OB10 Guide to e-Invoicing supplier engagement

As well as their exciting news regarding their corporate status, OB10, leaders in e-invoicing, have released a free “Supplier Engagement Handbook”, covering the issues around supplier enrollment and engagement in the context of implementing e-invoicing programs. It is written by Jo Harris, who is their Director, Program Management, and is a very useful and practical resource for anyone involved in e-invoicing projects – or indeed, I’d suggest, in other procurement type activities where getting supplier commitment is a key element.

It is clearly written and very much from a practitioner standpoint rather than academic theory – and is all the better for that. You get a good flavor of the style just from the introduction.

“Having worked in the world of purchase-to-pay automation since 1995, I can assure you that there is no single silver bullet that will magically convert all of your suppliers to a new process or technology. The real magic lies in your overall approach to supplier adoption. A clear strategy and objective measures of success, sound project management discipline, and excellent internal and external communications will always be the key to success”.

There are five sections - Engaging the supply chain, the supplier engagement plan, executing the campaign, support and campaign reporting and the supplier engagement checklist. The meant of the guide is in the second and third of those. So the supplier engagement plan goes into how to gain commitment, planning the campaign, developing the message and analyzing your supply base.

Here is Harris again on developing the message to your suppliers.

“Since you are reading this guide, you’ve probably already developed your business case for e-Invoicing in terms of streamlining your processes, eliminating cost, and reducing approval cycles to better manage cash. It is unlikely, however, that many of your suppliers will have done the same level of due diligence when they are approached about adopting e-Invoicing.

First, it is important for your suppliers to understand why e-Invoicing is important to you. All your communications should clearly state that electronic invoicing is your preferred method of receiving invoices to pay bills on time. Communications should be signed by a senior executive (preferably the CFO and/or CPO) to underscore the importance of the initiative.

Give a deadline for when you expect suppliers to conform to the new process. There should be an implied consequence if suppliers do not participate. While many companies are starting to impose mandates, most take this step later in their projects when the process has been worked out and embraced by the organization. Nevertheless, there are subtle ways of communicating the importance of this initiative to your company. For example, highlighting that paper invoices will be treated as a non-standard form of submission and will not be processed as quickly”.

I don’t have much to add personally – Harris clearly knows a whole lot more about this topic than I do! All in all, a thoroughly practical and useful guide – if you’re at all interested, well worth downloading here.

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