Mary Arnold, Author at Financial Operations Network - Page 6 of 9
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Author: Mary Arnold

It’s November. Do you know where your W-9's and W-8's are? It is time to prepare for 1099 season. Hopefully, you know which of your suppliers are subject to reporting. Do you have verified tax identification numbers for them all? Remember that 1099's with Box 7 nonemployee compensation reporting are due January 31st! Furthermore, the automatic 30-day extension is gone this reporting season so don’t count on easily getting extra time to complete your 1099's. Ideally, you have implemented best practices that entail getting the requisite W-9 or W-8 prior to adding a new supplier to the vendor master file. If not, you at least require the supplier to submit the appropriate W form — or at the very least give you their tax ID number — before you issue them payment, right? Otherwise, you must withhold taxes from the payments. If you fail to withhold, it is going to cost you. The IRS has increased penalties in recent years and failing to comply with requirements has gotten expensive! With reporting around the corner, it’s high time to determine if you are missing any supplier TINs and get them, and — to avoid B-notices — run them through IRS TIN matching for verification. If...

If you do not have a portal to enable self-service by your vendors, you should. Why? Vendor self-service is valuable to your accounts payable group or department in terms of cost to provide customer service to both your internal and external customers. It’s also valuable in regard to your supplier relations. Consider the following three ways vendor self-service is important. First, in what Forrester has dubbed the age of the customer, your customers expect it. That is, they expect ease in doing business — and this includes AP’s customers. The digital revolution has changed the way people transact and interact. The assumption is that information is readily available and easy to get. This notion is reinforced by daily experiences from shopping to banking from our mobile devices. Those consumer experiences bleed over into business expectations: “If I can handle all my personal accounts easily myself, why can’t I handle our business accounts that way?” What’s more, while technology has been revolutionizing the way things are done, generational demographics have been shifting as well, accelerating certain expectations in the workforce. According to Pew Research, in 2015 Millennials are now the largest generation in the work force, with 53.5 million, versus the Gen-Xer’s 52.7 million, and the...

In any organization, the accounts payables part of the P2P group touches a wide range of stakeholders, and therefore has a tremendous though often under-recognized impact. The various stakeholders are P2P “customers” and the department’s service to them and how they perceive it are important. How so? The job of P2P customer service is to respond appropriately to resolve a vendor’s issue. But the job of P2P customer service is not simply to answer a particular question. It is to find and solve underlying problems, build strong vendor relations, and maintain a great reputation on behalf of the organization. Some vendor calls are simply informational — when will we get paid? Others are more challenging but can lead to opportunities to improve your procure-to-pay process. Customer service calls can point to process breakdowns that need correction. Ideally, accounts payable does not just solve the immediate concern but looks at the bigger picture, finds underlying causes and fixes them. This approach not only resolves one call but it eliminates further calls while strengthening the vendor relationship. But it’s hard to do when facing a heavy volume of contacts. Payables customer service also impacts vendor relations, positively or negatively. In its customer service interactions, payables...

You might be asking yourself what green beans and ice cream have to do with accounts payable customer service. This article is a review of Bill Simms book “Green Beans & Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement,” where he describes his childhood dinner experiences in the beginning of the book. His mother would feed him green beans and they were his worse nightmare. “Green. Slimy. Stringy.” As he says, “by the time I was a four-year-old kid, I had already sampled green beans and concluded they weren’t for me. The strings might as well have been wood chips, the way they caught in my throat as I tried to get them down. Mom was my boss, and I was her newest employee. We had a real labor/management crisis going on. She begged, cajoled and pleaded. But I was determined not to eat those green beans. So I crossed my arms, frowned and pouted, figuring she’d give up and forget about green beans, as she always had in the past.” “But this time, Mom had a secret weapon. Now, there was something else on the table besides that dreaded green scourge. You guessed it. Ice cream! This sheer stroke of...

One of your top priorities is your customer’s satisfaction with the services you provide. In accounts payable, dissatisfied customers increase cost, sometimes dramatically. Continually seek to understand what is important to your customers. Ask them, and then measure their satisfaction. No matter who created the problem (and most of the time it’s not AP!), it is your job to address the problem, and often to solve or to help solve the problem. Following are some AP customer service best practices: [unordered_list style="circle"] Think of the “Golden Rule” when dealing with customers — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat all your customers as you would like to be treated. Ask each member of your staff to think about how they feel as a customer. What service have they had that they thought was exceptional? What can be learned from that service to become better at serving your customers? Open and honest communication is the single most important factor in establishing credibility. Delivering great customer service goes a long way in forming the customer’s opinion about “being easy to do business with.” Gaining a reputation for being “easy to do business with” goes a long way in great customer relations and is...

By: Tom Nichols Accounts payable is unique in that multiple customers rely on outputs from its processes. Two critical customers of AP are internal clients and vendors. In some AP organizations internal clients are treated as fellow employees and not customers, and vendors as suppliers and not strategic business partners. But, an AP best practice is to treat those customers that AP serves as just that – customers. After all, you don’t want any of your customers to take their business elsewhere. The growth of AP outsource providers has provided a competitive factor for in-house AP departments so not serving your customers can result in an outsourced environment. AP’s Internal Customers AP’s internal customers are the organization’s employees – those who purchase goods or services that AP is responsible for paying or employees that are reimbursed for T&E. AP relies on these colleagues to ensure that AP is in receipt of all invoices so they can be paid on time. In addition, the internal customers are often responsible for allocating and approving invoices on a timely basis. Not receiving the invoices and getting approvals on a timely basis prevents AP from doing its job of getting invoices paid accurately and on time. When...

Like many other business processes, vendor onboarding is subject to an organization’s internal controls, compliance with regulations imposed by various government agencies, demands for productivity and expectations of minimum levels of customer service. Well thought-out and effectively managed vendor onboarding programs deliver high quality in each of these areas. Vendor onboarding is key to every successful vendor management program. But it can be complex, tedious, and labor intensive, with medium- and large-size companies managing thousands of vendors and the very largest managing tens and even hundreds of thousands. Onboarding includes processes for obtaining correct, complete and verified vendor information and for entering that information into systems for accounting and purchasing. The onboarding processes can be both manual and automated. Internal Controls Subject to the organization’s internal controls, accounts payable is the last control point before cash leaves the company. Depending on your industry, 30%-70% of all the cash that comes into a company goes back out through accounts payable. Appropriate and effective controls for onboarding include segregation of duties to help protect against vendor fraud, payment fraud and employee fraud. Internal control policies for onboarding also help insure vendor, invoice and pricing legitimacy as well as payment accuracy and contract compliance. Payment accuracy protects against paying...

Customer service is an increasingly consequential aspect of accounts payable. And according to a Financial Operations Network survey, most AP departments — 88 percent — rated their own customer service as either good or excellent. Good news? Not so fast. Only one in five had ever asked their internal customers and just one in ten actually surveyed their suppliers for feedback on their service. In any area of consequence it is important to know how well your team is actually performing. Sure, self-assessment is important and common performance metrics will be a major indicator. But there’s more to look at, and asking your customers how you are doing provides a “reality check” you won’t get otherwise! Areas to Measure (You May Be Part Way There Already) Metrics are a tool to help you understand where you stand currently and identify issues you need to address. Don’t think of them as “one more thing” you ought to be doing, but as a handy utensil to make it easier for you to do what you want to get done. Metrics will tell you where you are currently and help you identify and prioritize issues; they are useful in goal setting, and can be used to measure...

Accounts payable works closely with all departments in the organization, with the company’s vital suppliers and controls all expenses within a company. But, AP is often considered a back-office overhead expense and often does not get the recognition and respect it deserves. Accounts payable operations can recognize accounts payable customer service during Accounts Payable Recognition Week which is October 9-13, 2017. These first few weeks in October are a great time to celebrate your accomplishments and let your team know that they are appreciated. Celebrating AP Recognition Week is a great way to raise company-wide awareness of the importance of AP; thank other departments for their support; remind your customers of your commitment to customer satisfaction; reward frontline customer service reps and boost AP staff morale and teamwork. 11 Ways to Celebrate Recognize the individuals and departments that support accounts payable. Thank your internal customers and vendors and remind them about your commitment to customer service. Thank your customer service team by sending personally signed thank you cards to their homes. Answer your phones, Thank you for calling during AP Appreciation Week. How may I help you? Be prepared to explain the week and how it supports your mission of service excellence. Host theme days with coordinated activities and...

How much does it cost your organization to answer a vendor invoice status inquiry? Don’t feel badly if you don’t have the answer at your fingertips. According to a recent survey by Financial Operations Networks and InvoiceInfo, only 1 out of 10 respondents track AP customer service metrics, making the cost to communicate with vendors the most overlooked AP activity metric. But these costs can really add up as vendors become more cash-flow sensitive. Interestingly, most cost-per-invoice calculations don’t get granular enough to break out the cost of these activities. How much is at stake? Just take payment status inquiries, for example. Statistics show vendor inquiries are made on 3% to 15% of the invoices a company receives and each inquiry takes 3 to 20 minutes to resolve. Of greater concern is that vendor communication activities are increasing. Today’s vendors email and call about invoice payment status with increasing frequency, putting additional strains on already scarce AP resources. Vendor questions can include “Have you received our invoice?” or “Has our invoice been approved?” or “Has our invoice been paid?” The good news is, InvoiceInfo has developed a simple, convenient, effective and easy-to-use tool to track AP customer service costs. The AP Vendor Communication Activity Analysis...

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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