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6 Best Practices for Automating Your Supplier Database

By The Direct Commerce Team

Use these AP Automation tips from the industry Supplier Adoption leader to make sure you optimize ROI on your automation investment.


“The most important thing to look for in an e-Invoicing solution is supplier adoption and a team and process to drive it. You can build the greatest thing that ever existed, but if you don't have the team, organization, and diligence for rolling it out it will be underutilized." 

-Billy Williams, CTO, Direct Commerce

You can have the best AP automation solution in the world, but if your suppliers aren’t using it, you’re losing ROI. Most solutions available today reach less than 40% of suppliers. You need 80-100% supplier adoption to get the most value out of your AP Automation.

At Direct Commerce, we believe you should get the highest ROI possible from your solutions which is why we deliver supplier adoption rates for e-Invoicing between 80% and 100% every time. 

How do you guarantee those kinds of results? Whether you have thousands or tens of thousands of suppliers, we know the onboarding process can seem overwhelming. That’s why we put together six best practices you can use today to ensure you reach your supplier adoption goals with AP Automation:

  1. Scrub Your Vendor Master.

    Before you import data into an AP Automation system, make sure the contact information for each vendor is complete and accurate. We recommend you scrub your database to standardize company name, address, and other identifying information to avoid duplicates and remove outdated records so that you set yourself up for success right from the start. 
  1.   Partner with Procurement

    When procurement and AP are in sync, the benefits are substantial:
    • Greater cost savings
    • Increase in positive working capital
    • Better data 
    • More efficient processes
    • Improved relationships with suppliers

Your colleagues in procurement will be strong allies in your supplier adoption efforts, especially if you get them involved during the RFP process, provider evaluations, and requirements gathering—before supplier onboarding even begins. Because procurement professionals have their own relationships with suppliers, your procurement team can advocate for AP Automation with their existing and new accounts.

  1.  Take Advantage Of Your Provider’s Supplier Network.

    Because of Direct Commerce’s relationships with existing clients, our network already consists of hundreds of thousands of suppliers. Work with your AP Automation provider to leverage their supplier network and eliminate onboarding for your vendors already in the system. 
  1. Leverage Proven Onboarding Techniques

    We believe an effective supplier onboarding program includes awareness campaigns, clear policies and procedures, on-demand support, and ongoing reporting. Direct Commerce has a proven onboarding methodology that targets your top suppliers immediately and gets you close to 100% supplier participation as quickly as possible. Ask your AP Automation provider about their program and specifically how they plan to onboard your suppliers to ensure minimal disruption and maximum adoption. 
  1.   Be Transparent With Your Suppliers

    Some suppliers may initially resist your desire for AP Automation, but when you explain your decision and the benefits they can expect, most suppliers come to love the solution. Be sure to highlight the value they’ll receive, from visibility to faster payments. 

Our CTO, Billy Williams, says the value proposition of AP Automation for suppliers is a great place to start. “Would you rather send a piece of paper that sits in the mail for several days, may or may not arrive, has to then be data entered, which often causes issues that will have to be resolved, and eventually gets into the ERP system? Or, would you rather have a direct interface into your customer's ERP system, so when you hit send you know that your invoice has been matched up, passed all validation rules, and has been successfully submitted to your customer?” 

  1.   Staff Up During Your Transition

    “Overstaffed is better than understaffed during the transition,” says Jeff VanDyke, Director of Shared Services at Gordon Food Service and a Direct Commerce client. “We made some decisions that I would go back and change the next time as far as going down on some staff...and it created a bit of a more challenging transition than it should have.”

As suppliers adjust to the new way of doing things, be prepared to field extra inquiries for at least a few weeks. Get the right resources and people in place to ensure a smooth transition.  

Want to see what onboarding really looks like?

We’d love to walk you through the complete onboarding process. Contact us today and we’ll show you what AP Automation implementation looks like and how to achieve ROI in less than a year. 


Topics: eInvoicing, Vendor Management, Automation, Supplier Onboarding