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Vendor Self-Service

Portal-based tools that deliver tremendous value and reduce risk.

Vendor self-service is becoming a very popular trend in procurement, accounts payable and finance because of the tremendous value it delivers. Very simply “vendor self-service” is the process by which vendor management activities are directed away from the buying company to the the vendor, or selling company. Examples of this would be the buying company dedicate these resources and expends the time and effort to contact the vendor to get information necessary to do the research to setup a relationship, facilitate a transaction, or resolve a dispute.

Traditionally these activities and processes require the buying company to do all the research and outreach to obtain the data and documents required to complete the process. These processes tend to be very manual, slow, and time constrained by varying time zones of the vendor companies, making contact and research all the more difficult. The result of these inefficiencies can be poor use of working capital, frustration from lingering unresolved disputes, uneven cash flows, and missed discount opportunities to name a few.

What processes lend themselves to vendor self-service?

Three of the more common processes that benefit from a vendor self-service program are Accounts Payable, Dispute Resolution, and Vendor Onboarding (Supplier Onboarding). Each of these functional areas can benefit from a vendor self-service program facilitated through the use of cloud hosted Vendor Portals or Supplier Portals. Let examine each area:

Accounts Payable

AP can benefit from a vendor portal in two main ways, by directing vendor payment inquiries through the portal and delivering the answers based on status of a payment in the buyers ERP or AP Automation application. Instead of a vendor calling into a company and having the buyers personnel research the status of a payment then responding, the vendor can now login to a portal and ascertain the payment status with no intervention or effort on the part of the buying company.

Additionally the vendor can submit invoices or other payment documents to the buying company directly through the vendor portal by either filling out a web form, PO flip, or uploading a billing file. The information provided is then read and ingested into the buyers payables systems and processed for approval and/or payment. No need to open mail, scan documents, data enter invoice information or any of the other manual activities found in a traditional process.

Dispute Resolution

One of the more labor intensive processes in vendor management can be payment dispute resolution. A vendor may dispute the amount a buyer paid, or is going to pay, which differs from the invoice generated by the vendor. There may be many reasons a buying company disputes a payment amount but the process of resolving those disputes can be very labor intensive, slow, and burdensome on the vendor (and their cash flow!) who is waiting for their money. By allowing the vendor to submit disputes through the vendor portal along with relevant information and documentation, the buying company can efficiently research and communicate through the portal with the vendor and come to a resolution much quicker, with more transparency, and requiring far less manual effort.

Vendor Onboarding

Of course before any of the above can happen the procurement department and the AP department must “onboard” vendors. The process of vendor onboarding is collecting all the data and documentation necessary for a company meet all of the compliance requirements needed to qualify to be a vendor. This process is very labor intensive for the buying company who is charged with collecting and validating the information they gather. With a self-service vendor portal potential vendors can log on and start supplying the necessary documents needed by the buying company such as insurance certificates, tax documents, licenses and certificates, contracts and the data required to complete transactions such address, product, and contact information.

This information can then be validated, in many cases through automated validation tools inside the portal, i.e., TIN Check which can validate the legitimacy of a companies Tax ID number or SSN by matching against the IRS database. There are numerous other validations that can be done through automated systems to reduce time consuming activities. In addition to onboarding a vendor by collecting and validating information, the self service portal can also act as an ongoing management tools by tracking expirations for insurance and licensing and sending automatic notifications when a vendor is approaching non-compliance.

These are just three of the more common areas where a vendor portal based solution can drive vendor self-service and push the manual tasks of collecting, researching, matching, validating and communicating from your staff and your budget back to the vendor. After all the vendor wants to sell you goods and services, why shouldn’t they, not you, be the ones to pay for that privilege! Contact ICG Consulting today to learn how you can implement a vendor self-service program or schedule a demo of one of our vendor management solutions.