What's Changing in Online Invoice Management?

You might have seen the news last week about AB InBev paying its small suppliers as much as 120 days after submission of an invoice. Although the beverage giant says these terms are agreed with their suppliers in advance, anyone in the payables and finance space recognises the problem with such protracted payment terms; small suppliers can literally be run out of business when they simply run out of cash.

There are other cases where invoice payments lag not because of agreed-upon terms but because of an invoice management process that hasn’t kept up with the hectic pace of doing business today. Maybe you recognise the consequences when an invoice goes unpaid for too long: a bruised relationship between buyer and supplier, and even worse, late payment penalties and interest charges that could have been avoided. In the UK, a supplier even has the right to claim back reasonable costs associated with collecting a late payment. No business wants to see its financial resources lost in that way.

Cash flow Click to see the infographic

The prize for getting invoice management right is high. According to a survey of finance professionals by the Aberdeen Group, “From the Shadows to the Forefront: AP Automation and the Strategic Vision,” if a company’s invoice management process is set up for success, it stands to reap huge financial benefits: 3x more cash flow than their peers, a 38% decrease in Days Payable Outstanding, and 62% greater early payment savings. To say there’s money on the table would be an understatement.

Getting online invoice management right can even turn out to be a competitive advantage for those companies who make improvements now. That’s because the invoice management process at many companies is not set up for success.

According to the Aberdeen Group survey, as many as 35% of companies are too slow to reconcile accounts when exceptions occur. Another problem? An amazing 36% of businesses surveyed can’t even find a paper invoice. (Tweet this)

Paper invoices Click to see the infographic

Today, what defines success in online invoice management is changing. In the not-too-distant past, a company which could electronically archive and retrieve invoices could consider its management of invoices a success. Studies like Aberdeen’s, however, point to the need to go beyond just electronic archiving and retrieval. The truth of the matter is, invoices get stuck. They end up on people’s desks, tacked to office walls, or shuttling through office mail (still) in a paper form.

SaaS Click to see the infographic

Today’s online invoice management is about going far beyond electronic “basics.” One of the main things that’s changing is the very definition of “online.” Of the companies surveyed by Aberdeen, 32% are beginning to use or are expanding usage of Cloud / Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. These solutions live in the Cloud, are accessible by employees and suppliers in many locations, and can keep a process moving offsite or on. In fact, the accessibility of cloud-based documents and data make it the ideal way to supercharge a workflow. (Tweet this)

Competitive Edge Click to see the infographic

What else is changing in online invoice management? Aberdeen’s survey revealed that 50% of companies are enabling suppliers to electronically submit invoices, while 45% are using automated notifications of errors and 41% use automated entry and extraction of data. What these trends demonstrate is the focus today on making the invoice workflow move as efficiently as possible, without the usual bottlenecks. Companies want to say goodbye to the days of chasing paper invoices, and the Cloud is helping them do it. (Tweet this)

Concur Invoice is a solution that fits these principles – cloud-based, focused on improved workflows, and integrated with the same spend management application that supports our customers’ employee travel and expense management. We understand the importance of improving a workflow, whether it’s for employee expenses or supplier invoices.

Learn more about Concur Invoice here, read the Aberdeen study From the Shadows to the Forefront: AP Automation and the Strategic Vision”, or download the infographic “How Is Your Liquidity Lifeline?” to have all the most important numbers at your fingertips. We know you wouldn’t want them anywhere else!

Happy invoicing!

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