Daily Archives: January 15, 2024

Technology for Supplier Onboarding is the NOW, not the Future!

In fact, for any company that hasn’t been in a cave for the last TWO (2) decades, it’s the past!

Needless to say, the doctor was shocked to see this recent headline in Supply Chain Digital that purported to answer why technology is the future for supplier onboarding because either you’re using technology for supplier onboarding today, or you’re not going to be around much longer as a company.

Without a good solution, the time it takes to collect and evaluate enough data to even determine if the supplier is legit, in your industry, appropriately certified, not on any banned lists, financially stable, with real customers, etc. is days, sometimes weeks. And then the time to evaluate the supplier to supply even a single product can be weeks, especially in direct, when you have to trace the product components down to the raw material source to make sure there are no conflict diamonds, no Congolese cobalt, and no indentured / kafala / slave labour in the mines your metals come from.

Even though the article headline is, well, wrong, there are some good points in the article.

Having a strategic approach to supplier onboarding is a key component of supply chain risk management. Most definitely. You don’t want to hook up with a supplier that’s just going to increase your risk, stop your production lines, bring regulatory and compliance investigations your way, and possibly get your CFO or CEO in hot water because you had them sign off on a supplier as being safe when, in fact, it was the business equivalent of a landmine.

With a properly configured supplier management solution, you can check that a supplier meets all of the basic regulatory requirements, financial requirements, and baseline operational requirements in a minute. Literally. You plug in the name and ONE governmental ID code and it pulls in every single piece of information in government systems, third party finance / ESG / Risk databases, insurance and compliance databases, and community intelligence gathered in its systems and indicates if the supplier:

  • failed any registration checks
  • failed any denied party checks
  • has any owners, directors, investors, or connected parties that failed a check
  • has filed its financial reports and is not rated as a going concern
  • has reasonable ESG ratings
  • has any reports of, or known connections to, forced/child/slave labour
  • has valid insurance
  • has valid regulatory compliance certificates
  • any other requirement that can be looked up from a public database

And you know if there are any alerts or failures within minutes, not hours, days, or weeks.

Which lets you dive into evaluating whether or not they can supply the product you need at the quality and quantity, and in a manner that is not quixotic to your business environment.

You can then define additional requirements for automatic lookup, ask for tier 2 suppliers, do the same automatic checks on those, specific to the component or raw material they are providing, and if all that passes, which you will know in minutes, then you can begin the real research in minutes, not hours, days, or weeks. And the real research can take days, or weeks (and sometimes more) in real time when you need to look deep into the production capabilities, the labour that is used, the materials that are used, and the quality of the finished good (which you may need to see a sample of). But the last thing you want to do is waste weeks trying to get to this point only to find out three weeks in that the supplier is on a banned list for one of your main marketplaces, the tier 3 uses cobalt from the Congo (and if you don’t know why that is bad, do ONE minute of web research [unless, of course, you are a psychopath or sociopath with no regard for human rights or even welfare]), or is facing multiple lawsuits for unsafe products in multiple countries.

It is imperative that C-suiters “act with urgency around risk”. Nothing could be truer. It seems that risk is doubling every day. You need to be ready, and while you can’t be ready for everything, you can minimize the chances of risk by ensuring that your suppliers are not adding risk and, in fact, as dedicated as you in minimizing their risk profile. Moreover, if you have a good supply base, they can work with you to mitigate the impact of disruptions when those disruptions rear their ugly head.

“This year we expect to see increased ESG regulation”. It’s coming, and the best way to be prepared for it is with systems that can run checks, collect the required data, flag potential issues, and make sure you keep on top of whatever you need to in order to comply with those regulations.

“Invest in your processes, to ensure you can do more with the same, or fewer, resources. This usually means automating your supply chain data, so you’re finding new suppliers or managing existing suppliers.” Definitely.

Technology has a vital role to play in supplier onboarding. Most definitely. Except you should have been using it for the past two decades, not looking for a solution today. Why do you think there are 100+ vendors offering supplier management solutions? Because they’ve worked wonders (relative to not having any solution) since they were first introduced two decades ago. And, most importantly, they’ve went from simple information management solutions to advanced data collection, validation, and risk assessment solutions where you can quickly validate, analyze, and decide if you want to even consider engaging with a supplier in minutes. You can also collaborate, develop, and implement supplier programs. And you can even orchestrate supply networks with modern solutions.

So if your solution doesn’t solve your CORNED QUIP mash of supplier management problems, maybe it’s time you found a new one. You can’t wait for the future to solve your supplier management problems, you need to solve them today!