By Shan Haq inboundlogistics.com
The next step in inbound logistics goes beyond delivering goods. As e-invoicing and procure-to-pay networks have evolved into broad-based business networks, advancements now enable professionals to finally connect all the dots in the supply chain.
Over a secure cloud-based network, customers share accurate, actionable data with suppliers around the world, enabling immediate electronic transactions and collaboration. Customers can now take advantage of leaner, more efficient accounts payable, procurement, and accounts receivable operations — and all the benefits that come from electronically connecting to their suppliers.
The benefits of a business network are widespread:
- Procurement departments benefit from increased visibility into spend, better managed spend, automated electronic PO delivery, and the ability to implement and scale early pay discount programs.
- Accounts payable departments benefit from receiving only 100-percent accurate and 100-percent fidelity electronic invoices that meet the customer’s business requirements — dramatically reducing invoice exceptions.
- Suppliers benefit from guaranteed accurate, timely delivery of invoices; the ability to resolve invoice discrepancies early and in an automated manner; greater visibility into invoice status; and improved trading relationships with customers.
The Critical Success Factor
The single-most critical success factor in any procure-to-pay initiative is ensuring that suppliers participate. Quite simply, customers will not benefit if suppliers refuse to transact over the network. That is why savvy customers look for business networks that make it fast, free, and easy for suppliers to enroll, connect, and transact.
How to Select the Best Network
Selecting a network that delivers on supplier adoption is the first and foremost consideration. It is not the only one, however. How well a network supports customers in effectively automating their business processes is significant, too.
Key factors to take into account when evaluating network providers against these criteria include the following.
Maximize supplier adoption by:
- Making network membership free to all suppliers.
- Employing technology and resources capable of on-boarding virtually all suppliers—regardless of supplier size or sophistication level.
- Ensuring supplier registration and connection are completed in minutes, not weeks.
- Allowing suppliers to transmit invoices directly from their existing billing systems.
- Eliminating the need for suppliers to engage in time-consuming Web portal data entry or IT-intensive data-mapping projects.
Enable validation and collaboration to:
- Deliver only 100-percent accurate, 100-percent fidelity invoices.
- Provide real-time feedback for greater straight-through invoice processing.
- Accept and process supplier invoices based on the customer’s business requirements.
- Eliminate internal or outsourced scanning and OCR based solutions that simply pass along errors and result in exceptions for accounts payable.
When you reflect on the potential benefits, you can see that a network is the answer to greater productivity and profitability. When you identify vital decision criteria and make the right network choice, you can be confident of results. The only question that remains is: what are you waiting for?