Partner Onboarding: Process, Challenges, and Best Practices

By |2022-04-13T11:47:07+00:00September 17th, 2020|

Businesses with global supply chains depend heavily on partnerships with local and regional vendors and suppliers to efficiently provide products and services to meet customer demands. These external partners help businesses access markets that would be challenging to establish presence via internal logistics alone. Hence it is becoming more important than ever to efficiently collaborate with business partners.

From order fulfillment to service quality to operational efficiency and selling your product, your partners can help you with all this while allowing businesses to control costs and improve ROI. You can maximize the value of your business network by building solid relationships with your partners. And this foundation should be constructed on impactful partner onboarding, commonly known as channel partner onboarding or vendor onboarding.

According to a survey conducted by Ovum, around 40% of businesses need at least a month to onboard a new partner. Building individual workflows and data pipelines through manual coding can be challenging if your company has hundreds or thousands of partners.

On the other hand, the survey also highlights that if you have a consolidated partner onboarding approach, you can decrease complexity, allowing you to onboard vendors and suppliers more quickly to see a positive impact on your business performance.

What is Partner Onboarding?

Partner onboarding is the process of gathering, validating, and consolidating data and documentation that you need to integrate an external partner into your existing enterprise data ecosystem and begin a business relationship with a vendor or supplier. It can help you simplify partner management and competently carry out business operations with that company when implemented correctly. Both parties need to establish an effective data exchange and communication method, ensuring a time-sensitive collaboration and seamless administration of the co-related tasks and projects.

Having a robust b2b partner onboarding process helps avoid fraudulent vendors by ensuring that all your partners comply with your quality standards. This alleviates risk by setting up data governance, compliance, and validation processes.

Benefits of Partner Onboarding

As per CSO Insights, around 63.5% of businesses believe their partners contribute to their yearly channel sales revenue. To achieve your anticipated partnership performance levels, you will have to implement a well-structured partner onboarding program to gather and analyze partner data needed to earn your business goals.

Yet, many companies ignore the importance of a structured partner onboarding process as they underestimate its advantages. However, in reality, it can constructively influence your company’s performance as it:

Ensures Governance and Compliance

Partner onboarding ensures your partners understand and complies with all internal policies and external protocols. When onboarding a new partner via an automated data integration tool, you don’t have to worry about tons of paperwork. You can quickly perform automated checks against third-party databases to further authenticate the vendor exists and is genuine.

Reduces Transactional Burden

A B2B partner onboarding solution reduces the transactional workload on your in-house teams. Your internal users no longer have to worry about data collection and entry. Partners can utilize a data integration platform to extract from those sources, align formatting with your in-house systems, and consolidate the data without feeds through an automated process.

Enhances Productivity and Collaborative Efforts

Using a partner onboarding solution, you can quickly request, obtain, corroborate, and accept data from your potential partners. This is because it eliminates manually coding individual data pipelines for each vendor, and there’s no longer the need for a dedicated IT person to maintain and fix broken pipelines. As a result, you can accelerate, systematize, and simplify your onboarding procedures by collecting and managing partner information and files in a streamlined data management framework.

Challenges Associated with Partner Onboarding

According to IBM, over 70% of businesses report that their IT workforce struggles to support the volume of vendors their company has to onboard and handle.

Effective channel partner onboarding can help develop partner engagement, increase revenue, and decrease attrition. However, failure to embark on the right foot with new partners can cause many to depart soon, wasting your efforts, time, and resources.

Some critical challenges associated with channel partner onboarding are:

Manually Onboarding Partners

Many companies develop manual onboarding processes that are inefficient and burden IT teams. That’s because your IT team has to create manual procedures for extracting, validating, and standardizing the partner data. These processes are prone to break if the partner changes how they format inputs or switch to a different platform. Issues can also occur when data validation checks fail due to variances in incoming data.

Complicated Legacy Infrastructure

As their partner network expands, many enterprises usually add customizations and manual processes on top of their legacy systems. In essence, legacy systems are not suited for connecting with disparate sources and mainly require middleware to integrate data, in addition to significant coding efforts. This creates a needlessly complex environment, which requires IT intermediation to manage incoming data and monitor critical metrics for vendor performance evaluation.

Onboarding Backlogs

When vendors alter the source data, like partner contracts, contact info, rights, roles, or connectivity requirements, it usually results in broken dataflows because the source formatting has been changed. The dataflow will need to be fixed manually and adjusted to new source formatting. Also, identifying where the breaks occur is a time-intensive task. Your staff has to call and email IT, questioning why it’s taking so long, which slows the process further.

As this chain of issues begins, it creates onboarding backlogs that disrupt the ongoing exchange of information, leading to delays in processing orders and subpar customer experience.

Partner Onboarding Best Practices

An organized approach to partner onboarding helps businesses decrease complexity in workflows, onboard partners quickly, and achieve better business outcomes. Some effective approaches to partner onboarding are:

Automate the partner onboarding process

To tackle the challenges of manual partner onboarding, enterprises use a purpose-built data integration tool to build data pipelines to ingest, validate, and manage all of the incoming vendor data and files.

With an end-to-end data integration platform, businesses can build an automated partner onboarding data framework to integrate all the new vendors and suppliers without writing long SQL scripts. This saves the company from challenging and diverse integrations, thanks to the native connectivity to data sources.

Automated partner onboarding

Caption: Centerprise reduces partner onboarding time to hours instead of weeks.

In addition, these tools help create a self-operating effective onboarding processes. It delivers well-timed insights for customer success while reducing onboarding times to hours rather than days and weeks.

Increase Visibility & Transparency

Visibility is essential in the partner onboarding process as it lays the foundation of data insight that’ll drive your efficiency for years ahead. You should have a high level of transparency throughout the onboarding process to maintain healthy and successful relationships with your partners.

For instance, data visibility is provided through monitoring, reporting, and alert notifications. It is a great way to keep all critical stakeholders in the loop ensuring optimized business planning. A data integration tool provides near real-time visibility via self-service vendor portals, allowing for instantaneous monitoring and reporting on the shipment status, payment cycles, inventory information, and production schedules.

Simplified Integration

Using an enterprise-grade data integration tool, your IT team can integrate different partner systems, such as cloud databases, web applications, and other online platforms, into the business using APIs. You no longer have to establish manual connections for each vendor, which eventually results in faster time to revenue.

According to Ovum, you can use automated solutions to decrease partner onboarding time by 75%. This results in one significant advantage: your business can get accurate, timely insights from partner data collected across the enterprise, enhancing cash flow and producing more working capital swiftly.

Automate Partner Onboarding with Astera Centerprise

Onboarding new partners quickly and efficiently is a crucial ability that portrays your company as a business to build a strong partnership. Using a robust data integration tool can help you interact with your key partners faster than your competitors.

Astera Centerprise is an end-to-end data integration platform that provides a complete toolset to extract, transform, and integrate partner data through automation. With native connectivity to popular data sources and process orchestration capabilities, it enables businesses to build repeatable, customized partner onboarding processes in a matter of hours through its easy-to-use, robust drag-and-drop environment. As a result, your company can easily tackle onboarding challenges, accelerate time-to-insights, and get a higher return on investment (ROI).