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In every endeavor success entails analyzing problems, finding options to solve them, making decisions, prioritizing actions and execution. Problems come in all shapes and sizes. Complex challenges must be broken down into executable pieces. More serious challenges bring with them additional pressures to find options and make decisions. These days, the broad challenges included in most management performance goals often center on increasing the value of those outcomes for which the manager is responsible. It’s nice, when identifying opportunities and prioritizing steps to reach them, to find some things that can be done quickly to realize benefits or clearly demonstrate movements in the right direction. The old phrase for those things is “low-hanging fruit,” what our grandparents often called “easy pickings.” But that phrase can carry with it a negative tinge. Especially if it refers to things that bring immediate gratification, but do little for long-term gain. If it’s an avoidance of harder work to be done, it might be merely a distraction disguised by momentary gratification, like a grab at the candy bowl. On the other hand, picking the “fruit” in reach may be the most sensible thing to do. Targeted process automation is a case in point. Replacing specific manual processes with...

It’s January and we’re taking a break from our usual topics to ask: Have you reset your mileage rates? In case you missed it, the IRS announced a change for 2019. The deductible rate for mileage has increased as of January 1. The new rate for business mileage (for cars, vans, pickups or panel trucks) is 58 cents, an increase of three-and-a-half cents over the 2018 rate. Rates for medical or moving purposes increased two cents to 20 cents per mile, while the rate for charitable organizations remained unchanged at 14 cents. Businesses may reimburse employees for business miles at whatever rate they wish, whether at, less or more than the IRS-set rate. However, any reimbursement greater than the IRS rate of 58 cents per mile must be reported as income to the employee. Most organizations polled reimburse at the IRS rate, while a few reimburse under the IRS cap. Despite the current lower gasoline prices, the new rate is the second highest in the last 20 years, a half-cent less than the rate for the period of July – December 2008. That year saw a precipitous rise to record heights in the price of oil (more than double the start of...

Have you made resolutions for the New Year? Good for you! Though statistics may be against the majority of us seeing them through, make them anyway. We all need a reset from time to time. Take the New Year as a fresh start. Make at least a modest change and gain will result (even if you aren’t still doing next November what you start this January). In our personal lives, there are a host of possible resolutions — Lifehack.com lists 50 resolutions for the New Year! No doubt they don’t intend for every reader to adopt the entire list, but there’s no better way to guarantee failure than having too many resolutions. Resolutions require change and who finds that easy? Scaling that back to just a few — hey, even one — seems a better route to success. One pundit proposes resolving in three areas: health, happiness and character. Do something for your health. Do something that makes you happy. Do something to grow your character. Don’t do 50 things; but do something. In our work lives the New Year offers a new start as well. At the end of the year, we stand back to look at how things went. Hopefully the year...

What comes to mind when you hear that? Maybe a particular gift you’ve received yourself, or one you chose carefully to give. Then again, these days you may be more likely to hear it as a droll comment about something that provides ongoing surprises and frustration (new ERP system anyone?). But the phrase intends to define a gift that is enjoyed continually over time. Commercially, if you’re old enough, you might remember Kodak advertising its camera with that slogan. Your parents or grandparents might associate the phrase with RCA’s color televisions! But its first use in advertising was much earlier than even that. According to YourDictionary.com and other internet sources, the first commercial use was nearly a hundred years ago by the Victor Company advertising its radios. Whoever first coined it was clever. Its application to electronics — radios and televisions — captured a key benefit of investing in those technological advances: the return would be ongoing. Such has been the promise of technology since, and in fact, it has and continues to deliver. In the realm of computing, Moore’s Law has driven an exponential increase in computing capabilities as size and cost fall. Physicists tell us that Moore’s Law cannot continue forever, but...

There are risks inherent in bringing in new vendors to your organization that must not be overlooked. There is a continuum of risk according to types and consequence of products or services. But even office supply vendors should be validated, as victims of printer-toner scams can attest. Supply chain and corporate procurement researcher Jonathan Webb, in an article that appeared in Forbes magazine entitled How to Onboard a New Supplier warns that “to forgo an onboarding process can expose the company to unnecessary risk." Webb identifies four steps in an onboarding process: [unordered_list style="circle"] Develop an approval process Develop a vendor checklist Develop additional governance for more strategically important vendors Add the vendor to an approved-vendor list [/unordered_list] In the first point, he offers a common example of establishing a mandate that all new vendors above a certain monetary threshold require sign-off by procurement. Purchasing departments, sometimes with input from operations, finance and legal, will typically be responsible for developing the approval process. New Vendor Checklist The second point is to have a checklist, particularly focused on risk, along with practical information gathering. Particular responsibilities for items on the list may belong to employees authorized to purchase, the purchasing department, the accounts payable department, or perhaps a master file group. Reviewing a...

It’s the end of October and there are just two months left in the year. In terms of calendar-related responsibilities, your unclaimed property reporting and escheatment should be done. Now you’re looking towards year-end, and right around that corner, 1099 reporting (with its January 31st deadline). That means it’s time to check on the state of your tax information records for vendors. Do you need to get tax ID numbers (TINs) and tax classifications (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation)? Hopefully this is not a worry. You implemented best practices years ago, requiring right up front a W-9, 8233 or W-8 from every large and small vendor your company engages. And you’ve gotten them. True, you got them on paper forms, but you got them, and they’ve been input into the vendor master file long before the first invoice ever showed up. Congratulations. Of course, every now and then there is the odd purchase made without advanced notice to procurement or payables, and it was not made on a p-card. That one. So yeah, this time of year, it’s necessary to do a check to see that you’ve got a TIN and tax classification for everyone so that when you roll out the 1099s, you’re ready. On...

Vendor invoices arrive daily in all manner of formats from PDFs to EDI and more. And still you get paper invoices (no two alike). You wrangle these diverse documents into your system for processing. But format is just a part of the story. What about volume? How many invoices do you receive in a month? Did you know that however many you get, an industry survey suggests that on average you should expect to get a vendor inquiry on 11 percent of those invoices? Vendors send invoices; but discontent with merely having sent the invoice, they call or email you about an invoice more than one out ten times. That’s a lot of inquiries. Inquiries take time to address, i.e. time away from processing, or compliance, or analysis, etc. Most of these inquiries — about 80 percent — are simple questions like “Did you get our invoice?” “Has our invoice been paid?” or “When will our invoice be paid?” These questions can be quickly answered once AP staff has stopped what they’re doing to look it up. How long does it take for an AP staffer to handle a vendor inquiry? On average, it takes eight minutes. However, that does...

Any U.S. business issuing payments of U.S. source income to either U.S. payees or foreign payees is required to solicit and obtain valid certification of the payee’s TIN, name, residency and status as required in the manner set forth by IRS regulations. Each payer is required by the IRS and many state tax regulations to solicit and certify the TIN (tax identification number or Social Security number), legal name, citizenship and corporate or individual tax status from each payee to which they issue any payment that is subject to the income test or otherwise fall into the regulatory definitions of reportable payments. This means that each payer must be able to request the proper documentation and/or be able to track the event of requesting such information or documented proof from each payee. Solicitation and Certification Requirements For several forms (payment types) the payer is required to send a Form W-9 (if a U.S. resident) or one of the Form W-8 series (for any payee that is domiciled in a foreign country), receive the completed documents, validate that the document is correct and retain for future access. The correct Form W-8 must be received from the foreign payee and required areas on the form...

You interact with vendors every day. You do it in the context of specific, necessary functions like gathering requisite information, processing invoices, issuing payment, and answering inquiries. Your focus may be on just that. Getting those things done as well as your team and conditions allow. Any thought of the actual vendor is merely a second thought. As long as they get paid and don’t cause trouble, they’re fine — and you’re good. But whether they’re having a very good day isn’t really a concern of yours. Understandable. If they have a problem, well it’s theirs, not yours. Here’s another view. Your organization wants vendors that provide on-time delivery of products of consistent quality, with good service and attention to detail; it wants vendors that guarantee their products; vendors that are financially sound, and that will be there in the long run. Your company wants good relations with good vendors it can trust and rely upon. That makes sense, right? That view is the big-picture one, which can sometimes get lost in the day-to-day work that consumes your attention. But that larger view is the context in which the day-to-day should operate. Creating and sustaining good relations with good vendors requires intentionality on your part....

Vendors. You need them. More accurately, you need what they provide, be it product or service. And therefore you interact with them as the providers of the things you need to do what you do. They are anxious to interact with you — to provide services or products — in order to generate revenue. The term “vendor” can encompass everything from major material suppliers to various service providers, to the local bagel shop supplying food for team meetings. How you engage them will vary according to their role. But to transact business involves not only validating them as a going concern but also obtaining information from and about them. That is not just information on how and where to remit payment (which they’ll probably be sure to put on the invoice). It includes agreeing to terms and payment method; ensuring that they are not a sanctioned entity; and it includes understanding their tax status and obtaining their tax ID number (TIN). Bottom line upfront: The time to validate a vendor and gather their tax and payment information is before the vendor has provided a product or service, not after the invoice has been received and is to be paid by accounts payable. Those who’ve re-designed...

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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