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Lose Overpayment, Not Invoices

By Expert Author: Donald Nason

Losing fewer invoices is one of the biggest benefits to come from eliminating paper from the Accounts Payable (AP) department, according to a recent report from PayStream Advisers.

‘Data Capture for Accounts Payable - Transforming Documents into Business Ready Data’ publishes the results of a survey completed by 300 AP professionals, with 31 percent highlighting reducing the amount of lost invoices as a major gain.

Recent years have seen an increasing move to electronic invoicing in the public and private sector, and across industry and markets.

Nevertheless, and again as PayStream Advisers report, 52 percent of business-to-business invoices still arrive in paper format – and that’s a considerable amount of paper to handle when you consider the volume of invoices sent and received annually. The Networked Economy puts this number in Europe transferring between business and governments alone at 3.2 billion, and estimates that of these 20 percent are electronic invoices. That means, though, that 2.56 billion paper invoices are still flying around Europe every year.

That’s an awful lot of lost invoice potential.

Document capture via scanning, OCR (optical character recognition) technology driven data capture and automated workflow can eliminate this risk. Safely captured and stored electronically, there is no chance of physically mislaying the invoice, or of ‘losing’ it during processing through transposition error – and seamless integration with line of business and third party systems removes the need for manual data entry and keying into those systems.

Automating brings a number of other benefits to the AP department.
In their publication ‘From the Shadows to the Forefront - AP Automation and the Strategic Vision’ the research and analysis organization Aberdeen Group reports on a survey of 100 financial services executives, and who put difficulty with finding and managing paper documents as the lead issue facing AP departments. PayStream Advisers mark out quicker approval of invoices, increased employee productivity and lower processing costs among the major benefits.

Recent blogs have focused on a number of occasions on how an invoice management solution can help organisations eliminate late payments – partly because there’s so much in the press at the moment about the government’s initiatives to crackdown on late payers, but also because eliminating late payments is a requirement which crops up time and again in AP departments.

And eliminating duplicate payments is another major advantage to follow from automating. Whether due to genuine mistake or fraud, overpayment is a major headache for many organisations – it’s reckoned that almost a quarter overpay. The information services company Experian estimates that councils waste up to £147 million a year through paying bills more than once.

Through removing paper from the system and automating processing, many of the issues which can lead to payments being made more than once are also removed:
• duplicate invoice validation using a combination of key data values, purchase order (PO) matching and online coding and authorisation for non-PO invoices regulated by defined, enforced business processes means duplicate invoices are rejected and routed for resolution;
• alerts ensure discrepancies are resolved within the credit term and 24/7 access from anywhere in the organisation means queries are settled quickly;
• BI (business intelligence) tools can identify duplicate supplier records;
• and as invoices are ready for payment faster with data automatically posted to the finance system, there’s much less chance of receiving re-issued invoices.

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