Supplier Relationship Management

The Ultimate Supplier Onboarding Checklist

The Ultimate Supplier Onboarding Checklist

March 18, 2021

Every supplier and organization is unique in how they operate. Different processes and teams require different needs, and the way you foster a successful relationship with your vendors will vary. The one thing that stays the same regardless of vendor — the need for a comprehensive and positive supplier onboarding process. One way to ensure consistency in your onboarding experience is to build out a general checklist you can reference along the way. While each specific experience may require some adjustment, this basic guideline will help you ensure you are following best practices and starting your suppliers off on the right foot.

Stage 1: Evaluation

For a relationship to be successful, both parties need to evaluate each other thoroughly. Knowing your partner’s track record, financial history, and compliance history will help you determine if a partnership is beneficial. You want to make sure that your business partner is reliable and someone who can meet your specific needs. As you begin evaluating your vendors, make sure to do the following:

  • Check supplier’s service track record

  • Review and relevant sustainability credentials

  • Assess their credit history or financial records

  • Check compliance history with appropriate industry regulations and regional governance

  • Create a code of ethics for them to sign

Stage 2: Supplier requirements and approvals

You’ve evaluated your vendors and determined that a partnership would be beneficial. Now comes the time to negotiate your specific needs. In this stage, you and your vendor need to communicate transparently about your expectations. This direct communication helps to manage expectations and add accountability to the process. All parties require a clear understanding of each member’s responsibilities. They should lay out any chain of command for approvals or necessary points of contact. A generalized list of information to run through includes:

Note: these are a baseline; your specific industry may require additional requirements and approvals.

  • Volume of requirements

  • Any lead time schedules

  • Order processes and requirements

  • Pricing matrix

  • Payment or credit terms

  • Delivery standards

  • Any training required

Like we said earlier, your specific onboarding checklist might look different or have unique needs. In some situations, your suppliers will require a more intensive requirements and approvals process. For these higher-value or strategic vendors, consider adding additional items to your checklist. If your list is precise, consider assigning a representative to help guide your vendor through the process.

Stage 3: Supplier data collection and information

To be successful, your supplier needs a central hub where they can input and store data. An online portal offers the accessibility and efficiency businesses need to store data in today’s modern world. By providing vendors space to input data themselves, you can expedite the onboarding process. This also ensures all parties know where information is stored, increasing overall organization. The information you collect from your suppliers should be useful and thorough. At the minimum, collect information such as:

  • Name, email, and individual contact details

  • Any required licenses documentation

  • Any additional supplier contacts and their titles

Who should have supplier information?

Anyone involved in the process should have access to supplier information. All stakeholders need to know compliance records and must be aware of points of contact. Unless your supplier information is highly-sensitive, or the supplier in question is a strategic partner, you should communicate all information transparently and accurately. Honest communication will start your onboarding process off on the right foot. For a successful supply process, make sure to provide necessary training and answer outstanding questions. People to provide access to information to include:

  • Account managers

  • Purchasing staff

  • Warehouse managers

  • Any relevant departments

Pro Tip: Add your commonly asked questions into an FAQ document for future training and inform your initial guidelines as you evaluate them periodically. 

Your supplier onboarding process is the first step in your partnership with a vendor. It is important to create a positive experience for both you and the supplier. Strong partnerships start with clarity of expectations and honest communication. By following this checklist, you can ensure you are thorough in your supplier onboarding efforts. Tradeshift helps foster strong supplier relationships with Tradeshift Engage. With our customizable software, vendors can see benefit from day one without any added hassle.

To learn more about how Tradeshift Engage helps deepen supplier relations, reach out to one of our experts or sign up for your demo today

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