Though online portals are intended to simplify invoice and payment processes, they may actually be spurring problems that impact your A/R and A/P teams.
Especially during the recent pandemic, many companies used these tools to ensure that orders and payments would continue on with minimal disturbance. But despite that advantage, online portals still have some drawbacks, explains the National Automated Clearing House Association (Nacha).
Essentially, there’s a “lack of interoperability” with portals. That means your A/R team (and your vendors) must abide by a unique process for each customer that has its own portal.
In a recent survey, Nacha found:
- 93% of vendors have customers with online portals
- 82% say using portals requires extra staff time and/or resources
- 70% of vendors manually enter invoice data into at least one customer portal
- 60% expect that manual data entry will rise in the coming years, and
- 9% of vendors pay fees to upload invoices to online portals.
What can CFOs do to counter these pain points?
From the A/R perspective: It’d be beneficial to double-check which online portals that your A/R team uses require your company to pay fees. Are the costs justifiable? Has A/R received all the necessary guidance to expertly use the online tools? Are the portals efficient or are there underlying complexities that still result in slow processes?
From the A/P perspective: If your company has an online portal, verify that the process is as user-friendly as possible. Does A/P provide adequate instructions that make things easy for vendors? Is your team quick to answer queries and post status updates in the portal, incentivizing vendors to continue using it?
As Nacha’s survey shows, talking to A/R and A/P about their online portal processes and their pain points could help root out unnecessary costs, process bottlenecks and trading partner disconnects.