Mary Arnold, Author at Financial Operations Network
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Author: Mary Arnold

Imagine going to a store 100 years ago: you approach a counter and hand over your shopping list to a clerk. Then you wait as the clerk goes about gathering the items on your list from the shelves behind, placing them in a box (while a line of customers gathers behind you, waiting their turn). Finally, the clerk brings the box to the counter and you pay. That was the shopping experience at the start of the 20th century. Then in 1917, an enterprising fellow in Memphis, Tennessee named Clarence Saunders applied for and was granted a patent[1] for a “self-serving” store. The innovative grocer’s idea was that people would enter the store and go to the shelves themselves to select what they wanted, then bring it all to a cashier to pay. Saunders’ stores, called Piggly Wiggly, were a huge success, and Saunders revolutionized the retail industry. We take that approach for granted now. In fact it’s gone further, with self-checkout lanes, and in leading-edge brick-and-mortar retail stores, you simply select what you want from shelves and then head out the door (something Saunders actually envisioned, though the technology did not exist). Computers in the form of personal devices log a...

It’s summer reading time. There is nothing like a good book on vacation. Of course you’re on vacation trying to forget about work. But there may be lessons in the pages of your novel to apply when you get back from vacation, particularly if your reading includes some classic Jane Austen! Though we sometimes know what we want, we hold back because some influencer has dissuaded us. As an example, perhaps you looked at vendor self-service inquiry in the past, maybe several years ago. It made your heart skip—imagine, an affordable application that would save your team a great deal of time answering questions that vendors could get for themselves! But a “Lady Russell” persuaded you that those kinds of applications had insufficient pedigree to warrant your connection — too new, unproven.[1] Or maybe a trusted friend has made observations or comments and held back the endorsement you looked for to the extent that you question your own inclination. Perhaps without looking too closely, they just didn’t think that application was going to help you get where you wanted to go. Like Darcy’s misreading of Jane Bennett and subsequent subtle dissuading of his trusted friend Bingley.[2] “Sure, customer service is important, but...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] New U.S. sanctions have come steadily this year. It can be hard to keep up. Persons and organizations from Venezuela to Iran, Russia to the Congo, and elsewhere, have been added to prohibition lists, which continue to change. Sanctions are complex. OFAC regularly enforces them, levying fines on companies it thinks has violated them. And, according to Attorney Michael Volkov, CEO of The Volkov Law Group, “OFAC regularly pushes the limits of its jurisdiction. They’re not afraid to test the boundaries ...

Don’t Ignore Human Psychology When someone comes to you excited about a new idea, do you immediately accept it? Maybe. Or do you perhaps want to know more first? Your first thought is how this is “good for us” or “good for the team” or just “is this good?” Or maybe — for a few of us — candidly the question is, “How is this idea good for me?” Say a fellow manager of another group puts forward a new idea in a meeting that is great for her group, but is going to impact you and your group. There are a few things you want to know before you sign on, right? Exactly how is it going to impact you? What’s it going to mean in terms of your staffs’ time and effort, and how are they likely to perceive it? How does your support make you look? It makes sense for that other group, but what does IT think? What does the controller think? Does it really make sense for the organization? What if the benefits don’t materialize? You naturally must ask: What’s in it for us? And what’s in it for me? The same holds true, of course, when you flip...

We’re familiar with the concept of failure being part of success. “Fail fast, fail often,” we hear, “get comfortable with it.” This is not just because failure is a part of life, but also because we can learn from failure, which can lead to success. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” But what about when we succeed? After the congratulations and the celebratory party, what do we do? Take a lesson from a huge organization that treats both failures and successes the same — the U.S. Army. It conducts after action reviews (AARs) of every project and event, whether a failure or a success. It’s part of a cycle of intent, planning, preparation, action and review. The AAR process asks what happened, why it happened and how it can be done better. It is obviously necessary to do such an analysis when things go wrong. But it’s important to do it when they go right too. Why? Because if we don’t understand a success, we cannot replicate it or build on it. Success feels good and, says Harvard business professor Francesca Gino, there’s a temptation to think all is well. We oversimplify, assuming...

If this were Jeopardy, the category would be “Initial New Vendor Engagement,” and the $100 category clue would be “53 percent of organizations send new vendors this.” Are you ready to buzz in on that one? Correct response: “What is a W-9 form?” Good! You’re on the board. For the $200, answer: “Just 22 percent of organizations mail this.” Correct response: “What is a Welcome Letter?” But let’s use the James Holzhouer approach and choose Initial New Vendor Engagement for $1000, Alex. Answer: “Seven percent of organizations do this in regards to initial new vendor engagement.” Correct response: What is “Send Nothing!” The flip side of that is that 93 percent of organizations reach out to new vendors in some way, whether with a welcome letter or a vendor information form, or simply sending them a W-9 or W-8 form to complete. The complete picture of how organizations reach out emerges in VendorInfo’s 2019 Vendor Onboarding Management & Compliance Survey and in this chart: Twenty-nine percent send vendors information on “How to work with us.” Along with the 53 percent that send W-9 or W-8 forms, the same majority percentage say they send a “new vendor form,” which may incorporate a substitute W-9 together with other information...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] Non-Compliance Risk in 1099 Reporting Are you a gambler? Do you look forward to a conference in Las Vegas so you can get in a little action? How about when it comes to IRS compliance? No doubt it would be a thrill not to hear from the IRS if you veer widely outside of the lanes of IRS compliance. But what are your chances? VendorInfo has answers in its newly published survey report 2019 Vendor Onboarding Management & Compliance Survey. The report looks at three potential consequences of compliance failure: B-notices, 972CG Notice of Proposed Penalty, and audit for review of compliance with respect to accurately documenting and validating payees. In the first case, B-notices, a failure to include a vendor’s tax ID number (TIN) on a 1099 or a mismatch between vendor name and TIN on the 1099 will result in receiving a “B-notice.” The “B” is for backup withholding, which is required when you lack a correct TIN for a vendor. What you actually receive is a notice CP2100 or CP2100A from the IRS. Upon receipt, you have to take certain steps right away in order to either correct the problem or begin backup...

Introduction Vendor onboarding is a process that involves obtaining, verifying and recording information about the vendor to enable not only vendor transactions, but also organizational compliance with various tax and regulatory requirements. An organization’s accounts payable department needs to know more than where to send the payment. Vendor onboarding is not especially difficult, though understanding and addressing the details involved in compliance can be challenging. Failure to adequately onboard vendors can lead to a variety of costly problems. Necessary internal controls protect against vendor fraud, payment fraud and employee fraud. Acquisition of all requisite information ensures compliance with federal and state tax and other authorities. Financial Operations Networks conducted a survey to provide a picture of survey respondent organizations’ current vendor onboarding and compliance practices. Download this survey to learn: [unordered_list style="circle"] Which department is most often responsible for managing vendor onboarding along with managing the vendor master file. If vendor onboarding is still largely a manual process or automated How long it takes to onboard a new vendor or update a vendor profile How many approval levels are required Which department is responsible for vendor validation The percentage of respondents that verify new vendors through IRS TIN Match Program and OFAC and other sanctions lists [/unordered_list]   [button size='' style='' text='DOWNLOAD...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] Your checklist for ensuring vendor onboarding compliance and certification Companies’ vendor interactions are surrounded by a number of compliance requirements that add complexity to the procure-to-pay process and the supposed simplicity of paying the bills. A few vendor-related tasks that are driven by compliance requirements must be completed in the initial stages of a vendor relationship. These include vendor trading status validation and verification of critical vendor information including tax identification number and tax classification. Best practice is to include appropriate steps in the vendor onboarding process to ensure compliance with trade and tax laws. This information-packed report will help you: [unordered_list style="circle"] Learn about government maintained sanctioned or blocked entity lists, such as The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Recognize risks to your organization if caught doing business with an individual or entity on these lists Determine your responsibility regarding watch-list entities and how you can protect your organization Understand your responsibilities for tax identification and classification of new vendors Discover best practices for W-9 and W-8 processing Learn why TIN verification is so important and avoid the penalties for incorrect TIN reporting to the IRS and states And much, much more! [/unordered_list] [button size='' style=''...

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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