In life it’s good to have things match. You want your shoes to match before you head out the door to greet the day. You might describe your significant other as the “perfect” match. Matching in life means things just line up and fit together. That’s also true in the world of AP automation.
In order to ensure you are paying your vendors for the right goods and services, it’s important to match your invoices with your purchase order (PO) and receiving documents. Unfortunately, without the proper tools the matching process can be time consuming and error prone.
How should matching occur? Let’s talk about the difference between a “system of record” and a “system of engagement.” The ERP or financial system is typically thought of as your system of record. The matching process should occur in an ERP system, but can be rigid and hard to work with. A better approach is to leverage a more user-friendly AP automation tool – a “system of engagement” – that can be as dynamic and flexible as your organization and people.
With advances in data integration capabilities, once inaccessible PO and receiving data can now be freed (via APIs and integration) from the system of record ERP “vaults” and compared systematically to incoming invoice data ever more frequently housed in AP automation systems.
By integrating your PO data, you can match your invoices in your AP automation system to your ERP’s PO data – and more importantly, systematically identify when (and what) line item data does not match. If there is a mismatch, use embedded workflow tools to close the loop by identifying which PO invoices do not match – and routing the invoice to the appropriate employee who can resolve those mismatches.
What if the quantity invoiced does not match quantity received? Easy! The invoice is electronically routed to the person who received the goods so that they can double check their records or contact the supplier if delivery problems occurred. What about if a unit price OCR’d from the invoice does not match the PO? No problem! The invoice is electronically routed to the purchasing department, who can determine if the PO needs to be modified or the supplier contacted to correct their pricing.
In these and other matching exceptions, the data in your system of record is exposed to the AP automation system of engagement to systematically identify the mismatch and then - use embedded workflow capabilities to route the invoice to the person who can best resolve the issue. And all the while, AP has visibility to see that the invoice exception is being worked in a timely basis by the person who can best solve the problem.
The cherry on top is reporting. Now that the system of engagement is managing the process, your AP automation tool should have embedded analytics to report on the common sources of your mismatches –even down to the supplier level. Now, AP (as well as procurement and receiving) has the hard data you need to share with your suppliers on how they can reduce the number of mismatches that occur in the first place.
And the end result? The AP team has the tools to identify and manage the policy compliance you are responsible for, while at the same time allowing the system to identify who can best resolve the issue and its root cause creating the perfect match. AP automation lets business flow.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.