What is supplier collaboration?

In a previous post, Ed talked about the advent of the paperless office, and in particular its  impact in terms of creating greater electronic connectivity between stakeholders of all sizes. What impact does this move to the paperless office have on the collaborative process with  stakeholders such as suppliers? 

Our recent joint webinar with TIS demonstrated how companies can transform their paper based and manual processes into automated processes that enable real-time collaboration  with suppliers. 

The benefits of this collaborative process flow are many, including the ability to streamline  order fulfillment, eliminate errors, and dramatically reduce costs. 

At the same time, I think it’s important to take a step back and think again about the freedom  afforded us through the automated, touch-less approval of electronic invoices, and what it  really means in a practical sense. 

In the April 22nd post What is The Internet of Things and What Does It Mean to The P2P World,  Eran wrote about “preserving the genius of Humans” to focus on where it’s really  needed. Specifically the areas of strategic thinking, process design, and management by  exception

To me, these are the real points of collaboration in that they have a constructive element that  ensures the ongoing effectiveness of your relationships, especially with suppliers. 

If you are spending the bulk of your time chasing bad invoices or other such process  discrepancies, you have less time to focus your attention on medium to long-term  objectives. This means that you will likely end up in a reactive cycle that keeps your vision  locked on what has already happened. The same can be said for your suppliers, given that  they too will expend countless cycles chasing resolutions and payments. 

What going paperless really means is making the transition from an unproductive reactive  state of managing redundant issues, to one in which the automated checks and balances of  your P2P process gives you the time to proactively plan where you want to go and how you 

can actually get there. Or to put it another way, both you and your suppliers can focus on  better ways to work together to achieve a mutually beneficial forward looking outcome. This of course is the true definition of collaboration.