Today in an interview: Olaf Westmeier, Senior Account Manager at EASY. Topic: Tips for automated invoice processing in SAP. What you always wanted to know about the digital invoice, but never dared to ask – we dared.
1. Do projects for incoming invoice processing belong in IT or the finance department?
I usually hear this question from IT employees. I always recommend – said with a wink – “sidestep it” and leave the project to the specialist department.
And yes, it makes sense for the department carrying out the process also to actively lead a process change. That is the only way short decision paths can actually be implemented in the project.
The invoice reader should learn independently – for example, when users correct automatic read results.
2. And what needs to be taken into account in the introduction of automated incoming invoice processing?
Definitely the “seasonal work” of the financial department. When it comes to the planned time to introduce the project, seasonal deadlines such as auditor visits or monthly or annual statements should be taken into account.
Before the introduction of the solution for incoming invoice processing, the approval matrix for incoming invoices without order reference must also be (completely) developed and set.
It is also important and helpful to start a project with a relevantly large pilot accounting area and then expand it to the entire company, bit by bit.
A large transportation provider in the Rhineland has its own project management department. The department ensures a structured procedure from query to tender offer to contract negotiation and on to system introduction. A good solution, even if not feasible for every company.
3. When choosing a solution, should you make sure to get everything from a “single source” service provider?
Implementing the solution for incoming invoice processing with only one service provider has very clear advantages. You have exactly one contact for all interfaces and problems which arise in the course of the project. That saves time and reduces annoyances.
4. Should the IT department be included?
My recommendation is that if you have a good idea in your department, you should involve IT. If they don’t have a “solution” in their current portfolio, convince your IT colleagues that your department solution could be a sort of trial balloon for a cooperation with the company to be chosen. Then hold two reference telephone calls with users and visit another – that way, you make sure that the selected provider can fully cover the business process.
5. What organizational work can companies carry out in advance of a project for automated invoice processing in SAP?
Eliminate duplicates from the vendor master. That is the basis for the smooth automation of the incoming invoice process.
In addition, centralized invoice receipt is recommended for consistent electronic capture. If necessary, business partners must be informed of the new invoicing address and the date of the changeover. There should also be one invoice receipt inbox per accounting area.
6. What process improvements can be expected from SAP-integrated incoming invoice processing?
- An improvement of the process quality in regard to consistency, security and compliance with the approval strategy.
- Adherence to discount periods will be improved, as will the simple clarification of discrepancies in incoming invoices.
- If fast and punctual period closures are important to the customer, EASY can support that through, among other things, period-based postings with payment blocks.
- Thanks to the new mobile approval interface, approvers will enjoy participating in the verification process while on the go. This fact should reduce the cycle times in management.
7. What functionalities should an incoming invoice solution provide?
- Invoices should be scannable at all locations, but the processing of the documents should then be centrally controlled by Bookkeeping.
- Shadow processing of incoming invoices should be possible – that is, when an order triggers, the goods receipt is posted and the invoice fits with the previous documents – why should a customer have to handle all of that again? The goods receipt must be confirmed, price and volume must agree. Then the whole thing can be fine-tuned through a vendor whitelist and blacklist – the whitelist includes all vendors whose incoming invoices produce no problems in processing, and the blacklist includes vendors for whom the opposite is true. There may be a variety of reasons for the latter.
- A solution from a single source! The whole range from document receipt to payment should be realized by the contractor.
- The invoice reader should learn independently – for example, when users correct automatic read results.
- Interfaces should be designed to be role-relevant. Users in Bookkeeping and Purchasing work a lot in SAP and expect an SAP GUI-based interface. Casual users such as the cost center and department managers prefer to work with a clearly structured interface which supports them in their tasks of verification and approval of invoices.
- The system should process analog and digital invoices via the same process.
- The use of an already existing archive system should be possible.
8. What advantages from the IT point of view can be expected from an SAP-integrated solution for automated incoming invoice processing?
- The use of SAP-Fiori interfaces: perfect for casual users, intuitive and easy to use.
- Because the SAP system has an extremely high system availability, a workflow integrated into SAP does not require any additional hardware or service level agreements.
- Existing authorizations and role concepts can be taken over. Parallel systems do not need to be built and maintained.
- Every customer can expect the fast implementation of additional requirements by the department from EASY PCM Process2Design. The bottom line is that you will achieve your goal with lower use of resources and time thanks to EASY PCM Process2Design.
- EASY PCM is based 100 percent on SAP technology, and EASY PCM Process2Design is certified by SAP. That provides security.