Many companies have implemented a Supplier Portal (also known as a Vendor Portal) over recent years and many more are now looking to introduce one. In a world where digital interaction is becoming more and more prevalent, it makes sense that companies would inevitably look at ways in which they could benefit from online interaction with their suppliers.
As a Supplier Portal is not revenue generating, the business justification for introducing this type of portal is likely to revolve around cost reduction and there is no doubt that an intelligently executed portal can certainly deliver on this front. Significant administrative savings can be realised as suppliers use the portal to perform tasks that previously required manual input from internal operatives such as purchase order management and documentation control. This provides time savings for internal staff in the supply chain environment but should be equally well received by suppliers who now have an easier method of interacting with their client than ever before. However, the administrative cost savings can be even more significant if the portal is delivered to simplify the work practices of the internal user. Internal procurement professionals can be provided with a single location from which to carry out a multitude of tasks via minimal clicks, providing a more efficient location from which to action their workload in comparison to interacting with numerous, disparate interfaces. Purchasing departments have reported savings in administrative hours of 10, 20 even 30% after a portal introduction. Yet, there is more to this than simply benefitting from administrative cost savings. For example, many companies are aware that the importance of improving collaboration with suppliers should not be underestimated and that a portal can help them to improve the service they offer. By displaying KPI data within the portal, suppliers can start to self-police and improve their service in areas in which they are obviously not meeting expectations. By sharing demand forecast data with suppliers, they can be far more prepared for spikes in demand and pro-actively plan accordingly. In general terms, reducing the manual methods of two-way communication cannot be overlooked as an objective when implementing a portal. By communicating through the portal, the information being viewed can be real time and far more transparent as the portal provides clarity of who took an action, when they took it, right through to who accepted it.
Despite the obvious benefits of a Supplier Portal, companies do have concerns initiating this kind of project.
The three most obvious concerns are:
- Integration with existing internal systems
- Supplier adoption
- Ongoing training and support
For organisations who utilise SAP ERP as their core business platform, all three of these concerns can be allayed with an Omnia Supplier Portal solution from Weaveability. The Omnia solution is delivered entirely within the SAP ERP landscape and as a result it does not need to be integrated with SAP ERP whatsoever, it simply sits within SAP and utilises the data and business processes already configured within. This means that not only is the data served through the portal 100% real time and accurate but as changes are made by the supplier (such as changing the delivery date on a purchase order), subject to acceptance, these changes are actually occurring in SAP ERP itself. It goes without saying that a Supplier Portal project can only be successful if the portal is adopted by the suppliers themselves and we ensure that by providing a user friendly portal which simplifies tasks for the supplier whilst allowing them to interact with their customer more efficiently than before, why would they not want to use the portal. This leads neatly onto the final area of concern. If a portal is delivered with a focus on user experience throughout the project, then training requirements should be minimal upon completion as the portal will be self-intuitive and very easy to adopt. This significantly reduces concerns over the costs attached to ongoing training for both internal and external portal users. Supporting the portal is not problematic either as an Omnia Supplier Portal is a SAP centric solution so the technology behind it is already familiar to existing SAP support teams. Omnia provides a platform for digital transformation and innovation without introducing complexity nightmares.