As a business’s shipping needs expand, it can become increasingly hard to keep track of freight invoices, payment orders (POs), and all the other necessary documents that pass between a shipper and carrier on a daily basis. The trouble is, a lot of this paperwork is just that—paper. And paper has a nasty habit of gumming up the wheels of the accounting department. This can make it difficult for shippers to maintain data integrity, slowing down payments and potentially hurting relationships with carriers.
Implementing a zero paper policy can help shippers boost compliance and cut down the endless queue of invoice exceptions clogging up their accounting department. But many may be hesitant to implement such a policy, especially if they work with a lot of smaller carriers. While most mid- to large-size carriers already comply with electronic data interchange (EDI) requirements that allow for the seamless digital exchange of information, smaller operations are less likely to be compliant. And since mom-and-pop carriers are often necessary for remote deliveries, shippers may not want to risk losing these channels by adopting a zero paper policy.
While these concerns are valid, shippers can embrace the benefits of 100% electronic shipping and zero paper and keep working with non-EDI compliant carriers. How? The answer lies within their transportation management system (TMS).
Harnessing online data entry
The first step to achieving 100% electronic shipping is making sure the infrastructure is in place to support it. That will involve ensuring the shipper has deployed a TMS equipped with online data entry (ODE) capabilities.
ODE makes it possible for all invoices to be submitted electronically through a single, company-wide web portal. The system automatically gathers all the necessary data elements to validate invoices, including freight cost details and the PO and maps bill of lading records for quick matching.
Of course, this will only work if non-EDI compliant carriers are able to enter the web portal and submit invoices directly through it. The system should then automatically audit the invoice with the same validations applied to electronic versions.
Ensuring full compliance
In order for this new process to stick, every carrier a shipper works with must be on board and understand what’s expected of them. Enforcing a zero paper policy but making an exception for one or two carriers who prefer to submit paper invoices will only lead to more accounting snarls down the line.
To help non-EDI compliant carriers feel comfortable, shippers need to focus on educating them, both on the benefits of electronic shipping processes and the ease of using the system. Making the business case for a zero paper policy—like the fact that it will lead to a significant increase in on-time payments—can help strengthen the partnership and let carriers know that a shipper has their best interests in mind. And by taking the time to show non-EDI compliant carriers how to submit their invoices through the system, shippers will see an immediate uptick in compliance, saving time down the line.
Electronic shipping, easy operations
It’s not just carriers that benefit from electronic shipping processes. By streamlining the accounting and auditing process, shippers can see a dramatic decrease in exceptions—leading to massive savings.
CTSI-Global’s industry-leading TMS and freight audit and pay solutions with ODE make it easy for companies to go paperless, no matter how many non-EDI compliant carriers they work with. Plus, our easy-to-use web portal ensures all carriers can bid competitively within a unified system—allowing shippers to quickly identify the best rates.
Leave paper invoices where they belong—in the past. Contact CTSI-Global today to find out more.