Streamlining the AP Invoice Process in Enterprise Organisations

Before the unexpected shift to remote and hybrid working in 2020, we commissioned a study by IDC* on the value of Concur Invoice for enterprise customers. Here’s what one accounts payable team member from one of the organisations that took part had to say about the benefits:

“We have paper shuffle savings, and we have real dollar savings. Look at the time it takes to go to a file cabinet, pull out a form, fill it out, and then walk it over to a manager. And then they have to pick it up, sign it, and walk it over to another desk to be put in interoffice mail… All of that goes away. It’s completely automated now.”

 

This comment encapsulates why so many organisations are looking at cloud-based AP invoice solutions right now. It helps to improve efficiency in a standard organisational setup but it could be seen as critical in one where a high percentage of the workforce is distributed.

For many customers of Concur Expense, bringing Concur Invoice on-stream to support the automation of their AP invoice process makes good sense. These organisations have established the benefits of cloud solutions in general and they’ve established that Concur solutions in particular. As one finance team member in the study explained:

“We implemented Concur Expense in 2012 when we went from spreadsheets and forms that were being handled manually. People came to really like that Concur Expense was web-based and available anytime and anywhere. We subsequently decided that it would be beneficial to implement other Concur modules. The mindset was having one point of entry… to do everything, so we decided to go with Concur Invoice.”

The ROI Benefits of Concur Invoice

The benefits of Concur Invoice go far beyond the anecdotal – they translate into bottom line savings. The IDC study found that, on average, organisations saw annual savings of £526,400, a three year ROI of 634%, and a payback period of four months.

Concur Invoice achieves these savings because it automates the complete invoice management process from invoice capture to payment. An invoice can come into the system via email, fax, paper, or electronically. Once it’s entered the system, the data is extracted using advanced optical character recognition (OCR). It’s then validated automatically using machine-learning capabilities to process the data from each invoice.

Concur Invoice integrates with most ERP or accounting systems and connects with solutions from other suppliers across the procure-to-pay life cycle. It integrates with payment providers to create a secure platform to streamline and optimise supplier payments. And it’s flexible in its setup because it supports both centralised and decentralised accounts payable processes as well as dynamic workflows.

But this explanation of how Concur Invoice works only scratches the surface of why it delivers the benefits it does.

The Process Benefits of Concur Invoice

Concur Invoice reduces much of the manual labour involved throughout the process, saving time and money. Let’s take invoice matching as an example.

The solution can automatically link invoices, purchase orders (POs), and corresponding receipts. Not only does this save time, it also gives you more visibility into goods and services received and ensures you only pay for what you receive. You can build flexibility in too by establishing variances rules for quantity, unit price and more when PO matching. Admins can then determine based on tolerances if the invoice should be submitted.

Because all the data is digitised, searching is improved, saving time hunting down invoices. You can filter specific invoices by search criteria such as individual users, groups, and approval status and also save a custom query for that search.

Invoices can be automatically routed to an invoice owner based on a specific field. You can establish a hierarchy (such as department or cost centre) to determine which field should be used to route an invoice to an assignee, depending on which value is selected.

There are time savings once an invoice has been sent for approval too. One research participant, a member of the finance team at a non-profit organisation, said:

“The biggest benefit is serving our staff. Concur Invoice has been very well adopted by the staff because we moved away from a paper to an electronic environment. Invoices don’t get lost and don’t get put under piles or in drawers … Whether mobile or PC based, to have these electronically transmitted has really hastened the approval and the payment process.”

The Reporting Benefits of Concur Invoice

The benefits of Concur Invoice in facilitating a remote and hybrid working model and enhancing efficiency by reducing manual labour are clear to see. But the solution also brings benefits to organisations seeking to gain more control and visibility of spend.

Concur Invoice offers users a large set of predefined reports, dashboards, and key metrics for a comprehensive view into spending in near real-time. It therefore helps enable more informed decision-making and manage cash flow. And when it’s combined with Concur Expense and Concur Travel, you have an even more complete view of business spend – and an increased ability to optimise it.

One study participant, a member of a finance team at a construction company, said:

“We are able to close our financial months on schedule, with few issues as a result of invoice processing. That was always a big delay before. Those benefits trickle down to our financial partners, lenders, bankers, bond companies, and others. They get accurate and timely financial information, which, in turn, has improved our financial rating as an organisation.”

The Compliance Benefits of Concur Invoice

Organisations in the IDC study reported improved levels of compliance because up-to-date compliance policies were built into the system. As well as resulting in cost savings, audit trails also improved. One research participant reported:

“We have one audit this year with really good time-saving because now we give access to our auditor instead of having to pull invoices [which] has saved one to two days. The other benefit in terms of auditing is that it was very hard to read who was approving when we were using paper. The internal controls were much weaker … You couldn’t really prove to an auditor who had approved something. Now it’s very clear, the whole audit trail is there, and that’s a really strong benefit.”

The Reputational Benefits of Concur Invoice

There are practical, cost-saving, efficiency, and reporting benefits of Concur Invoice. This leads to reputational benefits too. As one study participant concluded:

“Concur Invoice fosters appreciation of how the finance office supports the work of other departments. Now, they look at the finance office as more of an enabler rather than as a chore. We get goodwill with the realisation that we are a service desk as well as a control desk. Our objective is to support them and make their work life better so that they can concentrate on the creative stuff.”

To discuss adding Concur Invoice to your SAP Concur solutions, contact your Client Success Executive.

*Source: IDC White Paper, sponsored by SAP, SAP Concur Facilitates Automated Management of Financial Operations, doc #US46224320, May 2020)

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