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How to Make Supplier Onboarding a Business Strength

March 14, 2022

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It can take manufacturers and distributors from weeks to months of maneuvering to bring new suppliers on board. Due to technology and security gaps, and compliance issues, the challenges can seem insurmountable. But are they? Let’s take a closer look at the most common challenges and strategies to overcome them.

Technology

Connecting and aligning with your suppliers is the best way to predict and prepare for supply chain complications and disruptions. So, what’s the best way to do that? Manual systems are cumbersome, error-prone, and location-dependent. Automated systems can be complicated and require technical expertise. But the right supplier portal solution can provide a secure, centralized, automated, real-time, web-based means to communicate regardless of location.

A supplier portal allows you to stay informed about supply chain activity so you can make real-time, data-driven decisions to respond to your customers more quickly and accurately. A portal also can alert you to unexpected or non-compliant supplier actions. This can help you achieve cost savings and increase your productivity.

We have a great customer story about a web portal solution for manufacturer Mohawk Carpets. The company needed to order wool from overseas sheepherders who lacked internet service in their remote locations.

With the portal solution, a quick trip to an internet café was all sheepherders needed to get their orders, send acknowledgements, and other communications and transactions. It’s a very basic scenario from many years ago, but it reinforces that technology doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, the purpose of technology is to solve problems and make our lives easier. Look for a solution that embraces this philosophy so that neither you nor your suppliers feel overwhelmed.

Compliance

Supplier compliance is critical, and it becomes more difficult to manage as you add them. You need to take a proactive approach to establish methods, formats, and guidelines, and continue to enforce them on an ongoing basis beyond onboarding.

Technology can help, especially when combined with supplier enablement services that extend your team and minimize the need for IT intervention. Choose a provider that can do this work for you, using technology to implement and enforce your specific business rules and practices.  Services should include recruitment, support, and all the rules and mapping needed to digitize and maintain your process.

Beyond document integration, supplier compliance management can help you to track and grade your suppliers’ performance by reporting key metrics around shipment/delivery timeliness, invoice accuracy, quality, and responsiveness. It can help to keep your suppliers accountable and to be more effective and efficient. For example, receiving your purchase orders immediately, shipping the right product to you at the right time, and submitting invoices to get paid more quickly. Rather than presenting a barrier, effective compliance management can help you to improve your business relationships with suppliers.

Time

By implementing appropriate technology, coupled with supplier enablement services acting as an extension of your own team, you can greatly reduce the time usually required to onboard suppliers. Depending on the solution provider you choose, you might be able to outsource the entire process. Outsourcing presents cost, but those costs can be balanced or even eliminated when you consider the time saved that can be applied in other areas—like getting your products to market more quickly.

Leverage Challenges as Criteria

As you think through the challenges of onboarding suppliers and wonder why it isn’t easier, evaluate your preconceptions along with potential solutions. Leverage those perceived challenges as criteria for possible solution providers.

Make overcoming those hurdles your solution provider’s job, not yours. Apply technology but keep it uncomplicated. Use technology combined with services to protect and manage compliance. Save time and become more productive in the bargain.