6 Steps to Increasing Supplier E-Invoicing Adoption

Saturday, January 14, 2012

E-invoicing continues to distinguish itself as an effective way of addressing the most common accounts payable challenges: lost and misplaced invoices, cumbersome invoice-to-order matching, long approval cycles, missed discounts, and high volumes of supplier inquiries -- just to name a few.


And with Aberdeen Group pegging the cost of manually processing an invoice as high as $35.56 at some companies, it's little wonder that analysts expect demand for e-invoicing to continue to soar.

But to optimize e-invoicing, companies must drive adoption of the technology among their partners. To help your e-invoicing adoption efforts, here are six best practices for partner on-boarding:

  1. Aggressively target your highest-volume suppliers: At one company, 6 percent of its suppliers produce 79 percent of its invoices. That's why many companies set a goal for themselves of reducing paper invoices from key suppliers by 70 percent within the first year.
  2. Establish a supplier adoption committee: The committee should include representatives from all of the business units associated with your project. Plan to hold weekly committee meetings to discuss strategies for improving adoption, and share feedback from the field.
  3. Let your invoices help do the talking: Change the "Remit-To" address on your invoices to reflect your electronic self-service payment options. And include special messages on your invoices promoting your electronic payment options, and how partners benefit from them.
  4. Establish and promote e-invoicing and electronic payment as the way your company does business: For instance, require by contract that all new suppliers submit their invoices electronically and accept electronic payment methods (e.g. such as Automated Clearing House or procurement card transactions). And consider offering better payment terms for partners that submit invoices electronically or accept electronic payment methods.
  5. Don't leave your coworkers speechless: Provide your procurement and customer service departments with quick training guides, as well as supplier "talking points" on e-invoicing.
  6. Launch a marketing program targeted to suppliers: Include outbound telemarketing, Webinars promoting the service (and how it works), and online registration assistance tools. And don't forget to leverage tools available from your e-invoicing solutions provider.

Using these strategies, companies not only will drive e-invoicing adoption, but also impact their bottom line. In the case of one global company, more than doubling the percentage of invoices its partners submitted electronically resulted in a 24 percent reduction in its average cost to process an invoice, and a 50 percent reduction in supplier inquiries. The company also reduced the average cycle time for invoices from a minimum of four days to just 12 hours for electronic invoices.

What strategies has your organization successfully used to drive e-invoicing adoption?