Finance News & Insights

3 top invoice process challenges Finance can tackle today

To operate effectively, stay compliant and keep trading partners content, your company needs a best-in-class invoice process.

But too often, finance staffers are hindered by manual data entry and inefficient processes. In fact, most companies (71%) cited it as a top pain point in Levvel’s new 2019 Payables Insight Report.

You know all too well how manual data entry can lead to errors. And more broadly, how inefficient processes can result in time and money down the drain. So, your A/P staffers need proven ways to overcome these age-old issues.

Check out three key invoice process challenges outlined in Levvel’s report, and how your staffers can streamline each one now:

Challenge 1: Invoice receipt

How do invoices come to your A/P department? In 2019, email (39%) and paper (37%) are still the most popular methods.

The fewer invoices your staffers have to process, the better. To cut back, consider whether your company can allocate more spend to cards, especially for small-dollar purchases. That way, employees can still make numerous purchases, but A/P doesn’t get a separate invoice for each one.

To get the most out of the switch, you’ll want to look into which card types (purchasing cards, virtual cards, single-use cards, declining balance cards, etc.) may be best for which payments.

Challenge 2: Data entry

Currently, most A/P staffers (57%) are still manually entering invoice details into their accounting systems.

If your staffers are emailed PDF invoices or scanning paper invoices, check out programs that convert PDFs to usable data, so they can cut back on keying. A quick web search (e.g., “convert data to Excel format”) will return a bunch of options. You can also talk to your IT department about which one(s) would be best for your purposes.

And reminder staffers: When using Excel, they should take advantage of its Data Validation feature, which restricts what values can be entered in cells. That, in turn, could do wonders to prevent errors when they’re keying.

Challenge 3: Invoice routing

The average company routes invoices in two to four days (40%) and requires two to three approvals (49%), according to Levvel’s report.

While internal controls are vital, you know that over-checking can slow the process and even lead to late payments. So, once in a while, it’s beneficial to revisit your policies.

Round up your staffers who have front-line knowledge and consider: Could any additional invoices (for recurring purchases, software license renewals, etc.) be set up for blanket approval? Should you rethink the dollar threshold for which invoices require multiple approvals?

In some cases, you could also try a reverse policy where the approver only has to notify A/P, within a certain timeframe, if they shouldn’t pay the invoice. That way, A/P isn’t waiting on an unhurried “OK” from invoice approvers to get payments out the door. (Just keep proper documentation of this for auditors.)

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