3 steps to improve supplier information

3 steps you can take to manage your supplier information more effectively

Are you storing your supplier information in filing cabinets, ring binders or in spreadsheets? Do you wish you held all the data about your suppliers in one central location that didn’t require you to spend an age co-ordinating updates?

Surprisingly, it’s still quite common for organisations to set-up suppliers using old fashioned and labour intensive phone calls, emails, Excel spreadsheets, and print outs to obtain, maintain and record supplier information.

With these manual processes come a number of issues, from a lack of audit trail on how your supplier information is being kept up to date, to patchy proof of compliance with how your mandatory supplier policies are being adhered to and, most importantly, inaccuracy of information that leads to supplier risk events.

If you’re not managing your supplier data effectively then chances are you could have hundreds or even thousands of incomplete, inaccurate and rapidly decaying supplier records. However, there are tools that can empower your business, and suppliers, to keep your information in good shape.

Here’s our 3 steps you can take to get better at managing your supplier information:

1. Use a supplier portal

Ever thought how much time you could save if you were able to securely capture, approve and store supplier information online? Or if your suppliers were able to successfully on-board with very little input required from you?

By introducing an online supplier portal, where your suppliers can self-serve electronically, you can quickly overcome the challenge of holding supplier data in multiple offline locations that can sometimes grow out of control and out of date.

By involving your suppliers right from the start of the trading relationship and by taking the supplier on-boarding process online, you can set the standards of how you require your suppliers to collaborate with you. Suppliers can be mandated to use a supplier portal to maintain and update core information such as Health & Safety documentation, Risk Logs and key financial metrics.

2. Supersize your supplier data with configurable forms

Supplier data is multi-faceted and has many elements that integrate with other stakeholders and systems in your business. For example, core financial details will be accessed by your finance team for processing payments, buyers across your organisation will raise requisitions on a purchasing system using your supplier information, and your legal colleagues may also use your supplier information for creating and managing supplier contracts.

This means you’ll probably want to collate a richer view beyond your supplier’s basic address and bank details.

So, if you want to enrich your supplier data sets with items like accreditations, risk metrics and financial details then using configurable data forms will help. You can build forms to be as simple or complex as you like, and set up questions that are relevant to different supplier types. You can even include forms in multiple languages that cater for your international supply-base.

This means you’re able to capture whatever adds value to your procurement processes, without any extra costs or the requirement for colleagues to manage the data.

3. Put automation tools in place

So, you’ve mandated a self-service policy with suppliers, and enriched the variety of data you collect, but how can you stay on top of the accuracy and timeliness of this extra information?

If the financial data you collect isn’t validated against third party sources such as Companies House, Experian, or Dun & Bradstreet, you could end up with a high-risk scenario where fake or outdated financial information and details could be entered onto your finance system.

Without any validation or policing of the information submitted by your suppliers, you could be putting your organisation at risk of fraudulent payments. By using an automated fraud prevention tool, you can cross check and then query financial information sent by the supplier. And, in some cases, suppliers can even be put ‘on hold’ so that new purchases and payments are stopped, should certain risk flags be triggered.

Automation tools can also help with compliance management, ensuring you only trade with suppliers that have submitted all the documentation you need from them. To help manage the process utomated alerts can be sent to suppliers to make sure they send their latest accreditations and certifications before expiry dates you have set up.

Why not download our SIM guide and learn how you can overcome the internal challenges you might be facing with supplier data management. Or, if you want to talk about any of the issues we’ve raised in this blog, or in our SIM guide, then why not email or call us on +44 (0)161 367 8375.