Posts tagged with "pitch public relations"

Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE

Why you need visibility into invoices

(and how AI can help you get it)

We’ve covered how having visibility into employee expense reports helps organizations catch errors, waste, and fraud, and streamline process so that employees get reimbursed faster. But there’s another area of business spend where visibility might be even more critical: invoices. 

Enterprise AP departments pay thousands of invoices every month. Overworked AP teams may be hard pressed to scrutinize every invoice manually for adherence to contract terms, pricing anomalies, gradual increases in invoice amounts, or patterns that could indicate fraud, such as repeated invoices that fall just below the PO limit. Even worse, criminals can exploit an AP department’s lack of bandwidth by sending invoices for products that were never delivered or services that were never rendered, sometimes from companies that don’t even exist. 

Of course, the vast majority of vendors are trustworthy and want to earn and retain their customers’ trust, but with humans in the payment processing equation, honest mistakes are bound to happen. 

The risk hiding in vendor invoices

We recently reviewed the aggregated, anonymized data from billions of audit transactions across hundreds of customer accounts in a variety of industries, and summarized the results in our quarterly report, The State of AI in Business Spend. We found that, for the average enterprise, invoices comprise 96% of their business spend. (In comparison, employee expenses for travel and entertainment (T&E) make up only 3.7% of spend). The average company processes 60,354 invoices every month, but only audits or reviews at most 10% of them, usually after payment. In other words, most companies only find mistakes after the money is out the door, when clawing it back is expensive and time consuming.

Our report also revealed that 4% of invoices could be considered high risk. These invoices generally fell into three main categories:

•Prices, discounts or terms didn’t match the contract. Procurement teams may work hard to negotiate great terms with vendors, but if AP doesn’t ensure that invoices reflect those terms, that effort is wasted.

•Vendors billed inflated prices compared to the market. Most AP teams don’t have time to see whether better rates are available elsewhere.

•Duplicates. We uncovered double billing that may or may not have been accidental, as well as amounts duplicated on expense reports. 

Why visibility into high-risk invoices is critical

We probably don’t have to work that hard to convince you that incorrect invoices hurt your bottom line. But you might be surprised at how small mistakes, intentional or not, can add up. 

For example, we’ve found that many invoices don’t align with the signed contract, and the most frequent error is net payment terms: A contract may list payment terms as Net 60, but the invoices list Net 15 or Net 30. This difference can have a huge impact on your cash flow…and even profit.

Duplicate charges or payments happen with surprising frequency. Often, after an invoice is held up, an employee may intervene and approve manual payment of the invoice, but when the system clears the hold, the invoice is paid again. Even if the vendor notifies you about the duplicate payment, the time and energy everyone will spend trying to fix the mistake could be better spent elsewhere. 

But it’s the big mistakes, like fraud and non-compliance, that can cost your organization not only money but something that’s hard to replace: its reputation. Invoice fraud is real, and even large companies fall victim to it: A Lithuanian man recently bilked Facebook and Google out of more than $100 million by impersonating a vendor with which the tech titans do business.

What’s more, our report found that for every 10,000 invoices, at least one contains a regulatory violation. For example, a regional sales director might funnel payments to a distributor for fake “logistics services” that are actually a bribe to a government official who influences reimbursement policy for your company’s product. In a real-life story that illustrates the potential consequences, a large multinational retailer will have to pay the U.S. government $282 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), in part because it failed to institute sufficient internal accounting controls related to third-party payments.

How AI can help

Given the value at risk, many enterprises are embracing AI as a way to get visibility into invoices—before they pay vendors—for errors, fraud, and out-of-compliance spend. Companies that use AI achieve 100% visibility into their invoices; companies that don’t use AI get at most 10% visibility.

AI extracts and analyzes key pieces of information on every invoice to catch duplicate charges, enforce payment terms, identify missing discounts, eliminate overcharges, catch suspicious activity, and flag compliance issues. This frees your AP team to focus on tasks that will add more value to your financial processes—and helps improve your bottom line by stopping unnecessary outflows. 

To understand the magnitude of the issue and see what 100% visibility into business spend means to you, download our latest research report, The State of AI in Business Spend. The findings focus on spend visibility, value at risk in invoices, insights on streamlining the spend audit process, recommendations for finance teams, and more.

Claire Chen is a Business Operations Analyst at AppZen, where she’s passionate about providing simple solutions for complicated data.

sara sandman, 360 MAGAZINE, business, tech, illustration

Expert Tips on How to Start a Business with Your Spouse

Starting a business with your spouse, whether it’s a restaurant, real estate agency, consulting firm, tech startup or other type of company, can be a wonderful adventure to share together as a couple.

But there are challenges that go with running a business with your spouse. If you want to avoid some of the potential personal and financial risks of entrepreneurship, and make the most of the upside, it’s important to plan ahead and work as a team. 

Here are a few key tips and strategies to keep in mind when starting a business with your spouse.

Decide on Your Choice of Business Structure

One of the first decisions you should make is choosing your business entity structure to incorporate your business and make your business “official” in the eyes of the law.

There are several options for a choice of business entity, depending on your goals and what type of business you want to run. One of the most popular entity types is the limited liability company (LLC), which can help potentially protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit against the business. If you have big growth goals for your business and potentially want to go public with an Initial Public Offering, a C Corporation might be a better choice.

Whether you set up an LLC, S Corporation, C Corporation or Partnership, it’s important to create a registered business entity for your company. This will help you get a business bank account, build business credit and potentially protect your personal finances from some of the worst-case scenarios of being in business.

Will You Be Co-Owners?

As part of setting up your official business entity, you need to be ready to clarify the ownership responsibilities of the two of you as spouses. Is this a business that one spouse is mostly going to be in charge of and the other is serving in more of a support role? Or are you both equal business partners? Will one spouse be an employee of the company, or will both spouses be listed as co-owners of the company?

There are certain paperwork complexities and tax implications that depend on whether both spouses are listed as co-owners of the company. For example, if one spouse is listed as the owner and the other spouse is an employee, the employee spouse might have to pay taxes at a higher rate on their income from the company, compared to what they would owe if they could treat their income as qualifying pass-through business income (which, depending on your income and business type, might qualify for a 20% tax deduction).

There is no single “right answer” for every situation, but talk with your tax advisor before you start a business with your spouse. It might be advantageous for tax purposes to both be listed as owners of the company.

Separate Your Business and Personal Finances

Once you have your business entity established, it’s time to get your official Employer ID Number from the IRS and get set up with a business bank account, including a checking account, savings account and business credit card.

Keep your business finances totally separate from your personal finances. Don’t pay for business expenses with your personal money, or vice versa. This will help you stay in compliance with the law and maximize your business tax deductions.

Create a Shared Vision and Strategic Plan

Make sure both of you have a shared strategic vision for what you want your business to be. Create a business plan. Work together on a mission statement, business name, business tagline and logo. Everything that represents your business should represent both of you; you’re a team, and your business should reflect that.

Clarify Your Roles and Responsibilities

Make sure you both understand what your specific “jobs” are in running the business. Is one of you going to be the “face” of the company who’s out making sales and meeting customers, while the other works behind the scenes? Is one of you the Chief Technology Officer and the other is the Chief Operating Officer? Play to your strengths and be prepared to wear many hats.

Establish Work-Life Boundaries and Balance

Make sure you agree upon what business hours are, and when you can turn off your phones and laptops. Make time to go out for dinner and take vacations and talk about life, not just work. You’re not just business partners, you’re still a couple in love.
Running a business with your spouse should hopefully make your life feel bigger and better. Working hard together and investing in your shared future can help your love grow. 

About Dustin Ray

Dustin Ray leads business development and growth initiatives at Incfile, a national incorporation service company specializing in business formation and small business services. Founded in 2004, Incfile makes it possible to start a business with a $0 formation + state fee and has assisted in the formation of more than 250,000 corporations and LLCs.

Cloud vs On-premise: What Does Your Company Need

If you’re looking for a new, efficient document management system, you’re probably noticing that many of your options are either cloud solutions or on-premise solutions.

In this article, we’ll talk about the differences between these two options. That’ll help you figure out which option is best for you.

Cloud Vs On-Premise: What Are My Needs

When considering your company’s needs, think about these five factors:

  • Functionality
  • Cost
  • User interface
  • How to share files
  • Integrations with other software

Let’s talk about each of these factors in more detail.

  1. Functionality

Cloud-based solutions earn their ‘online’ monikers due to the fact they can function in-browser on the internet, and this is important for several reasons.

Virtually any information device can gain access to the Internet these days, whereas, with on-premises DMS, access to organizational storage and collaboration features remain tied to the software’s point of installation/origin. Cloud vs. on-premise document management cannot be distinguished from each other without analyzing the functional limitations of on-premise solutions.

However, the cloud can transcend issues with desktop compatibility sometimes found in niche operating systems (niche meaning not within Windows).

Essentially, cloud-based, online DMS is, beyond any serious criticism, more functional than its on-premises counterpart, particularly because of its accessibility via mobile applications and consumer-grade laptops (such as Mac), which are becoming increasingly popular in the enterprise.

  1. Cost

Many know the up-front price differences between on-premises and cloud-based DMS, but few understand the differences in long term value. And, as always, value and price must be viewed hand-in-hand.

This is one of the most complex differences between cloud vs. on-premise document management solution.

Price is the most complex facet of these two technologies’ differences. On one hand, there are simple, bottom-line methods of measuring the expenses of each, and on the other hand, there are ‘benefits’ that are much more difficult to initially calculate as hard ROI.

Initially, the cloud costs less across the board from simple calculations, but both on-premises and cloud-based DMS will generate ROI for organizations because each technology helps organizations go paperless.

However, it should be noted that in general, organizations will have to spend more on electricity costs with an on-premises solution, and on-premises solutions are a better fit for rural offices as these areas have fewer Internet speed/access options.

  1. User Interface

On-premises solutions are typically easier for DMS newcomers to understand. But the cloud, as a web technology, offers a certain degree of customizability that can render the solution more intuitive to its user.

Despite the intuitiveness of the cloud, on-premises is a technology that’s been around for a while and can be likened to the intuitiveness of software comprising the Windows interface.

Despite these differences, both modes of DMS usage provide the software integration needed to make processes more intuitive with an existing tech infrastructure.

  1. How To Share Files

On-premises solutions are great if you only need to share documents across the office. On-premise software solutions usually rely on an office intranet to share documents from employee to employee.

The problem is, businesses oftentimes need to share documents with people outside of the building. There are different secure options for sending messages, but a cloud-based DMS will have that built-in already.

So consider who will need access to documents when making the decision.

  1. Integration

On-premises offers more control over how security is implemented, measured, and contained, whereas the cloud, although not as customizable, is arguably more configurable – meaning external components are more easily integrated into the system.

Cloud vs. on-premise document management provides insight on how much customizability is offered for on-premise over cloud-based alternatives.

An organization with a lot of programming demands may want to consider this option. As with any new technology, there are always going to be somewhat limited integration capabilities with preexisting organizational structures.

However, the right document management software, whether on-premises or in the cloud, can offer software integration to mitigate the impact of customizing challenges.

Cloud Migration Challenges and How To Overcome Them

Firstly, one has to understand that migrating to the Cloud cannot be achieved with the push of a button. It would be wise for a firm or individual planning to make their move to the Cloud to seek assistance from a team that specializes in Cloud migration from on-premise to the Cloud.

Also, do not try to migrate everything all at once or try to pull off an “all or nothing” migration. When moving to the Cloud it is better to take a sub-set approach by uploading a bit at a time.

When all data has been migrated to the Cloud, the next step would be to train staff members in using the Cloud to its full potential. It should be understood that moving to the Cloud will give rise to new processes and procedures that will differ from what was used previously in on-premise systems. In other words, one has to ensure that their firm is “Cloud-ready.”

Last but not least is planning, planning, planning. Be sure to plan what data needs to be moved across to the Cloud. This is especially true with firms that have decades of data, some of which have become “stale.” Moving stale data creates stale data in the Cloud; however, migration can be used as an opportunity to clean up obsolete databases and files.

Is Rubex by eFileCabinet Secure?

We previously mentioned how Cloud security is generally more robust than on-premise, and eFileCabinet is no different. We take security seriously and offer security measures that are above and beyond that which can be achieved by local systems.

When using Rubex by eFileCabinet, all files are heavily encrypted to ensure that data remains safe and confidential. Also, Rubex files reside on SAS 70 Type II secure servers with a variety of physical barriers and intrusion detection systems to prevent unauthorized access.

Furthermore, all files are backed up regularly at multiple geographic locations to ensure that lost data can easily be recovered in the event of a fire, theft, natural disaster, hard drive failure, etc.

Going a step further, data that resides on our online systems is protected using SSL: Secure Socket Layer encryption as an added layer of security. Rubex spares no effort in keeping sensitive information safe and secure. Find out how you can keep your files secure today by filling out the contact form provided for a free 15-minute demo.

Andreas Rivera is a technology writer with experience in both reviewing and marketing tech services and products. His areas of expertise include writing about B2B, SaaS companies and how they best address the pain points of businesses. Since early 2019, he has been the Marketing Content Writer for eFileCabinet and has become well versed in how document management software helps businesses reinvent their manual processes and spur growth. Contact him at arivera@efilecabinet.com