Automating the onboarding process reduces time-consuming activities, such as data gathering, communication and testing, to reduce the cost and complexity of large onboarding programs. Reducing the manual intervention of onboarding partners eliminates errors and provides a higher return on investment.
What has changed to enable a more automated and accelerated onboarding process? Simply put, it’s newly available technologies on which today’s modern multi-tier business-to-business (B2B) networks are built. The ability to automate processes across procurement, order fulfillment and logistics requires the integration of trading partners on a robust network.
Getting those partners onboarded is the important first step to establishing meaningful business collaboration. Quick and complexity-free onboarding campaigns create critical mass, leading to many more mutually beneficial business relationships and a clear competitive edge for those who take advantage of these new capabilities.
Understanding any roadblocks of the supplier onboarding process can provide the baseline for improving supplier relationships and prevent any problems in wider supplier-related processes downstream. Without appropriate software solutions in place, it is a difficult and time-consuming task to harmonize processes and controls across an entire organization. Establishing a supplier onboarding methodology enforces consistency and completeness as the same processes and standards are used for all partners.
The Key Steps for Successful Onboarding of Trading Partners
- Identify which partners are best aligned with your B2B initiatives and which can add value to the network.
- Establish partner profiles and enable partners to update these as changes occur.
- Conduct a connectivity and technology audit to determine the technical capabilities and needs of your partner, and to better understand their communications infrastructure.
- Connect, test and integrate business processes with partners. Companies should review policies and profiles, and configure B2B systems to integrate with the workflow of their trading partners. This integration needs to be able to scale to span multiple systems, partners and processes.
- Continuously monitor the performance of each trading partner to make sure each partner is in compliance with established goals and metrics.
- Ensure effective back-office integration to reduce order-to-pay cycles.
- Establish ongoing management and support of partner relationships and processes to ensure compliance.
After successfully onboarding, trading partners gain supply chain visibility into processes, and can collectively sense and respond to demand and supply challenges. Companies are able to directly respond to customer needs, and can better sense, shape, and drive intelligent and fast responses.
Some benefits include the ability to:
- Increase the interpretation speed and accuracy of partner performance.
- Compress the planning horizon to reduce risk.
- Respond directly to customers.
- Correlate multiple processes across all trading partners.
- Recognize the impact of resource decisions on the entire value chain.
Arun Samuga is the vice president of research and development at Elemica.