Going from Hypothetical to Practical
Nothing comes close to the rapid scalability that a portal strategy can obtain when applied to your supplier network. In fact, Portals have replaced EDI as the dominant vendor connectivity strategy for top performing companies*. If you aren’t careful though, this often falls apart in practical application. We hear about 30% adoption rates being the benchmark for successful vendor connectivity, but a truly successful program can achieve over 80% spend adoption.
To realize high adoption rates and leverage the most out of your IT investment, your portal approach must be viewed through the lens of your supplier. That means, portals have to be usable and standardized.
Portals have to be usable
Usable means that portals are not only easy to use–but easy to use at scale. Software can work great for managing one-to-one relationships where one order equals one shipment or one invoice, but your supplier needs to be able to confirm many orders at once–and manage multiple shipments and invoices at once to make a portal application practical and beneficial to them. The portal has to make their life easier by reducing the administrative effort to manage their customers and provide them access and visibility into their customer network.
Portals have to be able to model business process reality
A lot of supplier portals advertise their ability to handle a PO Flip (Turning a PO into an Invoice). PO Flip functionality has to go beyond this single concept. Suppliers need to be able to use PO Flip to generate Order Confirmations en masse. They need to be able to flip multiple PO Lines into a single shipment or a single PO Line into multiple shipments. They need to be able to flip multiple PO Lines or multiple shipments and into single or many invoices with a minimum of effort. These flexible features model real business processes and drive sustainable adoption of these applications.
Portals have to be standardized
Finally, portals have to be standardized. Suppliers cannot effectively manage 10 portals for 10 customers. They cannot be expected to be fluent in all these disparate applications, constantly spending time training, maintaining backups, and then losing that knowledge during transitions. For portals to be successful, your suppliers have to institutionalize the solution, and that only works when they have a single software to learn. This is how the Tire and Rubber industry standardized on the Elemica portal to connect, in many cases, over 90% of their direct material supply chains. This is why the Chemical industry is standardizing on the Elemica portal to achieve these adoption rates with their supplier base.
Portal connectivity strategies give you the possibilities of massive scale at minimal cost, but only when they are designed to deliver scalability, usability, and robust process support for your inbound network.