To my mind, it seems absurd that one organization selling products or services to another submits a printed paper invoice via their billing system and an employee at the purchasing company manually enters the same invoice into their accounts payable system. Not only is this an inefficient and expensive exercise, but it is totally eco-unfriendly!

Before being keyed into the accounts payable system, the invoice must be verified as accurate and allocated to the relevant cost center or project. This normally involves passing the paper invoice to the relevant person or persons for approval and allocation.

This situation is doubly dangerous if the clients of the receiving organization agree to have services purchased on their behalf included on their bills. These are often called “disbursements” or “client costs.” A delay in processing the incoming invoices would result in these not being recharged on the client bill, requiring them to be written off and regarded as internal operating costs. This turns potential revenue into a loss and comes straight off the bottom line.

There is invoice approval software available now that automates the processing of incoming invoices, including the receiving, coding, approval and posting to the accounts payable system. Invoices are either scanned or received electronically. This immediately provides visibility of the liability whilst it is being processed, allowing it to be tracked through the approval routing process around the organization.

Policy compliance can be ensured systematically by matching invoices against purchase order requests, which prevents unexpected “rogue” invoices from entering the process. Approvals are obtained via simple emails, allowing approvers to work whilst mobile and eliminating bottlenecks.

Ultimately, computers will communicate directly with each other, submitting and receiving invoices automatically. In the meantime, invoice management systems with sophisticated workflow routing rules provide modern companies with greater efficiency and accuracy in resource usage. This cost cutting achieves the austerity necessary in the current economic climate by leveraging innovative technology.

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