How Multitasking Costs Us

How Multitasking Costs Us

We Can’t Do Two Things at Once

Multitasking costs us. Whatever we think about our multitasking abilities, the consensus in the research community is that multitasking hurts. For starters, the label “multitasking” is a misnomer. We do not multitask. We quickly switch focus back and forth from one thing to another or several other things.

Scientists tell us our brains can focus only on one thing at a time. And when we regularly shift our focus, the constant change in our attention decreases our IQ! How much? By 10 points, which is equivalent to how we function after being up all night. And our productivity decreases by 40 percent!

You might think that if you do it often enough, you get good at it. Wrong. Studies demonstrate that heavy multitaskers are less proficient than light multitaskers. Consider that every time we change focus, we lose time. It’s just how our brains work.

The Cost of Switching Focus

Joshua Render of Agile-Mercurial says there are two “stages” of the cost associated with switching focus. One is “goal shifting,” which is changing the attention of your efforts from one objective to another, and “rule activation,” where you must drop the rules of what you were doing in favor of new ones for the new focus. First, it takes time to make that adjustment. Then, when we go back to what we were doing, we must reassess where we were—time to readjust. The more often we do this, the more time we lose.

Critically, our ability to pick up nuance and detail suffers with rapid focus-shifting—consequently, the likelihood of error increases. And errors bring their own costs. Further, this renders us susceptible to frauds like business email compromise because we fail to pick up on the subtle cues that an email is not legitimate.

Accounts payable departments are disposed to multitasking. For many, it’s part of the job description. And depending on the size and structure of the department, it may be a fact of life. But it shouldn’t be. The costs add up.

While we may be unable to eliminate all interruptions and distractions, it is worth reviewing how often and regularly interruptions occur to see how we may reduce them. (As noted, light multitaskers are better off than heavy multitaskers!)

Consider what kinds of interruptions you experience. Then think about how to manage them better. For example, particularly for those staff with a strong service orientation, it can be difficult not to respond to people or emails. “The director needs this, procurement needs that, and the third vendor this morning just called about their invoice!”

Then, as humans, we are also vulnerable to distraction, and there’s never been a greater temptation on that front than the marvel of the internet! Even as we use it legitimately, it bombards us with ads and clickbait headlines seeking to lure us away.

Avoid Multitasking

Analyze the interruptions you experience regularly, then figure out a better way to manage them other than to drop what you’re doing immediately. Look for ways to organize work and schedule. For example, review email at limited times in the day—go through email to prioritize and schedule responses. Then exclude email access outside of those times.

Discuss interruptions and productivity with your manager or director. Alert them to the issue and share your plans. They might offer some helpful input, but also, they have to be on board for your ideas to work.

Relative to the procure-to-pay cycle, vendor relationships present an issue. Vendors need a certain level of procurement and accounts payable responsiveness to sustain smooth relations. But vendors can be a significant source of interruption, particularly to payables, but to procurement as well.

Today, there are tools to reduce significantly the number of interruptions generated by vendors. For example, a self-service vendor portal can remove 70 to 80 percent of vendor inquiries from accounts payable’s queue and make the vendor happy—we all like effective self-service. So we embrace it, provided we can access the information we seek quickly and easily without involving anyone else!

That’s one example. What are the other interruptions that impact accounts payable? Is there an automation solution that can help? Or is the answer found in scheduling? Maybe like IT, we designate an AP help desk, assigning one person to handle incoming emails and manage outside interruptions. Of course, our situations must guide solutions, but it starts with analyzing the problems.

Frequently changing focus, even when we think we’re good at it, is costing us. So let’s reduce that cost.

To learn how InvoiceInfo can help cut down multitasking by removing the majority of vendor emails and calls from AP staff, contact us.



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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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