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Multiple Methods for Invoice Submission: Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All Suppliers

sizeChoice! Over the years we have become so used to having multiple options to choose from when we buy something. There was a time when ice cream meant vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. But now with the advent of specialty ice cream parlors,  the options are virtually unlimited. You want a chocolate amaretto and blue cotton candy ice cream mixed in with butterscotch chips and rainbow sprinkles – coming right up. It’s the same when you go to get a coffee at your neighborhood coffee shop  or even go to buy cereal at your local grocery store

Consumers are bombarded with choice from every direction, but when it comes to the business-to-business (B2) world, choice is still limited. Take accounts payable automation, for example. Many buying organizations implement an electronic invoicing solution, tell their suppliers to log in to a portal to submit electronic invoices, and yet they wonder why there is so much resistance from the supplier side. After all, electronic invoicing is supposed to deliver processing efficiencies to both the buyer and supplier, right? Not always! Moving all the data entry and manual effort from the buyer side to the supplier side is not necessarily the most efficient process for the supplier, and that’s why suppliers often resist.

So what can organizations do to help ensure that an electronic invoicing solution delivers value to the supplier as well, which in turn helps to drive supplier participation? One of the first step lies in understanding that not all suppliers are the same – there can be a difference in industry, company size, invoice volume, availability of resources and technical savvy. Keeping this in mind, if buyers offer suppliers multiple options for invoice submission and let them pick and choose the one that works best for them, they are more likely to see improved supplier adoption and success of their automation initiatives.

High volume suppliers that may be sending hundreds of invoices a month may prefer an EDI connection or a B2B integration from their ERP system so they can submit invoices with minimal manual intervention. On the other end of the spectrum, suppliers that are sending only a handful of invoices infrequently may be agreeable to logging into an online portal and keying in the invoice information.

While the B2B integration and portal help address two extremes, the mid tier of the supplier base is where most of the variability lies. For these suppliers, buyers may want to consider offering them the ability to upload a file with multiple invoices or flipping purchase orders into invoices or even the option of sending paper invoices to a service bureau where they can be scanned and indexed into the system. With the proliferation of smart phones and mobile devices, you may even consider offering your suppliers the option of snapping a picture of their invoices and uploading them right from their cell phones.

So just like plain vanilla is not to everyone’s taste, only one method of submitting invoices is likely not going to work for all your suppliers.

Click here to learn more about payables automation options from ADP® and the different ways in which suppliers can submit invoices via ADP.





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