SRM: 5 tips for successful supplier onboarding

SRM: 5 tips for successful supplier onboarding

01/13/2017 Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade

Choosing an SRM software is a step towards better performance and added value for your company. Of course, your employees need to be comfortable using the solution, but so do your suppliers. It is worth remembering that digitalizing the procurement processes of your company adds a participatory dimension. Supplier onboarding is a key step in your SRM project that calls for care and attention. Drawing from the experience of Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade, here are 5 tips to help you implement and use your SRM solution effectively.


*Supplier Relation Management

1/ Create and maintain an exhaustive database with the help of your suppliers

Your supplier database is the core of all your procurement processes, for that, it is essential to have the most complete and relevant information. With their supplier relationship management (SRM) module, e-sourcing solutions now let you take a collaborative approach when integrating new suppliers into your environment. They empower your suppliers, giving them the chance to create and update their own information. But it is down to you to structure this approach and define the objectives to be met. It is crucial to ensure high-quality onboarding that guarantees the process downstream, and it is also an opportunity to strengthen the supplier relationship.


2/ Identify the information you need

Over the course of our various opinions, we have regularly emphasized the importance of classifying suppliers, anticipating supplier risks and managing information flows with precision. It is clear that you need to identify (correctly) all the information that you need to gather from your supplier. Before anything else, you should make an exhaustive list of all the data to collect, distinguishing between information that is essential and information that is not.  

If you would like to be able to measure how dependent your supplier is, for instance, you will need to know its overall revenue, to then be compared to your total spend.

This stage can be completed before the solution is rolled out. The more you anticipate, the more reassurance you give your suppliers and the easier their onboarding will be. Don’t hesitate to draw on your specifications to be sure of all the information you need, and communicate to your suppliers as early as possible so they can prepare to onboard and ask you questions if need be. Don’t forget, preparation is the key to a project’s success!


3/ Think ‘customization’

Each procurement department constructs its processes and methods according to its specific business context and activity. Supplier onboarding, because it aims to lay the foundations for your collaboration, is no exception to this basic rule.

So, go for the most precise onboarding questionnaire possible. Most solutions offer single pathways but expose you to the risk of leaving something out, and it will be tricky to change things once your SRM is active. Likewise, managing the supplier relationship with precision is a guarantee of performance for the whole company. Managing the relationship in this way requires having collected all the information beforehand. And contrary to what is often thought, a questionnaire that is adapted to a specific business sector will always be easier for your supplier to complete than a general one: things are always easier when you are on familiar ground.

You also need to be able to take the special features of your activity, and your suppliers’, into account. A single questionnaire and/or pathway make it possible to simplify the way the process is managed, but risks not covering all the issues.

Adapting the information according to the type of procurement is a first step to capturing clear information and getting value from your supplier.


4/ Communicate openly with your suppliers

Communication is an important step for successful onboarding. It is worth preparing it carefully from the moment the SRM's implementation plan is defined. You will need to explain to your suppliers the benefits that they will be able to derive from procurement being digitalized in your company: more opportunities to take part in tenders, transparency in terms of selection, and reduced payment times are examples of arguments you can give. 

The best practice is to communicate what you need from your suppliers clearly, in terms of the information and documents to supply, while reassuring them that gathering these data is quick and easy, as we have seen previously. 

Communicate several times over the course of implementing your SRM, up to the deadline that you will have set for submitting information. Make the most of this communication operation to strengthen your relationship with your suppliers by answering their questions.


5/ Establish an assessment system to manage the relationship

You have to be able to fully depend on your SRM to measure the performance of your procurement processes. This will be measured using precise criteria that, once again, should be adapted to your environment and objectives. Choosing KPIs and using them when preparing for supplier onboarding will mean you can easily measure supplier activity on your platform, identify potential bottlenecks and make the necessary adjustments where needed.

Assessment means facilitation: knowing how your suppliers interact with your solution gives you precious information to support what from now on should be seen as a fully-fledged community, and can help you to optimize your management of it.


Onboarding requires special attention when introducing a SRM solution into a company, because this stage defines whether the tool will be adopted successfully for a smooth procurement process. By proceeding methodically and using these pieces of advice, you will make sure your company has the key foundations for optimizing procurement’s performance and you will lead your suppliers into a virtuous collaborative dynamic.


Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade


Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade

Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade

Maxime Aubry, Pre-sales Consultant at SynerTrade