Supplier Enablement and P2P Roadblocks — Supplier On-Boarding (Part 2)

This is a post of within a broader series looking at supplier enablement and P2P roadblocks. The material is based in part on our recent research paper: A Foundational Look at P2P Technologies. The paper can be downloaded for free via the above link.

When it comes to getting a purchase-to-pay environment up and running, supplier on-boarding is a critical yet often overlooked enabler of bringing spend under management. Yet many companies that have ventured down the ERP procurement path were not able to onboard suppliers as quickly as they had hoped. No doubt, initial supplier enablement (i.e., capturing and validating supplier information) is often more tricky and time consuming than it appears. In the first post in this series, I covered a number of the challenges and use cases associated with typical supplier enablement examples. But beyond the basics, there are many scenarios and situations that organizations often find themselves in for needing a systematic and automated approach to accomplish the following types of additional on-boarding tasks and requirements.

For example, in many cases, the required responses from suppliers will need to come from multiple parties. But many on-boarding approaches don't take into account that different parties at the supplier may need to complete different components of enablement-related questionnaires, RFIs, etc. At the same time, it's easy for organizations to get carried away with the type of information they need to collect as part of an on-boarding process (which is one of the reasons Spend Matters research suggests the material drop-out rate for suppliers going through a typical electronic invoicing and/or network enablement process). Still, it's important to balance the needs of finance (A/P), procurement, legal and other stakeholders when it comes to collecting the right information about suppliers without a process that creates onerous registration steps or unnecessary on-boarding delays.

Where are the best sources to turn to for supplier on-boarding and enablement help today? One of the most experienced providers in the market is Aravo, although they've largely given up doing basic P2P enablement to tackle even higher value supplier information management areas (outside of broader deployments, that is). Besides Aravo, there are dozens of vendors focused on the enablement process.

SAP customers can turn to SAP partner Hubwoo, along with a range of other providers like Ariba, CVM Solutions, Emptoris (Xcitec), D&B/SupplierForce, etc. The general universe of supplier information management/supply base management vendors (e.g., Lavante) can help solve this problem as well, although the above-mentioned vendors have the most experience targeting the specific challenge as a whole.

In addition, invoice automation, connectivity and electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP) specialists such as Basware, OB10, and numerous others are experienced in solving parts of the whole challenge (depending on vendor) in ERP environments. Last, a number of P2P providers have extensive experience (e.g., Perfect, SciQuest, etc.) as well. Oracle customers can turn to third parties or leverage Oracle's own capabilities including iSupplier Portal, Supplier Management Hub, etc. Regardless of which partners you opt to work with in this area -- or even if you go down an un-recommended brute force on-boarding approach -- it's just as important to keep in mind how you'll keep your supplier data fresh for the long haul.

Jason Busch

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