The Air We Breath, the Automation We Need - Financial Operations Network
The value of electronic versus manual procure-to-pay processing has never been more evident. And the notion of “touchless” processing takes on new meaning in the current context. As people and organizations begin steps toward “opening back up,” many are facing the reality that “opening up” cannot mean simply returning to things as they were back in January.
invoice inquiry, accounts payable automation, COVID-19, back-to-normal, advantage of automation
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The Air We Breath, the Automation We Need

The Air We Breath, the Automation We Need

The value of electronic versus manual procure-to-pay processing has never been more evident. And the notion of “touchless” processing takes on new meaning in the current context.

As people and organizations look at “opening back up,” many are facing the reality that opening up cannot mean returning to things as they were back in January.

What we’ve succeeded in doing is getting a handle on the virus to the extent that medical services and facilities are not now facing a whelming flood. They’re more confident that they can handle the flattened rate of those in need of serious care to beat the virus. That’s all. The virus is still here. And every time we think we know who’s vulnerable and who’s not, some new manifestation pops up and surprises. It’s still unclear how the arrival of summer may affect the virus, and predictions of recurrence in the fall are not encouraging. Already Germany is seeing a rise in R factor to 1.1—it needs to be at 1 or below, i.e. each infected person is only infecting one or less other people, to keep the spread in check.

But back to touchless processing. The fact is, “touch” is not the only concern in transmission. Evidence suggests that the Coronavirus spreads to others through the air of enclosed indoor spaces as well as on surfaces of things. And that is not just from sneezing or coughing. Witness the choir rehearsal in Washington State that spread the virus to 75 percent of the people in the room. They avoided shaking hands, brought their own music sheets, and stood apart from each other. But singing together in a room, as it turned out, was enough to spread COVID-19.

Then there are the examples of office outbreaks. Exhibit A: the call center where a single infected person infected 94 others. He was working on a floor of a building that was separated in two by the building core (elevators & restrooms). Of 216 people on the floor, 43.5 percent of the people became infected. Of those, only four were on the other side of the building; most were in the same open plan section where the infected individual was. It is not known how many contracted it through touch of surfaces versus through the air. But 89 of those infected worked on the same side the floor, sharing air, as the original carrier.

“It serves to highlight that that being in an enclosed space sharing the same air for a prolonged period of time increases your chances of exposure and infection,” says Dr. Erin Bromage, Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, whose blog report went viral last week and was cited in the New York Times’ Monday Briefing on May 11th.

While we’ve all learned to stay six feet apart, it now appears that “Social distancing guidelines don’t hold in indoor spaces where you spend a lot of time,” Bromage says. “Interestingly, even though there was considerable interaction between workers on different floors of the building in elevators and the lobby, the outbreak was mostly limited to a single floor. This highlights the importance of exposure and time in the spreading of SARS-CoV2.”

“The principle,” says Bromage, “is viral exposure over an extended period of time.” [1]

Electronic and automated processes suddenly prove a huge advantage, allowing some or even all payables staff to work remotely, something that manual processes do not. Companies can limit onsite staff at any one time. That in turn, reduces exposure for everyone. Use of electronic workflows, which have increased across businesses incrementally for years, are now a boon.

Certain automated processes even remove the need for staff intervention altogether. A specific example is vendor self-service invoice inquiry. It allows vendors to find the information they want without having to contact AP staffers for help. Some 80 percent of vendor inquiries can be handled by a well-designed, automated self-service application like InvoiceInfo. That means a significant savings of time for AP (and even procurement) staffs.

Vendors can’t be faulted for wanting to know when they will be paid. And they are more anxious now than ever to know payment status. Implementing vender self-service inquiry technology to replace the calls, emails and research time can save costs, time and headaches, lessoning the AP department’s load. The vendors themselves handle the tasks on their timetable, not just remotely but automatically.

For more information on getting InvoiceInfo vendor inquiry service started, contact us.

[1] “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them,” Erin Bromage, Ph.D., May 7, 2020



Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.

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Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.

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Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!

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Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.

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Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.

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Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.

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Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.

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Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!

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Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.

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Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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