Behind the Scenes with your Enterprise Customers: The 20-Step Process that Gets You Paid

In this post, we provide aninsider’s view into the invoice payment process that your enterprise customersare using to pay you. You’ll learn about the different roles who areinteracting with your invoices in some form or fashion throughout this process.The question to ask – is your enterprise billing and payment experienceaccelerating or delaying the process that gets you paid?

Once your invoices are delivered to yourenterprise customers, what steps are required to move the invoice to a point ofpayment? Here’s a hint – it can take more than 20 steps and 8 different rolesbefore a payment is earmarked for you.

Whether completely archaic,highly-automated, or somewhere in between, these large organizations have acommon sequence of tasks attributed to the invoice payment process. The missionis simple – ‘pay only the bills and invoices that are legitimate and accurate.’What’s not so simple? Validating which invoices (or which portions of theinvoices) are ‘legitimate and accurate’.

As suppliers, the focus is often on fasterinvoice delivery and payment processing. But does cutting off a few days at thebeginning and end of the invoice-to-cash process accelerate payments, when yourcustomers’ 20-step process remains the same?

If you want to accelerate payments fromyour enterprise customers, it’s imperative to understand their order ofoperations:

·        What are the steps required to move theinvoice from receipt to payment?

·        Who is responsible and what do they need toaccomplish each task?

·        Which of these steps are common culprits ofdelays or errors?

No, you’re not going to change theirprocess or become an AP expert. But understanding the invoice payment process –from your customer’s point of view – will help you determine if your billingand payment experience is aiding in efficiency (or not) to these required steps.

Here’s an insider’s view into the 20-stepprocess that gets you paid and the players responsible for making it happen.Share this with your internal teams, validate it with your customers, andidentify the areas where your billing experience is either accelerating ordelaying this process (more to come on this in a future post).

...understanding the invoice paymentprocess – from your customer’s point of view – will help you determine if yourbilling and payment experience is aiding in efficiency (or not) to theserequired steps.



AccountsPayable Manager: This role oversees ateam of clerks and supervisors responsible for all accounts payable functions.They are tasked with monitoring the daily operations and making sure spendingadheres to budget.

AccountsPayable Clerk: This role is responsiblefor completing payments and controlling expenses by receiving, processing,verifying, and reconciling invoices. A large portion of time is allocated torecording invoice entries into the company’s financial system and monitoring payment-impactingactivities (discount opportunities, purchase order/contract/invoice/paymentdiscrepancies, missing documentation, outstanding credits, stop-payments,etc.). This role is measured by invoice processing time and accuracy.

AccountsPayable – Invoice Validation: For largecompanies processing thousands of invoices per month, there is a dedicated roleor team solely responsible for the validation between purchase orders (PO) andsupplier invoices. Success of this role is dependent on matching the PO to theright invoice, reviewing every associated line item, and identifying anydiscrepancies prior to the invoice moving forward for approval and payment.

DepartmentalAccounts Payable Manager (e.g., a specific location): Many corporations operate a decentralized AccountsPayable model where each specific location or entity is responsible for thereceiving, approval, and payment of their associated invoices. ThisDepartmental AP Manager is responsible for the payment process of a particularlocation or region.

Serviceor Supplier Management (e.g., a specific expense type) (Approver): When a specific service represents a significant expenseto a company, a dedicated role is assigned to manage that relationship and allassociated charges. As new orders are placed or services are changed, this roleis responsible for validating services and ensuring they are in accordance withcontracted rates. They are also responsible for identifying ways to optimizespend and the supplier relationship. For large organizations, this can amountto analyzing thousands or millions of line items on a monthly basis.

Lineof Business Manager (Approver): Beforesupplier invoices are paid, they need to be approved by the line of businessassociated with the charges. The line of business manager is responsible forthe review and approval of all expenses associated with his or her reportingstructure.

InvoiceManagement Vendor (outsourced): Over50% of large enterprises have contracted a portion of their invoice auditingand management to a third party vendor. This vendor is typically responsiblefor auditing invoices to ensure alignment with POs, contracts, and serviceorders. The majority of these relationships employ an hourly payment structure,as well as additional payouts for identifying discrepancies.

Individual employee: Depending on the service provided, there is often aneed to not only provide invoices and data at the company level, but also downto the individual employee level. Some company policies require employees topay a portion of the charges for anything outside of the company-coveredpolicy. With this in mind, this role is looking to easily validate the actualusage and charges that were incurred for their specific service.


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