Automated Supplier Onboarding

How to reduce the administrative effort when sourcing new professional service providers

As mentioned in our guide to engaging a network of smaller professional service providers, it can take up to three months to work through a typical RFI/RFP process. Three months is an extraordinarily long period of time in today's fast-paced business environment.
 
For companies wanting to enjoy the benefits of getting things done differently by working with a network of quality smaller, nimble, professional service providers and consultancies, they need to find a solution to faster, simpler supplier onboarding.

Why does manual onboarding of suppliers take so long?

In a word – "admin". One of the Talon team, Jess, recalls the issues she faced when procuring professional services in a previous role.  
 
"Every day, I'd spend so much time manually sending documents for signature, filling out forms, getting internal sign-offs - all the while chasing the supplier for updates. It was one of the most time-consuming parts of working with a new supplier, mainly because I had to manage it all manually using spreadsheets."
 
Considering this insight, it's easy to see how managing a large number of professional services providers manually just isn't scalable. Of course, this results in procurement teams focusing their efforts on larger statements of work and leaving business units to manage their own DIY procurement and onboarding processes, creating decentralised engagements and unwanted rogue spend.

The benefits of automated supplier onboarding

Being able to offload the sending of documents, getting internal sign-offs and chasing signatures to smart software creates one significant benefit: It frees up time for procurement teams. 
 
Using this newly liberated time, a category manager can focus on their primary responsibilities of controlling costs while supporting innovation and growth. In other words, automating the time-consuming administrative procurement tasks enables a business to save money.
 
There are a number of examples of how automation can improve the onboarding processes for both sides, as well as saving the time and effort of administering the process.
 
Centralised control over compliance
Automation enables procurement to get better visibility over all of the business' professional services and consultancy spend. Smart, automated, workflows also ensure that all professional service engagements are government by the right contracts, approvals and compliance checks.
 
Facilitating risk assessment
Supplier risk assessment can be streamlined by collecting mandatory rejection questions and discretionary grounds for exclusion questions during an automated supplier onboarding process. Historically, these questions would be sent out to suppliers via email on a spreadsheet. 
 
In addition to the time-saving benefits of handling this process through an automated onboarding process, managing risk assessment questions through a secure, centralised system like Talon also allows responses to be timestamped so risk assessments can be repeated periodically, as required.
 
Tying into master services agreement
During the onboarding process, all suppliers can be issued the MSA to sign via e-signature, enabling all individual statements of work to refer to this document. 
 
An additional benefit: Better ongoing supplier performance management
Automated can also make ongoing supplier performance management easier for procurement teams. Reporting down to the milestone level, along with automated alerts for missed, overdue or incomplete milestones help to keep projects running on time and on budget. 
 
Management dashboards and notification settings can also alert members of the procurement team when a project is at risk and could benefit from some human intervention, which helps lean procurement teams focus their manual efforts where they are most required.

Summary

Working with a diverse network of smaller professional service providers has the potential to deliver great cost-saving, productivity and long-term agility benefits. But to scale this outcome-based work delivery model, procurement teams can no longer rely on laborious manual processes. Automated supplier onboarding, coupled with automated statement of work management, with smart software is how today's lean procurement teams can continue to support growth and innovation whilst delivering cost savings.

Useful resources

Eliminating Rogue Spend in Professional Services Procurement

Learn how to identify and control rogue professional services spend with scalable SoW management software

How to use SOW engagements to get work done differently

Using statements of work (SOW) engagements with a network of smaller suppliers and service providers to get things done differently is an exciting alternative work delivery model

Intro to Supplier Profiles

Here is short introductory video on how you can use Zivio's Supplier Profiles to improve the effectiveness of your supplier performance management.