Should You Audit Invoices In-house or Outsource?

With 2020 filled with so much volatility, it’s become a necessity to step up the game, get things in order, look for tasks that can be outsourced, and consider hiring a firm that can help you move onwards adequately. To help, OpenEnvoy shares insight on how to stay resilient and adapt to challenges ahead of your competitors.

Online shopping saw an unprecedented rise during the pandemic and will likely continue, thus impacting the freight market, causing rising truckload rates and tightened capacity.

So, how do you keep up amidst all this uncertainty? We’ve already talked about the importance of invoice auditing in our previous post, so this article will mainly focus on doing it in-house vs. outsourcing. 

As you may know, outsourcing has become a very popular word and practice in the last couple of years, whether for HR, IT, medical billing, etc. Basically, you can outsource just about anything and auditing is no different than any other sphere of business. 

When it comes down to it, outsourcing could and should be viewed as a business tool. You may consider it when you need it most. Do you need to save time? Will it save your company money? These two things are vital for any business to succeed. By cutting costs and allowing your staff members to focus on work that is more impactful, you can give your company a boost.

If you are a small to medium businesses, hiring a new team member, accountant, or controller-level person is quite a hassle, let alone during the pandemic, when interviews are being conducted online, without getting a chance to have someone visit your office, meet the team, or immerse themselves in the company culture. 

Onboarding someone remotely, training them and catching them up to speed, and sharing everything so they understand the business may take longer than in person. This is an expensive undertaking for a small to medium business. But when you outsource the auditing, you eliminate a lot of expenses by converting a full-time salary into a pay-what-you-need service. This frees up your cash flow for investment in other parts of your business. You get the service that you need at the level that you need but at a fraction of the cost.

Also, turnover for any business owner is a killer. When you’re a small to medium company, you may have one or two people managing the accounting, which leaves little room to put the attention required to auditing invoices. If you hire one employee in-house, and they get sick, or leave, or go on a vacation, you are losing that support. 

Outsourcing the function means that you should have a partner at the firm you work with who is your point of contact, who knows what is happening, and who will step in and take care of the business. When you work with an outsourced company that handles your business, you should have someone that supports you 24/7, and someone to replace them if they are out. No matter what happens with an outsourced firm, there should be continuity in accounting functions.

Leveraging the right outside company to automatically audit your invoices can ensure immediate ROI when it comes to catching invoice overcharges, clear visibility into supplier relationships and trends, and can free up the hands of your accounting staff. If you’re a company that deals with high shipping volume, outsourcing invoice auditing is not an option… it’s a necessity.

Finding Your ‘Why’ With Michelle Ferguson, Finance Executive + Mentor

Finance professionals may spend a lot of time crunching numbers. But for Michelle Ferguson, a longtime executive at S&P Global turned mentor for professional women, the most rewarding part of the job was the people. 

Ferguson, now a founder member at Chief, a network focused on driving women into top roles and keeping them there, took a conventional path into accounting. 

“I started college as a chemistry major, and it was just brutal,” Ferguson said. “When I was in college, there were only two kinds of majors getting jobs: the accountants and the engineers. And I decided I was less ill-suited to be an accountant.”

Ferguson landed in the audit department of what was then one of the “big eight” accounting firms. That was the equivalent of a training role, and eventually led to subsequent roles in financial analysis. But due to a change in personal circumstances, as well as college debt, the primary motivator for a period of time was simply money, she said. That ultimately had its downsides, but along the way, Ferguson discovered that working with people and leading teams was a passion. 

“To this day, I would never be a solo-preneur because I just love working with teams, being with people, and developing people. So that was always the best part of the job for me,” she said. 

That skill led Ferguson up through the ranks at S&P Global, where she held various roles spanning real estate services, operations and strategy. She also founded and led S&P Global’s first women’s resource group, which included a highly-rated mentoring program and a leadership conference that expanded globally. 

Finance “is a good basis for doing anything in business,” Ferguson said. Strong people skills made the difference in bringing critical and difficult projects to fruition, even on very short timelines.

“I led a fast-paced outsourcing of finance, accounting, and HR — as in, we issued an RFP on December 23rd, and went live on July 1,” she recalled. That would be a quick timeline even under normal circumstances, but the added challenge was that positions were set to be eliminated as part of the transition, which meant that Ferguson had to both keep team members motivated and lend support to affected employees in a process that involved 400 people of various job levels. 

“The regular rules of engagement might not have gotten us to where we needed to be, so I ended up having to be even more concerned with the development and support of my team,” Ferguson said. “It went against my finance training; you’re supposed to care about return on investment, and I knew these people would be leaving. So I probably did more coaching, talking and job search help then than I ever did.”

“People deserve to know the truth and they deserve to hear it from their own boss, not out on the street or someplace else,” Ferguson added. 

For emerging finance professionals, there’s a potential silver lining to the remote work that comes with the current pandemic. 

One is the embrace of software — a necessity in the remote work era, but a move that can also reduce repetitive tasks “that were going away anyway,” Ferguson said. That also has the effect of giving finance professionals the chance to manage differently, and to develop their interpersonal communication skills beyond just “speaking in numbers,” she added. Those skills can make a world of difference in where your career takes you. 

That’s particularly relevant for women in the profession, who may have a tendency to focus more on people around them, even if to their own detriment. 

Another formative question every aspiring leader should ask themselves, according to Ferguson, is “why.” 

“It’s not just finance, and not even leadership,” she added. “At some point if you don’t know why you get up in the morning. It’s hard to get through everything else.”

10 Habits of Highly Successful Chief Financial Officers (CFO)

Today, a successful chief financial officer does not only focus on risks and opportunities behind the numbers but acts as a strategic business partner to the CEO in setting a positive course for the organization. Doing that more than well, requires strong leadership, excellent communication, collaboration, and team-building skills.

Here are ten habits of highly successful Chief Financial Officers that helped them go from good to great:

1. Ethical leadership

CFOs are the most trusted individuals in the organization. So holding the highest standard for ethics all the time is a must. They set the tone of the entire organization, including full disclosure of all relevant information in a timely manner, considering the employees, the stakeholders, and depending on where they work, everyone else who may be impacted by their decision.

2. Analytical thinking 

Great CFOs are highly commercial, they understand the business, what drives it, they understand the marketplace the business operates in, they are a big part of the team around the boardroom table, contributing, and also listening to the teams, to the customers, to the investors. 

They are deeply embedded in the business and work closely with the CEO on expansion in the right way, not just focusing on the numbers that somewhat traditional CFOs might think. 

3. Collaboration

In order to gain business knowledge, great CFOs are highly collaborative and collegial. They know how to communicate well, manage up and down, pick the right time to motivate and reward performance, and they are just great to be around. They are in general liked as people, not just as professionals.

4. Building human capital 

Dedicated people are an organization’s most valuable asset. In order to build high-performing teams, great CFOs develop every talent in the organization and encourage them to take ownership of their tasks. 

5. Curiosity-driven attitude

Great CFOs ask questions to get to the root of the problem. They are not just curious but relentlessly curious. If they don’t understand the business and don’t ask the right questions it means they can’t add value and insights. 

6. Staying current 

How tech-savvy CFO needs to be? While it is important to keep up the speed of progress, a CFO doesn’t need to be an expert in every software or system. They simply need to follow the current trends and bring the right people and the right experts into their team. 

7. A strategic partner

A great CFO is also a fantastic strategic partner for the CEO and brings that to every table he/she sits at. CFOs spend time understanding where the market is, where the customers are, what’s really driving the business, and what’s really driving the numerics behind that. They can contribute not just by reporting but by predicting and looking ahead.

8. Exercising leadership 

The CFO needs to become the driver in building alignment in the senior team because it is critical to the health of the organization. At any given time, the rest of the organization is watching how the leadership team challenges each other, holds each other accountable, and leads with a common purpose.

9. Getting on the frontline

Great CFOs go and make the deal happen, rather than sitting back, evaluating and saying “No” and pointing out the potholes on the road. Actively finding deals and creating opportunities is a complete switch from a traditional role for the CFOs and that’s what makes them a leader. In other words, a highly successful CFO has become a CF”Go”.

10. Staying focused on risks and managing them

Very often CFOs have to make the toughest calls. As partners to their CEOs, they get into uncomfortable situations in which their partnership is tested to the core. As CEOs push the limits to reach key milestones, challenges arise for CFOs. Focusing on cash and constantly thinking through the risks and being able to speak the uncomfortable truths are risks that great CFOs take even if it may cost them their job.

How to Guard Cash Flow and Get Immediate ROI with OpenEnvoy

For freight brokers and third-party logistics providers, efficiency is king. 

Whether in packing a freight truck or tracking invoices, wasted time and resources can quickly eat into your margins. And in the example of invoices, the unwieldy process of cross-referencing and auditing means that fraud in the logistics business is all too common. According to a poll conducted by Deloitte, 39% of consumer and industrial products professionals found at least one instance of fraud or abuse in their supply chains in 2020.

In the logistics business, the pain points – and the potential points of failure – are numerous and come with very high costs. Freight brokers and 3PLs are exposed to risks on both the buy and sell sides: Depending on the supply chain, the process can involve multiple intermediaries: shipping lines, trucking companies, and charter companies, in addition to insurance firms and, of course, the customer who winds up receiving the goods. 

There’s potential for fraud, abuse or simple oversight at every step of the way, and there’s a lot on the line: margins are slim, and simply tracking the flow of cash traditionally involves a small army of workers checking invoices manually.

Many 3PLs and brokers just can’t afford that – so in the interest of conserving cash and manpower, they may skip invoice auditing altogether. That amounts to billions of dollars lost worldwide every year. Invoice remediation is especially burdensome for small freight, “less than truckload” shippers that deal with multiple units of inventory, and thus multiple invoices, per shipment. 

Outsourcing accounts payable to a third-party provider traditionally isn’t a great solution.

This option is both limited and costly: It could involve a procurement company, which a freight broker or 3PL may actually compete with. A more common outsourcing solution is to farm out invoice reconciliation to a bank, but that presents its own host of problems: Banks typically require a 3PL or freight broker to use the bank’s own payment network, charging a fee of up to 5% per invoice. Not only does that translate into lost leverage with suppliers, it also introduces a variable cost and potentially a circular problem if a need arises to re-audit those invoices. 

Fortunately, the right software can remove many of these risks entirely, and instantly save your business money. 

An automated invoice reconciliation system not only eliminates fraud, but frees up your accounts payable team to focus on protecting cash flow, holding suppliers accountable and making processes more efficient. OpenEnvoy automatically compares every invoice line item to its related estimate, contract, or proposal, validating every result before anything is paid.

For logistics companies, ease of use matters. A plug-and-play solution like OpenEnvoy, which requires no code and no special technical skills to use, eliminates barriers to adoption for your team. By fully automating invoice auditing and remediation — a process that can otherwise take hours per invoice — OpenEnvoy saves money, manpower and resources while also providing a bird’s eye view into cash flow, allowing your team to focus on higher-order goals like planning, strategy and expansion. 

There are pricing tiers to suit every need, and payable at either a monthly or annual cadence. Choices range from the basics of auditing, activity logs and analytics to more advanced enterprise plans that manage a very high volume of invoices. Whatever the plan, the setup is simple: Once your account is validated, you can begin uploading invoices in OpenEnvoy. 

OpenEnvoy makes auditing invoices easy. Just upload an invoice and at least one baseline document, such as a  quote, contract, or bill of lading, to match against, and select a provider. That creates your first “job”, and the rest is taken care of through OpenEnvoy’s matching systems. 

Depending on the complexity of the matching, it can take anywhere from one hour to 24 hours for the matching process to finish. Once complete, you’ll be notified via SMS and email, and either create another job or to go straight to your dashboard

The result is immediate ROI, no matter what volume of inventory you’re dealing with. 

When your business depends on making the most of limited space, ensuring that every unit of inventory is properly accounted for is critical. Track costs, identify issues and quickly resolve conflicts to increase your effectiveness, guard cash flow and grow your business. 

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