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Tim Robertson

Tackling Invoice Processing with “Line-Level” Invoice Data
Tackling Invoice Processing with “Line-Level” Invoice Data 150 150 Tim Robertson
invoice processingThe trend in invoice processing is to extract maximum value out of the information invoice data can provide. Line-level invoice data plays an essential role in business process improvement.

In many industries there is a push for management information (MI) to help gain improvements in business processes. Invoice processing can play an important role, and line-level invoice data enables businesses to access the information that contributes to this process.

Line-level invoice data can help businesses understand patterns in purchasing, issues with supplies, what items are selling well, and more. This type of detailed data can provide insights into things such as what goods or services are most profitable, or which variables are influencing cost structures.”

Improving Business Processes
The benefit of improving business processes includes being less “reactionary”. As an example, a travel agent may block-book rooms. It is only when the invoice is received does the company see, at the line-level, what was booked and what took place. Did guests arrive? Did they check out early? Ask for other services? Stay longer than last year?

Without line-leave detail, organizations do not have the essential information necessary to make improvements.

One of the biggest barriers to digitalization and the extraction of line-level detail is the cost involved with traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems. Not only is there a considerable capital cost to installing and adopting an EDI solution, once a system is in place it can become a constraint for the organization.

Suppliers can avoid the investment in this technology by taking advantage of PDF invoicing. That’s because a PDF invoice has data layers that can provide the line-level data we are talking about, as well as drastically lower implementation costs.

Data Mapping Technology
Data mapping technology takes the information from the PDF and sends it into an invoice processing system without any manual keying of the data. Because the data is taken straight from the invoice, 100% accuracy is achieved and manual data errors are avoided.

With PDF based invoicing, suppliers can be up and running within minutes. All they need is an email address that sends their invoices directly into the invoice processing system. This method of electronic invoicing has a substantial cost advantage over EDI, and a trend for business that is only going to accelerate over the next few years.

On-Boarding Of Suppliers Is Easier
PDF invoicing is a viable alternative for suppliers that want to adapt to their customer’s purchasing and payment workflow. It’s a convenient solution that is relatively painless to implement – something that’s not possible with traditional electronic invoice systems.

PDF Invoice Capture – Tapping Into Line-Level Data
PDF invoice capture provides faster processing, eliminates manual data entry and manual errors, and takes paper out of the process. As well as getting value out of every “yard line”.

For suppliers who are still sending paper invoices, Intelligent OCR can recognize the vendor, intuitively extract field data, and send the collected data to the invoice processing system.

For more information on how you can take advantage of line-level invoice data, take a look EchoVera’s AP Automation.

Automating the Request to Pay Process
Automating the Request to Pay Process 150 150 Tim Robertson

request to pay


Many of our customers struggle with their purchasing process.

This is because even though there are many stakeholders in the purchase cycle, actual responsibility and accountability can often be muddled.

This isn’t because the different roles in the organization are incompetent or at fault, but that in every organization and industry there is a real lack of transparency throughout various business processes. This is especially true in organizations that opt to use inefficient paper-based processes or when the company’s ERP is not capable of the flexibility required to support efficient workflows*

Whatever the case, organizations are looking to optimize the purchase process with a positive ROI and Request-to-Pay automation may be a great way to do just that.

The Request to Pay Process

With Request-to-Pay automation, everyone with a stake in the purchase is involved in the process, and the process is visible to everyone who plays a role. This high level of visibility actually supports accountability across all roles. Authorized stakeholders can actually see all relevant activity – changes made, when they took place and who made them.

Everyone from the person who makes the requests, to the approver who manages the budget, to the purchaser who makes the purchase, to the person who receives the goods, and to the accounts payable person who ensures payment – are part of the request to pay workflow.

This is what the automated Request to Pay looks like:
  1. The requester completes a purchase requisition, and it is automatically routed for approval.
  2. Once approved the system changes the requisition to a Purchase Order.
  3. The approved PO is sent to the buyer who can now place the order.
  4. Delivery of the product or service is made, and the goods or service receipt is recorded in the system.
  5. The vendor sends an invoice for the product or service, and the system automatically matches the invoice to the PO and the goods receipt.
  6. If there is an exception, it is automatically routed to the proper role for review and exception handling. The exception is in a complete information “packet” that holds an invoice image, the PO, the goods receipt, and notes.
  7. If there is no exception, the invoice is automatically sent to the ERP for payment.
  8. The vendor receives a payment and all of the payment details are recorded in the ERP.

Find out more about Request to Pay automation here.

*Most ERPs have rigid approval workflows, but not by design! (see “Invoice Approval Workflow Gets Flexible!“)


Budget Software for Business Ties Transactions Together – Amen!
Budget Software for Business Ties Transactions Together – Amen! 150 150 Tim Robertson

budget software

One of the best features of great budget software for enterprise is the ability to tie transactions together.  You can also monitor the actual budget amount used – useful as you process each piece of the transaction and for auditing purposes later.

So what does it look like?  The example below is based on the user having a specific GL account and department.

Keep in mind the user has the option to browse items that are approved for a specific budget AND/OR there are rules set on the item type to require a budget to be assigned AND/OR the administrator can leave the fields open for users to decide where assigning a budget is appropriate.

budget software - budget record

budget software - budget report

budget software - creating a requisition

budget software

One of the key benefits of EchoVera’s Budget is being able to see the budget request, the requisitions, purchase order, delivery, and invoice – all as a complete package – for audit purposes.

budget software audit view

For more information about EchoVera Budget, click here.

How 5 Innovative Companies Automated PO Matching
How 5 Innovative Companies Automated PO Matching 150 150 Tim Robertson

automated po matching

PO matching, or matching invoices, purchase orders and goods receipts is always a challenge for growing companies.

For one, if the process is paper driven, the process is prone to error and considerable mind-numbing effort hunting down all the relevant information. Data has to matched by physically examining each and every document, line by line.

Some invoices have over 100 lines. It’s not like reading a letter or other document that has variations, titles, and pictures, but closer to scanning a dry list of serial numbers – headache inducing at the best of times.

Secondly, because of all the people involved in a purchase, there is much finger-pointing over which department (or approver) is causing a bottleneck, or is responsible for mistakes.

We have helped the following innovative companies who are using NetSuite automate their PO matching with EchoVera’s AP Automation for NetSuite. They’ve benefited from having an approval workflow for exceptions that utilizes email approvals to make it easy, and automation that matches invoices, POs, and goods receipts.

In every case they have decided their teams have better things to do than trudge through the matching process manually – a very common practice in many companies without the technology. As well, AP is no longer blamed for not keeping the process moving, as the invoice status can be viewed 24/7 in real time, showing exactly where the holdup is.

Roivant – Healthcare

automated PO matchingRoivant is a pharmaceutical company with over 70 subsidiaries. The high profile firm landed a $1.1 Billion investment by SoftBank and develops late stage drugs. The investment by SoftBank was one of the largest private financing rounds in history for a healthcare company.

Pharmaceutical firms abandon promising drugs for various reasons that have nothing to do with their efficacy. Roivant’s subsidiaries complete the development of overlooked drug candidates and try to get them to market quickly. Although their recent drug for Alzheimers has not panned out, there are many potential winners in the pipeline. With a dozen different subsidiaries the company needed to automate PO matching and increase their operational efficiency.

Roivant receives PDF invoices and PDFs of scanned invoice images. They are matching service and product POs as well as invoices and goods receipts. Once the PO is created, it is auto delivered. Whatever lines are available on the PO are used. As an example, 30 lines on one invoice have to be rolled up into one line. Most of the invoices are “pass-through invoices” with up to 300 lines of items.

Aleva Stores – Retail Ecommerce

automated PO matchingAleva Stores began in 1957 as a small prosthetics manufacturer in Pontiac, Michigan. Over the last 60 years, the Gaskins family has upheld the values established by founder Joseph Gaskins, creating a family of retail brands that specialize in foot, leg and orthopedic care. Some of the online stores include Sock Addicts, Pike to Peak, and Doc Ortho. With warehouse space of over 60,000 square feet and sales north of $30M annually, Aleva was looking to automate the PO matching process and optimize their AP processes.

What they are matching: Aleva receives invoices in the format of PDF and PDFs of scanned invoice images. They match merchandise purchase orders to invoices and goods receipts. Aleva issues a PO, receives an invoice from the supplier and a goods receipt from the warehouse. Some invoices have over 100 lines and up to 20 pages.

Find out more about EchoVera ASAP PO Matching for NetSuite here.

Boston Globe – Media

automated PO matchingThe Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1872. In 1993 it became a wholly owned subsidiary of The New York Times Company when the Times acquired Affiliated Publications for $1.1 Billion. In 2013, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry was part of a group that bid $70 million to buy the paper, and remains in place as the owner today. The Boston Globe hosts 28 blogs covering a variety of topics including Boston sports, local politics and the paper’s opinion writers.

The Globe wanted to reduce its reliance on paper processes and digitally transform the back office. They turned to EchoVera ASAP to automate PO matching.

The Globe receives invoices in PDF format from its suppliers, including scanned images in PDF format. It matches between service and product purchase orders and invoices. Matching is done by approvers in the email approval workflow.

Ulabox – Grocery Ecommerce

automated PO matchingThe VIKOW Group is based in Barcelona in Spain. It’s a group of digital companies offering a range of services and products around ecommerce. One of its properties is Ulabox, which operates as an online supermarket of food, groceries, beverages, household and personal care products. Ulabox was incorporated in 2010 and has received several funding rounds totalling €5,750,000.

With around 7,000 deliveries per week from a range of 20,000 products, the highly automated internet company relies on data to review the cost of orders, deliveries, profitability and business data.

Ulabox needed the best technology for PO matching and AP automation.

Ulabox receives PDF invoices from their suppliers, and well as PDFs of scanned invoice images. EchoVera ASAP is matching merchandise purchase orders, external purchase orders from their fresh food system (which is separate from NetSuite), as well as invoices and goods receipts.

Transtelco – Voice & Data Services

automated PO matchingTranstelco provides telecommunication solutions for carriers, enterprises, and small to medium businesses in the United States and Mexico. Cofounded by Miguel Fernandex in 2001, it provides voice and data services to Fortune 1000 companies with a fiber optic network that spans 10,000 kilometres between both countries. It recently raised new debt capital from Deutsche Bank in order to fund new opportunities. Mr. Fernandex has been featured in the Huffington Post dispelling the myths of the Mexican – U.S. border.

The company reached out to EchoVera for help with automating their AP and matching POs.

Transtelco receives PDF invoices, Excel and MS Word invoices, and images scanned as a PDF. ASAP matches product purchase orders, service purchase orders, invoices and goods receipts.

Find out more about EchoVera PO Matching for your ERP here.

Read our Whitepaper on PO Matching for NetSuite

Where CAPEX Software Makes a Difference
Where CAPEX Software Makes a Difference 150 150 Tim Robertson

Companies are digitally transforming their procurement and purchasing processes, and that includes software that helps them manage their CAPEX expenditures. This may include functions like approval workflow and document capture.

Where does CAPEX software make a key difference?

Specifically, CAPEX software allows companies to allocate a specific budget to a larger investment project and have visibility and control over the entire process. Some of the benefits include:

  • Ease of delegation
    Workflow administration levels designate who can buy what within the organization. Built in alarm functions send out an alert when a set percent of a CAPEX budget is exceeded.
  • The right suppliers, the right products
    By setting up delimitations for each supplier and product category, only preferred suppliers are used with defined product categories.
  • Faster procurement process
    Purchase orders that match certain parameters are automatically approved. Invoices that match to the goods receipt can go immediately to the ERP for payment – bypassing manual handling and the resulting errors.
  • More visibility 24/7
    Users can query information such as supplier name, budget request ID, status, the role of the approver in charge, product categories and requisition numbers. Purchase orders related to specific budget requests can be included in reports as well.

EchoVera CAPEX is a cloud-based solution that integrates with your ERP. Find out more here.

OCR for Oracle E-Business Suite Uses Intelligent Automation
OCR for Oracle E-Business Suite Uses Intelligent Automation 150 150 Tim Robertson

Intelligent OCR for Oracle E-Business Suite

Businesses using Oracle E-Business Suite are discovering the value of using “intelligent” OCR to scan their invoices. It’s all part of a larger trend:

  • With increasing invoice volumes, growing companies want to avoid adding to their headcount
  • Newer OCR technology for data-extraction can be implemented with minimal I.T. involvement
  • Businesses want to leverage the investment in their ERP with automation that provides a positive ROI

Invoices come in many different formats. Whether they are delivered in the mail and have to be manually handled, or sent by email in an electronic file format such as Word, Excel, PDF, EDI, and XML –  the data needs to be captured quickly and efficiently.

Traditional OCR is Outdated

Traditional OCR software has some constraints. For example, a company might receive an invoice by mail and scan it, but the data it collects is not available because of integration issues. Scanning could be avoided if the invoice comes by email, but in many cases the email invoice is printed out and the information is keyed into the ERP manually. Both of these methods are time and resource-intensive.

In the U.S., 89% of supplier invoices are in either paper or email format. 76% of companies surveyed input invoice data manually*.

For Oracle E Business Suite users who need to capture invoice data, Intelligent OCR intelligently captures all of the information needed – with 95% accuracy for paper invoices, and 100% accuracy for electronic formats.

Intelligent OCR uses A.I. and intelligent automation to extract data from any format of invoice, whether it was sent electronically or through the mail.

Intelligent OCR searches, interprets, validates, and extrapolates semantic meaning from any format or file type. It intuitively detects and learns each unique supplier invoice based on document layouts, including a tagging technology called Intellitags.

That means the manual data entry of invoice information into Oracle can be drastically reduced or eliminated. For more information, or to book a demo of Intelligent OCR for Oracle E Business Suite, click here.


*Source: Company revenues up to $100 Million – 2018 Guide to Payables Automation – Paystream

Invoice Approval Workflow: Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics ERP
Invoice Approval Workflow: Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics ERP 150 150 Tim Robertson

invoice approval workflow dynamics
There are many constraints in the Dynamics ERP suites. This is especially evident in how user fees are structured,  and the lack of functionality around invoice approval workflow for Dynamics specifically.

User Costs for Invoice Approval Workflows
  • Dynamics workflows are scripted, and that means using IT resources to create or modify them
  • Customers must purchase Dynamics user licenses for requisitioners
  • If the user touches two modules of Dynamics, such as Purchasing and GL, that can mean additional costs
  • There is a user cost for coding – approvers must be licensed in the same way if they want to code an invoice (for G/L and AP)
Functionality Issues
  • Without support for punch-out capabilities, PRICAT (Price/Sales Catalogue), or webshops users cannot access supplier catalogs or websites
  • Users have to look at each line in order to determine a mismatch for Purchase Order matching
  • Much manual legwork goes into finding the discrepancy, and the routing is limited by rules
  • Accounting accruals take time and unrecorded liabilities become an issue
  • Dynamics lacks an audit trail for the invoice approval process
  • Business documents are not stored in an image repository for retrieval
  • Data capture is a manual process in many cases, which is restrictive with large invoice volumes

Extending Dynamics Functionality

The good news is that it is possible to leverage your investment in Dynamics by using best-of-breed third party software that provides the functionality Dynamics is missing – with minimal involvement of valuable I.T resources. With the right application, you will have:

Reduced Costs
  • Workflows are graphical and dynamic, allowing for ad hoc routing
  • Software cost is based on invoice volumes, as opposed to number of users
Extended Functionality
  • Users can access preferred online supplier catalogues
  • PO matching is automated, and exceptions are sent to approvers on their laptop or mobile devices
  • Shows invoice status in a central dashboard
  • Creates an audit trail showing messages between users and suppliers as well as document images
  • Has a document management system that allows you to not only store contracts and other relevant files, but allows you to put them into a workflow as well
  • Have an automated data capture system that uses Artificial Intelligence to extract essential information from invoices, whether they are mailed in paper format or sent in email as a PDF, XML, EDI, Excel, Word or other format.

Find out more about the functionality in EchoVera’s AP automation solution for Dynamics here.





10 Ways Procure to Pay Software Accelerates Digital Transformation
10 Ways Procure to Pay Software Accelerates Digital Transformation 150 150 Tim Robertson

procure to pay softwareProcure to pay software can make a substantial impact on the digital transformation of your organization. It leverages the investment in your ERP and has a proven ROI for both cycle times and cost savings.

1. Makes 100% digitalisation possible
Organizations want to reduce their carbon footprint, and stop using paper. A paperless environment reduces the workload paper files and paper processes demand.

2. Expands the control of purchasing
A purchasing system with the ability to pre-approve orders reduces maverick spending. Collaboration between purchasing and finance makes for a successful ROI throughout the entire procure to pay process.

3. Dynamic discounting
By having an automated purchase requisition process, approval cycle times are reduced and dynamic discounting opportunities are optimized.

4. Cloud-based software
Because the capital outlay is minimal in comparison to on-premise, a cloud-based solution means fewer servers and staff requirements. You are not paying for the number of users, but actual invoice volume.

5. Connection to supplier web shops
Get punch-out capabilities to web shops or PRICAT (Price/Sales Catalog) support for the online catalogs of your suppliers.

6. Bird’s-eye view of the organization’s expenses
Leverage the data to get a 360º view of the organization’s expenses. Get supplier statistics such as volume and transactions. 
Identify bottlenecks in the organization from within a central dashboard.

7. User-friendly interface and workflow
Best of breed software is intuitive and user-friendly. Workflows are visually easy to manage and employees can do approvals or coding on desktop, tablets, and smartphones.

8. Tools for reports and KPI performance measurements
Because the digital environment is measurable, tools and reports can provide input into key KPIs that are determined at the outset and altered as the organization evolves.

9. Scalability
If you are experiencing tremendous growth, it is very easy to scale. You can increase your license size accordingly, and conversely downsize in cases of reduced volumes or seasonal fluctuations.

10. Security and protection 
Reputable cloud vendors have made the investment in the right people, tools, and appliances that keep data safe and compliance standards upheld.

See our video on How AP Automation Works here.

For more about how Intelligent Procure to Pay software with 95%+ recommend ratings can help your organization, click here.

The Best OCR Software for NetSuite uses AI
The Best OCR Software for NetSuite uses AI 150 150 Tim Robertson

AP professionals who are exploring OCR software for NetSuite are influenced by several large trends:

  • Growing companies using NetSuite do not want to add more staff in order to process larger volumes of invoices, and want to automate the process in order to capitalize on cost savings.
  • Executives want more visibility into the status of the invoices, purchase orders, and goods receipts in their AP process.
  • The playing field for OCR has changed dramatically, with technology that utilizes both Artificial Intelligence and intelligent automation.

AP departments receive invoices in many different ways: Word, Excel, PDF, EDI, XML, paper-based invoices, scanned documents sent by email, and more.

Capturing this data in all its forms is a challenge, especially with standard OCR. We have discovered companies that receive invoices by email, print them out, and then key the information into their accounting system or ERP. Or they scan the invoices using older OCR technology but do not have access to all the data because of integration issues.

For NetSuite users needing to scan and capture both paper and email invoices, Intelligent OCR is a cloud solution that intelligently captures all of the essential data into a sophisticated and adaptable approval workflow. And unlike most methods of data capture, you can automate the entire process with 95% accuracy for paper invoices, and 100% accuracy for electronic formats such as PDF, EDI, CSV, HTML, XML, Word etc.

Intelligent OCR uses Artificial Intelligence and intelligent automation to capture data from both email and paper invoices, eliminating the need for any data entry. A sophisticated workflow sends invoice data to approvers and automates 2 and 3 way matching.

Intelligent OCR searches, interprets, validates, and extrapolates semantic meaning from all types of file (and paper) formats. The technology is capable of automatically and intuitively detecting and learning unique supplier invoices based on their respective layouts. It intuitively performs field mapping and data collection, extracting the essential data and putting the data into a shared dashboard and workflow that integrates with NetSuite.

For more information or to book a demo of Intelligent OCR for NetSuite, click here.

Purchase Requisition Automation Reduces Indirect Spending
Purchase Requisition Automation Reduces Indirect Spending 150 150 Tim Robertson

purchase requisition automationWhat percentage of your company’s spend is under management?

For many companies surveyed, that percentage is under what should optimally be 100%.

purchase requisition automation

Indirect spend is a big issue,  and it is something many organizations have not grappled with.

71% of organizations say they lack visibility with the non-contracted/non-sourced spend category, and 50% said that maverick spending is another big concern.

purchase requisition automation

The cost of uncontrolled purchases

Controlling maverick spending is the challenge facing many organizations. Surveys show they are saying that maverick spending by individual managers or business units is front and center*.  

purchase requisition automation

ERPs and the Technology Challenge

Purchasing modules in ERPs are designed for direct purchasing, but not for managing indirect spending – and here are some of the reasons why:

  • Workflows are not flexible to match growing companies.
  • Purchasing that is operational is driven by growth – with few control mechanisms in place.
  • ERP modules for purchasing are complex and are directed by the “order-to-cash” cycle.
  • ERP user licenses are costly, impacting broad-based deployment.
  • Multiple versions of an ERP are common in large companies or organizations in different countries.
  • Managing spend across many ERPs is not practical.

Ensuring a Successful Implementation of Purchase Requisition Automation

Consult each department to find out specifically what they need to consider a transaction successful. As an example:

  • Purchasing has policies that dictate authorization levels required for approved purchases that have to be addressed.
  • A safety department is required to be on an approval list for anything that involves their department.
  • Accounts payable requires that there is a receipt and PO for the invoice being processed.

purchase requisition automation

Build in controls that relieve you from monitoring
An example would be if a person needs to identify approver’s signatures and authorization amounts. This happens when people leave the company, are promoted, or are new to the organization.

Determine what back-end reporting you need. For example:

  • Controllers who monitor spending in their area of responsibility may need to have the ability to drill down to the transaction in question.
  • Maintenance may need a report on what a specific vendor brings into their facility.
  • AP managers could access metrics on team performance, or have a more efficient and accurate accrual process.

Ensure you have the highest percentage of straight-through processing
If an invoice arrives that is lacking supporting documentation, there is a good chance it will have to go into an approval workflow to have someone look at it. By avoiding this manual process upfront, invoices can be processed in larger volumes automatically, avoiding human intervention altogether.

For more information on how you can empower your organization with automated purchase requisition automation, click here.

*Spend Matters