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Three Tips for Effective Vendor Onboarding

Three Tips for Effective Vendor Onboarding

November 6, 2017

Every vendor should be closely managed from the onset of the relationship, beginning with the vendor onboarding process. If expectations and procedures are established before any work commences, brands and retailers can avoid many issues.

Ensuring your vendors are properly onboarded is an investment in your future, as well as the forthcoming stability of your vendor. This means:

  •  Taking the time to put Standards and Terms of Engagement in place.
  •  Implementing solid training programs so everyone is on the same page.
  •  Investing in technology to properly and efficiently manage the overall onboarding process.

Establish Standards and Terms of Engagement

The first step to managing effective vendor onboarding is to define the Code of Conduct, or Standards of Vendor Engagement, that you expect your vendors to adhere to. These are the guidelines that each vendor will be evaluated on, which can include rules on non-discrimination, harassment and abuse, zero child labor, safe working conditions, etc. Creating and sharing this Code of Conduct with your vendors not only standardizes the guidelines for evaluating compliance internally but also keeps vendors informed on how they are expected to operate.

In addition to adhering to the Standards you set, there are specific Terms of Engagement vendors should be expected to fulfill, which we’ll discuss in this installment. If upheld, these terms will prove to be the foundation for a healthy, lasting and successful relationship with your vendor(s). There are four critical terms of engagement we believe every successful vendor relationship should adhere to: Transparency, Accountability, Responsible Sourcing, and Worker Non-Retaliation.

Transparency is a fundamental component of any good relationship; after all, you have to be able to trust your partner. Accountability and taking responsibility for any non-compliance issue, and addressing it immediately, is also important. We all know that mistakes happen, but the sign of a true partner -- one you can trust -- is owning up to mistakes and taking action to correct them. Responsible sourcing means that your company is committed to upholding the FLA’s Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Sourcing. The final term of engagement relates to Worker Retaliation, which should be strictly prohibited.

Put Solid Training Programs in Place

When both you and your vendors commit to upholding these four Terms of Engagement and your own Standards of Vendor Engagement, you’ll have a solid foundation for a successful, lasting working relationship. Training is a key component of this, and proper training should be a component of your onboarding process. It is essential to offer these training programs in the local language to ensure that you and your vendors are on the same page.

Invest in Technology to Properly and Efficiently Manage Onboarding

Vendor onboarding is nearly impossible to manage through a manual system of email, spreadsheets and attached documents. This is where a technology solution, in particular, a Vendor Compliance solution, can help onboard, organize, vet and manage your vendors in a systematic, efficient way. This will help you make better sourcing decisions, ensure overall compliance, and mitigate any potential risk before it becomes the next trending topic on social media.

Furthermore, a good Vendor Compliance solution should offer fast implementation, with global accessibility and multi-lingual capability, as well as local training support to assist with the rollout of your global solution. Vendor Compliance solutions allow you to not only streamline your processes, but improve the onboarding and ongoing management of your global vendors to ensure compliance, both now and in the future.

To learn more about effective vendor onboarding and the processes involved, download NGC’s whitepaper, “Managing Your Global Vendors – The Three Pillars of Success.”