Understanding the importance of supplier enablement and how to find the right solution can ensure you get the most out of your supplier enablement efforts.
Supplier enablement is a solution that helps companies electronically connect their suppliers to their supply chains and processes. It fosters increased communication and reliability along the supply chain and with company suppliers by helping suppliers and companies share and access essential documents, like invoices and order information.
Supplier enablement will connect suppliers to your systems, allowing you increased visibility of their actions and data. However, you will need a supplier enablement solution to integrate suppliers and their systems and processes into yours to carry out supplier enablement. Implementing a supplier enablement system will involve several moving parts and factors, from your employees and contact points to your available resources and technology.
When considering supplier enablement solutions, consider some factors to increase the success of your supplier enablement program:
- Involving executives and stakeholders: While supplier enablement might typically involve warehouses and procurement operators, consider communicating and working with company executives as you implement this solution. Executives can help you align your efforts with company values and goals to foster additional growth. Further, their support can help the proper departments and people receive the resources they might need to carry out initiatives successfully.
- Assessing available resources and processes: Before you can make drastic changes to your current processes, you must understand what you have and how it will change. Supplier enablement sparks higher efficiency, but you will need to convert various manual processes to electronic and automated processes through this solution. Understanding what will change and where you might need more resources can help you prepare for supplier enablement.
- Integrating a change management team: Supplier enablement solutions bring several benefits but require suppliers and retailers to change processes to receive them. Creating a change management team that introduces changes and helps employees adjust to them can help reduce frustration and negativity toward shifts.
- Communicating with all involved parties: With any internal or external businesses changes, it is crucial to maintain continuous communication with everyone involved. Whether you are working with just your supplier or across several internal teams, communicating can help highlight where you might be experiencing problems or can implement changes to boost efficiency.
Understanding supplier enablement and what it involves can help your business determine whether it can encourage growth and improvement.
What to Look for in Supplier Enablement Solutions
As you search for various supplier enablement solutions, you can ensure you get the most from your solution by looking for specific features. Each solution will offer unique services. However, understanding the primary factors you will need to integrate supplier enablement successfully into your business processes can help lead you to stronger, more effective solutions.
1. Current Costs
Costs are some of the most important driving factors behind supplier enablement solutions. For your solution to cut costs effectively, you will need to know where you experience higher expenses. While supplier enablement solutions can cut procurement process costs, they will be less effective when you spend less. Finding a solution that will align with your budget will help.
Some costs to consider researching before finding a supplier enablement solution include:
- Number of employees
- Hourly cost of manual efforts, like procurement methods and data entry
- Minutes spent on manual efforts
- Monthly transaction volumes
- Invoice matching percentage
- Average outreach or feedback time for acquiring missing information or tracking details
Researching your current costs can help you align your supplier enablement efforts with your solution, creating more efficient use of your tools and investments.
2. Ranging Supplier Enablement Connectivity Selections
While eliminating costs is a significant benefit for businesses interested in supplier enablement, the primary purpose of these solutions is to promote connectivity and communication between suppliers and companies. As you search for the right solution, you will want to keep this objective in mind and find one that will offer more optimized supplier adoption rates.
Suppliers often have preferred communication and data entry platforms, from more traditional methods like electronic data interchanges (EDI) to Microsoft Excel, PDFs and web portals. Promote your connectivity needs by choosing a supplier enablement solution to accommodate several connection methods. This feature will allow your supplier to continue using the data entry methods they understand and enable you to integrate your supplier enablement solution efficiently.
3. In-House Integration Capabilities
Some supplier enablement providers will have specialty services that cater to their strengths. Look at these strengths and how they relate to their solution’s capabilities when choosing a supplier enablement solution. A provider that offers quality in-house integration can provide more quality services at the beginning stages of supplier enablement and cater to what you and your supplier need.
Integration is an essential aspect of supplier enablement. Ensure the solution you select is compatible with your and your supplier’s current systems, like communication and data entry platforms. This can ease integration processes and prepare you for supplier enablement sooner.
4. Advanced Data Validation
EDI systems already provide companies with basic data validation checking services, allowing you some sense of security when accessing data. However, supplier enablement solutions can offer increased validation and accuracy when checking information, so you can decide on a solution based on how advanced this function is.
Search for a supplier enablement solution that offers advanced validation services built-in for a more comprehensive solution. This capability can help bring a more proactive approach to troubleshooting by pointing out potential problems. Further, advanced data validation will help you benefit from lower informational errors and omissions.
5. Invoice Reconciliation Support
When working with your supplier, it can be time-consuming to check that their invoices and your information match, each representing the same information. However, this task is essential for ensuring you have accurate records of your activities and can access this information reliably when needed.
Having a powerful invoice reconciliation feature in your supplier enablement solution can offer several benefits to you and your supplier. This feature can help save you time and money by using automation to check information, so you can direct manual efforts to other tasks and rest assured information is accurate. It can also help strengthen your relationship with your suppliers. Supplier enablement solutions can help build trust and cause fewer issues, creating more positive interactions.
6. Supplier Performance Measurements
Your supplier enablement solution can help streamline and improve many processes at your company. It can also provide valuable feedback about your supplier’s performance, highlighting their efficiency and areas of improvement. This feature can help you see which suppliers perform the best, allowing you to delegate tasks better.
When you understand your suppliers and their performances, you can build a strong brand reputation. You can make a network of reliable suppliers that help you meet your business and customer goals.
7. Strong Security
Because your supplier enablement solution will access and use valuable information about your company, customers and supplies, it is essential to choose a solution that offers extensive security features. When you can provide strong security with your solution, you can ensure high confidentiality and integrity for your whole supply chain. Some security features include cloud encryption and data replication practices.
Having quality security features can help strengthen the features provided by your selected solution. It can also help you maintain your relationship with your suppliers. When you can protect their sensitive information thoroughly, you can increase trust.
What to Look for in Supplier Enablement Providers
While there are several features you will need to consider when selecting a solution, you should also consider your supplier enablement provider. Some solution provider qualities to keep in mind as you explore your options include:
- Reputation: When considering a provider, research their company and what other customers and reviewers think about them and their services. Understanding their reputation can help enlighten you about what it would be like to work with them and what their strengths and weaknesses might be. You can explore company testimonials and third-party reviews to discover information you can use to make a well-informed decision about your provider.
- Service management level: Each provider will offer a different level of services and involvement with their solution. Researching this can help you understand which services they handle to help ensure everything runs efficiently when using their solution. You might also want to see if they offer in-house support staff that can troubleshoot and solve problems as they arise.
- Industry experience: Every industry has specific needs and compliance standards. As you consider a particular provider, ensure they have experience with your industry and understand the steps you might need to protect your company, suppliers, customers and other points on your supply chain. Working with a client that knows your industry and compliance needs can create a strong provider relationship and ensure you choose the best solution for your company.
- Quick onboarding capabilities: When implementing a supplier enablement solution, ensure you can efficiently and reliably onboard them for strong connectivity and communication. Especially if you work with multiple suppliers, choosing a provider that can handle several applications for a smoother onboarding can help all parties transition to this new system.
- Training: Consider also working with a provider that has comprehensive training and educational programs to teach employees and suppliers how to use the solution. Using a new software can be a learning curve for many employees as they adjust to new features and processes. Help ease their transition by selecting a provider that offers comprehensive customer service, troubleshooting and educational efforts.
- Communication: All solutions and systems experience challenges every now and then. The servers that hold software or data might be down, or you might receive errors when trying to access or input information. When problems arise, ensure you can reach your provider for help. Research their customer help services and ensure they align with your expectations. Finding a service that meets your standards can ensure you can solve problems efficiently.
- Scale and geographic range: If you operate a large, far-reaching business, you want a provider that can offer services and a solution to handle your scale. Research can help you find a provider that works with companies like yours so you know they can meet your company’s needs.
- Culture and values: Along with an excellent reputation, it can be beneficial to partner with a company that shares your values. This quality can ensure that they will prioritize the same things as you, and those elements will reflect in their products and services. As you research providers and solutions, consider your company’s values, including organization, communication, quality and timeliness. You can foster a stronger relationship with your provider when you have similar cultures and emphasize the same values.
Request a Free Supplier Enablement Demo From TrueCommerce
As you search for the right supplier enablement solution for your company, knowing the features and qualities to look for in the solution and provider can help steer your company in the right direction. Using a quality solution from an experienced provider can help you reap the benefits of supplier enablement.
At TrueCommerce, we offer several management solutions, including supplier enablement, to help companies like yours increase efficiency and foster growth. Our supplier enablement solution provides all the services your company will need, from several connectivity selections to onboarding and managed services. We created a solution that maximizes adaption to help your suppliers transition smoothly without sacrificing their existing systems and can cater to several scales to meet the needs of several businesses.
With almost 30 years of experience, we have worked with around 12,000 companies to provide quality solutions across several industries, sizes and scales. Discover what makes TrueCommerce solutions different and request a free demo.