Key Elements of the Next Generation Supplier Portals

Supplier Portal

The business landscape went through a drastic disruption and transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and supplier management has taken center stage for enterprises to ensure supply chain agility and organizational resilience.

The performance of supplier relationships and effective communication and collaboration are significant factors for supply chain success, and a supplier portal is a key technology platform that:

  • Supports registration and self-service updates by suppliers 
  • Provides quick access to crucial information such as contracts
  • Supports effective communication
  • Fosters seamless collaboration across internal and supplier stakeholders
  • Enables seamless insight into supplier performance and compliance.

While enterprises may have some of these elements somewhat supported, the next generation Supplier portal seamlessly integrates all of these elements.

What is a Supplier Portal?

Third-party supplier

At its simplest form, a Supplier Portal is simply a gateway or an entry-point for suppliers (or third parties) to track information, get notifications, and process information. It can be a few web pages with basic information for current and prospective suppliers. Supplier Portals typically also include third-party/supplier registration and self-service updates.

Though enterprises’ increased reliance on suppliers and third parties to perform or support core business functions, the Next Generation Supplier portal can be the entry point for core supplier management functions.  

What makes a Next-Generation Supplier Portal?

A supplier portal enables enterprises to consolidate their third-party supplier data and makes it easily accessible and actionable. In addition, it offers transparency and control over the supplier lifecycle, improving overall communication and collaboration with its third-party suppliers.

A supplier portal typically supports self-registration for prospective suppliers and automates supplier onboarding and offboarding processes to reduce adoption friction. 

Suppliers can enter and update their basic information, including legal entities, locations, services, diversity information, point of contact, and more.

The next generation of Supplier or 3rd Party Engagement Portals go well beyond the basics and support the following core functions:

Effective Communication with Supplier & Third Parties

Third-party communication

To improve communication, an effective supplier portal has customizable communication templates that can send alerts, notices, or collect information from all or selected suppliers with an auditable trail of all communications. Certain notifications may require supplier acknowledgment, and others may require suppliers to submit some information or documents. In addition, depending on the global footprint of the suppliers and third parties, the portal would automatically support communication based on the language preferences (including support for right-to-left languages such as Hebrew and Arabic) of the third parties even whereas the publisher may have published the notification in a common language (such as English).

Easy access to Contracts (MSA, SOWs, Amendments)

Contract Management

The next-gen Supplier Portal provides easy access to current supplier contracts and third-party agreements to authorized users. In addition, the client Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system used to author, execute, and store contracts interfaces with the Supplier Portal to provide the latest contracts and amendments. 

If the instances where the supplier portal and the CLM is integrated, the solution can manage, track and provide access to all third-party supplier contracts & service agreements/SOW, contract versions, change orders, interpretations, amendments, work orders, key contract dates, pricing details including discounts, and key terms such as insurance, termination, warranty, etc. This not only provides full transparency but also ensures compliance across the third-party supplier ecosystem.

The supplier portal integrated with CLM routes contracts & work orders for approval, facilitating enhanced collaboration and productivity, supporting reminders about expiry and renewal of contracts and work orders, and tracking of deliverables & obligations.

Ability to Manage Vendor/Supplier Invoices & Financials

Vendor Invoices & Financials

The next generation of supplier portals enables suppliers and third parties to submit invoices and efficiently track the invoices’ status.

Internal stakeholders are notified of such submission of invoices, and the prepayment invoice validation process is initiated. On completion of the validation, the invoice would be submitted to the Accounts Payable team or system for further processing and payment. More complete supplier portals also track service credits & incentives based on service levels, capture line-item details, validate invoices against contract compliance terms, and capture forecasted & actual consumption, support dispute processes, and more.

Supplier/Third-Party Performance and Compliance Management

Third-party performance & compliance

The next-gen supplier portal supports the supplier performance management processes to monitor, report and analyze vendor performance and quality, thereby enabling enterprises to improve efficiency and derive greater business value across their third-party vendor ecosystem. 

The next-gen supplier portal makes it easy to extract and set up Contractual SLAs and KPIs, including minimum & target thresholds, and for suppliers to report the SLAs/KPI actuals or track Service Exceptions or request Exemptions. In addition, the next-gen Supplier portal makes it easy to report and analyze service performance, perform root cause analysis (RCA) of non-compliances, and track service Corrective Action Plans (CAP).

The next-gen supplier portal can also track and manage Contractual Deliverables & Obligations to ensure compliance, mitigate risks, and increase contract value. It is also able to automate the approval and acceptance processes.

Vendor performance management is an ongoing process and provides valuable & actionable insights that can help an organization streamline its business relationships.

Issue Management & Remediation Functionalities

Resolving contract issues

By their very nature, most issues are unexpected and can arise at any point during the contract lifecycle through ongoing risk monitoring, assessment & vendor performance reviews. The next-gen supplier portal can manage issues from initiation to resolution.

The supplier portal enables the enterprise to create, track and assign issues, identify high-priority issues, and implement and track corrective actions. In addition, the supplier portal can also automatically create and escalate issues based on the defined threshold of risk, compliance, and performance, and auto-computes time since submission (issue aging) & resolution time.

To gain complete visibility of issues across the third-party ecosystem, the supplier portal supports insightful, dynamic & customizable dashboards & reports. These dashboards & reports provide insights like issue summary, the number of issues (escalated, overdue, open, resolved), issues by status, priority, type, location, vertical, sub-vertical, and detailed issue segregation.

Why is the tracking of issues important? Often issues are a good indicator of how well the supplier / 3rd party relationship is performing for the enterprise, and analysis of issues can lead to proactive steps to remedy the relationship.  

Feedback Using Feedback Forms and Supplier Relationship Surveys

Third-party relationship survey

The next-gen supplier portal makes it easy to assess the health of supplier relationships and client satisfaction through surveys and feedback forms. This improves the business relationship an enterprise has with its suppliers and enables suppliers to voice their opinions and give valuable & constructive feedback.

The supplier portal enables enterprises to model & distribute supplier satisfaction surveys easily. It offers the ability to set weights or sections or questions, question branching based on profile or response, set survey expiry date & reminders, define specific thresholds of responses to require mandatory comments, and save & resume in progress responses.

The supplier portal enables enterprises to track and report survey responses for evaluation and further action.

How can Enlighta help?

The next-generation supplier portal enables enterprises to realize the full potential of their business relationship with third-party suppliers. In addition, it helps them to mitigate risks and reduce value leakage across the supplier lifecycle.  

Enlighta offers robust next-generation supplier/third-party engagement portal capabilities that enable enterprises to improve communication with third parties, effectively manage third-party invoices and financials, enhance third-party performance & compliance management, simplify issue management & remediation, and get third-party feedback using feedback forms & supplier relationship surveys.

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