Supplier Relationship Management

5 supplier onboarding best practices you need to know

5 supplier onboarding best practices you need to know

February 18, 2021
Nate Kearse

Supplier onboarding is an essential step for organizations entering into a new partnership. Consolidating information about compliance, risk, documentation, and e-invoicing can help you hit the ground running once you land a new supplier. When organizations fail to create a sustainable and effective supplier onboarding process, they open the door to disruption and uncertainty that could slow down the flow of business.

If your supplier onboarding program needs an overhaul, it can be difficult to understand where to begin. To help you with the process, we’ve compiled a list of 5 best practices to follow when creating your supplier onboarding plan.

  1. Create accountability.

Something all partnerships want to avoid is having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” When it becomes confusing who the main point of contact or approvals is, your productivity and processes can come to a standstill. Regardless of how simple your supplier onboarding process is, there will always be multiple steps, requirements, and documentation that needs to be completed. Identifying a single point person to manage the tasks and progress of the onboarding experience can help to create accountability and streamline your process. This point of contact can ensure no steps fall through the cracks and can help to nurture your new partner along the way.

Tip: Don’t have a person who can act as a point of contact? Implement a verification process to ensure your new suppliers complete the onboarding experience without skipping a beat.
  1. Learn to automate tedious processes.

When dealing with human capital, a normal amount of error can be expected. Simply put, even with all the right parameters set in place and a review process, there is no way to eliminate all opportunities for errors. One way to reduce the possibility of error is to automate parts of your onboarding process. Automation eliminates weak points in your strategies and creates an efficient, compliant, and repeatable process on which leaders can rely. Additionally, users enjoy reducing time spent on tedious tasks, leaving more room for employees to act as strategic thinkers in their roles.

Bonus Material: See how technology is helping to take the guesswork out of supply chain management by embracing the use of Artificial Intelligence. 

  1. Use the processes you’ve built as a roadmap.

This past year has showcased just how quickly and drastically situations can change in the business world. When creating plans for onboarding new suppliers, you should ensure that you have resilience and adaptability built into your processes. While it is nice to have a roadmap for handling and preparing new suppliers for the partnership you’ve entered into, remember that each partnership and situation is unique. Following a detailed and exhaustive plan will help you make sure all the boxes are ticked off, but allowing room for flexibility will enable you to create a more personalized onboarding experience.

  1. Individualize supplier plans.

The old saying goes, “not everyone fits the mold.” Creating an outline and plan for how to onboard your new suppliers will help you to get the ball rolling, but it is important to find ways to customize and personalize the supplier experience. When entering into new partnerships, the culture, and experience people face play a large role in creating a productive and healthy relationship. If you are onboarding your supplier in the manufacturing industry in the same way you onboard your supplier is specializing in e-procurement, you’re going to face issues. Each new supplier should feel as though you’ve created an experience that supports their needs and addresses their specific questions or concerns.

Bonus Material: Check out Tradeshift’s proven success at helping organizations transform their supplier onboarding practices. 

  1. Manage and clarify expectations.

The key to any successful relationship is honesty and transparency in expectations. As you begin to onboard new suppliers, ensure that all involved parties understand the expectations for metrics such as lead time, pricing, payment, and product quality. Vendors should also be able to easily access the onboarding program expectations and guidelines so that new stakeholders can be trained without losing productivity.

Tip: If your platform or portal has the capability, a dashboard is an efficient way to manage guidelines and keep expectations aligned.

Creating a strong and successful supplier onboarding program requires concerted effort and the ability to adapt your processes when necessary. Tradeshift has a history of success when it comes to supplier onboarding and digital transformation. By offering integration as a service, Tradeshift dissolves barriers to adoption for suppliers and delivers industry-leading onboarding rates to our customers.

For more information about how we can help you make shift happen in your supplier onboarding efforts, reach out to one of our experts today, or sign up for your free demo

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