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Supplier Portals - a New Way Not to Pay?

More and more large companies are implementing online supplier portals, a spend management or e-procurement platform that enables suppliers to electronically enter invoice details, upload documents, submit tenders, check for live purchase orders and see payment statuses and payment dates. Systems are available from vendors such as SAP Ariba, Coupa, and ProcurePort, though larger businesses might implement custom-made versions.

The benefit to the large company is clear - a significant proportion of the administration of procurement becomes 'self-service', in effect moving tasks onto suppliers. To supplier companies, these systems are often presented as simplifying and streamlining the process of bidding for business and getting paid, however the reality is often deeply frustrating and time-consuming.

Outsource Your Credit Control

Why not let our team look after collecting money so that you can get on with what you do best: growing your business?

We have experience working with all the main supplier portals, find out more about our outsourced credit control service here.

My Credit Controllers was recently advised by a client that it had taken them over 4 hours to get registered and upload their invoice to an insurance company's portal. This is administration work that they had not envisaged when quoting for the job and wiped out most of the profit they had made on the work.

Getting Paid Through a Supplier Portal

The customer will register you as a user on their platform and you are likely to have to complete supplier forms. Once this is done you will then receive an email with a link and your secure login details for the portal. You are often given a lengthy document that shows you how to use the system and complete all the required information, the onus is then back on you to enter this correctly.

It's important that you complete all the required information if you miss anything out your invoice will be rejected.

In order to get paid you need to register your invoice details. Unfortunately the format is often different on every platform. If you have more than once invoice you have to add these individually and on many systems it has to be one invoice per purchase order you cannot add several order numbers to one invoice. The invoice is likely to be reconciled to a purchase order so it is important that your invoice matches the order in every respect. Any price discrepancies or mistyped order numbers will result in your invoice being rejected. If you were not given a purchase order then you will need to request one otherwise you will not be able to enter your invoice and won't get paid.

Once the invoice details are entered it will need to be approved, often by the person who requested the work or goods. This is all done electronically and once all approved you will receive a notification and can then check the portal for a payment date. You may need to contact the person who is approving the payment to encourage them to do so in a timely way.

The portal will show a status for every invoice and automatically updates with payment dates so check the portal at least once a week.

Unfortunately the reality of these systems is that they are far from labour-saving for suppliers, especially when you use them infrequently. So it is a good idea to check with larger clients whether they use them before you decide your pricing on a quote or tender.

Alternatively, My Credit Controllers has experience of negotiating a path through supplier portals and will do so as part of our outsourced credit control services.