Online supplier portals can serve as a digital bridge between you and your suppliers. These web-based tools allow for collaboration in a secure environment and synchronize data back to your existing accounts payable solution. They can save time and free up resources for buyer organizations. In addition, they can help lower operating costs. Considering 63 percent of AP Teams report this as a top priority (Ardent Partner’s State of ePayables 2017), it’s high time to consider the benefits of these essential portals.
Supplier portals facilitate the many interactions you have with vendors and service providers. In many cases, your communication with the supplier begins with creation of a purchase order (PO). Once you’ve executed and submitted the PO to your supplier, a portal enables them to seamlessly accept it and convert it into an electronic invoice. From there, the invoice is routed through your established approval workflows for authorization and payment. You’ll notice these steps require no manual intervention and that, instead, the portal handles this entire engagement digitally. This eliminates any potential delays caused by receiving a paper invoice via snail mail and potential data entry mistakes that can occur when suppliers must rekey data from the initial PO onto the final invoice. After the invoice has been approved and payment issued, the portal provides the supplier with real-time visibility into invoice and payment status, along with detailed remittance information. They’ll no longer need to rely upon a call or email to your team to inquire about this pertinent information.
In addition to automating POs and invoices, portals allow you to automate supplier payments as well. As suppliers enroll to receive electronic POs and access critical data online, they can be presented with the option to activate faster, more secure, and more reliable e-payment methods such as Virtual Card and ACH. Virtual payments allow you to not only eliminate burdensome check-writing and issuing processes, but also mitigate risk and generate revenue.
Portals also free your team from maintaining supplier information and documentation. Because these solutions are self-service, suppliers have 24/7 online access to keep their contact details, payment elections, and compliance information up-to-date. This allows you to redirect your team’s efforts to other initiatives that generate results and ROI for your organization.
It’s easy to see, then, how a supplier portal can quickly become an integral part of your business. They help significantly reduce the amount of time spent dealing with the deluge of paper that encroaches on your team, investigating supplier questions, issuing payments via check, and keeping provider information updated. Furthermore, you’ll be fortifying your supplier relationships since portals empower them with a shared view of data and faster payment turnaround times.