woman sitting at desk working on computer

How Custom Approval Workflows Accelerate Supplier Onboarding

Before suppliers can be paid, information about them must be collected, verified, reviewed and approved.

But manual and semi-manual approaches to routing supplier information for review and approval are increasingly expensive, can take too long, are subject to errors, compliance issues, and increased fraud risk. As a result, more and more organizations are turning to supplier portals with custom approval workflows to improve efficiency, accelerate cycle times, mitigate risk, and deliver a better stakeholder and supplier experience.

Top approval challenges in supplier onboarding

Inaccurate information. Errors are inevitable with manual processes. A single typo or transposed number can create downstream exceptions that take extended efforts over days or weeks to resolve.

Missing information. The onboarding process cannot be completed until suppliers provide all the information needed by the organization. In a manual environment, it’s not uncommon for the onboarding process to grind to a halt while buyers await information from suppliers. Worse, buyers can never be sure what information suppliers have already provided. Suppliers can easily become frustrated if buyers ask them to provide the same information multiple times.

Inconsistent processes. Manual onboarding processes largely depend on frontline staff following company standards and expectations for collecting and reviewing supplier details. Manual processes can include gaps that allow cutting corners in the approval process. And without standardized processes, it’s hard for organizations to achieve optimal efficiency.

Training issues. Lots of people are involved in onboarding suppliers at most organizations. It can be difficult to provide comprehensive training to these dispersed employees and to ensure that they are kept apprised of changes in workflow approval policies and procedures.

Compliance issues. Organizations that manually onboard suppliers can never be sure that they have received and verified all the information that they need to ensure compliance and avoid fines, penalties, and negative exposure.

Paper and email processes are difficult to track and make it harder to keep sensitive and regulated financial information from falling into the wrong hands, potentially exposing buyers to fines and penalties for violating information governance regulations.

No audit trails. With no logging of actions taken on a supplier record, it’s nearly impossible for buyers to ensure traceability and accountability in a manual onboarding environment.

Security risk. Bad actors are using social engineering, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies to take advantage of manual processes by impersonating suppliers and creating phony bank account change requests.

Fragmented systems. Manual processes make it hard to ensure the smooth exchange of information between supplier onboarding workflows and legacy systems such as an ERP application. Poor integration contributes to approval delays, manual re-keying of data, and back-and-forth emails and telephone calls between parties to chase down information.

It’s hard to scale manual supplier onboarding processes to accommodate business growth without hiring additional staff or sacrificing efficiency and accuracy.

Organizations cannot afford the inefficiencies and risk of manual supplier onboarding workflows.

What are custom approval workflows?

The custom approval workflows in leading supplier portals digitize and simplify the way that organizations collect, verify, validate, and manage information and documents from suppliers.

After automated verifications, supplier information is digitally routed for approval based on pre-defined business rules. Users can configure multiple workflows and multiple layers of approval.

Stakeholders can collaborate electronically on vendor decisions. And stakeholders can track and monitor all approval actions, instantly see the status of approvals, and proactively address any bottlenecks, red flags, or missing information.

The custom approval workflows in leading supplier portals seamlessly integrate with legacy systems such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, ensuring the smooth exchange of data.

Benefits of custom workflow approvals

Custom workflow approvals provide significant benefits during the supplier onboarding process.

Automated workflows digitize and simplify the routing of supplier information. Notifications, reminders, and status updates eliminate the routine tasks that bog staff down.

Pre-configured business rules for how supplier information should be digitally routed for approval reduces the possibility of information becoming misrouted or lost.

Digitally routing documents based on pre-configured business rules accelerates approval cycle times and eliminates the possibility of mis-routed or lost documents. And the intuitive user interface in some supplier portals helps staff navigate the onboarding process.

Unlike paper and email processes, digital workflows enable organizations to better control information through user permissions, systematic routing, audit logging, and more.

Digital approval workflows make it easy for stakeholders to access supplier onboarding information and collaborate on decisions and issue resolution. Notes and audit logs eliminate the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls to sort things out.

Verifications and validations built into the digital workflows of some supplier portals reduce the risk of running afoul of regulatory requirements and internal standards

Digital workflows use access controls, activity logging, and other measures to safeguard sensitive financial information. And the bank account verification capabilities built into the digital workflows of some supplier portals help mitigate the risk of payment fraud.

Best practice.

Systematically gathering and validating supplier information helps ensure compliance with internal standards and expectations for the supplier onboarding process.

The digital workflows in leading supplier portals can be integrated with a buyer’s ERP or other existing systems to ensure the smooth exchange of information.

Custom approval workflows can easily be scaled to support business growth, without the need to hire additional staff. And digital workflows can be adjusted to address changing or evolving business requirements, such as expansion into new regulations.

Streamline your workflows

In today’s business environment, custom supplier information approval workflows, specifically tailored to the organization’s needs are a strategic and tactical necessity. Manually collecting, verifying, validating, and managing supplier information can be a time-consuming and error-prone task that leaves organizations vulnerable to fraud and compliance issues.

Custom approval workflows change all that.

Digitizing and simplifying the approval of supplier information improves efficiency, speeds cycle times, enhances visibility, delivers a better supplier experience, mitigates fraud and compliance risk, and supports scalability.