Fitting in with other people's system

Company payment systems are a minefield. Each will have its own foibles and you need to get your head round each and every one of them to get paid promptly.

People can be important. Within each organisation there is someone with the power to make things work efficiently – you need to identify that person and work with them to ensure you get paid on time. There is sometimes so substitute for charm and good manners in the battle to get paid. There may be times when you will need to be firm with them if there have been problems – having been charming and polite before then will emphasise your seriousness.

For some firms you will first need to become an approved supplier and have filled in forms and provided your bank details for scrutiny. Don’t fear this. It may indicate a high level of efficiency and identify a person you can speak to in order to check their invoicing and payment system (but not necessarily).

You need to find out:

  • Where to invoice
  • Who to invoice
  • Details to include: a description or date of work done, a purchase order number, a reference)
  • In what format they accept invoices (by post, email, as a PDF or Word document)
  • By when they need invoices to be included in the next, or relevant, payment run (some companies only make payments on fixed dates each month)
  • Who they need to approve or sign-off your invoices (you may need to chase them too or get them an invoice before they leave for their holiday)
  • How payment will be made (cheque, cash, bank transfer)

Always invoice on time, accurately and to the correct person(s) responsible in the format they require, using purchase order numbers or any other references necessary.

Chase up within a few days to ensure the invoice has been received, is in the correct format and is being processed. If you know it needs to be approved by a named individual chase them politely too.

Chase up the invoice a few days ahead of the due date or a few days ahead of the company’s payment run to make sure your payment is being included. Be firm but polite in your insistence that you be paid on time.

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