Amidst the growing efforts of enterprises to expand, the logistics sector has been at the forefront of helping them attain a truly global status. But some hurdles remain, including the accurate and timely payment of freight invoices.
Historically, firms have paid freight invoices as they were presented and performed a cursory check here and there or a random audit to try and avoid overpayment. That’s better than nothing, but still leaves them exposed to the risk of duplicate payments, paying for services not provided, or paying over and above any charges in rate cards or pricing agreements.
There have been many studies and horror stories about the accuracy of freight invoices and seasoned professionals acknowledge that the invoice mistakes are there – some citing error rates as high as 20%.
Handling freight invoices and processing payments worldwide is one of the biggest challenges global organisations face. One of the biggest problems is handling bills with exceptions and resolving disputed invoices, which is typically done manually and is quite labour-intensive.
There is also the problem of pricing agreements and rate cards being filed in one office – like the logistics department – but paid by another. Add in the complexity of the pricing agreements and invoices themselves, and you can see how problems occur.
Even those firms that use an external company to perform freight audit and payment processes tend to partner only with regional service providers. These can sometimes struggle with a worldwide consolidated audit and payment process. They may experience problems in achieving proper visibility over global transport spend data and compiling a single source data repository with actionable business intelligence, made available in real time so decisions can be made to help control and reduce cost.
But there are a few truly global providers, like nVision Global.
“The gamut of solutions we provide includes rating and routing engines, procurement spectrum and transportation management solutions. When you combine those with our freight audit and payment provisions, our customers are empowered in many ways.” – Dave Maddox, nVision Global
nVision Global caters to multinational companies regionally or worldwide who use multiple modes of transport and want a provider capable of extensive data capture; rate card visibility; line item charge auditing; collaborative tools for dispute resolution; standardised shipment analytics; and complex charge allocation at multiple levels – as well as the ability to remit payment globally.
nVision Global’s worldwide network includes seven processing centres strategically placed to provide customer and transport provider support around the world. The company is a truly global service and technology provider, handling hundreds of millions of shipment transactions annually. Its iMpact TMS already handles in excess of $5 billion annually across six continents, in fact.
nVision Global is a leader in developing transport technology with its iMpact TMS boasting end-to-end transport contract management, global rating technology, control tower command centre capability and standardised, data-rich business intelligence. Data derived from freight invoices is consolidated in a single data warehouse, overcoming the challenges of integrating disparate versions of events that reside in various customer locations. nVision Global’s online repository, iHistorical, along with an online rate library, stores customers’ negotiated contracts, rate cards and tariffs, imaged invoices and supporting documentation to form a quintessential reference plane in the audit process.
Facilitating easy payments
Blockages in the payment pipeline are often due to discrepancies in the invoices and supporting documents submitted. Normally, the accounts payable department will reject such invoices in their entirety, causing unnecessary delay in processing payments that will severely impact on the efficiency of business activities.
nVision Global’s procedures are streamlined to accommodate such less-than-optimal submissions, however, with tools that allow auditing and remitting of payments quickly.
nVision Global’s iEntry tool allows providers to submit documents along with their invoices through a web portal in accordance with EDI, ASC X12, and EDIFACT standards. This streamlines electronic submission of invoices and documentation.
The collaborative tools provided by nVision Global bring the customer and transport provider together in an exception-based manner. In cases where iEntry cannot find an appropriate general ledger code for an invoice, the iResolution tool notifies the customer with an image of the invoice and associated details, so they can enter the right ledger code manually. Subsequently, nVision Global’s system is updated and the invoice is processed in the form of a regular purchase order.
Similarly, the company’s Collaboration tool can resolve invoice-related disputes between the client and the transport provider. In such cases, the invoice is deferred to nVision Global’s Collaboration tool, which is accessible to the customer, the transport provider and nVision Global. After the stakeholders reach a final agreement, the invoice can be easily processed without having to reject it.
nVision Global generates crucial business intelligence by capturing data elements from invoices that are submitted either electronically or manually and cleansing the data with normalisation techniques. Normalisation helps study numerous iterations of the same data element – such as the shipper’s name, which may vary across invoices – and present it as a singular entity.
Without this process, crucial, yet incorrectly articulated information may get omitted from the analysis stage, resulting in inaccuracy. Furthermore, the BI dashboard makes such data available for use, going beyond the simple task of payment processing.
The iMpact TMS business intelligence and advanced analytics and iFocus dashboards facilitate drill-down analytics of the customer’s entire transport spend, based on the invoices audited. The dashboards feature a vast array of KPIs and technologies, like the global mapping lane analysis tool, ad-hoc report writer and a transport tab. They allow customers to leverage all available actionable data and dissect their transport spend to optimise it.
A host of other products and services relating to claims processing, consulting, benchmarking, control power, weight modelling tools and packaging analysis complete the full circle of freight management for nVision Global’s clients.
“There are very few companies that can provide a high-touch localised experience to customers across the world, although many do pay lip-service to it. We believe in a truly global approach in every service we provide; and we have formed a niche for ourselves within the logistics industry.” – Keith Snavely, nVision Global
“The gamut of solutions we provide includes rating and routing engines, procurement spectrum and transportation management solutions,” says Dave Maddox, senior vice-president of global supply chain services at nVision Global. “When you combine those with our freight audit and payment provisions, our customers are empowered in many ways.”
The comprehensive nature of the company’s services also falls in line with the trend towards globalisation, and for firms to look for more than just audits, elaborate reports, and payment procedures, says Maddox. Organisations today, he says, are looking for a partner for shipment creation, tendering, audit and remit, and to code their payment in a 360-degree manner that supports their global logistics operations.
Technology built on expertise
A significant factor that helps nVision Global design its web tools is an initial survey it conducts of the customer’s logistics environment, including all negotiated contracts, rates and tariffs, general ledger account coding structures and business logic.
“Since we function like a customised shop, we have shaped our tools over the years based on recommendations received from our customers as well as their transportation providers,” says Keith Snavely, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at the company.
Following nVision Global’s initial set-up in Europe by CEO Luther Brown, it has expanded dramatically, opening centres in locations like San Jose in Costa Rica, Ningbo in China, Kolkata and New Delhi in India, and Cluj in Romania.
“There are very few companies that can provide a high-touch localised experience to customers across the world, although many do pay lip-service to it,” says Snavely. “We believe in a truly global approach in every service we provide; and we have formed a niche for ourselves within the logistics industry.”