3 Keys for Stress-Free Supplier Enablement

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The success of your eProcurement solution depends on connecting suppliers with your system, also known as supplier enablement. It would be fantastic if this were as simple as submitting a LinkedIn connection request – but it’s not. For your eProcurement solution to deliver the results you expect, you need to create hosted catalog content, enable a punch-out site or establish electronic document transfer integrations… or all of the above.

You’re a smart person. And your technology team is top notch. How hard can it be? If you have the knowledge and resources to manage the projects, it’s not terribly difficult. But that’s a big “if.”

My team at JAGGAER has managed thousands of supplier enablement projects for our customers. This is a service that is included in our agreements with our customers. Based on our experience, I have three key pieces of advice for anyone about to undertake a DIY enablement project.

1. Before you begin the supplier enablement process, take inventory of ALL requirements

The process of establishing electronic connections with suppliers is riddled with nuances. If you dive in without being fully familiar with them, the project you expected to take a few weeks can quickly balloon and expand to months. Before you begin, be sure you have a full list of your own requirements, your suppliers’ requirements and system requirements on both sides.

Teams that have never enabled a connection with a supplier might not know all the right questions to ask to guarantee that all these requirements are considered. Understanding the relevant systems, codes and terminology is a prerequisite to any enablement project. These elements dictate what you connect, how you establish and test that connection, and finally how you will support the connection after it is launched into a live shopping environment. This can be a daunting and tedious task, but it’s essential to creating a successful, and more importantly, a functioning connection.

Be sure your requirements inventory also includes supplier training and ongoing support, which are necessary to ensure the connection you make functions properly over the long term.

2. Over-estimate your support needs

In most cases, internal resources that provide the necessary technical expertise for supplier enablement are not dedicated solely to supplier content management. So what happens when there is an order failure? Or a punch-out catalog stops working?

For your solution to continue to provide the value you expect, you’ll need to have someone available and ready to resolve these issues quickly.  If internal support is slow to respond, it means there is a frustrated shopper somewhere who is unable to order the supplies or services they need. It also signals a poor user experience, which could impact compliance and increase rogue spend.

3. Make speed a priority in the early stages

In the early stages of your supplier enablement, make sure you have the necessary resources assigned to get priority suppliers up and running quickly. The faster you demonstrate ROI, the more successful your solution will ultimately be. If resources are not available to support the initial enablement project then you might end up waiting for months to get your eProcurement system online and rolled out for use and you’re left with dollars on the table.

Keep these three supplier enablement tips in mind as you vet potential eProcurement vendors, and insist that they provide a thorough explanation of the support they offer in relation to supplier content. Also ask if these services are included in your agreement, or if they come at an additional charge. You don’t want to get to the other side of a signed contract and realize you either have to bear the brunt of the work or you will have to pay a hefty amount for the vendor to fill in the gaps.

We understand that suppliers and buyers form the most critical links in all forms of commerce. That is why we provide a free supplier network with no transaction-based or access fees to prevent buyers and suppliers from connecting and getting the maximum benefit from automating the source-to-settle process. One of the signature advantages of our network is our dedicated, HQ-based Supplier Integrations and Support teams who take the burden of support – including complete project management of supplier content enablement – off of our customers so they can focus on more strategic activities to drive value for their business. Read more about how we support suppliers and customers on our blog.

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Suzanne Christopher is JAGGAER’s Supplier Relationship Manager and is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with JAGGAER’s supplier base.

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