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Opportunities in Payables Process Technologies Don’t look now but digital technology is creeping into every corner of our lives, both personally and professionally. In business, despite the challenges and frustrations of change, it’s really a good thing. The digital age is bringing swifter communications, saving time and increasing productivity. In our personal lives, the change is usually more fun, though not always without some frustration in moving up the learning curve. Perhaps that’s because we’re choosing the technology we want to try — we already believe it will be worth it! At the office, however, it may be a different story. Often it’s someone else choosing the technology for us, so we’re less invested. But if you’re a manager, you have the chance to find and propose digital tools that will help you and your team improve processes, gain time and dollar savings and boost your productivity. The good news there is that CIOs are looking for help in identifying profitable projects that can cut costs or generate revenue. Smart CIOs work closely with CFOs and others in the C-suite to identify and coordinate the company’s IT strategies large and small. That means opportunities for managers in F&A to speak up about opportunities they...

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, public law 115-97 aka the new tax law, includes a reduction in the backup-withholding rate starting with tax year 2018. Backup withholding is required when you do not have a valid taxpayer ID number for a payee on payments of rents, royalties or fees for service to independent contractors. The backup-withholding rate has been 28 percent for many years. However, the new tax bill reduces that percentage to 24 percent, effective as of January 2018. So if your company is backup withholding on rents, royalties or service payments, you should now be withholding 24 percent instead of 28 percent. When should you backup withhold? In these instances:: [unordered_list style="circle"] Your reportable payee has not given you their taxpayer identification number. You received a B-notice from the IRS than the taxpayer ID number of the payee is incorrect. [/unordered_list] Remit withholdings on IRS Form 945, as always. Backup withholding answers why you need to gather W-9s from payees. You don’t need the extra administrative burden of having to backup withhold. Nor do you want to face penalties for paying an entity without having secured their tax ID or failing to backup withhold. It’s a good reason to investigate implementing a supplier portal that...

New vendor onboarding and vendor record upkeep are insignificant administrative tasks, right? Tell that to the CPO or department head when you hold up a vendor payment because you don’t have a tax ID. Or to your finance VP or CFO when you just found out you paid money to a phony vendor. Tell it to your CEO when the Treasury Department agents in black suits and no sense of humor show up at the office. Administrative? Sure. Insignificant? Hardly. When it comes to vendor onboarding, the devil is in the details. Onboarding is not a “mere” administrative activity. It involves crucial information and critical functions, including vendor validation, payment information capture, sanctions clearance verification and tax classification for reporting and withholding status. Vendor validation, information capture and verification of sanctions clearance are each vital in the process of onboarding a new vendor. If you are charged with responsibility of the vendor file and don’t know what these mean, you need to find out! But here we are going to focus on tax classification. Why is it important and what does it entail? Why It Matters U.S. organizations are required by law to report to federal and state governments certain payments they make. It’s part of...

Ever feel like there is not enough time? Probably all of us sometimes find our relationship to time a challenge, whether specifically at work, or just life in general. There are a lot of words written, including not a few songs[1], about time: saving time, capturing time, mastering time or being run over by time. A search of the web will return a number of articles, many of which address particularly the psychological aspect of feeling time pressure — helpful steps to master the feeling of “not enough time.” And there are recommended steps on how to better manage your time. Of course, you probably don’t have enough time to check them out! A big aspect of time worry is your state of mind. And let’s face it, most of us would benefit from tips like getting sufficient sleep, prioritizing and planning, and focused work vs. multi-tasking. But sometimes there actually is something you can do to save time. To be specific, you can eliminate work that is probably taking your staff more time than you realize. Did you know that studies have shown that dealing with supplier inquiries can use up to as much as 24 percent of a staff member’s time? Have you...

The venerable Tom Nichols [1] once observed, AP believes that their clients don’t understand what it is they do. I tell AP people that it’s your fault because you’re not doing a good job at public relations. You’re not involving the customer in the process.” Nichols understood AP customer service, and also the importance for AP to promote its value, to “tell its story,” communicating confidently to and working with its customers. As part of that, Nichols was a proponent of AP customer surveys. Virtually everyone AP deals with is a customer, both internally and externally. An important but overlooked part of customer service is to understand how your customers view AP. Here Nichols urged AP to be in touch with its customers, surveying them regularly. To what extent has AP embraced the call? A survey by InvoiceInfo provides the insight into what AP departments are doing in the realm of customer service and vendor relations. Among many findings in the report are data on surveying customers and on tracking metrics on customer service activities. Tom, enjoying a well-earned retirement in Florida, would be disappointed in the results. On the question of surveying customers — Nichols recommended a short survey, maybe five questions, like...

What are the most common inquiries you get from your accounts payable (AP) customers? And are those questions the same ones received by other AP departments? InvoiceInfo’s new survey on AP customer service can tell us many things about AP customer service across organizations, including whether our challenges are common or not. One of the many questions this new survey addresses is the kind of inquiries that AP receives. Specifically the survey asked 150 organizations to rank in order of frequency the most common inquiries received from vendors and internal colleagues. The results do not surprise, but it’s always good to get a “reality check” to what we think is so. Two questions vie for the most frequently asked. You probably already know what they are. Narrowly taking the top spot is the question, “Has my invoice been paid?” This is followed closely by, “When will my invoice be paid?” These two questions led all others by a very significant margin. On the flip side, the least frequently asked question is “Why was the invoice short-paid?” Asked more often than the short-pay question but less frequently than all others is: “Which invoices are covered on the payment?” Three questions rank in the middle scores between “most” and “least” frequent: ...

Survey Says … A day in the life of procure-to-pay is seldom dull. Perhaps one of its livelier aspects is interaction of the payables team with its “customers,” i.e. those whom accounts payable serves internally and externally. Payables customer service is a necessary part of the job, and depending on a number of variables, can be very challenging. A new survey from InvoiceInfo captures the current state of affairs in accounts payable customer service. The report looks at a number of questions and issues involved in customer service. The identification by respondents of the challenges of customer service is interesting not because it reveals something startlingly new, but because it provides a picture of the current state of affairs. That state is one that will be familiar to anyone with much experience in payables. The survey question on challenges allowed for respondents to write responses in their own words. Quantifying the responses, familiar issues emerge. The results can be divided into two types of answers — those that addressed the larger context of the procure-to-pay (P2P) process, and those focused specifically on customer-service issues related to payables. Taking the former first, roughly half of respondents described some P2P process issue as being their biggest customer service...

Do your experiences as individual consumers affect your expectations back at the office in your business-to-business (B2B) interactions? It seems likely that they would — once you’ve experienced a certain level of service in whatever context, your expectations undergo a reset and the bar of expectation rises across the board. Indeed as reported in Accounts Payable Customer Service and Vendor Relations in the Age of Self-Service, e-commerce expert Scot Wingo coined the term “Amazon Effect” to describe the ever-rising level of customer expectations. A 2017 study brought further confirmation. The study B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter by KPMG Nunwood, a subsidiary of KPMG, focuses on the B2B customer experience. Customer experience has become increasingly important in business. As the report’s executive summary observes, it is “becoming the prime source of competitive differentiation.” One of the findings of the study is that indeed the rise of consumer expectations for customer experience does spill over from the business-to-consumer (B2C) world to the business-to-business (B2B) world. The study includes a look at the phenomenon of “consumerization,” where consumers carry their continually escalating expectations from the B2C world to their B2B relationships. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people served well in their consumer experiences bring higher...

Such is the reaction of more than a third of participants from ages 18 to 65 in a customer service survey conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and Aspect Software. Rather a severe judgment! Granted the study Consumer Experience Revolution 2015: New Research on Millennials and Technology Shows Customer Service Is About to Change Forever was a consumer survey on customer service. But as is argued in Accounts Payable Customer Service and Vendor Relations in the Age of Self-Service, positive experiences in our private (consumer) lives tend to transfer higher expectations over to our business lives. Hey, if Amazon knows exactly what I ordered, why don’t you? (Did you know that UPS now shows you, on an online map real-time, the location of the truck bringing your package to you?) So it is that accounts payable’s customer service faces high expectations in its interactions with its internal and external customers as a result of those customers’ experiences elsewhere in their lives. The survey referenced above, repeated in 2016 and 2017, looks for generational differences. Businesses are trying to learn to serve customers across different generational groups. But the general dissatisfaction with customer service is trans-generational! Patience with waiting for customer service is getting...

A Wizard to Help You Help Vendors Help You! Getting a tax ID from new vendors is an important part of vendor onboarding. Best practice is to get it up front. And the best way for the vendor to provide its tax ID and tax classification is to complete and submit it to you on an IRS form with the requisite information, namely IRS form W-9. Or is it the 8233? Or W-8BEN, or the W-8BEN-E? Or maybe the W-8ECI, … EXP, … or IMY? Oh my! It’s not surprising that your new vendor might not know which form to fill out for you. For that matter, do you know which form is the correct one? If the vendor is a U.S. entity subject to payment reporting, you probably know they should submit a W-9. But if the vendor is a non-resident alien, should they complete a W-8BEN or an 8233, for example? (You are clear on the uses of each, right?) And what if they are a foreign vendor? How likely are they to know what form to use? Do you know which form they should use? (Have you ever had to send back the form they provided because it was the wrong...

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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