How to Automate Your Accounts Payable Audit Trail
How to Automate Your Accounts Payable Audit Trail 150 150 Tim Robertson

accounts payable audit trail


Having your organization’s financial statements and AP processes audited can be both stressful and time consuming. Technology has made it easier for AP audits though, thanks to automation. Audit trails complete with all of the connected documents, messages between team members in your company, and timestamps are included in robust AP automation systems.

Importance and Value of an Audit Trail

An audit trail or audit log is a history of every transaction and includes all of the documents involved in the purchasing and payment process, including messages between employees, invoices, purchase orders, and more. It is a record of all the steps involved in the transaction. The benefits of having a software-based audit trail in place include:

Fraud Prevention

Once employees realize that everything is being tracked by software, they will think twice about attempting something they shouldn’t. A good AP automation platform will record each and every transaction and auditing is usually the default setting.

Reduction of Manual Errors

How many times have people in accounting or finance spent hours searching for all the documents related to one transaction? A software audit trail can access all records instantly. The audit trail will also show corrections or other changes made to a transaction, and provide visibility into who made them and when.

Reduction of  Stress Levels

Tax audits can be painful and expose the business to tax penalty risk any time it happens. Audit fees are based on the time involved and paper processes will take up a considerable amount of it. Showing a lack of an audit trail, or having missing documents and transactions raises red flags for auditors, so it’s wise to ensure everything is available for review, and quickly.

Ensuring Compliance Regulations and Investor Concerns

Companies in every industry, whether they are regulated by government or other regulatory body, need to show that they are compliant with policies and procedures. As well, lenders and investors need to be assured that the organization is transparent and accountable for all the transactions it undertakes.

Comprehensive AP automation software is engineered to provide an audit trail complete with all of the documents and messages involved in each and every transaction.

For more information about EchoVera AP Automation with Archive & Audit, visit our solution page here.

 

EchoVera Surpasses $3 Billion Invoice Processing Mark
EchoVera Surpasses $3 Billion Invoice Processing Mark 150 150 Tim Robertson

AP AUTOMATION
———————————-

As seen in MarketWatch, Morningstar and PRNewswire

EchoVera, an AP automation solutions provider in North America, surpassed the $3 Billion invoice processing mark for the organizations it serves in Europe, Australia, the US, and Canada. EchoVera’s customers use Palette AP Automation software to process, approve, and match supplier invoices.

EchoVera services and sells Palette Software solutions to customers in diverse industries such as biopharma, automotive, airlines and telecommunications.

Ralf Leitner, CEO of EchoVera said, “Palette AP Automation is extremely powerful. It can handle complex tasks such as PO matching with invoices and internal or external purchase orders that have multiple pages and hundreds of lines. Users find it intuitive to use as it easily adapts to different roles within any organization. Customers are always concerned about integration and Palette has a rapid deployment connector for popular ERPs such as NetSuite, SAP Business One, Sage 200, Sage Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle.”

Palette AP Automation gives employees visibility into supplier invoice status and lets them approve invoices through email and mobile devices. Palette also automates the matching of invoices, purchase orders and goods receipts. Exceptions are automatically put into an approval workflow, delivering all the information necessary for approvers to clear the exception.

Palette’s AP Automation and Purchase to Pay platform complies with rigorous standards and regulations demanded by financial institutions and healthcare organizations. Accreditations in the US include SOC1, SOC2, HIPPA, ISO 27001, GDPR, and PEPPOL.

Key to successfully automating the business processes in accounts payable are an efficient invoice data capture system, seamless integration to the ERP, and an approval workflow that is highly configurable. 

One of EchoVera’s service offerings that complements Palette is digital capture technology for collecting invoice data. Intelligent OCR takes paper or emailed invoices and intuitively captures field data. It handles electronic formats such as PDF, EDI, XML, TIFF, CSV, and HTML. The accuracy rate for paper is 95%, and for electronic formats is 100%.

Palette AP Automation and Intelligent OCR require minimal IT resources and are available on-premise or in the Cloud.

About EchoVera

EchoVera Inc. provides Intelligent OCR, AP Automation, Purchase Automation & Spend Management solutions to organizations looking to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of their financial operations. EchoVera brings over 30 years experience to clients worldwide. Clients include NCAA, Riovant, Mygrant Glass, Transtelco and ClubLink.

For more information about Echovera: https://echovera.ca

About Palette

Palette is a leading provider of accounts payable automation with 3,500 clients and 250,000 users worldwide. Palette is a global solution for companies with multiple ERPs, multiple countries, currencies and tax rules. Customers get unlimited users with no user license costs, bulletproof compliance control and minimal IT involvement.

In user surveys, 96% feel that Palette fulfills expectations and 95% consider Palette to be a worthwhile investment.

Palette provides the white label platform behind AP automation solutions offered by international banks, accounting firms, and ERP managed service providers worldwide.

To learn more about Palette Accounts Payable Automation: https://www.palettesoftware.com

OCR Invoice Scanning for Both Paper and Email Formats
OCR Invoice Scanning for Both Paper and Email Formats 150 150 Tim Robertson
OCR invoice scanning
Organizations looking for OCR invoice scanning software to capture the supplier invoices they receive have a choice to make.

There are key differences between OCR technologies. The difference can mean having a solution that handles all formats (with a substantial increase in productivity) where intelligent software intuitively maps out the fields to be scanned, and then inputs the data to the ERP – or investing in OCR technology that is limited in the formats it handles, has ERP integration issues or is user-unfriendly.

The most cost-efficient platforms offer a subscription where pricing is based on the number of invoices processed (as opposed to the number of users).

Look for a solution that gives you the most flexibility no matter what the format, as well as the option to have an approval workflow, PO matching, and other functionality.

Legacy OCR

Historically invoice data capture is performed in two ways: manually keying in data from paper invoices; or the invoices are scanned with OCR software and then manually mapped in order to capture essential information from relevant fields in the document. Here are some of the issues with simple OCR:

  • Time is spent on field-mapping: a staff member gives the OCR software instructions as to where data is located on an invoice
  • Time is also spent on data collection: a staff member manually selects the data zones
  • Integration and the lack of a workflow
Intelligent OCR

Intelligent OCR changes the playing field dramatically. It intuitively performs field mapping and data collection, freeing up time and making the entire process more efficient:

  • Automatically learns supplier invoices based on their respective layouts, intuitively mapping field data.
  • Allows the user to search typical values in any document, and tagging it using a built-in database.
  • 95% accuracy rates for paper invoices
  • 100% accuracy rates for electronic file formats that received in email, such as PDF, XML, CSV, HTML, Word, Excel and more.

Once the data is captured by Intelligent OCR the option is to have it sent directly to the ERP or through an AP automation platform.

For more information on OCR invoice scanning visit Intelligent OCR, here.

 

 

 

AP Automation, The Business Case and That Missing $56,000
AP Automation, The Business Case and That Missing $56,000 150 150 Tim Robertson

“I just found a $56,000 invoice that wasn’t on the spreadsheet I sent you.”


It’s month end, and as a CFO, controller, plant manager, or accounting manager you need accurate, up-to-date data. Unfortunately you only have an estimate as to where your payables stand. Some important documents are missing for a large invoice that is overdue. And one of the large spreadsheets a manager sent you has some missing fields – making you wonder what else is out there you can’t see.

That could be the scenario for anyone who is working with business processes that lack a cohesive platform for digital workflows and invoice processing capabilities. Enter AP Automation technology – Stage Right!

There are many factors contributing to the proliferation of AP Automation solutions, some of them being:

Digital Transformation 

Companies the world over are transforming their operations to reflect a more digital approach, including SaaS software solutions and tools. The aim is to boost productivity, get more visibility, and reduce costs.

 AI and Automation  

Automation and AI technologies are used to help employees be more productive and do more high value work, rather than repetitive tasks that are prone to error.

Paper-based processes in the Finance Department

Finance may be one of the last places companies are looking to optimize, as organizations switch from legacy on-site ERPs to cloud-based solutions such as NetSuite,  SAP Business One, Oracle E Business Suite, and more.

Here is the business case for AP automation for organizations interested in augmenting the investment they have made in their ERP. There is plenty of evidence for positive ROI and success in taming the paper-based processes in finance.

The Business Case for AP Automation PDF Download

 

The Intelligent Approach to Invoice Data Capture
The Intelligent Approach to Invoice Data Capture 150 150 Tim Robertson

invoice data capture


AP departments are investing in intelligent OCR invoice data capture to scan both paper and emailed invoices which, according to PayStream Advisors, are a big pain point for many organizations.

That’s because manual data entry has its limitations, and legacy OCR (your grandmother’s OCR) has both integration and throughput issues.

Whether the company is experiencing growth, or paper processes are holding back the process of becoming more efficient, AP departments are loath to add to their headcount just to manually enter invoice data. As well, in spite of technologies such as EDI and network portals, the vast majority of supplier invoices are sent either as email or paper formats.

An Intelligent Solution

Invoice data capture  software that uses automation and some patented AI to capture either paper or emailed invoices delivers the optimum ROI.  The software identifies, categorizes, and extracts data from all the ways invoices are received, be it paper or electronic (i.e. PDF, XML, EDI, Word, Excel, TIFF, JPG). 

It intuitively studies each invoice to know who it is from and which fields to gather data from, storing the information in a database. Invoices can have multiple pages: as an example a 50 page invoice can be processed. 

The accuracy rate for paper invoice scanning is 95%, and the accuracy rate for electronic invoice files is 100%.

Intelligent OCR & Intelligent Data Capture

The chart in the post below shows how different invoice data methods work, and the impact they have on both the organization and suppliers.

By using the best technology, invoices sent and processed in either electronic or paper format can be efficiently scanned and made ready for the ERP – without the supplier taking on extra costs for infrastructure or where the on-boarding rate is low.

EchoVera’s Intelligent OCR invoice capture solution solves many of the issues surrounding invoice capture and compatibility – it’s the optimal combination of both paper and electronic invoice scanning.

It’s available either on-premise or in the Cloud, and the I.T. involvement is minimal. There is no cost for suppliers, and it seamlessly integrates with popular ERPs. For more information about Intelligent OCR, click here.

Invoice Scanning and Intelligent Data Capture – A Guide
Invoice Scanning and Intelligent Data Capture – A Guide 150 150 Tim Robertson

invoice scanning


PayStream Advisors did a survey of corporate back offices and found that many organizations are struggling with high volumes of both email and paper invoices – without an efficient way to capture the information into their ERP through technology such as invoice scanning, using OCR, or other means.

With the plethora of invoice scanning options around this important issue, it’s easy to get confused. Even the different file formats are treated differently, so it’s a good idea to understand which technologies do what, exactly. Let’s start with the bigger picture.

Inputting Invoices To Your ERP

Overall, here are the issues growing organizations with large invoice volumes are dealing with:

  • Emailed invoices are received electronically, printed out and then keyed in manually (time consuming and resource intensive)
  • Many companies have some OCR software, but often it is outdated or has integration issues. Older OCR software requires a lot of manual effort (such as manual field mapping)
  • The PayStream report talks about efficient invoices, which are invoices that arrive for processing through EDI or a solution portal. The vast majority of invoices are not delivered this way, however, as most suppliers are sending emailed and/or paper format invoices to their customers

Five Ways To Process An Invoice in 2020

1. Digital PDF Suppliers output an invoice from their ERP as a digital PDF. The PDF is sent to a specific email address that uses automation and Artificial Intelligence to instantly recognize the vendor and read all of the field data.

The accuracy rate of 100% is achieved because it is a direct data transfer, since digital PDFs have a data layer that can be extracted by the software. Suppliers don’t need to change any of their technical structure or pay network fees, so on-boarding is rather painless.

2. Advanced OCR
For Paper Invoices – Paper invoices are scanned and advanced OCR recognizes the supplier and processes the invoice according to pre-set rules.

The software intuitively knows which fields to capture and stores the information in a database. Accuracy rates are high for this method as well: around 95%. Suppliers are already sending their invoices by post, so on-boarding is unnecessary.

For Invoices Sent In Email as Scanned Images – Sometimes suppliers will send a “picture” of the invoice (also known as a scanned image) by email. This type of file is processed by advanced OCR as well, with the same accuracy rate.

3. Invoice Portals
Suppliers enter invoice data into a supplier portal. Usually the data is manually keyed in, a time-consuming task. Low on-boarding rates (but usually good for smaller suppliers).

4. EDI or XML
The supplier sends an invoice in the XML or EDI format. Buyers who have an EDI system in place are happy, but suppliers have to justify the cost of installing and maintaining EDI. EDI and XML both have high accuracy rates, but the on-boarding rate is low, due to high cost.

5. Manual Data Entry
Keying in data from invoices manually, either from paper invoices or from emailed invoices that have been printed out to facilitate the process.

Things to Consider

For organizations looking to capture email, paper, and EDI or XML invoices digitally, it’s important to think about:

  • the time involved in set up
  • the I.T. resources needed
  • infrastructure costs
  • cost involved for the supplier
  • on-boarding rates

Intelligent OCR & Intelligent Data Capture
EchoVera’s Intelligent OCR & Data Capture solution handles all the above file formats, from paper, to email, PDF, EDI, and XML very efficiently, for more information click here.

Intelligent OCR integrates with over 50 popular ERPs like NetSuite and SAP Business One, read more about integration here.

How Sales Order Processing for NetSuite Increases Sales
How Sales Order Processing for NetSuite Increases Sales 150 150 Tim Robertson
sales order processing netsuite
Sales order automation gives companies using NetSuite the ability to move away from the data entry of paper, fax, and emailed sales order documents

Companies using cloud-based sales order automation solutions receive validated orders directly into their NetSuite ready for processing – within seconds of their customers having sent it. Better yet, it’s done with zero technical changes or process change in the sender’s environment.

Not only does the processing of sales orders become more efficient, some companies have experienced substantial sales growth as a result of implementing sales order automation.

Most orders are received via phone, fax, with the vast majority arriving on email,” said an executive at Arco, a company that provides over 22,000 products in the safety category worldwide. “Our products were shipped to over 100 countries last year! Once received, the order is processed manually. Because of the time this takes we couldn’t process orders fast enough and were losing potential orders as a result.”

How automation processes emailed orders

Customers who send their sales orders by email are given a specific email address assigned for processing their orders. Sales order capture technology maps the data directly from the PDF (or Word, XML, EDI, Excel) document, validates it, and then places it into NetSuite.

How sales order automation handles faxed or paper orders

For customers who print or fax in their orders, Intelligent OCR for sales order processing intuitively detects each customer’s unique identity. It then performs field mapping on each order form, and makes the data available in the sales order application.

The impact on customers

It’s important that customers are not impacted by a new technology related to their ordering process, which is why this approach to automation works so well. And because best-of-breed sales order automation is cloud-based, there is no need for any application, infrastructure, or process change for the buyers sending in their orders.

Overall benefits of an automated approach

Certainly companies are reducing sales order processing administration overhead. Employees are freed up from the manual task of keying data or inputing sales order information directly, and can focus on more high value work. Errors are eliminated – accuracy rates of 95% for paper and 100% for electronic formats. And ultimately, sales order automation gives the customer a better experience.

For more information about ASAP Sales Order Processing Automation for NetSuite, click here.

PayStream Report: Invoice Approval Workflow Trends
PayStream Report: Invoice Approval Workflow Trends 150 150 Tim Robertson

invoice approval workflow

Paystream Advisors finds that a large percentage of organizations say manual data entry is one of their biggest issues. Companies currently receive invoices in EDI format, paper and email – paper and email (usually a PDF) being the most predominate format.

As a result, a lot of time is spent inputting, processing, and manually transporting supplier invoices. As a company grows, invoice volume puts pressure on staff and resources.

Other Invoice Pain Points
Routing issues, lost or missing invoices, and decentralized invoice receipt are other pain points PayStream uncovered. Exceptions have a tendency to bog down processing time as a result of rigid workflows or missing documents.

Solving Invoice Processing Issues With Invoice Workflow Automation
The report also reports on how invoice approval workflow automation (IWA) has provided the benefits to companies who have embraced it:

  • Lower processing costs
  • Improved visibility of liabilities
  • Shorter approval cycle times
  • More productive employees

Achieving Invoice Workflow Automation Success
The new report also provides advice on how to choose and deploy the right IWA solution for your business. Key deciding factors include:

  • types of invoices the organization deals with
  • invoice volumes
  • ERP integration
  • staffing levels
  • company growth

To download a copy of the report: PayStream Advisors Invoice Workflow Automation Report click here.

Intelligent Document Recognition – Making Invoices ERP Ready
Intelligent Document Recognition – Making Invoices ERP Ready 150 150 Tim Robertson


Intelligent document recognition (IDR) is an important technology for growing companies. With growth comes larger invoice volumes and a greater strain on resources.

A recent PayStream Advisors report highlights the fact that one of the biggest challenges facing both enterprise and SME organizations is the handling of large volumes of both paper and email invoices – the majority of which are not received as EDI or XML.

Because of this, many AP departments devote a large portion of their time to the manual input of invoice data into their ERP – a time-consuming and error-laden process at the best of times.

The good news is that most ERPs output invoices in PDF format, which is extremely compatible with the A.I. and automation currently available in intelligent document recognition technologies.

With respect to ERPs that produce invoices in other formats (such as XML, Excel, EDI, or JPG among others), the good news is that intelligent capture technology can handle these formats as well. 

How Intelligent Documentation Recognition Works

To classify an invoice, IDR uses information stored in a database to recognize documents according to their layout.

Once the document is recognized, IDR collects data from the data fields that have been mapped according to rules that apply to that vendor or organization. This data is then sent into a business process such as an invoice processing application, approval workflow or to the ERP.

Some IDR technologies are electronic only, in that they can only process electronic formats. Others can handle paper invoices as well by scanning the information and then mapping the data fields accordingly.

Intelligent OCR handles both paper and electronic formats seamlessly.

Paper invoices are scanned and intuitively recognized by the software, the field data is mapped and the invoice status is available in a central dashboard. Electronic invoices, in any format, are instantly recognized and processed in a similar fashion.

For companies that are looking to streamline their AP processes, Intelligent OCR combined with workflow creates a seamless process that reduces processing costs and speeds up approval cycle times.

Advanced IDR

Intelligent OCR uses both A.I. and capture automation to scan paper and electronic invoice documents, turning the information into useful data. The cloud-based software seamlessly integrates with popular ERPs and requires minimal  I.T. involvement. It seamlessly integrates with NetSuite,  SAP Business One, SAP ECC, Intaact, Dynamics, Infor, QAD and more

See more about Intelligent OCR here.

 

 

 

 

Accounts Payable Enters The Year 2018 With AP Automation
Accounts Payable Enters The Year 2018 With AP Automation 150 150 Tim Robertson

 

Accounts Payable in 1988 and 2018

In 1988 approximately 15% of US households had PCs (personal computers), there was no internet as we know it today (although there was Internet Relay Chat), Motorola was selling mobile phones (mostly for installation in cars) and a cloud was a “visible mass of condensed water vapour floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground”.

Paper and paper processes were king – meaning if paper is still central to your 21st century AP process your AP team is still working with leading edge, circa 1988 technology!

It’s How Invoices Are Paid That Counts

Your accounts payable team is responsible for processing and reviewing the invoice transactions between your company and your suppliers. On the surface the process is fairly straightforward. You buy something, with or without a PO, and then you have to pay for it. Your payment must meet the terms and conditions agreed upon at the time of purchase.

As is the case in most things – the devil is in the details. And it turns out that this “simple” process is actually quite involved. It’s how you pay your invoices that counts.

  • Are your people opening the mail and routing paper invoices – or are they printing e-mailed invoices and then sending the paper for approval?
  • Who is coding your invoices, and who approves each purchase?
  • Does the invoice, based upon the amount, need more than one authorization?
  • Who checks to be sure that the PO-based invoices match the actual PO and if this is not the case, what happens next?
  • How do you know when the goods/services are received and what happens when there is a discrepancy? Who reconciles?

In 1988 this process could take several days – sometimes weeks. There was no other way. But “it’s 2018” and our solution is doing the following for clients:

  • reducing approval cycle times by up to 70%
  • reducing processing costs by up to 40%
  • having an up to 20% increase in invoice volumes without adding staff

In 1988 you had no choice – take that piece of paper, put it in an envelope, have someone walk it up 3 floors and around the building, wait for it to come back…

Make A Choice

Today you do have a choice – stay loyal to your paper processes or advance to a cost effective, efficient automated AP technology that empowers everyone who touches the payment process.

To find out more about EchoVera’s AP Automation that has a 95% approval rating and requires minimal I.T. involvement, click here.