With the rapid shift to D2C (direct to consumer) models and increased process complexities, organizations are relying more on outsourced experts for the non-core functions, thus focusing their full attention on what they do the best to serve their customers. However, the investments in third-party organizations require identification and management of associated risks, since customer experience, sensitive information and servicing standards are at stake.
Hence, it becomes essential to verify the background of your vendors and partners, just as you would do for your employees and customers. On-boarding vendor and business partners need due diligence, that involves mundane tasks of physical document collection and massive data entry into legacy and sometimes siloed systems, which requires resources with domain knowledge. Manually verifying every piece of information delays partnership building and does not guarantee a fraud-proof entity onboarding within the organization. Process visibility and efficacy take a hit along with multiple and multi-level approvals adding to the onboarding woes.
COVID-19 has expedited paperless and remote technology adoption in customer and employee onboarding. So why should we not relook the vendor onboarding and due diligence experience from a similar perspective. Delayed verifications lead to poor partner experience and manual processes affect accuracy and thoroughness in verification. This impacts your business in one way or the other. Certain industry regulations consider it a critical component of the anti-money laundering (AML) framework to mitigate risks such as financial fraud, bribery, and corruption. To this extent, the existing technology platforms are modeled to automate data gathering but not the steps after.
Digitizing the vendor onboarding and screening journey beyond data collection requires automating the key components of the vendor onboarding process –
Vendor discovery: Gathering complete information about a vendor partner before evaluation and verification is a herculean task, the complexity of which is inversely proportional to the size of the vendor. You can really save time and effort by capturing minimal details of the vendor and let technology automatically collect all the information—either by scanning available documents and/or with API-fetched information from public and third-party databases. This real-time information gathering can align technology decisions to the existing processes. Moreover, automatically harvesting these responses into centralized databases for future references can expedite pre-contract risks analysis and monitoring.
Vendor verification and due diligence: Validating a vendor and determining the accuracy of the information submitted are important steps to mitigate reputational and regulatory risks of dealing with fraudulent entities. Replacing the manual task of verifying every bit of information with AI-powered authentication technology can bring down the errors and reduce the verification turnaround time from months to days with fewer resources. For example, catching probably bounced payments, loan defaults, and other such dubious transactions, and help to profile vendors’ financial health more accurately can now happen in real-time.
Automated workflows: Configuring and automating approvals/disapprovals via rule-based engines can speed up the process and bring transparency to the system. Adding the layer of artificial intelligence via digital personas/robots—which can analyze and automate commonly performed tasks—can improve the efficiency for onboarding cycles. It reduces paperwork and document management and streamlines sourcing, verification, and recruitment of vendors with a swifter and simpler onboarding experience.
Comprehensive dashboards: Imagine running after multiple departments to know where your vendor approvals are stuck without an automated system. These become a significant feature of a SaaS-based vendor onboarding platform to follow-up on items, deliverables, and any other necessary information from the vendors. These provide transparency and tracking of the onboarding progress. Moreover, customizing these dashboards can help to determine vendor controls.
Monitoring: Re-verification and monitoring of vendor partners for large organizations—with hundreds or thousands of partners—ensure that the partner risk profiles are not changed. Such screening processes involve the capture of alternate data points such as negative news, referential checks, interviewing employees, and physical site visits. Auto-triggers for updates in vendor information via public databases can alert the organization in case of any dubious scenarios.
Vendor onboarding is no more than just a paperless and remote experience. The system should be accurate enough to predict the genuineness of the entity, alongside the reputation and brand being partnered with. Analytics to model key risk considerations based on data gathered from public and private resources can provide an aggregated view of the profile.
After identifying the key performance indicators with respect to key outputs, streamlining and reinventing the onboarding processes digitally makes more sense as compared to just fixing the broken processes. Lay this foundational change in your system to be the gatekeeper against compliance failures, corporate identity, and financial frauds.
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