A Supplier portal is an internet-based eProcurement solution that allows companies to manage and connect with 3rd party suppliers of goods and/or services.
Let me explain it in simple terms
What is a supplier?
A supplier is you or me or anyone that does work for another company. When you send them your invoice, that company calls it a supplier invoice, because you have supplied goods or a service to them.
You will call it a customer invoice because it is a sale of your goods or service to a business.
What is a supplier portal?
Sometimes, but not always, a large business will want you to send your invoice to an online website to be processed for payment.
These websites are called portals.
Larger businesses use these portals to process invoices electronically, with the hope that it is more efficient, cost effective and time saving.
I won’t go into the process these invoices follow as it is irrelevant to you, and its rather boring anyway!
How do I know if need to use a supplier portal?
If you do work for a council, for example, the person who engages you should tell you where to send your bill (invoice). As a good businessperson you should ask where your bill goes. Normally you get given an accounts dept email address or asked to send it by email to a certain manager. However, if you get asked to upload the invoice to a portal you will also need to ask for more details.
What companies use portals?
Generally, it will be the large corporate companies, or councils, or HMRC.
Is e-invoicing the same as a portal?
No, but the invoice is still required to be processed electronically. You are given a special email address to send your invoice to.
I don’t want to use a portal; can I just email my invoice or post it?
You can try, but I would expect your invoice to be rejected. You may not even be told it has been rejected as most large companies with supplier portals expect you to have read the small print in their contracts about it being mandatory to use their system. It’s best to just get on with it.
How will I get the portal website details?
You will either receive an email with login details or be directed to their website and asked to register as a supplier.
My advice would be to register immediately and upload your first invoice as soon as its raised. This will get you set up as a supplier and will stop any delays in payment.
Don’t forget to put the purchase order number, as that is what these portal use to uniquely identify the work you have done.
Check if you need to add your bank details.
Does the portal make payment?
Sometimes if the portal is run by a 3rd party, they will make payment on behalf of your customer. Most of the time your customer will make the payment.
How long does it take to get paid?
If you have registered and have entered all the information requested, then payment is usually made within terms (30 days). When these portals work properly, they are very efficient.
However, when you haven’t set things up correctly, or a PO is missing or is the wrong PO, then there could be a delay in payment.
You can check the status of your invoice in the portal.
What happens when things go wrong?
If you don’t get paid, or the invoice gets rejected or any other issue with your invoice, you should find a telephone number on the portal to call and ask for assistance. Find out as much as you can so you can learn the right way to use the portal for next time.
Each portal should have its own support team to help you.
Sole traders and small businesses will inevitably do work for the local council.
As most councils use supplier portals, you should learn how to use them, to make them work for you to get paid quicker.
Electronic invoicing is a thing that will only get more common as technology gets into all things business.
It should make invoicing and payment much quicker if not slicker!
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