Eliminating Exceptions to Streamline Invoice Processing
For accounts payable to be considered fully automated, invoice processing must be streamlined with minimal exceptions. An exception happens when some sort of discrepancy exists on an invoice. This could include an inconsistency in
- Item names
- Supplier information, etc.
Manually processing invoice exceptions slows down payment, which can result in missed deadlines, late fees, interrupted business operations, and losing previously agreed upon discounts. In order to avoid the negative consequences that come with manually handling exceptions, accounts payable must implement a solution that automates their exception process—effectively eliminating exceptions.
When an invoice is digitized (converted from a paper or PDF invoice into an electronic invoice), artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to find information off of the invoice. This information is turned into an electronic invoice that AP can access through their online portal. When there is information that the AI can’t recognize, or if information falls outside of the rules and guidelines provided by the organization, the invoice is marked as an exception and sent to the applicable department. Over time, as AI encounters exceptions and AP and other departments correct them, machine learning technology is used to learn about the exception, then building a confidence level in order to correct the exception without AP’s intervention.
An enterprise-level accounts payable automation solution will automate the process of matching POs to invoices, and additionally, to the goods receipt (2 and 3 way matching). POs are uploaded to the online portal, and a supplier can easily use a PO and flip it into an invoice. With PO flipping, the information on the invoice should line up exactly with what’s on the purchase order. With this feature, it’s guaranteed to save suppliers time and cut down on exceptions significantly.
Through an online portal that comes with enterprise solutions, suppliers can key in their invoices and directly submit their invoice electronically to AP. In this kind of portal, there will be strict requirements (determined by the company’s business rules) in regards to invoice information. This means that if a supplier fails to fill out a required field, the portal won’t let them submit their invoice. With these rules and guidelines, submitting invoices directly through the portal almost completely eliminates invoice exceptions in accounts payable.
An important means of eliminating exceptions in accounts payable, that not many automation solutions offer, is automating exception routes. What this means is that an invoice can be properly routed to the department that would typically deal with that form of exception. For example, if there was a 2-way match exception, that invoice would be routed to the buyer or department, as determined by the company. With invoice exceptions being routed to the correct department, a huge load is taken off of AP’s shoulders
Ridding AP of Exceptions
With automated exception processes provided by an enterprise-solution, accounts payable will see less and less invoice exceptions starting from day 1. As time goes on, with more suppliers being on the portal, machine learning improving exception corrections, and determining where exactly invoice exceptions should go, AP will see next to no exceptions in their department. With so much time being saved, accounts payable can pivot their focus to more meaningful and rewarding tasks.