Invoice Processing: What is holding you back?

Charlotte Sutton
Charlotte Sutton,
In Part 1, we explored the scope and objectives for invoice processing, and provided a very ‘rough cut’ estimate of what you could potentially save by improving the process
What is holding you back from better performance?
When you talk with your AP manager, see if you hear comments like:
  • “The great majority of invoices come in on paper via regular mail; we spend hours every day just opening envelopes and putting invoices in piles for processing.”
  • “We’ve actually improved from where we were a couple of years ago because we now scan them into our document handling system. That helps, but a clerk still needs to process and enter each one.”
  • “Even for straightforward invoices, it just takes time to find the PO, visually match the invoice to it, and verify the item or service that was actually received.”
  • “When there’s no PO it can take a lot of research to find out who ordered whatever it is we’re being charged for.”
  • “Even when there is a PO, it often takes days or even weeks of emails and calls to run down the person who made the purchase to make sure they got what was invoiced.”
  • “When there are discrepancies, it takes a lot of time and effort to gather what paperwork we have, get it to the buyer and supplier, and resolve the issue.”
  • “We take our job very seriously, but we have to admit that we sometimes just go ahead and pay some invoices without ever getting firm confirmation that they are valid – we just don’t have the time to run every single invoice down.”
  • “Keep in mind… processing invoices is not all we do. We spend a lot of time answering calls and emails from suppliers asking for the status of their invoice. When we get behind, that gets especially bad. And people can get pretty angry sometimes.”
Discuss what tools and capabilities you have today?

Below is a simple checklist of the tools and capabilities organisations focus on to improve performance. Do you have these in place?
  • Do you have a way to automate invoice data capture and coding?
  • Do you have the ability to process a high percentage of invoices ‘straight through’ to authorisation – i.e. automatically matched with PO and receipt with no human involvement?
  • The ability to automatically and electronically route invoices with discrepancies to the purchaser for resolution?
  • The ability to process invoices quickly enough that you can consistently take early payment discounts when you’d like to?
  • The ability to offer suppliers self-service online account status enquiry?
  • The ability to accept invoices in electronic form with no manual steps at all?
  • Ways to get more suppliers to submit electronic invoices?
Consider taking action…

If you have all of these tools and capabilities today, congratulations – you have the tools you need to efficiently process invoices! If not, you have a lot of opportunity for savings. Learn more at PROACTIS AP Automation to find a wealth of document and tools you can use to develop a more in depth assessment and strategy in this area. 
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