Once you automate your accounts payable processes, your next move is to get your suppliers on board using a supplier portal. So how do you make the implementation a success?
Did you know that accounts payable departments can spend up to 30% of their time responding to and resolving supplier inquiries? Reducing that time is one of the main reasons companies that have automated their AP processes demand that the solution have a supplier portal; a Web-based interface that allows your suppliers to submit invoices electronically. These portals offer accounts payable staff considerable advantages: faster dispute resolution, increased AP productivity, reduced customer service calls; faster processing ability; and greater discount capture.
And these portals are advantageous for suppliers as well, offering 24/7 visibility into the invoice status, faster dispute resolution, and most important, a reduction in late or incorrect payments. However, since you’re asking these suppliers to make changes in the way they do business, you need to make those changes as easy as possible. Make sure your solution provider has a supplier portal that is user-friendly and free of charge to suppliers. Also, ensure that the provider can help with onboarding suppliers, if you find yourself in need of their assistance.
Once you’ve made the decision to implement a supplier portal, here are six tips for making that implementation successful:
- Executive Support – Get buy-in from senior management, especially your Finance and Procurement as they are the ones who will be impacted by this tool. Make a case that’s based on business benefits, not technology.
- Supplier Input – Partner with your largest suppliers to make sure their needs are met. That’s the best way of ensuring a smooth launch.
- Phased Rollout – It’s the old “walk before you run” philosophy. This is a new tool for so many people, pushing it all too quickly could probe problematic. Choose an element of the portal that’s a priority and focus on completing that first.
- Solid Branding – Since the portal is a major point of contact between you and the supplier, make sure your brand is clearly represented. Function is first and foremost, but brand isn’t far behind.
- Supplier Testing – Have a few of your most trusted suppliers test out the portal and provide feedback. This testing process can avoid big trouble if issues are discovered before a full rollout. Plus, having them involved on the front end can turn them into advocates for the system.
- Communication Plan – Make sure you know all the reasons why suppliers would benefit from a supplier portal and make a plan as to how you can communicate that. Talk about increased on-time payments, easier invoice tracking, and fewer customer disputes.
The supplier portal is a virtual win-win for both you and your suppliers, but make sure the solution you choose works well for all involved parties.
Download the Corcentric guide, “The Cost Benefits of Supplier Portals” to get more information on how this vital tool can save you time, money, and headaches.
This article first appeared on the April 29th Corcentric blog.