Navigating new relationships can be complicated.
Vendor onboarding can be a time-consuming process that involves everything from collecting basic contact information, right through to assessing vendor compliance and risks.
Immediately, all of this admin can cost you in terms of lost hours and productivity. While you’re stuck in the onboarding process, you’re also not generating any profit from your new partnership. If you’re working with multiple new vendors simultaneously, then it can quickly start to feel like you’re spending all of your time trying to establish these partnerships – and very little time extracting any value from them.
A smoother, more efficient onboarding process can ensure your new partnership becomes profitable in record time. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so a streamlined onboarding process can also help both parties set off on the right foot.
In this article, we’ll show you how to automate the vendor onboarding process. By the end of this post, you’ll have created a Power Automate workflow that collects all the necessary information from your new vendor, and then triggers an approval workflow. We’ll even show you how to automatically create a new account for each approved vendor in your Azure Active Directory (AD).
What we’ll be building
In this tutorial, we’ll create a SharePoint site and list. Every time you want to onboard a new vendor, you’ll add an item to this SharePoint list, which will trigger the Power Automate workflow.
We’ll also create an onboarding form where vendors can enter information about their company, including their contact information.
Whenever you add a potential new vendor to your SharePoint list, the Power Automate workflow will email this vendor with a link to your onboarding form.
When the vendor completes this form, it’ll start an approval workflow. You can then review the information the vendor has provided, and either approve or deny their application.
Once you’ve made your decision, Power Automate will email the vendor notifying them whether they’ve been onboarded successfully, or whether their application has been denied.
Create a SharePoint site and list
Let’s start by creating a Microsoft SharePoint site and list. Every time you want to onboard a new vendor, you’ll add this vendor to your list, which will trigger the Power Automate workflow:
- Log into your Microsoft SharePoint account.
- Select “Create site > Team site.”
- Give your site a descriptive name; I’m using “Vendor onboarding.”
- Select “Next > Finish.”
- Inside your site, select “New > List.”
- Select “Blank list.”
- Give your list a descriptive name, and then enter an optional description.
- Once you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click “Create.”
Create the vendor onboarding form
As part of the onboarding process, you’ll often require some information from your new vendor. We’re going to collect this information via a Microsoft Form that you can simply email to each prospective vendor.
You can customize this form to collect everything you need to know about your new partner. However, to keep this section short we’ll limit ourselves to collecting contact information, and provide a section where the vendor can enter some more information about their business.
- Log into Microsoft Forms.
- Select “New Form.” This launches Microsoft’s form editor.
- Select “Add New.”
- Make sure the “Questions” tab is selected.
- You’ll typically want to start by collecting the vendor’s contact information. For each field, click “Text,” and then enter the label that you want to display above this field. For example, I’m creating fields for the vendor’s name, email address, telephone number, and postal address. Unless you have a specific reason not to, you’ll typically want to set these fields to mandatory, using the “Required” slider.
- You may also want to provide a section where the vendor can enter information about their goods and services, or even a bio that you’ll display as part of your “Official partners” page. You can add this section as a “Text” field, and then give the vendor more words to work with by enabling the “Long answer” slider.
- Depending on the information you want to collect, you can continue adding fields and sections. You can check how your form will appear to the vendor, by selecting “Preview.” Here, you can toggle between desktop and mobile preview, using the buttons that appear along the bottom of the screen.
- You can add a Microsoft Form to your website using a QR code, link, or embed code. However, we want to make our form accessible via a special URL that we’ll share directly with potential vendors. To access this URL, click the “Share” button.
Make a note of this URL, as we’ll be needing it shortly!
Build the vendor onboarding workflow
Now we’re ready to create our Power Automate workflow. In this section, I’ll create a simple workflow that generates an onboarding email every time you add a new vendor to your SharePoint list. This email will contain a link to the Microsoft Form we created in the previous step.
Once the vendor submits their information, it’ll start an approval process. You can then deny or approve this item, and the vendor will receive an email notifying them of your decision.
To build this workflow:
- Log into your Microsoft 365 account.
- Select the “Power Automate” app.
- In the left-hand menu, select “Templates.”
- Search for the following template: “Onboard new vendors through a form and approval process.” Select this template when it appears.
- Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template for editing.
- Let’s start at the top, with “When an item is created.” Click to place your cursor inside the “Site Address” field. When it appears, select the SharePoint site we created in the previous step.
- For “List name,” select the list we created in the previous step.
- Next, move onto the “Send on-boarding form URL” section. You can now create the onboarding email that we’ll send to prospective new vendors. However, make sure to preserve the link.
- Update the “a href” section with a link to your Microsoft Form.
- Now, move onto “When a new response is submitted.” In this section, open the “Form ID” dropdown and select the vendor registration form we created in the previous step. ● Progress to the “Apply to each” section, open the “Form ID” and then select your vendor onboarding form.
- Scroll to the bottom of this workflow, and you’ll see the two emails that Power Automate will send depending on whether you approve or deny the onboarding workflow. You can customize these emails to meet your unique requirements.
- After creating these emails, click Save. This workflow is now ready to use! Create an Azure AD account for new vendors
Once a vendor is approved, you may want to add that person as a new user in your Azure AD. You can achieve this with a second Power Automate workflow, which will run every time a new vendor is added to your SharePoint list. This workflow will create an approval workflow to add this vendor to your Azure AD account.
To run this workflow, you can either create a new site and list, or connect the workflow to the SharePoint site we created in the previous section.
- In Power Automate, search for the following template: “Create a new user account in Azure AD for a newly approved vendor.” Select this template when it appears. ● Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template for editing.
- On the subsequent screen, select the SharePoint site and list that you want to use.
- Next, move to the “Start an approval” section. Here, you’ll need to specify the approval type. Sometimes, you may want to share vendor information with multiple people, for example your entire HR department.
- If you require sign-off from all these people, then you can select “Everyone must approve.” Alternatively, if you only require approval from a single person, you can opt for “First to respond.” You can then enter the email address of everyone who will receive this notification.
- At this point, you can also provide several canned responses that recipients can use. For example, you might give the responder the option to choose between “approved,” “approved, pending more information,” or “denied.”
- You can create a custom response by selecting either “Custom Responses – Wait for all responses” or “Custom Responses – Wait for one response.” You’ll then get access to all the additional options you need, in order to create an automated response.
- After entering this information, you can specify who can approve or deny this item. You might specify an individual email address, a generic department email, or use dynamic content to nominate a different contact, depending on how your organization is set up.
- You can now scroll to the bottom of this section, and customize the email that’s sent to any vendor who won’t receive an Azure AD account.
- You can also specify the information that’s added to the vendor’s Azure AD profile.
- Once you’re happy with how your workflow is configured, click “Create.” Now, whenever a new vendor is added to this SharePoint list, it’ll kickstart a workflow that requests the creation of a corresponding Azure AD account.
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