Supplier Enablement, Onboarding and Collection Fields: A Brief History

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Supplier enablement and onboarding is nothing new. Going back to medieval and ancient times, ventures and organizations did due diligence on their key supply partners – and sometimes, as history has all too often told us, not enough! But in the past few decades, as myriads of regulations and laws have cropped up – not to mention greater general human and consumer interest in who companies and brands do business with based on corporate social responsibility (CSR) factors – organizations have become more diligent in understanding who their suppliers really are.

Of course this starts with supplier enablement or supplier onboarding, as it is sometimes known. Technology is also driving the adoption need as well as the dependence of our diverse systems that require additional data to feed. Indeed, since the arrival of ERP purchasing, e-procurement and e-invoicing systems in the 1990s, procurement and accounts payable departments have increasingly realized that supplier enablement is a critical process in achieving the expected returns on original investments.

The enablement process for purchase-to-pay (P2P) environments involves collecting and maintaining lots of individual vendor-specific details. These can include: vendor ID number, business type, commodity code(s), D&B number, company name, legal status, DBA/alternative company names, banking details, corporate addresses, phone/fax, country-specific mailing addresses, physical address, facility locations, primary and secondary contacts, sales executive/account owner and much more.

This list is an early start, and only really considers A/P and procurement angles without even touching on category-specific requirements! Other stakeholders within finance are often interested in hundreds of additional fields including insurance (by type), tax (beyond TIN numbers), EDI capability, reference companies/contacts, emails, etc.

This post was based in part on content in the Spend Matters Perspective, Supplier Enablement for Invoice Discounting and Supply Chain Finance: Background, Tips, and Secrets for Success. In this research brief, Jason Busch and David Gustin explore the history and future of supplier enablement, centering not only on P2P processes, but also onboarding for trade financing (e.g., supply chain finance, invoice discounting, etc.) initiatives.

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