How to create a successful supplier onboarding process

Organizing a supplier onboarding process is essential to building long-term business relationships and setting your company up for success. It’s challenging and complex to onboard suppliers and maintain communication with them. But these tasks are critical to growing your business and protecting profit margins.

When you’re using good onboarding systems, you can build a solid foundation for many years of doing business with your suppliers. At the beginning of the relationship, you need to collect vendor information, establish pricing and delivery expectations, and then streamline the process to optimize the outcomes for both parties.

Streamlining your supplier onboarding process helps reduce busywork and allows you to focus on what matters most: relationship management. When you have a good system in place, you can expect future growth through these partnerships.

No matter what services or goods you’re offering, the supplier relationships you establish will have a huge effect on the success of your business. Strengthening these relationships and automating your supply chain process will result in smoother operations and decreased risk in the future.

Here are a few tips to help you establish an effective supplier onboarding process.

Establish evaluation and selection guidelines

What information do you want to see before you start a relationship with a new vendor? Select specific parameters that help you decide whether you’ll work with each prospective supplier.

Not only do you need to look at unit pricing and bulk discounts, but you also should ask about turnaround time, delivery options, contract requirements, and more. Set up digital checklists for supplier evaluation and assessment.

Part of the evaluation process should include a review of the vendor’s reputation, service record, compliance requirements, licenses, certifications, and other industry-required documentation.

Be clear about your expectations

Never make assumptions about a business agreement, especially when there’s a lot of money on the line. If you want to maximize these business relationships, it’s critical to maintain good communication and have precise requirements for the workflow.

Share clear standards that outline what’s expected of both parties. For example, make sure to outline information about delivery, lead times, terms and conditions, invoicing, product returns, training requirements, and more.

Personalize supplier plans

While it’s essential to have an overarching workflow for supplier onboarding, each supplier is unique. Sometimes, you’ll need to customize your onboarding process to minimize issues later on.

While digital forms are effective and efficient, it’s also important to create a personalized experience for each supplier. The goal is to establish a strong, long-term relationship. Train your team members to maintain high levels of communication at all times, addressing specific concerns or questions that come up along the way.

This personalized approach is particularly critical for high-value suppliers and strategic partnerships.

Monitor and review ongoing relationships

Once you establish a relationship with a new supplier, make sure to regularly review their performance. This process helps establish a new supplier relationship and maintain it going forward.

Regular reviews help you streamline your supply chain systems, optimize profit margins, and correct potential errors that pop up along the way.

Digitize data-collection forms

You need a platform for collecting information from suppliers. Investing in automation solutions can help you minimize busywork and quickly organize the information you’re receiving from each supplier.

Jotform is an easy and effective tool to use for this part of the supplier onboarding process. You can choose from various Jotform form templates to collect supplier data, then manage and store this information using Jotform Tables. Finally, Jotform Approvals allows you to automate any part of the process that requires approval.

Consider these popular form templates when setting up your supplier onboarding process:

In addition to streamlining data collection, these online forms also improve the accuracy of the data you receive from each supplier.

As you can see, Jotform offers many tools that are helpful in the supplier onboarding process. In addition, you have the option to fully customize form templates for your needs or design each form from scratch using simple, no-code tools.

Photo by Mina Rad on Unsplash

Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of Jotform and the bestselling author of Automate Your Busywork. A developer by trade but a storyteller by heart, he writes about his journey as an entrepreneur and shares advice for other startups. He loves to hear from Jotform users. You can reach Aytekin from his official website

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