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What is a Supplier Portal and what are the benefits?

Before understanding whether your business needs a supplier portal or not, you need to understand what a supplier portal is, what it does, and what are the benefits that come with it.

Alex E. Pjetra (Product Marketing Executive) Written by Alex E. Pjetra (Product Marketing Executive) 27 Apr 2020 in B2B eCommerce

In today’s eProcurement world, many people and organisations don’t realise how much easier their life could be by making an easy (yet very important) decision.

Realising how an ERP integrated supplier portal can make their business’ procurement process much more streamlined, automated, and efficient is the first step to understanding why such a decision should be made as soon as possible.

To investigate further, we're going to answer the following 3 questions:

  1. What is a Supplier Portal Software?
  2. What does a Supplier Portal System do?
  3. What are the benefits of an ERP Integrated Supplier Portal System?

Now let’s get started by explaining what a supplier portal is.

  1. What is Supplier Portal Software?

    A Supplier portal, or also known as a vendor portal, is an internet-based eProcurement solution that allows companies to manage and connect with 3rd party suppliers of goods and/or services.

    In other words, a vendor portal is a secure, management system that helps businesses that network with many suppliers, significantly streamline their procurement process online.

    Along with some other great benefits that we are going to talk about further below, it provides you with an excellent opportunity to work and communicate with your suppliers in an efficient, safe, and most importantly secure online environment.

    Usually, a supplier portal is a software as a service solution (SaaS) that’s hosted, maintained, and supported by an eCommerce solutions provider. You, the seller, have no need for additional hardware, and no infrastructure is required from you to run such a system. Now, let’s look at what a supplier portal actually does.

  2. What does a Supplier Portal System do?

    Frankly, a supplier portal does a whole lot of things that can benefit a company in many different ways.

    However, to be precise, such a system removes the manual effort that is required during the procurement process by automating most of the tasks that would normally have to be completed manually by both the company and the supplier.

    As such, it provides suppliers with a system that makes their job easier while providing the updates that a company needs without all the manual hard work that is usually required.

    Now, let’s delve into more details with an example so you can better understand how powerful and helpful such a system can be for a business.

    Nowadays, many companies raise purchase orders (POs) within their ERP and finance system. Then, they manually email PDF copies of these to their suppliers.

    However, depending on various factors such as the “size” of the supplier and their attentiveness level, the process from raising a PO to products being received and paid for by the supplier may require a lot of manual work.

    Typically, a PO is emailed to a supplier who neglects to respond for a certain amount of time. So, to meet the expectations of their customers, companies require an expected delivery date of products.

    To no surprise, companies need to chase for such information which in return results in more manual work, and more effort to update the information back into the ERP system, if they are lucky enough to have no need to follow up more than once for the same request.

    In other words, companies are able to raise POs in an efficient and convenient way for the supplier to receive access, and the process is key to success and prerequisite for a supplier portal solution.

    In addition, real-time integration with the ERP system is of utmost importance and a key requirement for accuracy, speed, and error elimination.

    Supplier Portal processes include:

    A vendor management system keeps all Purchase Quotations/Orders raising within the ERP with no external tools required for the merchant to use while allowing the supplier to conveniently access and manage quotations.

    Finally, let’s look at how companies benefit from an ERP integrated supplier portal system.

    • Automatically issues Purchase Orders (POs) and Purchase Order Quotations to Suppliers once raised
    • Provides easy access to the PO for the Supplier once received
    • Allows the Supplier to confirm the PO, conveniently add delivery dates and related invoices
    • Automatically updates the ERP with the expected price and confirmation of possible delivery dates once entered to the purchase order quotation by the Supplier
    • Automatically updates the ERP with expected Delivery Dates once entered to the PO by the Supplier
    • Automatically update the Supplier and internal staff of a change in the Purchase Order (ie: once a delivery date has been entered)
    • Keeps a transparent log of each event associated with the PO
  3. What are the benefits of a Supplier Portal system?

    Initially, it’s worth noting that a vendor portal can offer many benefits. However, that would more or less depend on the functionality of each portal.

    That’s why we’re going to list here some of the main benefits that are the minimum requirement a portal should offer.

    1. Real-time ERP Data Integration

      Portals should provide both vendor and merchant with a single, shared view of data that is directly integrated with the ERP.

      Before supplier portals existed, the buyer and the supplier each viewed data in their own business applications which were in most cases out of sync.

      As previously mentioned, real-time integration with the ERP system is a key here for accuracy, speed, and the elimination of errors allowing you to manage your data in just one system, your ERP.

      Any changes made by you or the supplier should automatically be reflected in the other system. This saves both of you unnecessarily updating 2 systems all of the time which adds clarity and transparency to the process.

    2. Reduce Manual Admin Tasks

      The main purpose of a portal is to not only reduce time-consuming manual tasks but to provide copies of documents, invoices, statements, reminders, data updates etc.

      The supplier portal automates many aspects of supplier management, drastically reducing your administrators’ workload and saving you lot’s of time and effort.

    3. Supplier Account Management

      A Portal will allow suppliers to sign in to their own online account and make enquiries that would normally need to have been made via phone or email.

      For example, they should be able to log in and view their account information, a history of open and closed quotations, purchase orders, invoices, delivery dates plus information that helps them to self serve.

      They will have a single access point within the supplier portal to update their account information, and on the other end, the merchant should be able to view those updates directly in the ERP.

    4. Automated Notifications & Reminders

      Notifications and reminders should be issued to suppliers at different stages of the process.

      These are normally sent by email to notify/remind suppliers about actions that need to be taken throughout the procurement process.

      This way, there’s no need for you or your suppliers to notify and remind each other to proceed with next actions every time there’s a delay.

      The portal should automatically do this for you so neither has to keep on following up until the process is complete.

    5. Action Log

      For traceability, a vendor portal should allow you to track events on raised POs which adds an extra layer of tracking to check the suppliers progress in fulfilling the PO.

      An admin should be able to select from a list of POs and view audit events over time for a given PO.

      Each event should track the action that was taken, the time and the IP address of the user carrying out the event.

      This way, you know who and what action has been taken during every step of the procurement process.

      So, in the event of a misunderstanding or a mistake, you will be able to view an audit or change history if needed, and you can rectify it before it escalates.

Summary

For anyone in the procurement business managing a supplier database manually can be a time-consuming process.

Entering data, following up with suppliers, updating actions, and other such tasks can be frustrating and can lead to unnecessary risks, errors, and oversights.

On the other hand, with the help of a supplier portal, the whole procurement process can be painless, a lot more streamlined and automated and will provide up-to-date, accurate information in a matter of seconds, all at your fingertips.

A Supplier portal software is a system that helps streamline your business’ procurement process and provides you with the opportunity to communicate with your suppliers in a safe, secure, and efficient online environment.

Are you looking for a supplier portal for your business?

Why don’t you have a look at the Aphix Supplier Portal System and see how we can help you meet your business needs with our ERP integrated solution.

If you have any questions, please feel free to fill out the form below and one of us will be more than happy to assist you.