In my last blog post, I looked at some of the pitfalls of attempting to implement automated invoicing without sorting out your procurement process and control first – tantamount, you might say, to building new housing on a floodplain. In this week’s blog post, I will look at some of the different approaches you might take to cleaning up procurement.
The methods deployed by different providers have a real impact on the success of your eInvoicing implementation. Solutions fall broadly into three categories:
- OCR scanning where paper invoices sent by suppliers are scanned and either stored as an image or converted to a data file.
- PDF capture where invoices emailed by suppliers are captured and converted into an electronic format.
- XML invoicing where the invoice is transmitted directly from the supplier’s finance system to the customer’s. Alternatively, suppliers can use a portal to create an invoice online (PO Flip) which is transmitted to accounts payable.
Organisations will find that one size does not fit all when it comes to eInvoicing and to achieve that 80% ‘lights out’ automation they need to employ multiple channels to gain better coverage of invoice capture.
Again, with a good procurement system in place eInvoicing allows for PO invoice matching rules to be set and actualised. Without PO matching eInvoicing only achieves a small fraction of the potential savings you really can achieve.
So, how can a good procurement platform solve your accounts payable challenges? It’s all about control:
- Unified supplier information management provides one source of the truth with only suppliers accredited to trade with the organisation verified onto the system and their details kept up-to-date in one place.
- Implementation of a ‘no PO, no pay’ policy can be policed through a requisitioning workflow. Importantly, this must be seamless for end users to make it a ‘no brainer’ for them to use the system rather than avoiding it.
- A contract management and catalogue solution provides procurement with control over what staff can buy and makes it easy for them to purchase from your preferred suppliers.
With advanced procurement systems organisations can achieve automated invoicing with first time order invoice match rates of over 90%. So, proper management upstream allows accounts payable to reap the benefits rather than being left to clean up after the flood.
By Dr. Jonathan Betts, Market Development Director at Science Warehouse
Jonathan has spent his career developing and marketing new technologies. As co-founder of Science Warehouse, the last 15 years have been devoted to liberating value in the procurement space. His leisure time is parsed between trail running and channelling his inner Robert Plant via a Martin D35.
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