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Vendors Invoices and Their Discontents

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 not count the time it takes to re-engage in the task the staffer was doing before the phone rang. So, there’s an additional cost impact: the drag on productivity caused by the interruption and shifting focus.

Of course, it’s important to provide good customer service to vendors in the interest of building and maintaining good vendor relationships. But, there is a cost and if your AP department is handling all those inquiries manually, the cost is higher than it needs to be.

Whether and to what extent you have automated other parts of the procure-to-pay process, you can automate the handling of vendor inquiries. Implementing a vendor self-service inquiry portal will enhance your vendor relationships. An inquiry portal is fast, easy, and provides the vendor instant gratification. It puts control of finding an answer “now” into the hands of the vendor, and what vendor doesn’t like that? Done right (as in the case of InvoiceInfo), it is also secure because the vendor does not actually access your ERP system to get answers.

To see how InvoiceInfo’s vendor self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company, click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.

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Vendor Inquiries

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