier listed in the last submitted contract form for the contract by the organization. 

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