Is your in-house vendor enabling process working against you—or does it even exist these days, companies are concocting in-house data maintenance processes in response to the growing number of electronic payment vendor requests.
The processes usually are very primitive, leave a lot of room for error and rarely communicate well with ERPs.
While a company can manage manual processes on a small scale, those processes can impact AP team priorities as the company grows. Productive initiatives are abandoned in order to accommodate time-consuming data-entry tasks—and additional FTEs are hired to manage the influx of information.
The conundrum becomes: How do you keep your vendors happy while freeing up time for your AP team to focus on more strategic tasks? Or, if you are just beginning to consider vendor enabling processes, how do you avoid the pitfall that has claimed the time of many AP departments?
What’s in a name?
No two payment solution providers define vendor enablement the same way—the degree to which customers remain responsible for maintenance processes vary wildly.
- AP-dependent — Enablement responsibilities remain on AP’s shoulders, which has already proven to be an effective use of their time.
- Vendor self-serve — A self-serve station places responsibility on the vendor’s AR department, which vendors are often not receptive to – they are also very busy.
- One-and-done — Initial enablement is completed from a contemporary vendor list by the solution provider, but no maintenance or additional support is provided. New vendors (and the benefits their payment acceptances may bring) fall by the wayside.
- Total hands-off — Initial and ongoing vendor enablingment are shouldered exclusively by the solution provider. This is how Corpay operates—once vendors are enrolled in our database, their information is maintained by our vendor empowerment team, removing the burden from both APs.
Where a provider falls on this spectrum determines whether they place more importance on simply delivering payments, or if they offer a more holistic solution to replace clunky and outdated accounting procedures.
“We’ve always done it this way”
In the minds of many AP employees, time-consuming vendor maintenance is just an unavoidable part of the job. They continue stoically onward, unaware of—or sometimes uninterested in— the technological improvements to AP made available over the last decade.
Even for companies who are currently in the market for an electronic payment provider, the idea of handing over the reins to a third party is intimidating. The concern is valid—after handling the information for years by themselves, it’s understandably very stressful to relinquish the responsibility.
While a company can manage manual processes on a small scale, those processes can impact AP team priorities as the company grows.
It also is likely that companies with veteran AP managers are using processes which were top of the line several decades ago. The old excuse that “change is scary” no longer cuts it—not when newer technologies have improved and saved money for AP departments across the country with minimal impact to time and workflows.
Companies are starting to realize that to remain competitive in an employee-driven market, they must make strategic improvements to their processes and avoid technology slumps. This holds especially true as their valued subject matter experts are nearing retirement age.
To the tech-savvy employees stepping up to take up the mantle, the excuse “we’ve always done it this way” carries very little sentiment.
AP’s Cinderella story
The benefits of adopting a holistic payment solution run much deeper than simply updating an antiquated process. Finding a solution that both maintains payment information and fields vendor questions specifically enables AP teams’ success.
It transforms their workdays by removing daily data entry and vendor maintenance tasks, enabling them to make more substantial contributions to their company.
A payment solution provider that offers hands-off vendor enablement services delivers more than just a modern way to make payments—it reduces the strain on AP caused by manual processes. The warning signs for overtaxed procedures will stem directly from employees.
Supplementing AP’s workload with an efficient automatic process saves their sanity. Time-and-cost-savings will follow.
Julia Collins is Director of Strategic Sales for Corpay, a FLEETCOR company that helps companies of all sizes simplify how they pay suppliers, facilitate treasury payments and reduce risk. As part of the MasterCard product sales team at Corpay, Collins helps companies take advantage of the revenue, cost savings and insights that are created by replacing paper checks with electronic payments and full AP automation.
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