Spreadsheets are inexpensive to implement, very easy to use, and flexible. But although these are great strengths, at the same time, they are also great weaknesses. You can’t run a business on a series of spreadsheets.
My common joke is as follows; “Spreadsheets, the cause of and solution to all business problems.”
Here are a number of reasons why, specifically related to the Supplier Onboarding process:
Spreadsheets are not designed to be used collaboratively. Yes, they can be linked to central data repositories, but most of the time, they’re not. So how do you work with multiple copies of the same document and no master of the data. How can you base your decisions on data if you don’t know which version of the data is accurate?
2. No Collaboration
Spreadsheets are not designed to be used collaboratively! Let’s say an employee opens a document and starts editing it. After a while, another employee opens the same document and begins making changes. Unless you are using the latest version of Office 365 (and even then, not always), whose changes will be saved? And who guarantees that the two sets of changes are not in conflict?
3. Changes, Additions
Unless the cells in the spreadsheet are completely locked down, users will invariably add columns or information that may or may not have a home in the final product.
Yes, you can implement cell protection, lookups, and ranges, but these are not enough to keep your data in check.
4. Poor security
When using spreadsheets, you can password-protect the spreadsheet, but it’s impossible to restrict what can be seen/edited once in the sheet. Role access is almost impossible.
5. Manual Effort
Most importantly, how does the information get into the sheet? Manually? Do I send to suppliers to complete? Spreadsheets are inherently manual and maintaining large amounts of data can be a huge challenge.
What about an application for Cloud-Based Supplier Onboarding?
1. Better visibility over suppliers’ capabilities, risks, strengths, and weaknesses
Most organizations have no facility to systematically gather and organize supplier information because they lack a common approach to the challenge. Many organizations manage an Approved Supplier List in their ERP, but what about suppliers not yet approved for business?
A properly configured and implemented cloud-based supplier onboarding platform not only helps you determine a supplier’s capability of delivering specific goods and services, but it also enables you to easily compare suppliers based on different criteria, such as price, risk of supply disruptions, regulatory requirements, etc.
2. Streamlined collection of supplier data
A good Cloud-based supplier management/onboarding solution will enable you to create detailed online questionnaires to gather the supplier information that’s critical to your business.
The questionnaires should support conditional questions with a variety of response types such as a validated multiple-selection list that instantly categorizes the supplier according to your internal definitions. You can even organize related questions into qualification areas and then assign specific outcomes (ratings) to your suppliers after evaluating the information they enter.
Additional supporting information from suppliers can be received in attachments to the responses, allowing suppliers to provide formal certification information or detailed risk mitigation plans that add significant value to the overall supplier evaluation process.
With centralized supplier information in place, ensuing sourcing events become a breeze – all you need to do is select the suppliers who fit your preliminary requirements and take it from there. As suppliers submit their responses, you can either accept or return them to the supplier for clarification or correction in real-time.
3. Configure supplier on-boarding to mesh with procurement requirements
Configuring your supplier on-boarding allows the suppliers to self-identify for the attributes and characteristics that are important to you not only from an on-boarding perspective but also for use in procurement activity once the supplier has been activated. For example, if there are key capabilities or regional attributes that are important for selecting suppliers, have the suppliers add that information to their profiles as part of the data collection process.
4. You can scale your processes, thus growing your business.
There is a limit to how much data individual buyers can process. But with the use of a systematic approach and simple process automation, the amount of supplier information your organization can collect, process and leverage grows exponentially. This means you have more opportunities to grow your business while lowering costs, improving the quality of products/services, and eliminating human errors.
So, is your organization ready to make the move from Spreadsheets into the Cloud?