Supply chain friction costs businesses 6,500 hours a year

Businessman on the phone

The average UK business loses £88,725 per year through clunky payment practices causing friction in their supply chain, according to new research by Tungsten Network. This equates to almost 6,500 man hours chasing purchase order numbers, processing paper invoices and responding to supplier enquiries.

Businesses estimate they spend on average per week around 55 hours doing manual, paper-based processes and checks; 39 hours chasing invoice exceptions, discrepancies and errors and 23 hours responding to supplier enquiries. They also spend five hours on compliance-related challenges such as handling international taxes and 3 hours tackling invoice fraud.

‘Numerous processes in the financial world remain cumbersome and time consuming when they needn’t be. Technology means we can do away with the tiresome and menial tasks that clog business work streams and instead boost productivity and efficiency. It is surprising that in this tech enabled day and age businesses are still spending so many hours per week managing a process that could be automated.’ – Rick Hurwitz, Tungsten Network CEO

The sources of friction identified by the report amount to 125 hours per business per week or 6,500 hours per year. When multiplied by the average hourly UK pay (£13.65) this means UK businesses are losing as much as £88,725 a year resolving payment issues.

When surveyed, the top five friction factors were named as:

    • High proportion of paper invoices received
    • Too many non-PO based invoices
    • High volume of supplier enquiries regarding invoice or payment status
    • Lack of automated exceptions
    • Lack of automated approval

Understandably given the wasted money and man power, 36% of businesses state that removing friction from the payment process is a top priority for 2017. However, a full 20% state it is not a priority at all – perhaps an indication that the scale and cost of the problem is largely unseen.


ZenOffice Corporate offers customers a consultative sales approach and provides a range of business solutions, all from one place. Driven by our customers behaviour, we find that Purchasing Managers are streamlining their businesses and focusing on driving down cost by rationalising their supply chain.

Learn more about our Corporate Team and how they can help your business make hard and soft cost savings here.

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