09.11.14 |
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5 Steps to Increasing eInvoicing Supplier Adoption

Today, almost half of business-to-business invoices within the U.S. are traded electronically, with paper invoices continuing to decline from 59 percent in 2012 to 52 percent in 2013, as electronic invoicing gains more traction, according to a 2013 PayStream Advisors report1.

So what is driving the shift from paper to electronic invoicing? Electronic invoicing has the potential to deliver a number of benefits, including:

  • Faster approval of invoices, resulting in timely payments and reduction in late payment penalties
  • Reduction in manual data entry, which leads to increased employee productivity and lower processing costs
  • Improved visibility over outstanding liabilities and better compliance with policies and procedures.

Given these benefits, it is not surprising that organizations are taking an interest in automating their payables operations. Another 2013 PayStream report2 stated that more than a third of organizations surveyed are evaluating the usage of an electronic invoicing solution.

Although the desire is there, a number of organizations felt that supplier resistance was the most significant barrier hindering their automation initiatives. The good news is you can help to influence supplier adoption by following these five simple steps:

5 steps

1. Engage your supplier from the beginning, not after implementation

By involving your suppliers early in the process of evaluating e-Invoicing options, you have a better chance of gaining their support and insight into what may keep them engaged; such as what suppliers are already using and what fees, they may be paying today.

2. Segment your supplier base

Not all suppliers are good candidates for paper to electronic invoicing migration. By segmenting your supplier base, you can better identify those that you are going to target. Look at annual invoice volume or spend criteria and focus on those strategic suppliers to drive the most value. Make sure to identify and communicate incentives to further support transition.

3. Develop a comprehensive strategy

A plan will enable suppliers to more readily adopt your platform of choice. Identify how to communicate (phone/email /direct mail). Develop a campaign using a combination of methods; such as reserving phone support for strategic suppliers and leverage email for smaller suppliers. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your e-Invoicing vendor can help you in this area. Will they help develop communication materials or train suppliers? What does this support cost?

4. Offer suppliers multiple options

Not all suppliers are alike. Offer multiple options and allow suppliers to choose the e-Invoicing methods that make the most sense for them, for example, invoice submission; higher volume suppliers may prefer system to system integration. Mid-tier suppliers may agree to log in and key invoice information or drop off a file. Some suppliers may never go electronic; does your vendor offer scan and capture services to complement e-Invoicing?

5. Provide ongoing support for suppliers

Support through enablement is important; ongoing support is crucial. If suppliers face challenges and cannot find support, you may see them switch back to paper invoices. Look into what support your vendor can provide for suppliers, if none, do you have the internal resources to manage this process? Will there be additional costs for this support and how will you offer it?

Following these simple steps could give you the advantage you need to see your e-Invoicing goals come to fruition.

 

 

1 PayStream Advisors, 2013 Invoice and Workflow Automation Benchmark Report

2 PayStream Advisors, 2014 eInvoicing Benchmark Report


2 comments on “5 Steps to Increasing eInvoicing Supplier Adoption”

  1. Paul says:

    Is it unusual for a company to integrate with multiple e-invoicing partners, as not to disenfranchise suppliers that might be using a single platform? We’re currently trying to decide between the two e-invoicing partners we work with, as we use one in North America and another in Europe and the rest of the world. Wouldn’t going with two reduce our own risk and provide us better negotiating leverage? Any insight?

    1. Sush Koka says:

      Paul, It is not unusual for global organizations to use different electronic invoicing platforms in different geographies. This is especially true in Europe as providers there tend to have a more regional footprint, focused on a specific geographic regions within Europe. It is also not uncommon for a company to use different e-invoicing networks in North America and Europe, while leveraging a common workflow platform across geographies. The rationale behind using multiple providers is not so much around reducing risk or having negotiating leverage. The idea here is to leverage the best network for the geography in order to connect with more suppliers electronically and drive up the percentage of invoices received electronically.

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