An image showcasing a cloud inside a purple cylinder. curve

The Crucial Role of Vendor Data Management

Ready to Optimize Your Procurement Workflow? Explore Tipalti’s Procurement Solutions Today!

A siloed approach to business functions just won’t cut it anymore; those legacy systems are a nightmare to navigate and integrate, and you feel there are so many missed opportunities for better productivity, cost-effectiveness and information sharing. 

This is even more the case when it comes to vendor data management. A well-compiled, accessible and thorough vendor data management process allows you to see opportunities for further revenue, where to cut spending and allows you to streamline operations and detect opportunities for growth. 

It’s time we discussed vendor data management. Touching on company-wide interests, across the internal and external divides, this more streamlined approach means the old-skool, fragmented – siloed – way of doing things can and should be a thing of the past.

Vendor Data Management, Explained

Vendor data management is often misunderstood, leading it to become a much more confusing undertaking than it needs to be. 

What is vendor data? Vendor data is any information related to a specific vendor and or vendor process, from researching and sourcing, to onboarding and vendor management, and payment. All information on the vendors your company has onboarded and used is considered vendor data. Managing this vendor data is part of the vendor management process; this includes vendor contracts, contact details and location, purchasing terms, and legal documentation. It comprises gathering all of the details about a vendor that are needed to onboard them, do business with them, and measure and track vendor performance and related spending. 

But usually, vendor data management goes beyond the surface level: at first glance, these look like a list of trivial details…but all it takes is one misspelling, or one incorrect number, location or other seemingly inconspicuous oversight to create a big delay, and that vendor won’t be paid anytime soon, and anyone relying on that work might experience a slowdown.  

Ongoing business operations require access to information on vendors for all manner of processes: For example finance managers – the people actually releasing the money to vendors – need to ensure everything is as it should be; other stakeholders have a part to play involving compliance, procurement and analyzing vendor performance. And if there’s even one hitch or incorrect detail during these processes, things can go very wrong. 

Amazingly, it really doesn’t need to be that way. Vendor data management solutions should help you automate the entire process, collecting related data to provide you with data-driven reports and dashboards.

It’s time you made the move, and start reaping the rewards for managing your data correctly. 

3 Ways to Kick-start Vendor Data Management

Vendor data management doesn’t have to be a lengthy, painstaking process. It should easily fit into your vendor management strategy. Having the right system in place can expedite your processes and save a lot of time and effort. 

Automate vendor onboarding

Vendor onboarding, or opening new vendors into a system usually requires collecting vendor information across a variety of online messages, offline scribbles – billing details, points of contact, manual forms and otherwise. 

This ‘old style’ onboarding process is lengthy, time-consuming and can be delayed by even the tiniest mistake – a missing digit, illegible handwriting or otherwise. 

The new way is smartly automated. You create a custom and easy-to-fill form with all the details you want to collect for compliance. A team member can fill it or you send a link to the vendor, and the collected data then creates a vendor profile which then is automatically routed to the relevant approval flow. All data is stored for easy access later.

A truly innovative vendor data management system will outsource this part of the process to the vendors themselves – after all, they know their details better than anyone, and will be more incentivized to ensure they’re up to date in the system, and inputted quickly.

Centralize your vendor database

The old way of doing things sees siloed data in the ERP with very limited access, with onboarding data tied up across spreadsheets and emails. It’s hard to access important data, and even harder to make sense of what’s there – fragmented, unstructured, and complicated.

Having an automated, centralized vendor database where all data is accessible and searchable allows your data to be tagged and filtered; it’s all in one place, which any requestor or budget owner can access. All attached documents are part of the vendor profiles and are accessible too, allowing you to build a highly defined picture of where your business stands and future projections. You can easily sync all other systems, so each ‘silo’ becomes a part of a greater, more centralized, working process.

Invest in vendor data enrichment

Having to collect data from suppliers, and putting it into a spreadsheet, never to think much more of it (until you realize it’s not as current as you’d assumed, and suddenly, it needs to be updated) serves very little purpose. 

Using your vendor data to drive business-level insights about your vendor relationship is a possibility. Having your vendor data automatically updated from 3rd party data providers, ensuring all vendors are company-compliant, while allowing 3rd parties to populate their vendor profiles with extra links makes it accessible for business units when sourcing preferred vendors. 

Data powers insights across performance and spending, and is always up to date, thanks to automatic-syncing, allowing further insights and opportunities for cost-saving – helping with vendor relationship management and taking those relationships to the next level.

The Benefits of Better Vendor Data Management

Your company’s business decisions should be based on your vendor data’s insights, allowing you to make high-level decisions from an effective, automated vendor data management system. 

With correctly managed vendor data, you’ll be able to gain visibility and insight into how much your business is spending across suppliers, contracts and timeframes…all of which can help you make further important (and data-driven) business decisions and work to mitigate vendor related risks.

You’ll save time, effort and budget by collecting and maintaining a centralized vendor database, reducing manual, repetitive work – as well as invaluable working time. 

Team members will move away from a siloed mentality, and be able to easily access more up to date, workable information; vendor relationships and compliance will be far more easily manageable, thanks to higher-level, data-driven decisions.

About the Author