How to automate your invoices
Automating your business processes brings the promise of big rewards, but it can be daunting to embark on such projects because the risk and disruption to your business is also great. Every year Tungsten Network helps hundreds of businesses take the first steps to automating their invoicing processes, and there are a few key things we have learned along the way.
Listen to Tungsten Network's CFO David Williams share his 3 top tips
Buying in: identify your stakeholders
First, it is important to identify the people at the heart of your business that need to be persuaded if change is to be implemented successfully. Once you have a core of committed employees, you can start approaching your suppliers.
It is important that you become evangelists for digitisation. You must not assume that everyone knows what it entails and the difference it makes. There are many benefits, all of which should be outlined to senior management, account and procurement teams before you even engage with your suppliers.
E-invoicing enables business operations to be scaled more easily and improves the productivity, efficiency and accuracy of the AP department. It reduces exception management and errors and the potential for fraud. Ultimately, it helps businesses save money as it slashes the cost of handling invoices by more than 50 per cent. Suppliers can check invoice status online, and this lessens calls and emails by 60 per cent, increasing productivity and cutting costs. Adopting e-invoicing can free up team members to think and work strategically rather than get buried in paper mountains and consumed by chasing invoices and responding to supplier enquiries.
Furthermore, it can support the aims and objectives of procurement teams by providing real-time data that can be used to identify price variances, negotiate better prices and capture more discounts offered by its suppliers.
Spread the word
Some suppliers may be reluctant to alter well-established payment habits and unsure about whether the benefits will flow down to them, so you need to consider your onboarding strategy carefully.
A key tactic is to underline the advantages that will make a difference to suppliers’ day-to-day experience. You can emphasise that there is no software or hardware to install and that invoice data can be exchanged in any format. Suppliers can have peace of mind as invoice delivery is guaranteed and obtain full visibility of the invoice status online. This means there is no longer any need to chase you for it – a massive plus for suppliers as this can often put a strain on precious supply chain relationships.
Digitising the supply chain removes pain points from the payment process, helps to ensure timely payments and brings suppliers and buyers closer together. The first step is the hardest to take, but once suppliers have opened their minds to e-invoicing’s potential to transform the back office and streamline the payment process, they rarely look back.
It's a process
A big bang approach to digitisation is fraught with risk. A managed approach, starting with one or two key suppliers with a view to rolling out to the rest of the supplier base later, can be a lot more effective. It can also help to increase internal buy in and supplier uptake. When you’re working with a specialised, best of breed service provider, the results will often speak for themselves.