20. August 2018

7 step guide to best practice invoice approval

7 step guide to best practice invoice approval

Over the course of the last twenty years, we’ve seen how businesses can leverage captured information from documents and use that information to improve processes across the organisation, particularly in the area of invoice approval.

In many organisations, invoice approval remains one of the most manual processes. Despite organisations of all size implementing some elements of digital transformation, invoice approval remains a complex process exacerbated by multiple approvers, ad-hoc POs, manual input and integration to accounting systems.

Below details, step by step, the best practice for invoice approval; a practice which Inpute have implemented for clients of all sizes, across all industries. Compare your processes to our suggested best practice to see how your department can benefit from intelligent data capture and workflow solutions:

Step 1:

A document management system acts as the corners stone for indexing, storing, routing and approving invoices. Utilising a document management system provides the foundation for an efficient invoice approval process.

Step 2:

Invoices can arrive in your organisation through the postal system, email attachments or even still through fax. Invoices can be compiled in a document management system from multiple sources by importing directly from a scanner, storing directly from an email client or automatically pulling the invoices from a file folder.

Step 3:

Once the invoices are in a document management tray (rather than paper in a tray on your desk) the documents can then be indexed with the associated data such as supplier name, invoice number etc. Through machine learning, this indexing becomes automatically extracted and prepopulates index fields, reducing the need for manually keying in of data.

Step 4:

When the necessary indexing has been approved by a member of the accounts team, the team member can then take responsibility to route invoices to relevant approvers. Defined invoices can automatically be routed to approvers based on business rules to eliminate the need for manual routing. When an invoice requires attention, approvers can receive an email alert and in-app notification accessible via mobile, tablet or computer. Invoices with corresponding purchase orders can be automatically flagged as approved to pay.

Step 5:

Approvers can view invoices within a browser-based app on any device, approve the invoices in full or part amount, add notes, reject or re-route the invoice; all configurable based on business rules.

Step 6:

Approved invoices are routed back to the accounts team, alerted by email or in-app notifications. Invoices are then booked for payment. The invoices have been indexed, approved and stored in the document management system; they are easily searchable and accessible. Related documents can be displayed at the click of a mouse.

Stage 7:

Desired information can be exported to any accounting system with information able to travel both ways through intelligent integration. Import data, such as if an invoice has been paid, from your accounting system back into the document management system to close the loop on the invoice process. Organisations can gain valuable insights by utilising the ability to run multiple reports on approval times, invoice volumes and department performance and other desired metrics.

Invoice Approval

Real benefits are achieved when best practices are adhered to:
  • Increase turnaround and processing times of invoice
  • View real-time information on invoice standing
  • Automatically digitise and read incoming invoices and match them to purchase orders
  • Use preconfigured workflows to accelerate the approval process
  • Review and approve invoices via any mobile device
  • Record approved invoices back to your accounting or ERP system through seamless integration
  • Maintain a secure, organised and searchable invoice archive for audits and budget planning

Businesses can eliminate the labour-intensive manual processes associated with invoice approval. Convert the process to paperless, streamlined and efficient. A document management system with the functionality outlined can not only revolutionise the finance department, but can be extended across the organisation to streamline human resources, contract management and additional business processes.  

How does your process compare to best practice? Could your process be improved? If so, contact the experts at Inpute on solutions@inpute.com or call us on +353 1 5175100.

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