What Enterprises Need: Partner Collaboration

July 20, 2012

2 minute read

Automating the conversion of suppliers' information into the PDF format enhances collaboration between organizations and the suppliers they depend on to profitably deliver high quality results to their customers.

Not many companies go it alone anymore; it’s much more effective and profitable to work collaboratively with suppliers, in industries such as:

  • Consumer product development
  • Engineering and construction projects
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Aerospace

In many cases the contributors, or suppliers, outnumber the OEM. For example, according to a paper released in June 2011 by the White House – The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry,” The auto supply chain employs three times as many workers as the automotive companies themselves.”

I won’t attempt to tackle the topic of supply chain management in this post; instead I will concentrate on how automating the conversion of documents from suppliers can make this process more efficient and protect the interests of manufacturers and suppliers.

Collaboration is required around supplier documents to:

  • Review documents submitted by suppliers to ensure compliance with product/project requirements
  • Allow other suppliers to have access to the latest information from other suppliers with whom they are integrated

Working with suppliers usually includes high volumes of documents: technical specification, drawings, contracts, change orders, etc. The PDF format is ideal for collaboration in situations when there is a wide variety for document formats, including Microsoft Office, scanned documents, and CAD drawings. PDF advantages include:

  • Universally accessible using free viewers
  • Searchable
  • Protects intellectual property contained in CAD drawings

For this to work, an efficient system of collaboration must be in place between the suppliers and the principal on the project. There are several products capable of implementing partner portals, including Microsoft SharePoint. Setting up a partner portal using SharePoint enables the use of workflows to automate the processing of incoming documents from suppliers. New content can trigger a SharePoint workflow to convert the content to PDF and notify the appropriate employees of the submission to initiate next steps.

Due to the high volumes of documents and the need to effectively collaborate when working with suppliers, automating the conversion of documents managed by your partner portal will reduce costs of manual processes and enhance your ability to collaborate.

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