Accounts Payable Operations – AP Workflow – Inspect, Don’t Expect

By NE Docs | August 14, 2018

Inspect, Dont Expect

Let’s assume you have implemented an AP Workflow tool

The Go Live went well.  Some issues were identified during the Stabilization Period and were promptly corrected.  Users have become comfortable with the system and all seems to be working as expected. That is great news but are you sure that is the case?  For example, most workflow systems have a queue that stores all invoices sent out for review and/or approval.  Experience has shown that the reviewers and approvers are diligent about addressing their invoices but don’t assume all the invoices in that queue are current.  Pull a report and review the “Last Updated” date. Aged invoices can be the result of someone being out for an extended period or someone having left the company and their user account was deactivated before invoices were moved out of his/her task list.

Workflow system’s should also have a queue for invoices that have been posted into your ERP but not yet paid, is the volume consistent or is it growing?  If the number is growing, perform an audit.  Have some of those invoices been paid but the payment details have not been properly applied in the workflow tool?  Identify the root cause and then work to get a correction into place.  This real-life example was the result of the company implementing ACH payments and the details not getting included in the payment file sent into the workflow system.  Since the change was made to the payment process and not the invoice processing, the assumption was made that there would be no impact to workflow.

Even if the volume of Open Payables in a workflow is staying consistent, are there still invoices and/or credit memos that are older than their due dates?  Investigate.  Maybe a change was made to invoice details within the ERP after the invoice was moved to the queue for posted invoices. Once the payment was made, the details returned to the workflow system no longer matched.  If this is the case, unless there is human intervention, the invoice will never auto route to the queue for paid invoices.

Workflow systems can:

  • Auto match PO invoices.
  • Auto route Non-PO invoices to the correct reviewer/approver.
  • Identify exceptions based on validation rules configured in the system.
  • Confirm compliance to business rules set up in the system.
  • Offer audit trails.
  • Store images and all related details.

And the reporting capabilities available in AP workflow tools can be used to identify any sub-set of invoices that should be audited/reviewed.

  • Pull an aging of all invoices that have not been sent to the ERP yet.
    • By Current Status (Queue)
    • By Scan date
    • Select all, some or one of the queues the invoices are in
  • Export list of invoices in workflow waiting for payment details
    • Compare to open payables details in ERP
  • Reporting to see what % of invoices needed to the “touched” by AP processors versus those that auto routed through the system
  • Search tool
    • Robust selection criteria options
    • Header, Line or PO details
    • Multiple date type ranges

For example, to determine which invoices have been sitting in the queue for invoices to be approved more than 5 days, use either the Aging Report or the Search Tool. Enter the appropriate selection criteria then export the output to Excel for further analysis.

Or…

review the list of approvers included in the above to ensure all are still employed or to determine if any are out on extended leave.

Just like with any tool, things happen that can cause the tool to stop working as expected.  Keep your workflow tool clean and well “maintained”.  Periodically, review the invoices that are in each queue to ensure they are not aging out and are being actioned as expected.  Remind those who supply input to Accounts Payable or use AP data for their processes, to notify you of any changes they make that could impact the performance of AP Workflow.

Bottom line?  Inspect, don’t just expect.

Want to learn more? Contact New England Document Systems. They have the experience, and the resources to assist you; from answering your questions about available solutions to helping you to implement the right tool. Contact us to discuss just how much improvement you want to see in your Accounts Payable Operation.

This article is part of New England Document Systems’ partnership with industry experts. This contribution was written by Anne Wheeler of CS Process Flows, LLC. Anne is a Consultant and Project Manager specializing in Accounts Payable processes and systems.

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