Invoice Automation

Most firms now send and receive invoices and payment receipts in digital formats, such as scanned PDF images, text documents, or invoice templates based on Excel. Businesses utilize invoice processing automation software to assist their accounts payable procedures by automatically paying supplier invoices. Invoice processing automation entails taking invoice data from a system and smoothly integrating it into your ERP or accounts payable system, allowing you to make payments in minutes. The accounts payable department is in charge of invoice processing. The typical process entails inputting invoice data regularly, printing paper invoices, matching purchase orders, and filing indefinitely. It’s a cumbersome procedure that contributes to an inefficient workplace. Invoices are received through the mail, fax, email, and other methods. A digital invoice is a part of the workflow automation process. From receipt to delivery, technology transforms corporate operations, including invoice administration. By utilizing automation, a corporation may speed up the payables process. When the accounting department receives a supplier’s invoice, the conventional technique of invoice document management begins. It has been matched and authorized at this stage. Additional approval is usually required if the invoice is for a substantial sum. Automated invoicing gets straight to the point. When an invoice arrives, it is scanned and entered into a digital accounting system. This type of data capture (also known as invoice capture) eliminates hours of data entering by hand. The invoice automation programme will subsequently convert the data into a text-searchable document.

What is the significance of invoice automation?

We’ve seen firms deprioritize invoice processing automation since the whole invoice management process is now digital. Despite the fact that the entire process is almost entirely computerized, a significant amount of physical exertion remains. Invoices, extracted data, and payments are all digital in the pre-automation process, yet it takes just as long as a wholly analogue process. Manual labour in digital processes is a prevalent problem since businesses have concentrated on digitizing processes rather than automating them. However, as businesses focus on automating repetitive tasks, this is changing. Robotic Process Automation is mostly used to accomplish this.

Procedure for Automated Invoice Processing:

Software for automated invoice processing must perform a 3-way match between a purchase order, invoices received against the order, and receipts generated against the order. Each of these documents has a distinct number that must be matched with the others. An example of an automated invoice processing flow is as follows:

  • Examine current procedures.

You aim to figure out how you now handle invoices, what bottlenecks and delays you have, and how much it costs. You will most likely identify ways to enhance your present practices even in the near run. Find out how invoicing is handled in your organization right now. Where do they arrive? What route do they use to reach Accounts Payable (AP)? What methods are used to validate and code them? What percentage of your mail is received electronically rather than on paper? 

  • Invoice handling should be centralized.

Consider creating a centralized or shared invoicing management solution. Inform your suppliers that all invoices should be sent to your AP department, and enforce the procedure. Implement a common method for capturing invoices in an electronic format. Begin with a simple document scanning and indexing procedure. Then, use a uniform strategy and centralized electronic file system to expedite your manual approval procedure if you need to record invoices in numerous locations.

  • Create consistency in rules and practices.

Your main objective is to make it clear how invoices should be handled by your company. This will help you better understand your present manual processes and plan for automating your rules and procedures. Define and record standard rules and processes for processing PO and non-PO bills, such as checks for duplication and mathematical integrity, matching criteria and tolerances, discrepancy resolution workflow, dispute and approval workflow, etc. Also, keep a record of your rules for working capital management.

  • Automate

Once you’ve set your rules, processes, and controls, you’re ready to automate. You’re now ready to choose and deploy a technological solution that includes the automation aspects specified in the previous section. The most crucial item to set up first is a single “processing engine” that will allow you to automate your validation and coding, matching, discrepancy resolution, payment authorization, and reporting and analysis policies and processes. You aim to process as many invoices as possible “straight-through” with little or no human intervention and make the discrepancy resolution procedure as simple as feasible. You may then focus on progressively enhancing the front-end capture process once that capability is in place. 

  • Make self-service available to suppliers.

Because all invoices are processed electronically, it’s a simple matter to provide status information to suppliers via a secure self-service Internet interface. You aim to reduce the time AP staff spends on the phone addressing supplier queries about where their invoice is in the process and when they will be paid.

  • Request early payment reductions regularly.

Because you’ll be able to process invoices much faster, you’ll be able to take advantage of any early payment discounts your suppliers may provide. You might want to start asking for similar discount terms when you negotiate new contracts, in addition to present chances. Once you’ve gotten a grasp on invoice processing, it might save you a lot of money in the long run.

  • Make the most of data to improve your sourcing.

Your ultimate aim is to give your procurement team knowledge and timely payment performance, allowing them to generate even more value from suppliers over time.

  • Automate invoice capture one step at a time.

Once you’ve automated your back-end invoice processing, you may focus on developing even more effective ways to record invoices on the front end. This can be accomplished in stages by establishing electronic invoices with your larger clients or through trade networks and/or by adding features to your supplier portal such as invoice submission or “PO Flip.” These ways will become more efficient if invoices are moved into automated invoice processing. Even after you’ve realized the high cost and time benefits of automated invoice processing, your aim here is to continue to reduce invoice capture costs and time.