One positive aspect of an extremely difficult year has been witnessing the brave rallying of organisations as they adapt to new ways of working. Automating finance – including your supplier invoice process – has been one of the loudest rallying cries, as organisations look to cut spend.
Working remotely, and in some cases with reduced staff, has made invoice automation less of a nice-to-have and more of a necessity.
This is true for some more than others. When you literally have people’s lives in your hands, you definitely want the best tools at your disposal. As a charity, Devon Air Ambulance has to be extra mindful of keeping costs low and accountable, so when the team replaced an error-strewn, triplicate-form PO system with Concur Invoice, they were delighted to see the business grow. This was partly due to the same number of employees being able to process a lot more invoices.
Automation is a no-brainer for this charity. “We can instantly pull up an invoice, cross-reference against the PO, check bank details, search historical payments and reduce the risk of error,” says David Hawes, Finance Director at Devon Air Ambulance.
Of course, you don’t have to be in the middle of a pandemic or physically saving lives to benefit from invoice automation. There has never been a better time to streamline things.
Choosing a Solution: Is It Credible?
Of course, you’ll want to do your own buyer research, but it’s worth checking out independent accreditations. You’ll learn more about the proposed solution and gain reassurance that the experts have put it through a robust assessment.
Any automated solution needs to provide a central repository or view for all submitted invoices and one source of access. In paper-based systems, often there isn’t central place where all emails and paper-invoices can be accessed, which means invoices can be lost, paid late and the business doesn’t have sight of them.
If you consider the number of hours spent locating, chasing, checking, correcting, approving and auditing invoices, this could be red flag indicating that a manual process is costing your business too much.
ICAEW highlights the Concur Invoice role-based user dashboards as a key feature. Here, depending on their role and their privileges, users can view active invoices and where there are at in their lifecycle, as well as use a custom query feature to search by criteria such as individual users, groups and approval status.
This all makes hunting for invoices and scrambling to pay them a thing of the past.
Purchase Order Creation
Another thing to look out for is a solution that enables the automatic creation of purchase orders from purchase requests within the system. This is another area in which ICAEW highlights the SAP Concur platform for its efficiency.
Concur Invoice validates the incoming invoices against the purchase orders and goods receives notes to provide an end-to-end spend authorisation to pay lifecycle.
Comprehensive Reporting Options
If efficiency is survival, then knowledge is power and the only way to extract knowledge from your invoice data and move your business forward is via comprehensive reporting options. These are not a nice-to-have, they are a deal breaker.
ICAEW made special note of the Concur Invoice reporting capabilities. Users can prepare and update data daily and deliver a comprehensive array of standard reports addressing common business challenges such as spending by supplier, department and individuals. Reports can be scheduled by day, week, month or more and if unsure, there are free training classes to get users up to speed.
Which leads onto the fourth and final must-have feature of any solution – training and support.
Support in Numbers
A particularly strong area for Concur Invoice, according to ICAEW, is an array of end-user training materials, including quick start guides, interactive tutorials, how-to-guides and a full range of help screens within the product itself. There are also a wide range of extended services, including end user support, administrative support, audit services and technical consultative services.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that employees currently working remotely aren’t able to physically chase invoices – everything has to be done online. Even before 2020, an increasingly mobile workforce meant on-the-go approvals via an app was the best way to reduce the payment cycle, as well as providing a more friendly and hassle-free experience.
And talking of hassle-free, the SAP Concur platform allows you to combine invoice management with other areas of spend, such as expenses and travel, so you can manage and see it all holistically.
Talk to a member of our team to identify the areas of your invoice process which could be streamlined through automation: www.concur.co.uk/contact