In my blog, Six Pitfalls to Avoid When EDI-Enabling Your Suppliers – PART 2, the sixth pitfall I highlighted was “Insufficient planning for supplier communications.” As part of your supplier communications plan, you will need to send a series of communications, most likely in the form of emails. Preparing complete, well-thought-out email templates for communication will help to reduce the number of calls for support that you would otherwise get from your suppliers further down the line with your programs.
Before you start, take a look at this checklist for supplier enablement.
The first email in your series should provide suppliers with an introduction to your EDI program. You will send this introduction to each group of new suppliers you want to add. It should include:
- The goal of the program for your company – such as improved productivity, better customer service, greater efficiency
- The benefits that participation will deliver to the supplier – such as faster payment of invoices, potential to become a strategic supplier that will enjoy increased business, the opportunity to continue to get your business
- How to learn more about your EDI program – such as a link to a website where additional materials may be found, registering for a webinar during which you’ll describe more of the plans and details, the contact to call for answers to questions
- Timing requirements – it’s best to include a deadline by which some action must be taken or a process completed. Also, if applicable, it should include consequences of non-compliance.
- Next steps – Should the supplier contact a specific person? Complete a survey or form? Update a website? Register for a webinar?
As with all your communications, the email should be concise, accurate and informative. Furthermore, it should be written with your supplier’s perspective in mind. For example, if you’ve done a supplier survey and you’ve identified a list of suppliers that would be good candidates for a web forms-based solution – either because they don’t have the resources to invest in a full EDI solution or the timing is not right, but you still want them to participate immediately – you need to provide the information about the forms solution.
And as a reminder, you may find this Supplier Enablement Program Checklist a useful tool. It provides a listing of the detailed steps you should complete for each phase of your supplier enablement program, along with a description of each step.