Does your accounts payable (AP) department...
… take too long to onboard suppliers?
… struggle with the collection of invoices from various channels?
… spend lots of time responding to phone calls and e-mails from suppliers regarding the status of their invoice or payment, or what’s taking so long?
… have trouble collecting tax forms and other documents from suppliers?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then a supplier portal may be the answer.
An online supplier portal facilitates the secure, electronic exchange of documents and information between trading partners. A supplier portal can be integrated with a buyer’s legacy applications; some portals are built into an end-to-end platform for transforming the accounts payable lifecycle.
The benefits of a supplier portal
Incorporating a supplier portal into your AP transformation strategy delivers seven critical benefits:
1. Increased supplier adoption of electronic invoices.
- A lack of invoice standards has made electronic invoicing a tough sell in the United States. What’s more, most small businesses have struggled to find the capital and technical and departmental resources required to deploy an electronic data interchange (EDI) platform for generating electronic invoices. An online supplier portal makes it easy for suppliers to submit invoices electronically. In fact, suppliers can instantly convert (or “flip”) the electronic purchase orders that they receive from buyers through an online portal into an electronic invoice that flows straight-through to a buyer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, without operator intervention. Shipping notices and other routine documents also can be submitted electronically through an online portal.
2. Fewer phone calls and e-mails from suppliers.
- An online portal provides suppliers with visibility into the status of their invoices and payments, eliminating the time-consuming game of phone tag that typically occurs when a supplier’s collections team wants to determine when an invoice will be paid. Providing suppliers with self-service visibility into invoices and payments frees your staff to focus more time on value-added activities.
3. Greater visibility.
An online portal makes supplier and transaction information instantly available to authorized users across your business, regardless of their geographic location. This is ideal for businesses with far-flung business units, shared services centers and sites.
4. Streamlined operations.
- An online supplier portal can be the first step towards increasing the percentage of invoices that a buyer posts straight-through to their ERP application, without human operator intervention. An online supplier portal can aggregate all invoices onto a single platform. And suppliers can input missing invoice information into a portal to resolve exceptions without the need for back-and-forth phone calls or e-mails.
5. Better collaboration between trading partners.
- Getting an answer on seemingly straight-forward questions about an invoice is easier said than done when buyers and suppliers are viewing out-of-sync data stored in their respective business systems. Resolving a single exception can involve weeks of tracking down documentation and e-mailing documents back-and-forth. An online portal improves trading partner collaboration by providing users with a common real-time view of purchase orders, invoices and other financial information.
6. Streamlined supplier onboarding.
- It can take weeks for buyers to collect, validate and input the information required to onboard suppliers, with purchasers anxiously waiting out the ordeal. The supplier onboarding process at some businesses is so onerous that purchasers may not receive goods and services in a timely manner. An online supplier portal accelerates the onboarding process by requesting, collecting and tracking information such as financial documents, non-disclosure agreements, contracts, compliance surveys and more. Best-in-class portals also monitor to documents to ensure that they do not age out of compliance.
7. Enhanced control.
- An online supplier portal can help safeguard sensitive financial information with segregation of duties, roles-based access and multi-factor authentication. An online supplier portal also makes it easy to audit changes to supplier information and bank account information, conduct tax reviews and notify users of outdated documents.
Avoid these supplier portal “gotchas”
Each of the seven benefits described above is compelling.
Together, they transform accounts payable into a highly efficient, strategic powerhouse.
But you cannot achieve these benefits without the right supplier portal. Many providers of supplier portals use approaches that make it difficult to achieve the rate of adoption or process improvements that accounts payable departments require.
To avoid these “gotchas,” look for a supplier portal that:
- Supports traditional e-mail methods, enabling invoices to be forwarded for processing
- Accommodates universal standards for invoice and document submission including PDF, JPEG, Word and Excel format
- Aggregates data on all paper and electronic invoices for reporting
- Does not force significant behavior changes on your suppliers
IPS Productivity Wrx℠ enables businesses to achieve the full benefits of a supplier portal, while avoiding the adoption and efficiency “gotchas.”
Contact us to arrange a no-obligation web demonstration of our supplier portal. You and your suppliers will be happy that you did!