Invoice approval automation with Invoice Workflow

Jan 25, 2016 6:00:01 AM

Automatic approval of invoices with To-Increase Invoice Workflow is your first step to efficient, timely, and accurate invoice processing

Inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and delays in invoice approvals and processing are concerns for many companies’ finance managers. To-Increase Invoice Workflow for Microsoft Dynamics AX automates and simplifies the approval and management of invoices in deep integration with the ERP system. In today’s and the next two blog posts, we take a closer look at how the solution works and why so many companies generate a substantial ROI from it.

Invoice processing, a common source of inefficiencies and added costs

According to Forrester Research findings from a few years ago, many companies run disparate procurement and accounts payable processes, an expensive source of inefficiencies and errors that occur when it is not easy to connect purchase orders and vendor invoices. In addition, the invoice management and processing in many organizations is burdened with productivity hurdles, especially when they receive some of their invoices on paper instead of electronically. Accounts payable departments spend almost half of their time on invoice data capture and close to a quarter of it on validations. When it comes to invoice approvals, more than 40 percent of the companies surveyed send invoices on paper to approvers to obtain a physical signature, which is returned in the same manner, or ask the approvers to come to the accounts payable office to sign off on invoices.

To simplify their operations, some companies introduce greater centralization of accounts payable and invoice management, hoping for greater efficiency through scale. They may implement electronic procurement and also request vendors to submit invoices electronically. Electronic invoices, however, still require data entry and validation from AP staff. Introducing optical character recognition (OCR) software may be beneficial. Some companies may make use of other software such as Microsoft SharePoint to create workflows for invoice routing and approval. These may still result in disjointed processes, requiring users to rely on multiple tools to achieve their end goal.

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Building a workflow for automatic invoice approvals

For companies using Microsoft Dynamics AX, To-Increase Invoice Workflow offers an easily configured solution for managing invoice approvals and processing from right within the ERP system. Users gain a single tool to manage invoice approvals and processing. Many Invoice Workflow users receive their invoices electronically in EDI and XML formats. Additionally, they may use OCR software such as ReadSoft Invoices or Lasernet Advanced to transfer remaining, paper-based invoices into digital files. Invoice Workflow is transparent to business users, who can easily set up and modify their company’s preferred invoice approval and posting processes.

In standard Dynamics AX, Invoice Workflow options appear in the main menu of the accounts payable role. To import electronic invoices, this step can also be handled in Dynamics AX as a batch process. The solution offers the most likely importing and mapping options, and has the flexibility to accept other values. An invoice log shows which invoices have been imported, whether there were any errors, and whether there is a match with a current purchase order.

You may also configure the system to allow purchase order invoices that match the PO and the receipt to skip any additional approvals. If the data matches, you may set it to post automatically and be ready for payment per your standard AX payment processes. This allows you to manage by exception rather than touch every invoice.  Many companies using Invoice Workflow already generate substantial efficiencies and savings at this point, when unquestionable invoices can be approved automatically without any delay or ambiguity.

Centralized invoice management in Invoice Workflow

Organizations that have implemented Invoice Workflow can set their own parameters for invoices that require approvers to play their role in the process. Typically, that is the case when invoice amounts don’t match POs and also fall outside of any acceptable variances to be configured by users. They also can set Invoice Workflow to require approver action above certain amounts, or for certain vendors and items.

The interface of Invoice Workflow is familiar, consistent with Dynamics AX, and designed for a productive, pleasant user experience. Automatic approvals, routing to approvers, reminders, and all other supported activities take place within Dynamics AX. You receive, validate, and get invoiced for goods only in the ERP system. Unlike is the case with some invoice management products that do not integrate with Dynamics AX, you manage invoice-related events within a single resource, which minimizes the solution’s administration. If the business logic or other aspects of Dynamics AX change, Invoice Workflow follows suit.

In our next post, we take a look at how Invoice Workflow helps accounts payable departments manage invoice approvals and approvers.

If you think Invoice Workflow might have the potential to help you bring greater accuracy and efficiency to invoice management, maybe it’s time to arrange a demo or have a conversation. 

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About Author
Michele Chapman

Michele Chapman

Product Manager Finance Michele brings her 15+ of experience in government contracting and materials management to To-Increase as a product manager. During her career, she has held positions in supply chain for a government contracting company and for one of the largest providers of supply chain transportation solutions in the U.S. More recently, she was a principal consultant at a recognized software vendor for the government contracting market.
Michele holds a B.A. in French and International Studies from West Virginia University, an M.A. in French from George Mason University, and an M.B.A. and a Certificate in Supply Chain Management from the College of Business at East Carolina University.

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