Medium Image

It’s not easy to find real best practice advice for e-Invoicing and supplier enrollment. This extract from The Supplier Engagement Handbook describes recommended steps on how to offer suppliers that send a high volume of invoices or have complex organizations a more consultative enrollment approach.

e-Invoicing – high-touch enrollment of suppliers

Accurate contact details

Before starting a communication effort, it is important to have accurate contact information. Ideally, this includes up-to-date details for sales contacts and the people in billing and collections. No one is happier to accommodate your needs than your sales contacts; use them to your advantage.

Compelling communications

Creating a comprehensive and coordinated strategy is essential and must take into account all your stakeholders. A common pitfall is to solely focus on the messages to suppliers. It is just as important to communicate the vision and objectives of the program within your own organization to achieve the necessary buy-in and support. Use a careful mix of channels and media to communicate both internally and externally, including your website, intranet, press releases, social media, posters and existing newsletters.

From outside of Latin America, electronic invoicing in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the others, seems complex and mysterious. What information that is available to understand it is mostly in Spanish or Portuguese. For those of us who are a little rusty on our Spanish and Portuguese, even the English written information is difficult to grasp because the concept of e-invoicing in Latin America is fundamentally different to the concepts familiar to Europeans and North Americans. But for any business that trades in South America it is crucial to understand the new invoicing landscape.

Imagine if a stand-up comic, trying to promote him or herself tweeted: “I’m really funny. Follow me”. It doesn’t work does it. For social self-promotion to work for a comic they have to tell jokes. They have to perform, on-line, for free! If they are funny, people will retweet and they’ll grow their audience, and they’ll get more retweets and more followers and, if they work hard at it they’ll sell out venues because they’ll have built up a huge on-line audience that they can market to. That’s how twitter works and there’s a lesson in this for all of us. It’s part of the answer to the question - “What can twitter do for me?”

This is the first in a short series of articles by Jo Harris, Director of Programme Management at OB10. They are extracts from The Supplier Enablement Handbook, a best practice guide for e-invoicing and we’re especially pleased to feature them in Purchasing Insight. The deepest and broadest hands-on experience of implementing electronic invoicing comes from the e-invoicing vendors themselves and as more and more organizations take on board the benefits of automating finance processes, sharing some of the lessons learned is extremely welcome.

e-invoicing - the supplier engagement plan

Before you start talking to your suppliers about e-invoicing, you must have a detailed plan in place to support your enrollment campaigns. Internal stakeholder support, clear messaging and a thorough understanding of your supplier-base demographics will mark the difference between an easily dismissed email and a set of strategic communications.

The fortunes could be mixed for Europeans working in IT and finance according to new research by The Hackett Group. Large companies in Europe are now losing over 130,000 jobs each year in these disciplines as well as in other key business services areas. This, Hackett claims, is due to the combined impact of offshoring, technology-driven productivity improvements, and the low-growth business environment. While they reckon that the number of jobs being lost will decline over the next few years, they estimates that by 2017 nearly half of all back office jobs that existed at these companies in Europe in 2002 will have disappeared, a total loss of 1.9 million jobs. But the picture gets worse when you factor in the latest IMF growth assessment.

It depends how you interpret e-invoicing. In its EDI guise it’s been around for over 20 years but its modern incarnation, XML data transported over the internet, grew out of the dot com boom of the late 1990s so which ever way you look at it, e-invoicing has been around for more than a decade. And we’re now moving into a new era. Its take up has grown to an astonishing level partly due to mandates in various parts of the world and partly because, frankly, it’s a no-brainer. Purchasing Insight logoWhen a technology is new and untested, there is a natural and pragmatic suspicion that prevents widespread adoption. We have, collectively, had over a decade to understand how to get it right. For established electronic invoice programs, they have had time to iterate and refine and for those just embarking on the e-invoice journey, there are well-established paths to follow. There is no need to create methodologies from scratch, no need to reinvent the wheel. Even the business case is simple because it can be based on others’ experience, not some theoretical savings exercise. The latecomers have got it easy and that’s great for everyone. So where can you access sources of best practice? How can you get at the experience of the last decade or so?

Insights in your inbox

FREE Purchasing Insight Newsletter

Insights in your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!