Yes, planning is the first step before anything else happens? Find out about your suppliers. Break them into two major groups:
• B2B Suppliers: Those using a defined EDI format to send and receive data. Suppliers will adapt to a system which uses a format which they already are using instead of developing a format specific to your need.
• Online Suppliers: Most important information to get from them is the type and version of browsers they are using. Onboarding of suppliers using supported browsers should occur first. Now work with the remaining suppliers to either change browsers or work with your technical team to add support for additional browsers. Remember that changing browsers is easier and cheaper than developing support for a new browser.
Merger or acquisitions will increase the number of suppliers to be on boarded as well as the type. Plan ahead by adding connectivity options. This will allow you to scale up as needed. This is a better alternative than managing multiple portals.
The old 80/20 rule: 20% of your suppliers will typically account for 80% of your work. By focusing on that big 20%, you will get more return on your investment even while on-boarding a smaller number of suppliers. Once your top suppliers are on-board, expand your focus to the next tier.
Supplier on-boarding is the most critical part of your new system so you must be proactive rather than reactive rather than just waiting for it to happen on it's own. Explain to the supplier base how it will help both you and them realize greater benefits. Make it simple and avoid supplier push back.
Supplier registration should be a simple event. Send email invitations that will let most suppliers self-register. Yes, a smaller percentage will run into issues. Your team can concentrate on helping them. Give supplier administrators enough information and the correct permissions to modify as needed. Prioritize implementation by starting with a simpler process. Could be Purchase Orders or Accounts Payable.
Training must give the users a positive perception of the system. Training should break the usual resistance to “something new”. Convince users that while their investment is small, the result will help both organizations.