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What is Automated Invoice Processing and Why Do I Need It?

Rachel Tilley Author: Rachel Tilley

The challenges around document security, audits, approvals and data extraction to name a few, can all be simplified with accounts payable invoice processing software.

What You’ll Learn

Learn more about the challenges faced by Finance Departments with our Ultimate Guide to Automated Invoice Processing. Read how automation will help your organisation move away from disjointed, error prone, manual processes.

With invoices captured and stored digitally, information is readily available to those with authorised access, speeding up processing times and reducing the stress of month end for staff.

What is Automated Invoice Processing?

Invoice processing is the complete process an accounts payable team carries out to handle supplier invoices on behalf of an organisation. Invoices are received via paper, email or PDF, entered into an ERP or accounting software, coded and assigned to specific cost centres or projects, reviewed, approved, paid and added to a general ledger.

Invoice processing has multiple steps, each one needing to be fulfilled correctly before the next one can take place. More often than not, manual and paper based processes are error prone, slow and offer little or no visibility as to where a payment is up to.

Automating the accounts payable process with invoice processing software removes the manual steps and offers organisations greater control and reduced risk.

How Automated Invoice Processing Works

With automated invoice processing you can strengthen the complete invoice process. Invoice information is captured into processing software from either a network connected scanner, directly from email or drag and dropped from your desktop.

Machine Learning

Research shows that there are about 2-5 errors for every 40 characters typed during manual entry. Source_ IDC-1

With machine learning technology the most important information from an invoice, such as customer name, Invoice Number, Tax and Total amount are accurately captured and turned into structured usable data.

Document layouts are remembered so each capture leads to increased speed, precision and reliability. Any corrections are rectified by a user with a simple point and click on the document.

Over 80% of invoices are captured correctly in under a minute, dramatically speeding up the process compared with those using manual data entry.

Workflow

Once an invoice is in the system a workflow starts where it is checked for duplicates, followed by a check against existing supplier records. If a supplier does not yet exist, an automatic supplier on-boarding process starts.

Approvals

From here invoices are moved for approval which can be carried out in full by the system, or with some user checks in place. This is down to individual business preference.Approval Management 300x175

Invoices can be automatically approved for payment if it’s a repeat supplier, if a three way match occurs with an invoice, PO and delivery note, or if the amount is within a cost centre approval limit. For anything outside of this automated process the system seeks further validation from the appropriate user.

All approvers will be added into the system and where an approval is needed at any stage in the workflow, a notification is sent to the user about a pending invoice in their task list.

All tasks align with the due date of an invoice. Should a user be on holiday and the task is not complete, it is moved to the next authorised person in the workflow.

Exceptions

Invoices that are rejected for any reason will kick start a separate workflow and follow the designated path designed on implementation of the system. Throughout the entire process data is collected and once complete, this information can be fed into accounting systems.

Features of a Good Invoice Processing Software

For an organisation to reap the rewards of automated invoice processing software, certain features will be more beneficial than others. If giving staff the time to do more meaningful tasks while reducing the stress of month end is a priority, then a system with the following features will be important:

Integration Streamlines Processes

Integration with your existing ERP or accounting system will be invaluable to completely streamline your accounts payable process.

With DocTech solutions, a user can manage financial documents stored in DocuWare from within their existing accounts software, whether that’s Sage, OpenAccounts, Quickbooks, Microsoft Dynamics and many more.

Email Management Ensures no Information is Lost

If your organisation receives the bulk of its invoices via email but staff struggle to manage them, work from a shared inbox or have to manually move emails into desktop folders to be actioned, then you need a system that connects with Outlook.Email Management_DocTech

Dedicated email folders can be monitored where emails are automatically stored into DocuWare and a workflow started with no manual input at all. Integrating emails into an invoice process saves time and ensures all information in the email is captured and available to all team members.

Emails sat in an inbox waiting to be actioned, or worse lost, slow down the accounts payable process which can lead to late invoice payments.

Visibility and Control means Nothing is Overlooked.

With increased visibility into accounts payable and accounts receivable, your finance team can closely monitor billing discrepancies and payment terms. Electronic payment reminders can ensure nothing is missed.

Coupled with this, the time spent preparing for an audit is reduced as all documents are indexed and easily accessible. DocuWare also provides a full audit trail to show who has accessed what document and when, meeting compliance requirements.

Why Your Organisation Needs Automated Invoice Processing

If out-dated, paper based or manual processes are giving you more problems than they are solving then it’s time to look at automating your invoice process.

The supplier on-boarding process can be a nightmare for many, assessing compliance and risks, collecting company information and integrating them into your supply chain. An invoicing system should be able to check if a supplier already exists and if not, start an automated on-boarding process which generates a form for them to fill in.

A mounting pile of paperwork is why many organisations turn to a digital invoicing system. When processes can no longer cope with the volume of documents created or when physical storage space is limited, making the move to a digital solution will help.

Data stored on paper or across inboxes offer very little security, and cannot be easily searched or organised. If employees are having difficulty simply finding invoices then things need to change. They’re wasting paid hours and time that could be spent on meaningful reporting or other strategic tasks.

Invoice fraud isn’t just something that affects the big players.  It’s one of the most common types of fraud an organisation can experience.Invoice Fraud_DocTech

Whether it’s scammers issuing fake invoices from a fake company or a supplier sending duplicate invoices so you pay twice, manual checks may only spot this when it’s too late. Invoice processing software can flag an invoice from an unknown supplier and check for duplicates before payment is made.

In Summary

There can be many pitfalls when manually processing invoices and a number of factors management should consider.

  • How long are invoicing processing times and how often do late payment charges occur?
  • Is your business information secure, who has access to what documentation and what can they do with it?
  • How much money is wasted on paper, printing and physical storage, alongside paid hours of staff held up by poor processes?
  • Can your processes easily scale up for future growth?

Uncertainty in any of these areas means staff become demoralised and the competition moves ahead.

DocTech offer a free discovery call - talk with one of our experts, discuss the problems faced by your Finance team and understand the improvements we can make.

Our experience with organisations exactly like yours is why our clients trust us with their most important documents.

Contact us now for more information 0161 647 7040

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