Your Supplier Onboarding Roadmap

August 3, 2017 Chris Doxey

Today’s supplier portal solutions provide the ability to quickly set up new suppliers, automatically request required data and documentation, and routinely request updates or renewals to ensure supplier compliance. A user friendly, secure online environment will also enable supplier pre-qualification, supplier qualification, supplier setup and supplier compliance processes and will enable a smooth and seamless onboarding process.

Key Point: A supplier management solution should be highly configurable and simple to deploy, with out-of-the-box, predefined business processes, and the ability to setup custom processes based upon a myriad of different business scenarios that are unique to your company.

vector desktop with technology for onboarding suppliers

Supplier Portal Data Requirements

As you consider implementing a supplier portal, there should be no limits for the data that you can track for each supplier. Your data requirements should consider the following data requirements:

Example Supplier Portal Data Requirements

1. Regulatory compliance: TIN Matching, W9 capture, W8 Capture, OFAC/SDN watch lists

2. Diversity tracking, credentials capture and retention and validation of supplier address to USPS databases.

3. Electronic signatures setup where appropriate for supplier data additions and changes

4. Code of business conduct declarations to match your company’s code of conduct requirement

5. Capture of payment types and banking information (Check, ACH, P-Cards)

6. Configurable document collection: Insurance Certificates, SSAE16, Diversity, etc.

Supplier Portal Business Rules

  1. When data becomes outdated, your supplier portal could automatically generate requests for updates from the suppliers, providing for an ongoing, automated supplier master file cleansing.
  2. Your supplier portal solution should be 100% web-based and should have a fully supported and open application programming interface (API) for system integrations. It should be delivered via a SaaS model enhanced functionality with updates simple, seamless and regular updates.

Questions for Implementation

The following series of questions provide a list of considerations when developing a business case or request for proposal (RFP) for supplier services from a solutions provider. The questions are organized by: 1) Functional Requirements and 2) Technical Requirements.

Functional Requirements

1. Is the solution a SaaS based self-service portal for supplier onboarding/registration?

2. What methodologies are used in the outreach process (fax, mail, email, etc.) and do you provide assistance in conducting it? How is a supplier invited to participate in the process?

3. How much training is required for clients and suppliers in learning to use the solutions?

4. Can new supplier registrations be routed for multiple approvals? Are there other notification capabilities for data updates?

5. How are TIN / EIN / W-9 data elements tracked and reported for each supplier? How is W8 information validated for each supplier? How does the solution notify suppliers of validation errors and how are these errors are resolved?

6. Describe the solution’s ability to capture custom consent forms for each supplier.

7. Describe the solution’s ability to create custom workflows for different types of suppliers based upon a mix of geography, product and business unit.

8. Does the solution provide a tool for electronic sign-off on terms & conditions, conflict of interest and code of conduct or other documents?

9. Does the solution validate supplier data against OFAC, OIG, EPLS and other prohibited supplier list? And is the capability of continuous monitoring provided?

10. Describe any system dashboard capabilities? What about reporting capabilities? Does the user have the ability to create ad hoc reports? Can these ad hoc reports be saved for later use?

11. What types of automated alerts are provided from the system? Describe the ability to upload/download information from your solution.

12. Does the solution allow for suppliers to obtain visibility into the status of their invoices?

Technical Requirements

13. Is the solution “on premise” (installed on customer site) or hosted (SaaS / PaaS)? If installed at customer site, please describe the infrastructure requirements, in terms of hardware, operating system, database and other software components.

14. Is the solution hosted in a data center or by a third party (please provide name)? Where is the hosting location? How do you handle business continuity? Please describe your business continuity / disaster recovery strategy.

15. How are passwords assigned and reset? What are the system parameters for passwords?


Today’s supplier portal solutions offer flexibility for your business with controls that enable you to manage and validate your supplier automatically. They can streamline your onboarding process and help to cleanse your supplier master file to ensure your supplier master data is current. With the comprehensive data requirements presented in this blog, a robust supplier portal solution allows users to have visibility with monitoring capabilities to manage supplier data efficiently.

About the Author

Chris Doxey

Chris Doxey, CAPP, CCSA, CICA is an independent management consultant providing Internal Controls and Business Process Best Practice Solutions. She has extensive experience in procurement, accounts payable, internal auditing, internal controls, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, payroll, logistics, financial systems strategy, and financial integration at Digital, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, MCI, APEX Analytix, and Business Strategy, Inc. She was recruited to assist MCI (formally WorldCom) recover from their internal control challenges. She has a bachelor's degree in English, a bachelor's in accounting, a master's in business administration, and a graduate certificate in project management. Chris has written numerous articles and published two handbooks: AP Leadership Skills and Implementing a Controls Self Assessment Program for Your Accounts Payable Department.

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