Mistakes to avoid when onboarding business partners

The decision to go electronic by initiating EDI programs and connecting with your business partners is definitely a wise one, that will pay off in more than one strategic aspect: it will improve productivity, will help you obtain real-time visbility, while at the same time lowering the costs. But chances are that your initiative has been more successful with larger suppliers, rather than with the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s). But instead of glossing over these unfortunate attempts, it would be best to try and fix the issues so as to get the most in terms of value following your investment in EDI implementation programs. Let us look at a few mistakes that other companies made in their attempts to onboard everyone in the community:


Source: https://www.thebalance.com/seal-the-deal-in-seven-seconds-2951796

1. Failing to show your partner the benefits of onboarding

As with any other relationship, failing to put yourself in the other one’s shoes in order to understand their perspective does not have profitable consequences. If you are not able to communicate to your partner the positive aspects of joining the community, there is a strong chance that they might pass up this business proposition.

What to do: Most companies are tempted to choose the more factual route in which they pinpoint to their partner that if they don’t join, they can’t continue doing business together. And although knowing that they cannot receive any revenue from your orders may be incentive enough for some companies, it is always best not to choose the rougher approach, but the collaborative one in which you work together to better understand the process.

A good way is to send your partners an informative message that helps them see the advantages of joining the community. It would be all the better if you could also include an offer to make the deal a bit more tempting – for example, the chance to be paid faster in return for receiving your EDI orders and sending EDI invoices. If your partner sees the possible business perks, such as improved cash flow and overall cost reduction, as well as the ’preferential treatment’they get through special offers, you will then have a partner that is more willing and keen to join your business network.

      2. Supplier communications need thorough planning

A common pitfall that companies fail to see is that your partners will need all the information they can get about the EDI implementation process not only before program initiation, but also afterwards. In order to avoid a flood of confused phone calls and emails, it is best to set up an elaborate communications plan from the get-go.

What to do: Get involved in thorough education for your partners. Offer them in-person meetings, send them clarification emails or follow-up emails asking about progress status or even hold informative webinars.  It is essential that you are there every step of the way, checking how the process evolves for your partner, intervening with solutions when issues arise.

      3. Eliminate possible inconsistencies within your business community

When it comes to your EDI program, it is crucial that everyone in your business community is on the same page. There are cases when members of the community, such as buyers, may be announcing suppliers that they can continue with their manual processes, instead of urging them to switch to EDI. This can act like a powerful roadblock in your initiatives to push the process forward.

What to do: Make sure that everyone in your company, to the very last stakeholder, is properly informed and ultimately on board for EDI implementation. Educate them regarding the company’s benefits, their own and the supplier’s benefits. This way, they can actively take part in encouraging suppliers to switch to EDI, whenever they have the opportunity to do so.


       4. Steep onboarding costs for your suppliers

It is not uncommon for your suppliers to feel like implementing an EDI solution is too expensive and is not worth the effort.

What to do: It may seem unconventional, but a long-term effective solution would be to fund the program for small- and medium-size suppliers, that are unable to join for financial reasons. The first benefit is an immediate one and it is represented by their quick onboarding. The second and most significant benefit will be seen in time, when your initial costs will be recovered. You will be able to see the payoff sooner than you would expect and you will be part of a homogenous and harmonious business community.

EDI has been around for some years and has been implemented by numerous companies worldwide. From this point of view, it serves to arrive a bit later to the EDI table, since there are lessons to learn from previous companies which had to learn them the hard way. It is advisable that you try and avoid the pitfalls listed above, so that you can benefit from a harmonious and efficient EDI implementation, together with your partners.

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