Client & vendor portals are essential to take full advantage of shared service centers. They keep back-office lean and efficient. But most ERP tools don’t have them. Are software vendors missing a trick here?
Most large organizations have either looked at, are implementing, or have implemented back-office shared service centers. Any ERP which incorporates client and vendor portals would have a distinct advantage when selling to this type of organization so it surprises that so few ERP tools have this functionality. Those that do have them don’t seem to promote these modules as product differentiators.
Let’s take a step back and look at what’s driving companies to create back-office shared service centers. It’s all about cost savings and improving efficiency. Two of the main objectives/philosophies of shared service centers are:
- Standardization of processes
- Leveraging technology to reduce mundane day to day tasks freeing resources to add more value
There are lots of studies on the internet which demonstrate that client & vendor portals are useful because they address the second of these objectives by allowing clients and vendors to self-serve a large percentage of queries.
There are also more advanced uses of these portals to pass some data entry to the client or vendor. For example:
- New vendors could be sent links to fill in online registration forms and attach relevant supporting documentation. These forms could be a “draft” vendor record that updates the ERP when approved
- They could be invited to register quotes, proposals and even their invoices on web-forms which could be the initial registrations on the system.
- Clients could be sent proposals to review and approve online.
So why aren’t the ERP vendors selling this functionality?
- Is the problem that not enough of their clients are not asking for these portals?
- Are the ERP suppliers guilty of failing to understand their client needs?
- Are the clients themselves treating vendor and client portals as add-ons to the ERP’s (to be purchased by specialist suppliers) rather than something that could be part of the application?
Do you have any ideas or suggestions as to why ERP solutions typically don’t have client and vendor portals?
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