Written by: Mike Edmunds

Posted on: 04/06/24

Smarter Supplier On-Boarding

A Brief Introduction to AI

Artificial Intelligence is the umbrella term which encompasses a few different technological aspects, including Machine Learning and LLMs (Large Language Models). AI can perform tasks which would ordinarily need human intervention, and it’s been around for a lot, lot longer than merely the recent AI boom.

 “85% of AI decision-makers believe that AI will have a major impact on how employees do their day-to-day work in the next two years.” – “The Top Skills For Generative AI”, Fiona Mark, Matthew Guarini, Aaron Katz, Dan Bieler, David Morrison, Ian McPherson, January 5th 2024, The Top Skills For Generative AI | Forrester

AI has been embraced more recently as an improvement to manual, repetitive tasks by removing the need for a person to be involved at all. Reviewing documents, data processing, and general verification can be automated using AI capabilities, freeing up time for more complex tasks which cannot be replicated by AI.

An Introduction to Supplier-Onboarding

If you’re reading this, you likely already have an understanding of what supplier on-boarding is. However, it can be useful to go back to basics at times, and when dealing with something as potentially complex as AI, basic is best.

Suppliers make up the foundation of our products, and our products make up the foundation of our businesses. The more you can understand about your supplier, the better the impact will be on your product and business, and ultimately your customer.

You learn a lot about your suppliers during the on-boarding process – no matter what that process is. It’s at the point when you can nail down the finer details of what you actually need to know about them, that you can begin to establish the strong supplier-buyer relationships which can offer you more value.

With an established and rigorously enforced process, a deeper understanding between business and supplier can be fostered, and expectations are established. A robust process also puts in place protections against many of the risks which are associated with supplier onboarding, such as lack of compliance.

AI, Machine Learning, and Supplier-Onboarding – Oh My!

So how do the two mesh together? AI and Machine Learning can help make the process of supplier on-boarding more efficient and streamlined. Simpler, more repetitive tasks can be effectively left to AI with confidence in its accuracy.

“Most employees who will leverage AI systems to perform their daily functions are not data scientists.” – “The State Of Explainable AI, 2024”, Brandon Purcell, Aaron Katz, Evan Megan, Jen Barton, Feb 6th, 2024 – The State Of Explainable AI, 2024 | Forrester

Automated tasks save time and streamline onboarding processes by automatically moving the supplier through the process and ensuring due diligence is performed. Tasks such as verifying important documents and accreditations can be successfully and confidently given to AI to complete, safe in the knowledge that discrepancies will be flagged.

This method of document processing reduces the risk of errors while speeding up the onboarding procedure.

AI can be seamlessly introduced to existing and successful procedures, offering its benefits and improving upon present frameworks. For example, Trade Interchange’s ARCUS® Supplier Management Software includes AI capabilities as standard in its software, including document verification with 99% accuracy. The types of monitoring and verification include monitoring risk information, creating tasks in response to non-compliance detection, credit rating verification, ESG and food safety-related documents, and contract certificates.

APIs in Supplier-Onboarding

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable real-time data transfers between systems. This can be useful during the supplier onboarding process as they can automate more specific verification tasks with third-party databases.

Without needing to specifically and manually request and chase information, the required data can be retrieved directly from the source, cutting out cumbersome middlemen and ensuring trustworthy data is used to populate supplier profiles.

The range of APIs and the types of data they can pull through into systems like ARCUS® is not limited by industry or data type. Anything from certifications, licenses, environmental and carbon scoring can be automatically verified and populated into systems to help make the supplier onboarding process more manageable and accurate.