Many problems can arise during invoice processing, especially for companies that still do this manually. Common invoice processing problems include data entry errors, late payments, incorrect approval routing, poor communication between different teams, and lost paper invoices. An automated account payable platform can help businesses avoid many of these problems. However, AP staff members still need to know exactly how to use the automated platform to prevent these issues.
Read on to learn more about five common invoice processing problems and what you can do to resolve them.
The most common invoice processing problems are data entry errors. This is because many different parts of the process require team members to enter detailed data. A great deal of data entry is needed when receiving an invoice, setting up payment, and approving the invoice. A small data entry error at any point in the process could result in the invoice not being paid on time.
Thankfully, an automated AP system can eliminate data entry errors. The work will still require some data entry, but there will be a lower risk of human error. Also, an automated AP program will help businesses catch data entry errors earlier than they would otherwise be able to do.
Late payments are another common invoice processing problem. Though this issue may not be quite as common as data entry errors, it can be more costly. Companies often pay fees and interest for late payments. Also, late payments can damage the company's relationship with its vendors.
In certain cases, businesses are unable to avoid late payments, such as when they are experiencing cash flow problems. Occasionally, processing errors also cause late payments. An automated AP platform can help companies avoid these errors. These programs help companies process invoices more quickly to get their payments on time. They also reduce errors that can slow down payment processing. Companies may even be able to get their payments in early so that they can get discounts.
Medium and large companies frequently have invoice processing problems related to incorrect approval routing. This can happen when a company has multiple people responsible for approving invoices. A member of the AP staff may send an invoice to the wrong person for approval. This can cause a significant delay in processing the invoice, especially if the approver takes several days to notice the error.
As with the other issues on this list, invoice automation is the best solution. A properly implemented invoice automation system automatically sends invoices to the correct approvers. This removes the possibility of an error by a member of the AP staff.
Quite a few invoice processing problems are directly or indirectly due to poor communication between teams. Many companies keep data associated with different teams in a specific database (called data silos). This can exacerbate problems with poor communication because it is more difficult to share data.
For example, the AP team may need to associate a certain invoice with the contract the company has for this vendor. However, the contract data may belong to a different team, so the AP team may need access to it. This problem can be avoided by having all data relevant to AP processes accessible to the AP staff members.
Misplaced paper invoices
While most vendors use digital invoices, some still send paper invoices. As with any physical object, paper invoices can get mistakenly discarded. As this problem originates with the vendor, it can be difficult to fix.
A good way to avoid this issue is to digitize paper invoices as soon as possible. Most automated AP platforms can work with scanned paper invoices because they have optical character recognition functionality. A scanned invoice does not differ from a digital invoice once uploaded to the AP system. Of course, the AP staff must keep the paper invoice in a secure area in case they need to reference it.
An automated AP platform can help you avoid these problems
One of the biggest benefits businesses can get from switching to an automated AP platform is reducing invoice processing problems. All the problems listed above can be prevented or easily fixed by an automated AP program; while automated AP programs are very helpful, highly trained AP staff members are still essential because they need to control and oversee the system. An automated AP process can help you avoid these problems and other issues, but only if companies train their staff members properly.