August 22, 2017

Supplier Enablement, Time for an Easy Fix

There it is, lurking quietly, a studiously ignored reminder that pops up on your phone every day. It’s only 112 days late. Not so bad you tell yourself, that’s only three months and you’ve been extremely busy. You have ticked a huge amount off your to do list and not only that you’ve also had a lovely time in the Alps, admiring the views from the Via Ferrata before attempting to befriend an unquestionably questionable Marmot, glass of wine in hand.

In all honesty, I’m with you, you’ve done pretty well. Your targets will be hit, even exceeded and the break was most definitely deserved. Yet now that you’re back in the office and it’s approaching September, perhaps this is the time you needed all along in order to finally explore that dastardly supplier enablement issue.

It may not sound like much and it may not even translate directly into savings in an instantaneous explosion of goodwill and happiness. But, we all know that it is a common sense issue, one that has sadly been left by the wayside in the past.

There is an argument that is doing the rounds at the moment that now is the time to completely reimagine procurement and build the various processes again from the ground up.

This is a process that can’t be achieved without supplier enablement.

In short being close to your suppliers.

Sometimes this can be difficult, specifically if you haven’t had a chance to build your systems from the bottom up. This would make it perfectly possible to be stuck in a scenario where supplier information is all over the place. A document here, a document there, a document missing, some details loaded up on one system, a little more on another and something completely contradictory on that old system you used to use. It’s an issue that’s more common (amongst businesses of all sizes) than you’d expect and it makes it very hard to have good relationships with your suppliers.

So what’s the answer, what will take away the headache, the hangover from all that wine more quickly than a handful of paracetamol and a glass of ice cold water?

One solution you may come across is the option of unifying all your systems in one overarching solution, generously provided by a large (overbearing) ERP provider. The issue with this, aside from the prohibitive cost is it will result in other more innovative ‘problem specific’ software being locked out. Not just in procurement but across the organisation, simply as it’s not part of the requisite portfolio.

It is an option to be considered though, despite my obvious bias.

That being said, I would put forward the argument that as SaaS and solution specific software continues to grow, it will be collaboration and integration that will triumph over all in one suites.

A number of these innovative companies offer supplier portals and this is where the enablement comes into play. By allowing potential and current suppliers to upload required information, data and records your organisation is able to speed up the onboarding process drastically. Yet it isn’t a one way solution. It is also a platform for communication.

Given the quality of data and the fact that all the suppliers are in one place it is perfectly possible to keep them up to date on a number of points. One easy one would be when they can expect an invoice to be paid. Not only that but it could well be perfectly possible to slice and dice the suppliers in order to send out useful or important information/requests.

All of this points towards better communication. Something that at no point, anywhere in business should be undervalued.

 

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