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What is Automated Invoice Processing?

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The automated invoice automates data extraction from invoices, validation, and data entry into a database, allowing businesses to streamline their accounts payable operations. Automating invoice processing solves this problem by improving turnaround times and data quality by decreasing the time spent processing invoices directly connected to the business’s finances. Even though processing invoices is a time-consuming task, it must be addressed because it is directly related to the business’s finances.

So what is automated invoice processing, and how does it work? In this informative piece, we provide comprehensive answers to both questions and delve into additional relevant details. Without further ado, let’s proceed and explore the topic in depth.

What is automated invoice processing?

Automated Invoice Processing is an innovative solution designed to optimize accounts payable procedures by automating invoice processing. This cutting-edge system not only expedites invoice handling but also seamlessly integrates with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, ensuring meticulous digital record-keeping. Its primary objective is to significantly minimize the time-consuming manual processing of invoices while simultaneously mitigating the risk of human errors.

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How Does Automation Improve Invoice Processing?

How does automated invoice processing  steamline business operations? Enhancement of invoice management – Even if your company deals with a small number of invoices per month, implementing software for automated receipt and invoice management can support business growth and simplify the invoice processing procedure. The entire accounts payable process can be streamlined by utilizing automated software for AP invoice management, all while maintaining accuracy.

1. Reduction of manual data entry

One common step in the approval process for accounts payable is manually entering invoice data into the accounting system. This manual process is prone to errors and oversights, making it inefficient. According to a 2020 Payables Insight Report by Coupa, 51% of companies consider manual data entry and inefficient processes as the most significant challenges in a manual AP process. Automation of invoice processing allows users to create dynamic forms that automatically populate the accounting systems, significantly reducing the margin of error in data entry.

2. Automation of 3-way matching

The 3-way matching process is vital in invoice processing, as it helps detect fraud and prevent duplication. The accounts payable process is susceptible to payment scams and other fraudulent schemes. Accurate invoice matching assists in avoiding instances of AP fraud. Automated invoice processing improves the speed and accuracy of 3-way matching and integrates with the accounting system to identify discrepancies and prevent malpractices.

3. Automated routing of invoices for review and approval

In an automated invoice system, the review, approval, and resolution of exceptions are automatically directed to the appropriate manager. Automating the invoicing process establishes a streamlined workflow that routes invoices to the designated manager and generates alerts and notifications in case of delays in approval. Invoicing automation ensures that all invoices are approved and paid on time.

4. Centralization of records

Automated invoice processing software typically includes an electronic document management system (EDMS) that offers centralized access to accounting data and documents. Centralized document management simplifies the retrieval of required files. Employees can be allocated role-specific access privileges to safeguard and protect confidential financial information.

5. Performance improvement

An efficient invoice automation system enables procurement teams to capitalize on early payment discounts. Automation software provides an intuitive dashboard for real-time tracking of key metrics across workflows, facilitating identifying and promptly resolving process bottlenecks. Resolving bottlenecks expedites the approval process and maximizes the capture of payment discounts.

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A Brief Overview of the Invoice Processing Workflow

The responsibility of handling invoice processing lies with the accounts payable department. When vendors provide goods or services, they generate an invoice containing payment details. These invoices are formal requests requiring verification, approval, and allocation to the appropriate GL (General Ledger) account before being prepared for payment processing.

The accounts payable department must adhere to compliance regulations while verifying, approving, and assigning GL account codes. Efficient and accurate invoice processing is crucial for maintaining strong vendor relationships.

Invoice processing encompasses the monitoring and payment of supplier invoices. This process involves a series of steps that occur from creating a supplier record to the final payment and entry in the accounts ledger.

Whether an invoice is received via email, PDF, or as an electronic invoice (e-invoice), the information must be scanned into the accounting system. Once scanned, the invoice undergoes a specific workflow and payment procedure.

The invoice processing workflow generally involves the following steps:

1. Receipt of Invoice

Upon receiving the invoice, the team will validate whether the product or service has been acquired. They will compare the invoiced amount with the amount mentioned in the original purchase order. If there are any discrepancies, they must be resolved with the vendor before proceeding with invoice approval.

2. Invoice Approval

Once the invoice details align with the purchase order and the goods received note, it will be forwarded for approval following the company’s policies.

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3. Invoice Payments

Approved invoices are forwarded for payment according to the agreed-upon terms with the vendor. Some vendors offer early payment incentives to buyers who settle the invoice within 10 days of issuance.

Implementing a well-established workflow for invoice processing enhances the efficiency of the accounts payable department, enabling them to swiftly and accurately handle invoices. The invoice processing procedure encompasses the following stages:

  • The accounting department verifies the invoice, captures essential details, and enters the data into the system, including payable amount, payee information, payment terms, and itemized costs.
  • The 3-way matching process ensures invoice accuracy by aligning data from purchase orders, goods received notes, and invoices to prevent fraudulent or duplicate submissions.
  • Approved invoices follow company policies, routing to relevant personnel such as procurement managers and accounts payable teams based on predetermined thresholds.
  • Invoices that exhibit discrepancies in the amount compared to the purchase order or goods received note are sent back to the vendor or the appropriate stakeholder for rectification.
  • The invoice is paid based on the terms and conditions specified in the purchase order or vendor contract. The chosen mode of payment is typically determined during the drafting of the vendor contract or purchase order.
  • The accounts payable team processes payments, requiring necessary information like total amount, payee details, payment references, and accepted methods, with final data recorded and archived in ledgers.

Many steps involved in invoice processing can be effectively automated using AP invoice automation software. This software ensures prompt invoice payments and accurate utilization of vendor discounts.

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Key Benefits of Automated Invoice Processing

What are the key benefits of automated invoice processing? Regardless of the nature of a business, invoice processing plays a crucial role in its operations. Whether it involves paying manufacturers for raw materials, wholesalers for products, or vendors for services rendered, an efficient invoice processing system is essential for ensuring timely payments and fostering strong vendor relationships.

Automated invoice processing presents numerous benefits to businesses, as outlined below:

1. Minimized Manual Data Entry

Robust invoice processes rely on e-invoices or the conversion of paper-based invoices into electronic format. With automated invoice systems, the need for manual data entry into accounting systems is eliminated. Document management software scans invoices and extracts data more efficiently and accurately than manual entries performed by accounting teams. This reduction in manual entries enhances the accuracy of accounting systems and saves time for the accounting team.

2. Enhanced Reliability in Invoice Verification

In instances where accounting teams face heavy workloads and time constraints, the review and approval of invoices may sometimes be rushed through the process. By automating invoice processing, the entire accounting team gains immediate access to invoice-related information, enabling easy, swift, and accurate authorization of payments. An automated invoice processing system automatically verifies and validates invoices based on pre-established business rules. The routing of invoices is also handled automatically within the automated system.

3. Convenient Information Accessibility

Automating invoice processing enables accounting managers and staff to promptly find answers to any questions they may have regarding invoices. All the necessary information and data pertaining to invoices can be easily retrieved and displayed at any time and from any location. Automation improves the flow of information and facilitates access to it. Employees can retrieve information or approve invoices using any device, from anywhere, and at any time.

4. Streamlined Workflows

Automated workflows allow teams to establish rule-based processes that guide invoices through the appropriate steps toward payment. Rule-driven workflows ensure that invoices are routed to the correct person based on the invoice value. For instance, invoices amounting to $100 for office supplies do not need to be routed to the CFO for review and approval, whereas a $10,000 invoice for new office equipment would require sign-off from the CFO or CPOs.

5. Capitalizing on Early Payment Discounts

Many vendors offer early payment discounts to buyers. By implementing strong invoice processing practices, companies can take full advantage of these early payment discounts. Automated invoices are processed faster, enabling businesses to access early payment discounts. Saving money through these discounts translates into increased earnings for the business.

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6. Reduced Effort and Time for Audit Preparation

Finance and accounting departments must consistently adhere to the company’s policies and comply with industry regulations and standards. An automated invoice processing system ensures that data and invoices are captured and stored in an easily accessible system. Additionally, the data format aligns with finance and accounting policies and regulations. By automating operations, accounting teams are always prepared for audits.

7. Enhanced Scalability

Technology-driven invoice processing is better equipped to handle the evolving needs of growing businesses. As business operations expand, the volume of invoices requiring processing increases proportionally. The right AP invoice automation software enables businesses to easily scale up to higher volumes without the need to hire additional AP staff.

8. Substantial Cost Savings

Invoice automation provides several avenues for cost reduction. Firstly, it minimizes the human effort required in invoice processing. AP staff spend less time on routine tasks in invoice processing, allowing them to focus on activities that contribute to improved productivity. Increased productivity leads to cost savings. Automating invoice processing also results in digital invoices, reducing costs associated with paperwork. Managing vendor early payment discounts is easier by facilitating timely payments through automated invoice processing. These cost savings can translate into significant business benefits on a larger scale.

9. Decreased Business Risk

Automated invoice processing incorporates customized access controls and digital data security, enhancing audit compliance. The risk of misplaced or missing documents is mitigated through automated invoice processing.

10. Improved Visibility

Replacing manual workflows with digital accounting workflows enhances visibility throughout the process. Management can monitor business processes in real time, enabling data-driven decision-making.

11. Enhanced Vendor Relationship Management

Automated invoice processing simplifies the task of maintaining strong and healthy vendor relationships. In an automated system, relevant information is readily available within seconds. Payment alerts and notifications issued to stakeholders ensure vendor payments are made on time. Timely payments also contribute to building trust-based vendor relationship management.

12. Positive Environmental Impact

Reducing paperwork helps decrease the carbon footprint, leading to a positive impact on the environment. Automated invoice processing minimizes the need for paper storage and transportation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, automated invoice processing revolutionizes how businesses handle invoicing operations. The power of technology can be harnessed by organizations to streamline their invoice workflows, reduce manual errors, increase efficiency, and improve vendor relations. The benefits are plentiful, from minimized data entry to increased visibility and cost savings. Furthermore, automated invoice processing promotes environmental sustainability by reducing paper usage. Embracing this innovative solution saves time and resources and empowers businesses to focus on growth and strategic decision-making. So, unlock the potential of automated invoice processing and pave the way for a future of streamlined financial operations and business success.

FAQs

Yes, automated invoice processing systems are designed to handle various invoice formats, including paper-based invoices, scanned documents, and electronic invoices in different file formats.

Automated invoice processing systems prioritize data security and implement robust security measures to protect sensitive information during the invoice processing cycle.

Yes, most automated invoice processing solutions offer seamless integration with popular accounting systems, ensuring smooth data flow between the invoice processing software and your accounting software.

Automated invoice processing minimizes human error by automating data extraction and validation processes, significantly reducing the chances of manual entry mistakes or data inconsistencies.

Automated invoice processing systems are designed to handle high invoices efficiently, improving scalability and productivity for businesses dealing with large invoice volumes.

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