Earlier this month it was my pleasure to moderate a very lively and insightful panel at the Institute of Financial Operations’ conference in Toronto, Canada. Lavante hosted the panel discussion, bringing together leaders from the AP community representing The Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Lafarge North America, RIM, and Telus. Panelists focused on Transforming AP through Technology & Automation, with two topics spurring considerable attention and discussion:

Statement Audits: There was considerable interest in the presentation by one panelist who presented how automating the statement audit process using Lavante Recovery has delivered a steady stream of credit recoveries, beyond what was anticipated – in the first year over 1% of auditable spend was recovered. He covered how his company had moved from an inherited manual/paper based system to Lavante‚Äôs automated, web-based solution, which has provided seamless access to results through the online web portal. Lavante’s ability to automatically connect to and audit the breadth of suppliers vs. a smaller subset that a traditional recovery process would target, had an added benefit of improving communications and the overall relationship with vendors.

This focus on the importance of supplier relationships spilled over into the next hot topic the panel uncovered:

Supplier Management Portal: The need for an easy, transparent way to connect with suppliers and improve the supplier service function was another hot discussion topic. There were several presentations focused on this topic. One presenter focused on the process now underway to implement a vendor portal to the organization, leading with the findings that internal development of a supplier management portal would be cost prohibitive. Important issues in selecting a vendor were identified as: data integrity, eliminating duplicate vendors, and maintaining an accurate active vendor file. Ease of use, workflow approvals, and an increased turn-around time for approvals were also important elements cited. Questions about what incentives would drive vendors to join the network centered on the benefits vendors would enjoy and the possibilities of customizing the approaches for different types of providers.

I applaud the conference organizers (this was the first IFO conference in Toronto) in including this along with many other technology-oriented sessions at the event. Thank you to all of the panelists and audience members for a thought-provoking session. And, please check our website for more information about Lavante Recovery.