If you’re having issues with invoicing, it’s important to be sure that your supplier lists are accurate so that processing a supplier invoice is error-free.
After all, losing track of your stock is never fun, and finding out you’ve also lost money as a result of small, preventable mistakes can be even worse...
Like any field service business, you’ll have had your fair share of losses over the years and made an effort to prevent mistakes from repeating. From this, there can be no doubt: finding success in managing your stock, as well as your supplier invoices is worth the effort.
However, this can be particularly challenging if you’re a growing business, are frequently changing retailers to find the best deals, or are simply managing a large volume of work to keep up with customer demand.
So, what exactly is getting in the way of you achieving a seamless partnership with your suppliers? These are some of the most common supplier invoice management problems:
- Problem #1: "Our suppliers format their invoices differently."
- Problem #2: "Human error causes confusion."
- Problem #3 - "We're having to do double data entry; it's time-consuming!"
- Problem #4 - "Raising invoices can only be done in the office."
You’ll be pleased to hear it won't take as much effort as you might think to transform the traditionally time-intensive and head-ache-inducing task of invoicing. Improving how you manage supplier invoices, as well as how you track the parts that you buy and use, can be a game-changer. Let’s get started!
Problem #1: "Our suppliers format their invoices differently."
One problem that makes invoicing a challenge comes about when you purchase stock from a variety of suppliers and vendors, each of whom can invoice slightly differently.
Of course, it’s hardly your fault that suppliers create invoices in different ways; everyone has their own style, after all. And on the other hand, it’s also no bad thing for your business to be on the hunt for quality parts and great deals.
You could be forgiven for thinking, then, that so long as you have all the details you need to process a supplier invoice, there’s no harm in it taking a little extra admin time to sort out.
However, it’s often the case that the impact of “just a little each time” can add up to a whole lot, in the long run.
These little inefficiencies can really slow down productivity, and having to constantly change processes, even for something as simple as physically looking in a different place on the page for necessary information, can be distracting.
Besides, you already know from experience that the more straightforward a task is, the less likely it is to go wrong. Not only that, but the opposite - boring and tedious activities - make it harder to fall into a flow-state mindset, which can help make even the most repetitive admin tasks feel easy.
Distractions resulting from different formats, however, can lead to errors; and from your suppliers, even small tweaks to the way they format an invoice can end up taking up more time than you’d like, especially if the volume of work being dealt with means that staff don’t have time to check details over and make sure there are no mistakes.
And time, after all, is money.
To avoid that situation becoming a costly problem, you’ll need to be able to run every invoice through a tool that turns them into a standard format. While there's certainly dedicated software out there that can do this for you, an easier solution is to check your job management software for an automated invoice importing feature.
Not only is it much easier to add information to an existing database, but automated supplier invoice importing can make reading, analysing, and completing data entry so much more straightforward because the system takes care of it for you.
📚 Further reading:
Problem #2: "Human error causes confusion."
We all make mistakes, but there’s a difference between picking up the wrong screwdriver versus misplacing a decimal point on an invoice. One is embarrassing, the other can be expensive!
Something as simple as inputting the wrong digit or symbol can cause a cascade that hurts productivity and damages your bottom line, all because you now have to waste time doing the following:
- calling back an invoice
- chasing money that shouldn’t have gone out
- handling irate service calls
These can damage your reputation and you'll find few suppliers who will want to continue working with a business that clearly does not pay attention to its finances.
For many field service businesses, these invoicing errors are most likely to occur due to mismanaged stock and parts; this is a particular problem if you’ve not properly assessed your chosen suppliers, as delivery issues and parts quality will create further issues to untangle.
All this can also make your staff prone to other errors when invoicing later, on the job; for instance, an engineer may be so focused on getting a repair job done (which is great) that it can be easy for them to forget to record all the items they’ve used (which is not so great) and if that data is inaccurate, then the purchase order your admin sends off will be missing parts that you might need later down the line.
While no two jobs are the same, with the right systems in place you can track and manage payments for stock and parts easily, all so that you can then ensure all jobs are invoiced in the same way (and that they’re correct). This means human error is only ever mildly embarrassing, rather than financially damaging.
Problem #3: "We're having to do double data entry; it's time-consuming!"
To solve another of your invoicing problems, you need to think about how you regulate your processes and manage data. For instance:
- How do your engineers and staff keep track of your stock data?
- Are they relying on paper job sheets and lists?
- Do they have access to stats on/off-site?
There are many ways to track your data, but the best solution is to have an all-in-one database that lets you see information clearly, access it easily, and apply it practically.
If you think about all the information you need for completing a supplier invoice, I’m sure you’d agree it needs to be easily accessible. This way, whoever is responsible can have a straightforward and pain-free experience getting the necessary details in order to create orders and pay for parts.
A customer relationship management system will help you manage invoices and payment tracking with ease because it links them up with each individual customer. The right software can also allow anyone with the right permission to create lists and generate accurate invoices fast, without the need to enter any data more than once.
Of course, avoiding double data entry is great, but even better is making sure that your staff can do their work, no matter where they are, which brings us to our final problem:
Problem #4: "We can only raise invoices in the office."
Whether it’s working back in the office, or live on-site with a customer, there’s nothing worse than having to traipse back and forth between the two, just to do admin work that, by today’s standards, can and should be easily completed on a mobile or tablet device.
It makes a lot of sense to upgrade to a digital invoicing solution, not only for speed but because it can enable engineers to complete jobs and improve the customer experience at the same time. These are contemporary solutions to age-old problems and modern technology is here to lend a big helping hand.
Want to raise supplier invoices in moments?
With Commusoft, your team can generate professional-looking invoices simply by filling out just a few essential fields and hitting save. If you’re creating a vendor invoice by completing a purchase order, the fields will be completed automatically!
When we spoke with Jibran, he said the biggest issue is working with large companies that simply haven’t taken the steps to roll with the times. This is something that will have hurt businesses that weren’t caught up, especially ahead of the pandemic, and with the world has gone more digital than ever, these solutions are essential to success.
Of course, it’s still a challenge:
“The biggest problem we see is that the traditional way of doing things is so ingrained with [large companies], that processes haven’t changed and haven't grown with the company … If you go back 15 years,” Jibran went on to say, “accounting was largely done on a piece of paper, so we had all these ledger books, but if you look at accounting now, things have changed! [...] You can use data to assess, in real-time, how your business is performing.”
Being able to invoice at speed is just one benefit of going digital with your data, but being able to extrapolate and apply the data you’ve obtained and put it to practical use quickly is another. It can dramatically improve your decision-making, and help you build a more secure bottom-line, especially when you can rely on your system to assess data and sort out supplier invoices with ease.
By improving your supplier invoice management methods, you can prevent all sorts of pains from impacting your business and negatively influencing cash flow.
While you may have diligent engineers and on-point admin staff who’re dedicated to avoiding mistakes, why not make their lives easier with a tool that empowers them to do more and do it accurately so you can be confident you’re never missing out?!
Speaking of which, when it comes to managing supplier invoices, you'll also want to be sure that you’re not just fixing how you interact with your suppliers, but also with your customers.
It can be all too easy to fall at the final hurdle, but the last thing you want is for payments to be delayed and invoice messages missed; that’s why we’ve put together this free guide in The Customer Communication Toolkit, so you can transform the way you send all sorts of messages to your customers and ensure they take action, every time!
Download your copy (including free invoice email notifications), below.