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Improving Vendor Management and Invoice Handling – Part 1

Part 1 – Vendor On-boarding

Many medium and larger-sized enterprises will have a range of quality certifications and accreditations governing the relationship with external vendors and suppliers. Those impose requirements on how those relationships are created and maintained.

However, organisations by and large still use manual processes to onboard vendors to their business and systems. Let’s take a look at what is typically required to onboard and manage a new supplier:

  1. Onboarding. Collect:
    • Vendor basic company information
    • Vendor trade references
    • Business insurance certificates (public, product, professional, etc.)
    • Other industry-specific certifications, such as ISO2001, etc
    • Contracts and framework agreements
    • Proof of financial viability
    • Etc.
  2. Ongoing vendor management:
    • Enable, track and categorise one-on-one communications
    • Facilitate broadcasts to all suppliers
    • Maintain vendor agreements and manage renewals and terminations
  3. Order and Invoice handling. Allow suppliers to:
    • Upload quotations
    • Review Purchase orders / requisitions
    • Supply invoices and supporting documents
    • Track invoice progress through the system
    • Bid for early payment with additional discounts

Typically, this sort of information is communicated by email and attachments. The vendor administrator will manually check and store supplied information. In certain scenarios a manager will be required to approve documents or an application as a whole.

Information provided will be entered into an accounts or ERP system by an administrator. Documents will be stored in folders (Windows or SharePoint) or the ERP system itself.

For an approval documents are printed and presented to the manager for signature. In some cases, documents are emailed to an approver and a reply with a decision will also arrive by email.

Does this sound efficient and effective in any way? Probably not.

Bring in Betasoft CS and OnBase by Hyland, a point and click development platform for managing documents, information, processes and cases.

Hyland, the makers of OnBase, are a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management and Content Services Platforms.

In this new world potential new suppliers are guided to a Web portal where they can start the on-boarding process. This starts with a login creation and is followed by a form to enter supplier information and related documents.

At the other end a completed application triggers a workflow – a task is added to an administrator’s work queue. All information and related documents are easy to inspect and view. Buttons like ‘Approve’ or ‘Reject’ allow for quick decision making. Upon approval the relevant entries are created in the Accounts or ERP system.

For a little extra sophistication, we can add a requested credit limit field to the supplier form and route applications to the appropriate approver, depending on the level or credit requested.

For queries in either direction we create a small message board in the portal. Messages are stored correctly and linked to a specific vendor, allowing for the most comprehensive audit and reporting functionality.

Stored documents can be assigned expiration dates and if one approaches, a new workflow kicks off to request renewal or update of a particular document. Perhaps a quality certification needs to be renewed every 3 years. This can all be automated and not left to chance.

For even tighter control of the process we can implement an OnBase Checklist control: OnBase Checklists for Process Control allows organizations to meet quality control objectives while ensuring that processes are completed consistently and on time.

Next, we’ll talk about ongoing vendor and invoice management. How invoices can be submitted, and progress tracked by a supplier. We’ll show how a manager obtains an overview of all pending invoices and their progress through the payment process. We show how good document cross referencing allows the invoice approval process to be efficient but tightly controlled.