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Automated Invoice Management – No Longer The Preserve Of Giant Multinationals

By Author: Donald Nason
Total Articles: 44

Invoice management solutions were originally seen as the preserve of the giant mega-sized corporations, the big multinationals and global conglomerates stretching around the world and criss-crossing the country with branches and offices.

However – and while these larger organisations are continuing to streamline their Accounts Payable (AP) processing with automated solutions – many other businesses are recognising the advantages of implementing an automated invoice management solution.

These are established, flourishing businesses, typically with turnovers of £30m to £500m, often independent, sometimes family-owned, and operating across a number of locations or may be based at one. From across the board industry-wise, these organisations represent a variety of markets, from retail and finance, to hospitality, manufacturing concerns, delivery and logistic companies, educational establishments, health and service providers.

The unifying factor is that these growing organisations want efficient AP processing.

The Accounts Payable department remains one of the most paper-rich and process intensive in any organisation.

Implementing an invoice management solution means those paper-based invoices can be converted to electronic form, eliminating the problems associated with processing paper – risk of loss, cumbersome storage requirements, access and security issues, plus the associated costs.

An invoice management solution also enables efficient processing of the growing number of e-invoices sent and received – currently many companies have to print these to continue processing.

Utilising an invoice management solution also means that all invoices can be processed consistently, within the same system and regardless of original format.

Invoices are automatically matched to orders and receipts, queries resolved, invoices coded accurately and authorisation completed according to business rules anywhere in the business via the internet.

Automated workflow brings further major benefits – enhanced visibility and control, alerts set to ensure deadlines are met, the automatic processing of repetitive tasks to free AP staff for more strategic work, plus the associated reduction in processing costs.

And ‘enhanced visibility and control’ are not just buzz-words. One of the major business issues facing an organisation is that of late payment – and evidence points in most cases to this resulting not from a deliberate policy but due to poor practice and inefficient and slow manual invoice processing procedures on the part of the payer.

In a report last year Bacs, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for ‘maintaining the integrity of payment related services’ stated: ‘Frustratingly, when chasing late payment, almost one in five SMEs (18 per cent) were simply told the customer had either forgotten to pay or just hadn’t got around to settling the bill.’

With calls for the government to take even more stringent action to protect businesses against late payment and toughen the government’s Prompt Payment initiative late payments are going to become an increasingly major headache for the late payers as well as those organisations owed money.

Enhanced visibility and control also helps organisations eliminate duplicate payments.

The market for invoice management solutions is definitely growing with companies also attracted by the potential to extend the benefits of document management in the AP department to other business areas, leveraging on their initial software investment.

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