When embarking on the journey to a digital supply chain, supply chain managers often wonder, "How can I collaborate with all of my partners on a single platform?" and "How can I convince them to use my platform?"
All partners share the common objective of achieving supply chain visibility and understand the benefits of collaboration. However, the industry faces inherent challenges. Structures are highly heterogeneous, with large companies working with small ones. Even with substantial efforts, data formats have not been standardized in the industry. Additionally, many IT systems are outdated without any interfaces or APIs, resulting in a significant amount of spreadsheets and emails being exchanged.
In this blog post, we share several best practices to ensure successful implementation of a digital supply chain platform, including ways to incentivize partners, such as suppliers, to participate. It is important to ensure specific needs are met to achieve high partner adoption rates.
Top Management Support
To ensure the success of a digital transformation project, it must be a top priority for management. The supply chain is the most critical process in a company; without it, goods cannot be produced or shipped. This is why people are hesitant to make changes to it. Therefore, any transformation project related to the supply chain requires top management support and priority.
After securing top management support, the next step is to make sure that all internal stakeholders are aware of the objectives of the project. Additionally, management needs to ensure that relevant stakeholders have sufficient resources to fully support the project.
Internal Goal Settings
The success parameters of the project should be reflected in the individual agreements with internal stakeholders. For instance, supplier relationship managers should have a personal objective to motivate their suppliers to join the platform. A bonus should be given when they achieve this objective, and they should not receive a bonus if they fail.
Amend Terms and Conditions
Procurement must ensure that future contracts with suppliers or partners are only awarded to those who agree to join the platform. Those who agree should be given preference.
Cluster and Identify Your Partners
Before reaching out to your partners about the project and the request to use the platform, analyze your supplier base. Specifically, you want to determine if the partners are motivated, willing, and able to join; generally willing and able to join; or hesitant.
The first group is the one you should focus on initially. You should identify which partners can onboard the easiest, as these are the ones to start with.
Make a Plan and Sequence
Start by selecting 3-5 partners who are willing and able to support your project and meet the technical pre-requisites to get onto the platform. Onboard these partners first. Once completed, use this success in your communication with the community to promote the project.
Elements of a Communication Plan
Effective communication with your project's partner community is a critical success factor. This communication should occur on multiple levels. Here are some successful strategies we've observed:
- A letter from top management to the community informing them about the project and its objectives
- A video produced by top management explaining the project and its goals
- Announcement of the project in the company newsletter and on the website (by top management)
- Hosting a partner day where all partners and suppliers are invited and informed about the project
When recruiting partners for your project, it's important to consider their perspective. Why should they join a project that primarily benefits you? To make your project more attractive, think about how you can share the benefits with your partners. Here are some ideas we've seen:
- Preferential payment terms: partners on the platform receive faster payments.
- Preferential contracts: partners on the platform receive better contract terms.
Reducing Workloads for Partners
Partners may be reluctant to take on additional workloads, so it's important to make their lives as easy as possible. Here are a few strategies we've seen work well:
- Create a partner self-service portal.
- Develop a partner onboarding guide.
- Offer free partner training.
- Provide top-notch technical documentation.
How Limbiq Supports Partner Onboarding
- User-friendly interface that requires only limited training
- OpenAPI for easy partner integration
- Comprehensive documentation
- AI-supported document extraction for simple spreadsheet integration
- Platform collaboration for PO, PO confirmation, and shipment management
Download our e-paper on the benefits of supply chain visibility here.
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