From spurring local job growth to building environmentally-friendly supply chains, as a certifying agency, you’re well-versed in the magnitude and impact of inclusive procurement on small, diverse, and women-owned businesses and communities across the US.
However, your program might be plagued with common challenges often seen across many certifying agencies. These include too many manual processes resulting in piles of paper, never-ending directory updates, and hours spent collecting and verifying information or explaining next steps with vendors. Add a tedious reporting process and concerns about data security to the list, and you’ve got your work cut out!
This latest article outlines five things today’s leading certifiers do to reclaim their time, optimize resources, and provide a seamless certification experience, increasing opportunities for small and diverse firms to win business.
#1 – Go Digital – Ditch paper processes for good!
Between the collection of applications and all supporting documents, your office is busting at the seams with paper:
The most efficient certifying organizations have realized that shuffling paper is time-consuming and could put them on the wrong side of a security breach. As a result, they are moving their application and approval processes online, reducing staff review time and ensuring only complete applications are received.
The digital process also reduces the vendor’s time, effort, and expense (and possibly, frustration!) required to apply for certification and maintain active status by allowing easy application completion and online document upload. Completing this streamlined process means more opportunities for these newly certified vendors to win business! Furthermore, a digital approval process could allow authorized staff to create and edit certification records, evaluate approval checklists/audits and documentation, manage certification application dispositions, and publish directory entries, all in a secure environment free from mountains of paperwork!
#2 – Offer an Online Portal – Delight vendors with one-stop convenience
When it comes to small and diverse businesses, time is money. Your goal as a certifying organization is to help them advance and grow in the community, but you may be asking yourself:
If the answer is no, your vendor experience could be lacking. Additionally, certification processes can be arduous and detailed. An antiquated process could be equally difficult for your staff. There aren’t enough hours in the day for follow-up or repeatedly answering the same questions. Additionally, outdated vendor data (email addresses, phone numbers, LinkedIn pages) can stifle opportunities for certified firms in your directory. For these reasons, you want to ensure your vendors’ experience and interactions with your agency are simple, streamlined, and consistent.
More and more certifying agencies recognize their vendors need a streamlined process and are choosing certification management software that includes vendor portal access. Designed to look like the agency’s website, a vendor portal offers vendors a one-stop shop for all their needs. B2Gnow Supplier Diversity Management software, for example, enables certifying organizations to direct vendors to their portal to not only apply for certification, monitor their application status, and apply for renewals but also to manage current directory information and all communications throughout the process. Imagine the staff hours saved with an online system that streamlines the certification application process and reduces the number of phone calls and emails with vendors, with documentation built in!
In addition to certification management, the vendor portal enables firms to keep their profiles updated (automated reminder emails can encourage this). It also allows primes, subs, or anyone to access the organization’s certification directory and other approved certified directories to search for vendors by name, zip code, work code, and more. This level of access saves time and frustration for vendors, and offers greater visibility for certified firms.
#3 Automate, Automate, Automate – Easy approvals and auto-renewals are key
All too often, certification agency staff find themselves struggling with common but severe process pitfalls:
The country’s most successful certifying organizations empower their teams with automation! They’ve found that by implementing a certification management system like B2Gnow, their staff significantly reduced the time spent doing tedious administrative tasks. Besides the conveniences of a public portal and online communication with vendors, dashboards make monitoring the application and certification processes simple. And approval is as easy as the click of a button. In addition, an automated renewal process means less worry about currently certified vendors falling through the cracks.
#4 – Proactively Grow Your Directory – Find more vendors and encourage program participation
Managing a certification program is no small undertaking, and after all the effort and time spent maintaining your directory, you still seem to fall short on potential suppliers to meet your goals. Questions that keep you up at night include:
The answer is, with the most extensive vendor database, such as B2Gnow’s database of over 1.5 million vendors (approximately 600,000 of them certified), offers an easy way to extend your reach and inform businesses in your community about your program! Search multiple parameters, including zip code, work codes, and more, and easily craft a message using the Outreach and Events module. It allows users to create “campaigns” to send email messages to a customized list of vendors and monitor the interaction. With nearly 200 certifying organizations already using B2Gnow, it’s a simple process to target firms operating in your market that are certified by others but not certified within your program. Besides certification program outreach, many organizations use the system to notify vendors about upcoming opportunities. The module also facilitates event management for online attendee registration, RSVP, and attendance tracking.
#5 – Produce More Accurate Reports With Less Effort – Generate detailed, automated reports in seconds
Your agency’s certification program is only as good as the reports you can provide. Unfortunately, for busy program directors, finding time to assemble these reports for stakeholders can mean long hours of cutting and pasting data from multiple spreadsheets, plenty of calculating and recalculating, and perhaps a bit of nail-biting over lost hours and accuracy concerns.
Top certification agency professionals rely on certification management systems for greater accuracy, efficiency, and overall program visibility for aggregate reporting. An all-in-one-certification management system, like B2Gnow, offers a robust reporting library and enables certifying agencies to easily report on everything from applications received and certification status to certification officer assignments and processing time statistics. Additionally, a best-in-class certification management system allows for the analysis and reporting of certified vendor data with a click of a button to track firms by ethnicity, gender, location, work code, and more. Furthermore, it easily creates visually appealing reports and dashboards to better demonstrate their program’s success.
No matter the size of your team, the availability of resources, or other challenges with automating, streamlining, or reporting on our program, today’s leading certifiers are finding a better, more efficient way to manage their certification process and provide a seamless certification experience that increases opportunities for small and diverse firms to win business. More than 150 certifying organizations rely on B2Gnow Supplier Diversity and Certification Management Software to manage their programs’ complex needs. From certification management and diverse vendor search access to the largest certified supplier database in the world, to data enhancement tools that qualify and quantify current supplier data, to spend analysis capabilities that go deeper to understand diverse supplier data, to construction contract compliance that easily track and report supplier diversity on capital construction contracts, B2Gnow allows supplier diversity professionals to focus on meeting diversity goals, not chasing paper. Learn more and take a tour of B2Gnow Supplier Diversity Software.