Is responding to supplier calls and emails taking up valuable staff time? Studies have shown that dealing with basic supplier inquiries, such as payment status and answering suppliers’ calls and emails can use up to as much as 24% of a staff member’s time.
Answering and researching vendor calls and emails is often a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Whether vendors are calling to ask if an invoice has been received or where it is in the payment process, these calls and emails take staff away from other tasks. In addition, they disrupt what the staff member was doing when they were interrupted, which can cause errors to occur in invoice processing. When the caller is upset that an invoice has not been paid and is unpleasant, productivity and morale suffer.
Suppliers can’t be faulted for wanting to know when they will be paid. And, it is usually AP’s job to provide customer service between their company and their suppliers, as well as playing an important role in managing the relationships with those suppliers. But, implementing technology to replace the calls and emails can save costs, headaches and increase productivity.
This report will explain how a vendor self-service portal, sometimes called Interactive Web Response (IWR), can answer vendor inquiries themselves, saving staff time, money and errors.
IWR or vendor self-service portals are designed to allow vendors to access data regarding the payment status of their invoices via the Internet. The vendor logs in remotely to check on invoice receipt, payment information and other data online without having to call or email.
There are three ways to facilitate self-service portals: Build it in-house; buy a module as part of your ERP or AP automation suite or use a specialized provider.
When making the decision of what sort of automated system you should implement, there are a number of things to consider. As a busy professional, you are balancing a lot of balls, so you want a system that is easy to implement and deploy with the fewest IT resources possible so you can get the program up and running and start reaping the benefits as quickly as possible.
An important question to ask any vendor you are talking with is how they keep invoice data separate from internal AP financial systems to ensure security of the data.
You need to do a cost justification to take to upper management to get buy-in for the technology. For example:
Including research, response and follow-up queries, each query can take 5 to 30 minutes
Average cost per hour ranges from $14 to $32
Total Direct Cost = Time per query
X Cost per hour
X Number of queries per day
X 250 work days per year
= Annual Cost of Queries
So, if each query takes an average of 12 minutes to answer with an hourly cost of $23, then twenty-five queries a day costs $28,750 annually. Bottom-line savings are generated when the cost of the supplier portal is less than the savings.
According to a study by The Accounts Payable Network, larger organizations with 10,000+ employees are much more likely to have implemented vendor web portals. Large companies tend to have more technology in place than other organizations. Surprisingly, however, the study indicates that smaller organizations typically benefit the most from portals. While large organizations with vendor portals report a 78% reduction in customer service calls, the median organization with less than 500 employees reports an 85% reduction, according to the same study.
Implementing a vendor self-service portal helps both your department and your vendors save time and enjoy improved service at reduced cost – so everyone wins!
Learn how an InvoiceInfo self-service portal can benefit your company; call (678) 335-5735 today or request more information online!