What Is A Supplier Portal & What Are Its Benefits?
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If you are a procurement professional engaging with multiple suppliers, you will be aware of the challenges involved and the amount of time required to manage these crucial business relationships successfully.
The amount of time needed to handle supplier relationships and ensure that processes are efficient translates to a significant financial investment from the organization. Organizations therefore make use of software solutions, which include supplier portals of various types, to automate and streamline their procurement process, empowering them to work more effectively with vendors.
What is a supplier portal?
A supplier portal, also known as a vendor portal, is simply the digital entry point for any platform that connects suppliers to businesses. Portal is a catch-all term and is frequently a feature of any software-as-a-service solution (SaaS) that organizations and suppliers will use when engaging and collaborating with one another.
From a supplier’s perspective, it provides them with the means to manage interactions with their customers, carry out tasks such as submitting invoices, and track activities, such as the status of orders and payments.
Supplier portals have therefore become an essential component of supply chain management software by not only streamlining procurement processes but also improving communication between suppliers and organizations.
What does a supplier portal do?
As ‘portal’ is such an umbrella term, the answer to this question is also broad. A portal can describe any web page or web application interface that facilitates the exchange of data or information between two parties, in this case businesses and their suppliers.
For a better understanding, it is helpful to distinguish between the types of portal and the functions for which they are used.
For example, the term ‘portal’ might refer to transactional networks, such as Tungsten, which provides its portal to enable access to a network, primarily for the purposes of invoicing. Portal may also be used to describe access to collaborative platforms such as SAP Business Network (formerly SAP Ariba). These are examples of portals that facilitate interactions between many businesses on the one side and many suppliers on the other.
Data portals are another example, such as Ecovadis. In these instances, a supplier may submit their own information, or information about a supplier is stored in a manner that can then be accessed by any subscriber.
On the other hand, portal might refer to the entry point (or entry points) through which a supplier accesses the specific tools or applications that the customer expects that supplier to use in order to exchange information, such as many of those solutions found in the best-of-breed Procurement technology landscape.
Meanwhile, a unified supplier portal with single-sign on helps eradicate any challenges that suppliers may face when dealing with multiple systems and departments within your organization. As each vendor has unique requirements, a unified supplier portal will help you better manage these requirements, with a fully configurable supplier portal that can be customized for that specific supplier.
What kind of suppliers use a unified supplier portal?
An organization might use a unified supplier portal to serve any type of vendor, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and any other business that provides customers with goods or services. This type of supplier portal is effective for both large and small suppliers, as it provides a single point of access for managing interactions and tracking the progress of orders, for example.
They are especially appropriate for businesses that have complex supply chains or that deal with a wide variety of suppliers. For large organizations dealing with global vendors, various types of portals are becoming increasingly widespread, driving the need for the single unified supplier portal to help suppliers navigate an increasingly complex underlying technology landscape.
What are the benefits of using a supplier portal?
There are various benefits to using a supplier portal for organizations and their suppliers.
For those organizations that still need to do so, transitioning to using a unified supplier portal to manage supplier relations empowers them to focus time on areas of the business which may be underperforming and require attention to increase profitability.
This can be mutually beneficial to both parties in the short term.
The vendor’s processes and tasks can be streamlined using a supplier portal, allowing them to provide a better service to their customers. This improved level of service can translate into shorter lead times for customers or even more competitive rates, as the supplier will recognize the benefits of nurturing the relationship with the organization.
This then allows the organization to use these benefits to its advantage by offering more competitive pricing to the market, shorter delivery times, or a greater selection of products or services that are sourced from that supplier.
At the same time, the vendor will also benefit from this and see increased profitability through its relationship with the organization.
Further benefits of using a supplier portal are outlined below.
Automate admin tasks
A supplier portal provides organizations with the opportunity to automate various administrative tasks that can otherwise be overly time-consuming. This could include inputting data, or sourcing and providing copies of documents, such as invoices and reminders.
Automating these tasks in a supplier portal reduces the workload of the relevant individuals in the company, allowing them to focus their efforts on more crucial tasks.
Vendor portals can provide suppliers and organizations with a shared overview of relevant data. When not using a unified supplier portal, each entity views its own version of the data on its internal application; unfortunately, this data is often different from the other entity’s.
Using a unified supplier portal can ensure that this is not the case. It provides both parties with the means to work more efficiently and accurately thanks to data being immediately available.
The bonus is that it also reduces the likelihood of human error. Any data uploaded or edited by one side will be made available immediately to the other entity.
Record of actions
When changes are made, often by multiple people, it is essential to have a clear record for reference and accountability. A supplier portal allows both parties to track changes; organizations can check the status of raised purchase orders and whether the vendor has fulfilled them, for example.
Therefore, if an issue requires clarification, this can be done quickly and ensures that problems can be addressed before they impact any other areas of the procurement process.
A vendor portal allows the organization to better manage the relationship with the supplier and streamlines communication between the two parties. Rather than using traditional contact methods and directing them to the appropriate person, either party can send messages via a portal.
This method ensures immediate message delivery to the relevant stakeholder and removes the need to identify a specific person’s contact details. As well as eliminating the need to spend excessive time on administrative tasks, it streamlines communication for the benefit of both parties.
There are various notifications and reminders that need to be issued to different types of vendors at different times. When not using a supplier portal, these are often sent manually via email by the appropriate stakeholder.
When handled by a supplier portal, these can be sent automatically, enabling both parties to focus valuable time elsewhere.
Set your suppliers up for success
If you are looking for a supplier portal strategy that sets up your suppliers for success from the outset, HICX’s supplier portal software is a single, intelligent supplier portal that connects all your supplier-facing systems. Your suppliers will use one portal that can be configured to their needs, including workflow and priorities.
It enables you to consolidate supplier tasks from all your systems into a single, logical view and allows suppliers to efficiently accomplish what’s needed. It is all managed from one place and suppliers also benefit from a single-entry point to all systems – for receiving orders, sending invoices or taking part in sourcing, innovation or discovery events or any other initiative or activity.