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Whether it’s boxes of paper forms that must be keyed into a system, pouring over spreadsheets to verify that critical requirements are met and up to date, or sending yet another email to request missing information, there’s almost always room for improvement when it comes to the management of vendor-related data and workflows.

From the submission of application forms through to the evaluation of vendor performance, businesses can add to the value of their risk management information system (RMIS) by using the system to transform their approach to vendor management. In this post, we look at four examples of how a cloud-based RMIS like Origami Risk can contribute to cost control, service excellence, and risk mitigation.

1. Streamline the vendor intake process

Simplifying the vendor application process reduces the amount of time staff spend engaged in time-consuming, repetitive activities like keying data and sending multiple emails to chase down missing details. This process can also be the first step in defining expectations and building a relationship with potential vendors. After all, as 6 essential steps for managing vendors makes clear, “A good vendor relationship starts well before you ever sign a contract with a vendor.”

Rather than using paper-based intake forms, online intake functionality makes it possible for vendors to enter their information via a secure portal accessible via an emailed link or a company website. Because not all vendors represent the same levels of risk to an organization, customizable intake forms can be created that account for differing requirements. Options to set required fields, provide specialized instructions, and designate that comments are necessary if a requirement isn’t met ensure that details provided are both complete and accurate.

Automating communications related to vendor applications also cuts down time wasted sending “one-off” emails. For example, by using rules-based automation settings and email templates, messages can be sent acknowledging the receipt of a completed application, or requesting missing information. Automation can also be used to assign follow-up tasks to those tasked with performing subsequent steps in the process.

2. Remove “the manual” from Certificates of Insurance (COI) management

An essential part of managing the liability faced by an organization, ensuring that COI are on file and up-to-date can be both time-consuming and complex. Managing Certificates of Insurance (COI) Successfully makes clear the fact that a “manual process for COI management can easily become a resource draining nightmare.”

Features such as the ability to scan and upload data entered into an ACORD 25 form eliminates the need to rekey data, while also making the data available for use in measurement and reporting.

As with vendor intake, COI data can also be used, along with automated rules and email templates. This can significantly reduce the amount of time spent reviewing and sending communications related to COI records, while also ensuring that critical details aren’t missed. For example, a process can be set up that generates an email request—and follow-ups, if needed—for updated information based on an upcoming expiration date. Or, if a change in requirements is on the horizon, the vendors that will no longer be compliant, post-change, can be alerted.

3. Improve internal workflows and communication

Silos of data and the difficulties of consistent communication across departments is a reality for most organizations. This is especially true given the number of teams or departments—i.e., procurement, legal, risk management, safety, and payroll—involved in the vendor life-cycle and their specific roles and responsibilities. Often, the process involves email or the hand delivery of documents that wind up buried in inboxes or beneath stacks of paper.

Centralizing vendor-related data in a cloud-based RMIS can serve as the first step of the solution. As seen in the preceding sections, automation around that data becomes the star of the show. Exactly how will vary based on the specifics of an organization’s process.

Take, for example, the workflow initiated when a user in the procurement department uploads a new vendor contract to the system. Notifications are automatically sent to specified members of the risk management team alerting them of the need to review the contract and perform a risk assessment. Upon completion, the next party in the process is alerted that they’ve been assigned a task. A dashboard widget allows teams to gauge progress and identify bottlenecks. Other Origami Risk clients have put into place an integrated data feed between Origami Risk and the organization’s accounting software to transfer information and alert the payroll department when a vendor has uploaded W-9 information.

4. Evaluate vendors and collect feedback

Measuring vendor performance is essential. Yet all too often, partnerships with vendors carry on without examination of outcomes and without a method for gauging whether expectations are met. The author of the Inc. magazine article 7 Tips for Rating and Evaluating Your Suppliers and Vendors puts it this way: “The bottom line is that you need to generate measurements or reports at the onset of the purchase and throughout the course of the supplier and vendor relationship.”

Among the themes that emerged from the 2018 Origami Risk User Conference was the following: “...with data now reportable (instead of remaining stuck in a file cabinet or warehouse box), the organization gains new insights based on actionable intelligence. Transparency improves the process, but the data itself fuels the organizational change.”

Whether it’s vendor scorecards or audits set up with weighted scoring, a RMIS can be used to measure performance and provide that data in the desired format to decision makers within the organization. Tools such as an online portal and customized forms also provide the ability to gather and measure feedback from your clients or vendors themselves—data that can be put to work to make improvements where they will have the greatest impact.

Bringing all of your vendor data into the risk ecosystem

Organizations looking for additional value in their RMIS can use the system to transform their approach to vendor management. In addition to the four benefits listed above, centralizing vendor-related data in the same system as incidents, claims, and safety information allows for a clearer, more holistic view of how vendors factor into the cost of risk across the enterprise.

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