The New Year has begun. And as generally happens this time of year in the northern hemisphere, it’s cold.
Along with the cold comes colds and flu (apparently worse this year than usual). Winter weather and the cold-and-flu season can mean snow days or sick days — lost time just as the year gets rolling. And AP’s time is precious!
Suppose you could save time? Suppose you could make better use of your time? There’s at least one way you can. You know that the once-heralded notion that productive people are good at multi-tasking is beyond suspect. Research is finding not only does doing multiple things at once slow you down, it lowers your IQ and possibly your EQ (emotional intelligence quotient)! And while the resulting mental impairment was thought to be temporary, according to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, new research suggests the damage may not be temporary! Yikes!
By the way, it’s not new knowledge that multi-tasking is inefficient. More than 2,000 years ago Publilius Syrius said, “To do two things at once is to do neither.”
We work better and smarter when we focus on one thing at a time.
In accounts payable, there are a lot of tasks to be done. But research supports focusing on one thing at a time. That will increase productivity. But of course, interruptions happen. Along with the time consumed by the interruption itself, there’s a further cost you may not realize: when you return to the original task, your productivity does not start right back up at the speed at which you left it. There’s a restart time to refocus on the original task before you get rolling again. For processing tasks, it may be two minutes. For analysis, it can be much longer to get back to where you were.
Now consider vendor calls. Serving your customer is an important part of the job. But the vendor contacts you on his or her schedule, not yours. Thus for you, it’s an interruption with a negative impact on your productivity. Though customer service is part of AP’s job, it costs time — even more time than the actual servicing when you factor in the shifts in focus.
How to save that time? Move vendor inquiries from phone and email to an easy-access automated portal, where the vendor can get what they want without interrupting you.
Some 80 percent of vendor inquiries are straightforward questions that can be easily answered. Imagine if that 80 percent were handled automatically rather than having someone in AP stop what they’re doing to listen to the question, pull up the vendor record, and report what is plainly shown there, then go back to re-engage in what they were doing.
And imagine from a vendor point of view: instead of calling you (and hoping you’ll pick up), they go to a URL, put in a date and invoice number, and — boom! — they have their answer. They’re happy, and your productivity increases. It’s a win-win.
This is real. It works for large and small AP operations, is not hard to implement, and shows a good ROI.
It’s good for your customer service reputation too. So bundle up, drink your orange juice, and go get a vendor portal to serve your customers and save you time. And the next time you have a snow day, enjoy it!
A final word from Publilius Syrius: “Opportunity is often lost by deliberating.” It’s January. Time to act!
To see how InvoiceInfo’s self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.
Travis Bradberry, “Multitasking Damages Your Brain and Career, New Studies Suggest” (October 8, 2014)