Today, organizations need to do more with less and do it efficiently. As a result, organizations have started to take a closer look at how they manage their spend, especially their payables.
Even today, the invoice approval process at most organizations is a manual, paper-intensive process. It takes so long, costs too much, demands a lot of exceptions, and offers little to no visibility.
Businesses cannot afford to have a subpar invoice approval process without facing consequences like inaccurate cash flow forecasts, unanticipated liquidity shortages, and unexpected cash crunches.
A recent Paystream Advisors report shows a steady stream of organizations adopting invoice approval automation in order to address these challenges.
Can automation really ease the burden and make invoice approval much more manageable? Let’s take a closer look.
What is an invoice approval?
Invoice approval is the process of reviewing and approving supplier invoices before the payment is processed. Typically, the invoice approval process begins once the buyer receives (through email, post, etc.) a supplier invoice. The invoice is then sorted into the specific category and forwarded to the respective stakeholder for approval.
While SMBs use their finance person or a member of the admin team to process invoices, enterprises have a specific department called the accounts payable (AP) department to take care of the invoice approval process.
Steps to create an invoice approval process
Most businesses have a clear process in place to handle incoming invoices. While the processes vary from one organization to another, it can be generally categorized into two:
- Invoices that have a purchase requisition or purchase order
- Invoices without an associated request or purchase order
Here are a few clearly defined steps organizations can use to ensure faster and more accurate approval of invoices:
1. Create an invoice
For an invoice to be processed on time, all relevant information listed in the invoice should be captured or manually fed into an organization’s invoice approval loop.
2. Validation or PO matching
The next step of the process is to categorize the invoice. It involves the process of identifying and linking other related purchasing documents like purchase orders, order receipts, purchase requests, and more.
3. Define exceptions
When invoices fail the validation stage, due to any discrepancy or missing information, they should be forwarded to specific people who can fix errors and reroute them for approval.
4. Route approvals
Once invoices are validated and matched, they are routed to the specific approvers based on the information mentioned in one of the purchasing documents (such as PO number, requester name, department).
5. Process payment
If an invoice is approved, it should be automatically forwarded to the finance team for payment processing. Once the payment is processed, an invoice can be closed.
The problem with manual invoice approval
Traditional invoice approval processes are filled with a number of process gaps and inefficiencies. Organizations that use manual and semi-automated invoice approval tools experience more delays than those businesses that use digital invoice management software.
When businesses were asked about the top three challenges they face in invoice approval workflows, manual routing of invoices bagged the top spot. It was closely followed by manual data errors and inefficient processes.
Why does going digital give your invoice approval process a boost?
Digital invoice approval solutions combine data capture, automatic routing, contract management, and integration capabilities in a single platform.
Using a system like Kissflow Procurement Software to handle invoice approvals, you eliminate paperwork, reduce manual error in data collection and retrieval, accelerate the approval cycle, and increase straight-through processing. If you are wondering how to improve your procurement process efficiency, here's an ebook that will help you improve your performance by 75%. Download it now!
Enterprises and SMBs alike can enjoy innumerable benefits by using such a system. This way, they take advantage of a host of benefits:
- Automatic three-way matching
- Improved regulatory compliance (SOX, FASB)
- Integration with finance and ERP systems
- Enhanced visibility over liabilities
- Increased employee productivity
- Lowered processing costs and time
- Reduced the chance for errors and fraud
- No more late payment penalties
- Streamlined reconciliation
Take back control over your invoices with a solution like Kissflow Procurement Cloud
For most businesses, irrespective of industry, the invoice approval process is a challenging, yet necessary part of doing business.
The good news is that invoice approval doesn’t have to be complex, costly, or time-consuming. With the right invoice approval tool, organizations can organize, access, and process invoices in an accurate and timely manner.
Kissflow Procurement Cloud can handle invoice management exceptionally well: it can classify invoices, extract key information (invoice number, PO number, total value, etc), validate the obtained information against business rules, route invoices automatically to the right stakeholder in the right order, and enable seamless data exchange with other existing software like ERP systems, accounting solutions, and more.
As all invoices are stored in a central location, employees don’t have to waste their precious time and resources hunting inboxes and spreadsheets. So that, if an audit comes up, everything will already be in place.
With Kissflow invoice approval, organizations can approve invoices from anywhere, on any device, at any time. Bid goodbye to invoice processing delays and go digital with Kissflow.
Sign up for a free demo and see how Kissflow can make the invoice approval process a breeze!
- How to Create Your Invoice Approval Workflow
- Take control of your invoice approval process with Kissflow