Congratulations! Your company has made the decision to streamline and simplify the way they do business by investing in a source-to-pay (S2P) software solution.
Now, how do you get your suppliers to adopt the idea of transacting electronically? This S2P implementation impacts more than just your company; if your suppliers are not onboard with this change, it could create a strain on your relationships and negatively impact the bottom line.
Suppliers are often under the false impression that they do not have the technical capabilities to transact over a procurement platform, that it will cause extra work for their employees, or that the tool will be too difficult to learn. The truth is, as long as a supplier has an active email address, they can utilize most solutions. Of course, having the capability to integrate your systems via electronic formats such as cXML and EDI make the process even more seamless, but it is certainly not a requirement just to transact.
How can you make suppliers more confident about adopting the new S2P solution?
First, help your suppliers realize the value of transacting in the new procurement solution by educating them on the many supplier benefits:
- Suppliers will gain better, real-time visibility into their overall sales, while reducing the costs they have previously incurred with paper-based transactions. Automating this process decreases the amount of time and resources a supplier needs to dedicate to transacting with you, allowing their employees to spend their time more efficiently – increased participation on other important projects, time to develop new ideas and better processes, etc. Since time is money, implementing a process proven to help you work smarter and receive payments faster, is a concept that most businesses would be willing to accept.
- Suppliers can also use most platforms to publish online catalogs for easier purchasing. Online catalogs are generally easy to manage and allow suppliers to showcase their products and update pricing in real time. Having a catalog embedded with a customer means more sales, more reorders, and more customer loyalty. The best part is, creating a catalog can be as simple as filling out an Excel template.
- Fewer touch points throughout the source-to-pay process drastically reduces the risk of error in ordering, processing, bottlenecking, and delivery. Manual entry can lead to major mistakes, including double billing, filling incorrect order quantities resulting in potential waste, or invoicing at the incorrect price. These errors all cause delays in the invoice approval process, which in turn delays the supplier receiving payment.
- Research done by leaders in the industry have found that a fully automated electronic invoice process can generate a savings of 60% to 80% over traditional paper-based systems.
Next, explain to your suppliers the reasons your company decided to make this transformation, what it will mean for them, and your plan for deployment. Often the scariest part of the adoption and transition process revolves around the thought of change. When it comes to supplier adoption, a strong training and change management approach encompassing, communication, development and alignment is a must.
- Communication: A custom communications strategy and messaging is crafted based on your audience. Strategic delivery of tailored messaging with suppliers needs to happen early and often, always addressing current state and next steps. Two-way channels of communication play a critical role in what will determine adoptability and change success.
- Development: By creating a blended learning strategy for the suppliers. Long-term change management efforts are able to transform audiences from a point of awareness to a point of commitment.
- Alignment: The final step of the change journey is to recalibrate based on the new processes and to align and maximize resources.
Keep the communication open by having a help desk email address or phone number for suppliers to reach out to with questions and comments. Prepare a script to be used by the Accounts Payable team when they get calls from suppliers. Typically, AP is the first place a supplier will go for help, and it is important that your message is understood and available to all who will interact with them. It is a good idea to develop a clear training plan as well – how will suppliers learn to use their new procurement tool? By doing these things, you are building confidence and a strong relationship between you and your suppliers, therefore increasing their willingness to participate.
Once the suppliers have adopted the new source-to-pay solution, you can move forward together toward the goal of complete electronic and touchless commerce transactions.
For information on implementation and deployment assistance, please visit nitorpartners.com.