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Implementing a Global Accounts Payable Help Desk


Simplifying and streamlining Accounts Payable processes is best accomplished with multiple approaches that are closely coordinated and prioritized.  For example, while getting electronic invoices from suppliers might be achievable for a large percentage of your production-related invoice volume, you may need to add portal solutions that support supplier invoice submissions as an approach to eliminate an incremental percentage of transactions that would otherwise be paper-based.  The same is true for payment status requests, with a portal solution effective for many of these inquires, and with the addition of chat-bots in combination with a help desk staffed with a skilled team who can respond to a wide range of internal and external inquiries in whatever language is required, providing a more complete solution.

Company Experience

A recent PeercastTM in our Accounts Payable (P2P) research area featured a global company with over $10B in annual revenue discussing their approach to implementing an Accounts Payable Help Desk. Prior to 2016 help desk support was outsourced with over 30,000 cases per month.  In 2016 a self-service project resulted in a supplier portal to respond to invoice status requests, which reduced inquiry volume by 60%.  As this transition took place the help desk support was pulled back in-house, and additional process and technology changes were made, including implementing a chatbot using a purchased solution from Pypestream.

iPollingTM Results Review

Peeriosity’s iPollingTM was used to provide insights into how Peeriosity member companies were implementing a help desk and the relationship that effort has with a strategy to also implement a vendor portal.  Poll results indicate that 39% have implemented a help desk and they also have a vendor portal.   An additional 15% indicate they have a help desk but do not have a vendor portal.  Of the remaining 46%, there are 15% haven’t reached a decision, 8% haven’t considered the idea, and 23% had a help desk in the past, but no longer consider it necessary because of their vendor portal strategy.

global accounts payable helpdesk implementation status

The second polling question asked about the biggest challenge with having an Accounts Payable help desk, and while the accuracy of responses and vendors wanting to have a dedicated point of contact were the top two, for 36% it was difficult to pick a single response, with a number of challenges that exist.  Here are the details:

biggest challenge you face with your AP Call center

A few of the comments from members include:

  • The challenges are all of them really, but also time zone, language requirements, and ongoing turnover of staff. Finally, the cost was huge, and the portal managed to reduce 60% of the queries, and for the remaining, we offer live chat + BOT, reducing effort and cost dramatically.
  • The greatest challenge is the amount of time it takes to close the loop on issue resolution.
  • Internal customers want to have someone to talk to, but we are moving more to email interaction within an SLA or self-service on the portal.
  • We are in the process of transitioning the help desk from an internal to an external outsourcing vendor hence we have a transition risk in addition to all other points mentioned above.
  • We have several of these challenges, not just one. Time zones and language are two additional challenges.
  • The volume of queries results in our team members often rushing through responses and not being as clear as they could be.

Closing Summary

Simplifying and streamlining Accounts Payable processes is best accomplished with multiple approaches. When designing processes to respond to customer inquiries many Peeriosity member companies are finding that having an advanced Accounts Payable help desk is an important component, even when an advanced portal solution has also been implemented. 

Does your company utilize a portal solution for Accounts Payable, plus a help desk solution?  If you have a help desk, what automation software or case tracking tools are you using?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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