Growth and Optimization

Automated Invoice Processing: A Game-Changer for Modern Businesses

SAP Concur, Petr Seidner |

Invoice processing is a pivotal aspect of any organization, playing a crucial role in maintaining the efficient flow of financial transactions. But the daunting task of collecting, verifying, and managing information from diverse sources such as purchase orders and payment receipts can be a constant uphill battle. As businesses expand, the challenge of tracking invoices and ensuring proper reconciliation becomes even more overwhelming.

Thankfully, there is a better solution than the manual, paper-intensive, "old school" approach to this work: automated invoice processing.

What is Automated Invoice Processing?

Automated invoice processing uses specialized computer software to process invoices for a company's accounts payable (AP) department. Moreover, it facilitates instant updates of invoice data into the organization's larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

What Are the Benefits of Automated Invoice Processing?

Automated invoice processing offers a host of advantages:

  • Time savings: It significantly reduces the time spent on invoice processing, enabling your team to focus on more critical tasks.
  • Paperless operation: Eliminating the need to find and store paper invoices contributes to a more efficient workflow.
  • Error minimization: By automating the process, human errors are minimized, increasing data accuracy and financial integrity.
  • Centralization and enhanced visibility: All invoices are centralized, offering increased visibility into the financial health of the business.

Processing invoices is inarguably a critical task, playing a key role in maintaining the financial health of any business. But the process of finding and storing paper invoices, processing them manually, and reconciling all available information takes up a great deal of time.

With automated invoice processing, however, all that changes. Not only are invoices processed quickly, but the results are far more accurate. Plus, it frees up the invaluable time of employees, so they can focus on more important meaningful work — like strategic or revenue-generating initiatives.

In addition to the time-consuming nature of manual invoice processing, each step in the process is another potential opportunity to introduce human error into the situation. Important documents can be lost or misplaced. Data can be entered incorrectly. Mistakes happen.

But with automated invoice processing that leverages machine learning, processing happens automatically and accurately via a predictable, repeatable process. Human error is minimized, while your employees’ time is maximized.

Check out 10 benefits of Concur Invoice

How Automated Invoice Processing Works

Automated invoice processing is made possible through many different techniques, from general AI (artificial intelligence) to the application of machine learning, neural language processing, and more.

Key values like bank account information or item numbers are extracted from an invoice, at which point it is then cross-referenced with data from sources like purchase orders, contracts, and the like. Other information might include addresses and other contact information, social security or tax identification numbers, and more. All data is present in a unified system, at which point even the approval process can be automated based on predefined workflow criteria that must be met to achieve a successful settlement.

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Your Path to Increasing Productivity Starts Here

Automated AI invoice processing increases productivity by significantly streamlining the invoice approval workflow.

For an average invoice to be approved, it must go through a series of lengthy steps. First, invoices must be matched against a purchase order. Any irregularities, like improper purchase order numbers, then need to be resolved.

That invoice then needs to be sent to a manager or other team leader for approval. Once granted, the business's ERP system will need to be updated to accurately reflect this. Only then can a payment then be issued to a vendor.

Automated invoice processing helps streamline this series of steps in almost every way. By reducing manual data entry, it virtually eliminates the types of time-

consuming errors most AP professionals are accustomed to dealing with. Invoice matching happens automatically, invoices are instantly routed to the right approvers, and the company's ERP is updated in an instant. Invoices can now be approved in a fraction of the time, or roughly an average improvement of about 90%.

The Intricacies of Mobile Invoice Processing

With mobile invoice processing, the same benefits can be achieved using the smartphones and tablets that employees are already comfortable using. They can accept and generate invoices in the field, or while they're working remotely.

All records are still centralized, creating a "single source of truth" for the business. The difference is invoice processing doesn't have to wait until that employee returns to the office — invoices can be easily submitted and processed almost as quickly.

Integrating OCR Technology: What You Need to Know

Another opportunity for simplifying invoice processing comes through OCR (optical character recognition) technology. OCR software can swiftly and accurately convert images into text, making critical data more accessible to accounting teams.

While OCR software can't necessarily produce an invoice on its own, it can be used to digitize existing invoices — even images of them — in a way that makes the data easily storable and searchable. It can also pull information from various sources like contracts and purchase orders in a way that makes generating accurate invoices simpler and faster.

Automated invoice processing, like automation in general, is not about replacing human employees with AI but empowering them to work more efficiently. By streamlining invoice approval workflows and reducing errors, it ensures the financial health of the business is well taken care of while freeing up employees' time for more meaningful tasks.

To learn more about how automated invoice processing can optimize your business operations, contact us today.

Our users have spoken (more than 5,000 of them!) and they have ranked SAP Concur as a leading invoice management solution. Download the G2 Grid Report for Invoice Management (Fall 2023) and see how we stack up to the competition. 

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