Vendor Onboarding Archives - Financial Operations Network
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Vendor Onboarding

Have you ever received an invoice from a vendor you’ve never heard of? Of course. You check the master file, but it’s not there. And it’s due in 30 days. Just kidding—it’s due by the end of the week. Last week. If you're lucky, the buyer's name is noted on the invoice. Or maybe the buyer is the one that forwarded the invoice to you. Employee buyers mean well, but their focus is on getting what they need for the job they have to do. It's not on the details required to pay the vendor. That there are 12 tasks involved in onboarding of a new vendor eludes them, even though you explained everything in a  Zoom meeting last month. They don't have time to think about payment reporting, compliance issues, bank verification or even the need for a correct address. If they need authorization to purchase, that's as far as it goes for some. Others may go a bit further. And a few conscientious ones try to get everything that's needed from a vendor, but their own work deadlines interrupt their seeing vendor onboarding tasks through. Control, efficiency and timeliness are lacking in many of the purchases made throughout an organization. Employees do...

With all our attention consumed by the shapeshifting new normal, you probably want to hear that payment fraudsters have taken a holiday. But they haven’t. A new AFP survey on payment fraud shows 80 percent of organizations experienced attempted or actual payment fraud last year. Payment fraud remains at a high level, having jumped up 11 points in 2015 to 73 percent of organizations and rising to 81 percent in 2018. The target areas? Checks (at 75 percent of organizations), followed by wire transfer (40 percent), commercial credit card (34 percent), ACH Debit (33 percent), and ACH Credit (22 percent). As the AFP report states, “ACH payment methods appear to be of interest to fraudsters.” Business email compromise or “BEC” has boomed, the study says. It is the first year that BEC has taken the lead spot among the sources of payment fraud. Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their BEC technique. NACHA’s Michael Heard, SVP ACH Network Administration, points out that checks “not only have the highest level of reported fraud, but also an increasing rate of fraud during a period when check use has dropped substantially.” At the same time, he continues, “The report also shows that fraud rates remained nearly flat for ACH during a...

How do you collect your vendors’ W-9 information? What about bank information for ACH payments? Here is an instruction that one organization includes on its ACH Enrollment Form on which the vendor is asked for their bank account information: “Please email the completed form along with a copy of a VOIDED CHECK to: … ” What’s wrong with this picture? Email. Email is not a safe means of transmitting sensitive information, such as W-9s or bank account information. Why? Email is not secure. It was never meant to be. It’s one tech tool that is—in internet-age terms—ancient, having been developed in the early 1980s! Its protocols were designed when there was hardly anyone on the internet, and there was a high degree of trust among the few people that were. Despite its antiquity, email is a power app, heavily used for communication and as a convenient method to send attached documents. Email simply was not originally designed with either privacy or security in mind. And while there are efforts to make it more secure, the way it works is not conducive to high security. But of course both the internet and email are ubiquitous and there are armies of ne’er-do-wells seeking to exploit others...

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...

What do errors cost? In baseball, sometimes the game. What about in business, in particular data errors? A quality management concept developed by G. Loabovitz and Y. Chang quantifies the cost of error prevention versus remediation versus failure. It’s the 1:10:100 rule. The authors determined hidden costs of errors expand exponentially. In their studies they found that if prevention costs X dollars, then remediation in the case of failure to prevent the error costs ten times X dollars, and the consequences of bad data left uncorrected are one-hundred times X dollars! Remediation costs more than prevention, and failure costs more than remediation. The focus, often on remediation, should be put on prevention. Our forebearers said things like “A stitch in time saves nine” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The principle is the same, but the professors have quantified it in their eye-opening rule. The rule has implications and applications for P2P. Leading experts like Judy Bicking point out the fallacy of saying “We don’t have time” to do something right the first time; you end up having to make more time to fix it. The 1:10:100 rule warns that it’s going to cost you a...

Are you crafty? Handy? Do it yourself? Many of us like doing things by hand — some things, anyway. But let’s face it, there are other things we’d rather not have to do manually. How about in our P2P lives? More specifically, how are organizations accomplishing vendor onboarding these days? Have companies automated, or is it still largely a manual process? This question is included in the latest survey from VendorInfo. The new survey will be released soon, but here is a sneak peak at the answer to this question. When it comes to onboarding new vendors, the process for most organizations is [drum roll please]: still manual. Yes, a year away from 2020, and the majority of organizations are still pushing paper forms out to new vendors to fill out and send back. The good news? There appears to be movement in the right direction since last year’s survey. Sixty-two percent of participants indicate they onboard new U.S. vendors manually. That’s down from 69 percent a year ago. When foreign payees are specifically called out, the percentage is 63, which actually represents a big improvement over 2018. Roughly a quarter of organizations utilize both manual and automated processes for onboarding. Those that say their...

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...

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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