John Donne famously remarked, “no man is an island,” and the same holds true for businesses. In all likelihood, your enterprise doesn’t operate in a vacuum. You’ve probably cultivated key relationships with a variety of vendors to get the supplies you need to keep your business running. Perhaps you rely on Company A for all your paper needs, Company B for packaging, and Company C for furnishings. Maybe you’ve cultivated a delicate ecosystem of niche vendors, all attuned to your specific needs and preferences.
Whatever your exact setup, if you’re attempting to communicate with your vendors via snail mail, phone, or even just plain ol’ email, your business isn’t keeping up. In this digital era, your vendors deserve direct access to your databases. If they can’t get the information they need, you won’t get the resources you require. Since your customer, purchase order, inventory, and other dynamic data is probably changing by the minute, your vendors should be updated just as frequently.
With this twenty-first-century truth accepted, how should you go about getting your vendors the data they need? Since they aren’t exactly employees, you wouldn’t want to grant them access to your entire system. Nor would they benefit from limited quarterly reports or a customer login. What your company needs is a database and dashboard designed with your vendors in mind, so they can see the facts and figures they need, but no more. Fortunately, such a system exists in NetSuite. One of the many advantages of this top cloud-based business software suite is its intuitive, innovative Vendor Center. Read on to learn more about this feature and learn how you can use it to boost your business in this next installment of our NetSuite Orientation series.
The Value of Vendors
It’s easy to underestimate how useful your vendors are to your company. You might take them for granted, only paying them much attention when they fail to deliver the stock you need at a critical moment. However, by bettering your relationships with your vendors, you can expand both your enterprise and theirs.
As the Houston Chronicle points out: “companies are more dependent on vendor relationships to sell products and services in a global economy,” in which ventures must work together to succeed. For this reason, the newspaper argues, “establishing and maintaining solid vendor relationships is crucial to customer service, cost efficiency, quality, and market development.”
Similarly, CIO magazine recommends that businesses form “strategic” rather than “transactional” relationships with their vendors. This means forming symbiotic relationships with your vendors and cluing them into your overall goals rather than simply trading your money for their goods. CIO explains: “a strategic relationship is the opposite of a transactional one” because, once you’ve formed a truly cooperative partnership, your vendors will bring “problem-solving orientation…value optimization…purposeful flexibility…risk sharing” and “trust” to the equation. By truly collaborating with your vendors, you can bring stability and success to both businesses.
Benefits of Data Sharing
Communication is a vital component of any relationship, and especially of a strategic vendor partnership. On a basic level, your vendors can’t possibly meet your day-to-day requirements if they don’t have the data to do so. Furthermore, vendors that understand your more nuanced needs and general business trends can actively work to enhance your enterprise.
Sharing data instantaneously using cloud-based business software suites like NetSuite makes keeping your vendors up to speed easier than ever, saving you time, money, and hassle. By giving vendors access to relevant information on the cloud, you can:
- virtually eliminate tedious emails, phone calls, and messages, since they’ll have all the data they need at their fingertips.
- avoid vendor mistakes, since their purchase order and inventory information will always be accurate.
- allow vendors to anticipate your needs, helping them do their work even better while optimizing your operations.
- encourage vendors to offer assistance and provide suggestions based on general trends they see in your shared business interests.
These and other advantages make data sharing with vendors, not just a high-tech luxury, but an absolute necessity for modern businesses.
What is NetSuite’s Vendor Center?
NetSuite’s Vendor Center is a portal designed just for vendors. Based on your preferences and permission, it gives your vendors all the pertinent information they need to better cooperate with your business. Just like your own NetSuite dashboard, the Vendor Center is easy to log in to and navigate. Once you’ve set this feature up, your vendors should be able to pull up any relevant records from the Vendor Center with just a few clicks.
How to Grant Vendor Access in NetSuite
Now that you know what the Vendor Center can do for your business, how can you make it a reality for your vendors? As with most NetSuite features, granting vendor access is easy, as long as you follow a few basic steps. SCS Cloud’s team of experts lists them below (plus you can check out a more detailed guide in our NetSuite Orientation video on granting vendor access):
- Log in to NetSuite’s main dashboard. You must have an administrator login to access this feature, so ensure you log in with the correct type of account.
- Click the “Setup” button on the right side of the blue tab at the top of your screen.
- Once the drop-down menu appears, click “Company” (the second option from the top). This will pull up another drop-down menu, entitled “Setup Tasks,” to the right side.
- From this menu, select the “Enable Features” button (the second option from the top).
- Enable Features will open a new page with “Enable Features” in larger lettering at the top. From this screen, click on the “Web Presence” button at the right of the blue tab under “Enable Features.”
- Scroll down the page generated to find the “Access” section (which will typically be below several other sections marked off with light blue bars).
- Once you’ve found the “Access” section, check the box labeled “Vendor Access.”
- Press the blue “Save” button at the bottom of the screen.
- This will pull up the “Setup Manager” page. From here, navigate to the vendor record you wish to grant access to (this may vary based on the type of vendor and how much information you’d like them to have). You can do so by pulling up a list of all vendors or using the global search function at the top of the page. We recommend using the global search function, as it is typically easier and faster. Simply type in “vc:” followed by the name of the vendor you’d like to grant access to.
- When you pull up the Vendor Record, click “Edit” (this should appear in a blue tab below the search bar).
- Once you’ve entered the Vendor Record, click the “System Information” button in the middle of the lower blue bar. This will pull up the “System Information” tab.
- Click the “Access” tab in the light blue bar next to “System Notes.”
- Check “Give Access.”
- If you’d like your vendor representative to receive an email informing him or her of the access you’ve granted, check the “Send Notification Email” box. This will send a message to the vendor email on file.
- Go to the bar labeled “Password” next to the “Give Access” box and type in a temporary password for your vendor to use. You will also need to confirm this password below.
- Check the box labeled “Require Password Change on Next Login” under the “Confirm Password” bar. This will prompt your vendor representative to change his or her password when he or she first logs in to the Vendor Center.
- Scroll down to the drop-down menu labeled “Role” and select the appropriate role, based on the vendor and vendor representative, then press the blue “Add” button.
- Press the blue “Save” button at the bottom of the screen.
- At this point, your vendor should be able to log in to the Vendor Center by going to NetSuite.com, pressing the login button in the upper right, using the email listed on the vendor record as the username, and the password you’ve just set.
You can go through the same process to add as many vendors as you’d like. Once you’ve granted a vendor access to the Vendor Center, you should not need to do anything further.
Want to Learn More About NetSuite’s Vendor Center?
SCS Cloud’s team of seasoned specialists is here to help! We can consult with you to find out what your business needs, provide custom development services to personalize your programs, offer implementation assistance to get your NetSuite system fully operational and assist your team with support and training services. Contact SCS Cloud today to find out more and schedule your free consultation!