Do you remember what going on holiday used to be like fifteen years ago? You had to take your telephone, your camera, your heavy laptop, your tourist guides and roadmaps, a CD player and some CDs, a games console, a selection of books and magazines…
But then along came the smartphone and suddenly all of that could be slipped into your pocket. What convenience! What efficiency!
Today, purchasing managers can benefit from all these advantages, and many more besides, in their profession and business too.
Thanks to automated invoicing solutions, the time has come when we can say goodbye to the disparate tools commonly used throughout the purchasing process, such as specific accounting software, messaging tools and even scanners. One single application, modern and practical, makes it possible to replace them and create a Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) process that is integrated end-to-end.
This unique application allows you to create the need of purchase, the purchase order and the corresponding budget commitment. Following the generation of the order, an approval workflow then allows the stakeholders concerned to confirm receipt – a step that’s especially important in security checks. But how does this all work?
The purchase-to-pay steps
The pivotal part of this process is the digitisation of the invoice, essentially linking the order to the payment. Thanks to automated data recognition, it is possible to extract key data from it automatically (supplier identity, references, amounts, etc.), whatever its origin, medium, format (paper or digital), or appearance. In addition to invoices, it can also capture appended documents such as CVs, contracts or specifications, to be enclosed with the record. The various documents are securely stored and indexed so that they can easily be found and consulted by authorised parties.
At the same time, the invoices thus captured are reconciled with the corresponding order and receipt, entered into the books and recorded in the management tool or ERP system. Finally, payment is triggered on the due date.
There are countless advantages to this kind of integration. By removing discontinuities between steps, one also eliminates tedious double entries and the risks of error that they cause. Staff no longer need to master a plethora of tools, and all concerns about whether such tools are compatible with one another are taken away. The result is that you see gains in productivity, safety, compliance, visibility and traceability all at once.
As for the purchasing managers, they are constantly kept informed about the progress of the processes, which they can control in greater detail with the help of the overall performance indicator and real-time alerts. In particular, they can identify, at a glance, the outstanding and accrued invoices, duplicates, invoices that are past due, etc.
Automating invoicing processes: what can be gained from it?
However, the main advantage of such an all-in-one automation software solution is the ability to automate the processing process. Since the tool covers it from end-to-end, it becomes possible to create rules based on various criteria (types of invoice, amount, supplier, cost centre, etc.) in order to create a specific validation workflow. As soon as one step ends, the next one is launched; the appropriate documents are created and, if human intervention is required, the relevant individuals are notified. This results in very significant performance gains which allow finance departments to focus on higher value-added tasks and services rather than miniscule but time-consuming ones.