Supplier Enablement and E-Invoicing: Lessons Learned From a Fortune 500 Food/Beverage Company

There’s no substitute for learning from experience when it comes to supplier enablement for e-invoicing programs. Earlier this year, our research team spoke with the P2P process owner and head of supplier enrollment for a large food and beverage company. Spend Matters previously shared some of the early lessons in the first installment in this series based on the company’s rollout of Taulia’s connectivity and portal capability (after previously using the Xign solution). Today, we continue key lessons learned from this discussion.

  • Not only segmenting and “tier-ing” enrollment and onboarding efforts based on supplier type, category, size and other criteria, but also empowering the rest of the organization (outside of AP and procurement) to get involved in segmentation and enrollment (albeit with “cheat sheets” and templates to guide their efforts) within a given category
  • Ensuring that when a supplier calls a help desk, they have access to the right information quickly. A key lesson learned was that a technology vendor is not necessarily a help desk for company-specific issues (e.g., customized supplier portal and APR questions). Rather, vendors often specialize in technical support. Either finding a provider that can offer a true help desk or taking this function on internally is key. In addition, assigning a dedicated resource (or more, if needed) to the supplier enrollment process to quickly respond to supplier questions, from basic to advanced, is a “large help” with the overall speed and effectiveness of the onboarding program
  • Having strong process orchestration that includes tightly coordinating efforts with not only suppliers, but also internal resources and the solutions provider itself. In one case, the organization had challenges with missing documents, but was able to create an internal portal for AP team members to contact suppliers either in the pre-enrollment or enrollment-process phase to push information to them, as required, including needed documents. This simplified steps for non-AP participants by providing AP-based support for supplier outreach and document-led enrollment
  • Driving suppliers to not necessarily take the “easy way out” and submit invoices via a portal – the time invested to enable more direct integration between systems (or at least one-way data flows) without having to rekey information is a benefit that suppliers realize more quickly than many initially considered, despite the initial effort to move to re-enablement versus a kludged portal-submission approach (which is really a stop-gap to true e-invoicing and supplier connectivity)

In the next installment of this series, we explore additional tips and tactics that we gleaned from our discussion with this large food and beverage company.

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