In this blog, I’ll continue by sharing some more common mistakes I’ve seen companies make when onboarding suppliers. I’ll also discuss some of the ways that you can avoid them. If you missed part 1 of this series, you can find it here: Pitfalls to Avoid When EDI-Enabling Your Suppliers – PART 1. And here’s a link to a handy Supplier Enablement Program Checklist to help you do it right!
Pitfall # 4: Lack of simple EDI solution options available for your suppliers
Some suppliers may not have the requirement for a sophisticated EDI infrastructure, while others may lack the budget, expertise or resources. Those suppliers will therefore not be able to participate and you will miss out on the incremental ROI from each supplier that is added to your program. However, you can address this challenge.
SOLUTION: Remove the barriers to supplier participation by providing suppliers with a range of EDI options that are genuinely easy-to-use. And, avoid any that require them to do a lot of data entry. Options available in the market today include customized web-based forms, direct integration with Excel or suppliers’ preferred accounting software, as well as simple-to-use EDI software and hosted cloud options. These Internet-based options are available worldwide, so if your company wants to expand, leveraging other markets, including emerging markets, you can now utilize EDI to communicate electronically everywhere in the world, despite the complexities of different time zones, regulations and languages.
Pitfall #5: Your suppliers think it costs too much to participate in your program
As inexpensive as you may think an entry-level EDI solution is, your supplier may not agree and thus refuse to make the initial investment – especially if they don’t understand that there is a payoff for them too.
SOLUTION: Consider removing this barrier by funding the entire program for your small- and medium-size suppliers with a B2B integration service provider. That should speed supplier participation and result in an earlier payoff for you that can more than cover the costs associated with the development of the customized solution and the subsequent transaction fees. Or, at least help to educate on the clear value of the program to suppliers!
Pitfall #6: Insufficient planning for supplier communications
Once your program goals have been determined you need to communicate, communicate, communicate with your suppliers. If you don’t anticipate their needs and questions, you’ll be inundated with calls for clarification and support.
SOLUTION: Develop a solid communications plan using a variety of tactics appropriate to each implementation phase to ensure that your message is clear and available to your suppliers when they need them. Examples include education via email/webinar/face-to-face meetings, special website with Frequently Asked Questions, a series of emails to urge progress, special testing documentation. Also, be sure to regularly review reports to track supplier progress and address issues as they arise. Above all, make sure they are written from the supplier perspective, not just yours. It can help to work with your service provider here, to ensure the messages you send are valued by your suppliers – after all, service providers do this every day of the week, so use their expertise and help!
It’s really true that today it is possible to get to 100% participation of your suppliers in your B2B initiatives and benefit by streamlining your procurement, receiving, invoicing and payment processes. But, you need to properly prepare for your supplier enablement program. You may find this Supplier Enablement Program Checklist a good tool to help you do it right!