Supplier allocations, delivery schedules, user training and more! After successfully rolling out our procure to pay service to 240 Barchester Healthcare sites, EF-group’s Operations Director, Caroline Ingram, shares our secrets to a smooth and successful client onboarding experience.

There’s a lot to think about with each client roll out so standard processes and procedures are a must, but our onboarding success comes from understanding the uniqueness of every one of our clients. From the day we enter a tender process we dedicate a wide team with varying skills and expertise to ensure we really understand the clients’ requirements and what’s important to them.

Who are their end software users? How does their business operate? What delivery and service standards are they currently receiving from existing suppliers and are these adequate to meet their business demands? How can we make their procure to pay processes more efficient and what support do they need along the way?

These are just some of the questions we ask and the answers help us build a solid understanding of what’s important to our client and why.

Client trust is key to retaining business, so from the get-go it’s imperative that we establish a great relationship. With the industry having faced large scale supply chain issues over the last two years, the need for this has increased more than ever before. Our clients need to know that we’re with them every step of the way, that we’ll handle supplier queries on their behalf and that our relationship with our extensive local and national supplier network means we are best placed to ensure their deliveries arrive on time and as expected.  

But it all starts at the beginning, we take the time to onboard clients in the right way, working to their agreed timeframes we collaboratively create a roll out schedule that details the key processes and milestones. It takes a huge team effort to make it all come together, everyone from our Freshmarkets software training team to our finance manager and system admin department are involved in ensuring our client gets the best experience.

The key steps to any successful roll-out are:

  1. Planning: Prepare a schedule that all stakeholders are happy with, identifying key service requirements, mobilisation milestones and software implementation dates, along with any bespoke feature development requirements, training needs and supplier transitions
  2. Communication: Explain the process and timeframes, introduce key contacts and team members and establish ways of working that suit the clients needs. Listen to any concerns and build confidence by delivering what you say you will.
  3. Training: New software means a new way of doings things so to minimise confusion and errors, teams need to be trained and provided with user guides, training manuals and ‘how to’ videos
  4. Monitoring: Monitor how the roll-out is going and adjust anything if necessary, keeping that communication line open and honest. The hard work doesn’t stop once the client is live, there needs to be a period of post roll out monitoring to ensure everything continues to run smoothly and the client has all the support they need

Onboarding has many different components, we aim to create the best experience by understanding our customers, setting clear expectations, showing value, staying in touch, and creating goals for both the client and us.

Our clients also receive a clear and simple welcome pack, which includes all the facts they need about our partnership. The pack includes key information such as how to place their orders, details about their bespoke supply chain, invoicing and payment processes and how to get in touch with their dedicated team at EF-group.

It’s a large and delicate process but one that we’ve mastered over many years, I’m pretty sure my team can do client roll outs in their sleep! Here’s to welcoming many more client’s to EF-group in the coming months.

Caroline Ingram, Operations Director