We are always unpleasantly surprised to hear about the ongoing struggles organizations have in achieving meaningful automation results using supplier networks, and electronic invoice data appears to be a main source of that pain. Case in point: a recent PayStream Advisors white paper titled “Electronic Invoice Management: A Move to the Middle.” The promise of electronic invoicing has been touted as eliminating manual keying of invoices by moving all suppliers to electronic invoice submission. While this promise has been promoted for more than a decade, the results of this research report indicate that the reality for many companies is much different. In fact, the report indicates (Figure 3) that:
- Just one in three respondents are aiming to achieve at least 75 percent electronic invoice receipt submission in 2014,
- Roughly one out of four organizations are settling for goals of between 40-50 percent,
- The rest either do not have a goal (34 percent), or
- Are not pursuing electronic invoices at all (13 percent).
DataServ believes organizations are correct in pursuing the goal of 100 percent electronic invoice receipt, but we also believe these results point out a significant risk in putting all your eggs in the supplier portal basket. The report goes on to summarize the main challenges (Figure 9) facing organizations and how those impact the achievement of this goal.
DataServ has found a better way for electronic invoice data collection. Our digital mailroom, which combines proprietary optical character recognition (OCR) software with our five-step quality assurance review, routinely provides clients with 99.9 percent clean invoice data without the intensive, time-consuming manual keying that defines the capture and indexing process in organizations today. Additionally, this approach provides an alternative to the often painstaking and less-than-optimal results achieved from coercing buyers to change their invoicing practices.
By providing this digitized data, along with the images at the front end of the payables process, organizations find they can eliminate the main challenges mentioned in the report by:
- Translating paper invoices to digital
- Eliminating manual keying of data
- Providing a basis for automating workflow
- Minimizingeliminating discrepancies in the data
- Speeding processing to capture more discounts
- Providing visibility into obligations as soon as invoices are loaded to the system
DataServ’s single-stream process can take an invoice in any form and make it electronic. This prevents you from you having to change the billing process for all your suppliers, which at some companies could number in the thousands. In our next blog, we’ll dig further in-depth into why attempting to make your vendors adhere to your AP automation guidelines is a challenging (and many times) losing proposition.