Making a Smooth Transition from Paper to Electronic Invoicing

For over 12 years I have worked with a plethora of customers, moving them from paper to an electronic invoicing process. Each customer is unique and often have very specific business processes and therefore, iPayables customizes the INVOICEWORKS platform to fulfill a customer’s specific needs (unlike most other providers). Rarely do we encounter a new customer, who does not need at least some kind of customization. We purposefully built our application (INVOICEWORKS) to be incredibly flexible and we continue to expand its base functionality with each new client.

When implementing a customer we follow an “80/20 rule” in which we segregate vendors into groups so we can target getting (a minimum) 80 percent of a customer’s invoice volume into an electronic invoice format. We focus first on the top group of vendors who have the largest volume of invoices. Letters are sent out from the customer to their vendors, explaining the process change and providing information on how to set up their accounts online and the iPayables help desk information is provided should any questions arise.

These letters are then followed up by emails and calls from the iPayables vendor adoption team. Securing the customer’s commitment to get their vendors to use the iPayables INVOICEWORKS platform is obviously essential in the vendor adoption phase. The more support the customer can provide the iPayables vendor adoption team, the better and quicker the results.

Large vendors that do more than 70 invoices a month have the option to submit their invoices via EDI, CSV, and XML file formats and can do so either manually online or automatically via various forms of FTP. The larger vendors tend to choose the automated process. Midsize vendors that process between 20 and 70 invoices a month, predominantly prefer the online method of submitting invoices.

This two-pronged approach to vendor adoption, has proven effective in getting vendors up and running quickly as well as increasing electronic invoice volume significantly within the first few months. Large file upload vendors tend to take a month or two to set up the automatic file transfer and finalize testing of the CSV, EDI, or XML file formats they will be using to send their invoices. Mid-size vendors simply need to log in and start invoicing online with a user-friendly web form that validates their invoice information before they submit it.

For the smaller vendors who process less than 20 invoices a month, the iPayables vendor adoption team uses various methods of contacting them, including assisting the customer with instructional letters on how to set up their account online and providing help desk information if they have any difficulties. Most of the smaller vendors will set up their accounts online with the information they obtained from our letters or emails. If problems arise, vendors can call the iPayables help desk to receive assistance with online setup.

It is important to note that large or small, there is no charge for vendors to use the INVOICEWORKS platform! This is a huge benefit when a customer attempts to get vendors on-board with the new process, as most vendors shy away having to pay to submit their own invoices. Many of iPayables competitors either charge their customers extra for the vendor adoption service or simply charge vendors to use their Payables Automation application. This can be detrimental to vendor adoption success and thus, we offer it for free!

Finally, for those vendors that aren’t able to send invoices electronically for whatever reason, we partner with various imaging companies or we do the imaging at iPayables for the remaining paper invoices (depending on volume). This allows iPayables’ customers to take advantage of the INVOICEWORKS workflow and payment processes even though the invoices are being submitted via paper.

Under this scenario, each invoice is scanned and indexed via a double-blind keying method. Then they are sent through INVOICEWORKS edit checks to again validate the invoice data. Invoices that need further attention, go to an imaging work list which the customer has access to within the INVOICEWORKS online application. Most of the imaged invoices are submitted and flow through the standard INVOICEWORKS workflow automatically without requiring any additional attention.

As a company standard, iPayables strives to capture most, if not all, of invoice volume for each of our customers, helping them move from a once cumbersome paper invoicing process; to an efficient electronic invoicing method of approving and paying invoices.

By Dave Cheney

Manager of Implementations for iPayables

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