Why AP Automation is Essential for Healthy Supplier Relationships
When it comes to the accounts payable department, one of the most frustrating responsibilities the team faces is dealing with disgruntled suppliers. When things aren’t automated and easy to track, suppliers are constantly calling with inquiries taking time away from AP that they could be using towards other tasks. With that time lost, the cycle of disgruntled suppliers begins again. Luckily, implementing enterprise-level AP automation brings your department several solutions that not only lessen tension, but improve your supplier relationships.
An efficient accounts payable automation solution will offer in-depth visibility through use of an online portal. With the online portal, there are various forms of invoice submission—whether it’s online entry, file upload, email, or even paper invoices—so AP is given the flexibility to work with suppliers on how invoices are submitted. No matter what method of submission, all invoices are uploaded by the automation solution to the portal. Once their invoice becomes available on the portal, suppliers can view their invoice status, from submission to payment—meaning they no longer need to call the accounts payable department to inquire about invoice status. This extensive visibility dramatically cuts lost time for supplier inquiry in AP, and puts the minds of suppliers at rest knowing what’s going on with their invoices.
Easier Ways to Resolve Problems
One thing that tends to cause turbulence between accounts payable and suppliers is issues on invoices. Resolving such disputes can quickly drain AP’s time and can make things tense with suppliers. Luckily, enterprise-level AP automation solutions typically include upfront validation with higher-level forms of capture. If a supplier doesn’t include the necessary information on the invoice, the system won’t allow it—placing a stopper on incorrect invoices before they reach AP. Additionally, communications with suppliers take place directly on the invoice through the online portal. Suppliers or accounts payable can raise a dispute on an invoice if there is a problem, and the dispute can quickly be resolved with real-time direct interactions on the invoice. These interactions are saved and stored permanently to the solution’s cloud. With comprehensive dispute and resolution capabilities, suppliers only need to log on to solve disputes, making both accounts payable and suppliers’ lives easier.
On-Time and Early Payments
Not surprisingly, suppliers like to be paid as soon as possible. With invoicing processes being streamlined through high-level automation, there is actually time for accounts payable to submit early payments. When early payments are available, accounts payable can participate in dynamic discounting; where they receive a calculated discount based on the date that they submit their payment. This leaves suppliers with money in their pockets sooner, and AP bringing in savings for their organization. With streamlined invoicing processes and early payment options, AP doesn’t have to pay the price of late fees (in the form of monetary means or angry suppliers) ever again.
A Better Process for Everyone
When processes and communications are effectively automated, AP is less stressed; there is less tension with suppliers, and much more time available for more meaningful tasks. Having efficient automated processes in place can lead to strong supplier relationships, increasing your department’s reputation among both suppliers and higher-ups in your organization.