Invoice processing an oldest business process known to mankind, it has come a long way. Most organizations have clear instructions regarding the way that they should process incoming invoices. It is common to have one approach for PO-based invoices, and another for non-PO invoices. However, despite all the innovations and technology, invoice processing is still burdened with many manual tasks and inefficiencies. This can result in issues such as delayed payments and incorrect payment amounts.
Listed below are some of the key challenges:
- Many manual, repetitive and mundane tasks. These include downloading invoice attachments from emails, reading them carefully or entering data into enterprise applications like ERP or accounting systems.
- Delays and Penalties. Invoice processing today takes longer than one would expect, because of the large number of manual activities and approvals required, which can slow the process down, hence SLA violations that can result in penalties.
- Shadow IT. such as spreadsheets and local access databases. These are non-documented and can be too complex to integrate these workarounds into the approved IT solutions. And as a result, making the systems non reliable and error prone.
While RPA can be applied to several finance and accounting operations, invoice processing is a prime example of the technology’s potential for driving efficiency. RPA software robots can automate data input, error reconciliation, and some of the decision-making required by finance staff when processing invoices. At the same time, automation can limit errors in such processes and reduce the need for manual exception handling.
Automating Invoice Processing
RPA can automate the business process through following steps:
- Scan mail servers or Files folders for new invoice
- Read the invoice and convert the unstructured data to a structured information that can be read.
- Validate the invoices as per desired business rules
- Automate Accounts Payable
In short, RPA eliminates the mundane and repetitive activities like reading attachments, maintaining spreadsheets and entering data into legacy systems. While passing on the decision making to the person involved in the business process, that include managerial approvals, decisions that involve human judgement and negotiations.