Account Payable Invoice Manager for SAP
The situation – SAP ERP Accounts Payable
SAP ERP FI and SAP Accounts Payable (AP) are considered core applications within the SAP business framework. Almost every company using SAP has deployed this core SAP functionality. SAP FI has been around since the earliest versions of SAP.
In the past the exchange of invoicing information happened in form of paper invoices which got processed manually, coming in through the central in-house mail service, being approved on paper, and then processed off the paper form by the company’s invoicing department. Only then the automation provided by SAP ERP FI started to kick-in and the process was well documented and automated from here on.
The problem – Paper based processes create a gap
While many companies adopted electronic document management systems, most of them initially opted to store documents for long-term retention in an archive, but shied away from fully automating the process. This created a significant lack of insight into the process. Invoices had been legally delivered to the buyer, but no electronic record was created until a few days or even weeks later, in case of a lengthy internal approval process. Any exemption handling required creating paper copies, in-house paper routing, and inefficient, sometimes duplicate, record keeping in different departments.
Cash flow management requires more and better views into payment obligations as companies want to be more in control of their assets. Missing insight into the payment process creates internal overhead for servicing vendor inquiries. Invoice payment exceptions like price or quantity discrepancies are not resolved efficiently internally.
The solution – Significant process improvements through digitizing records
Today more and more companies realize that they cannot afford ineffective invoice handling anymore. The solution is simple – digitization of invoices (for those coming in on paper) needs to happen at the beginning of the process, ideally combined with state-of-the-art optical character recognition (OCR) to reduce manual capture of invoice information. Other communication streams need to be supported: invoices through EDI, payment portals or email need to flow right into the system. All information should be available in one central place, including a clear view on the payment and exception status of a particular invoice.
AP Invoice Manager
xft invoice manager seamlessly combines all the above mentioned input streams and presents all information in one central place: the invoice monitor. From here, all payments can be processed and tracked, drill-down capabilities exist to explore details on a specific payment process, and structured or ad-hoc workflows can be started to resolve any payment issues around price and quantity discrepancies or non-matching invoices with missing approvals. The built-in reporting mechanism integrates with Microsoft Excel for easy data exploration and all information is documented automatically in a compliant way in the underlying SAP archiving solution.
xft invoice manager, based on the powerful xft business framework for SAP, fills the final gap and ultimately allows for efficient invoice processing and fully compliant processes, allowing you to turn your Accounts Payable organization into a best-run business amongst an advanced group of industry leaders.
At the heart of xft invoice manager is the central invoice monitor. This monitor serves as the central workbench for all accountants working on invoice verification. It provides an excellent overview of all invoices to be processed and allows to control the entire process centrally, from parking through releasing and posting.
Invoices enter the process via a scan client that is hooked up to the system. The xft invoice manager works with many different scan clients and is not restricted to certain vendors.
The scan client extracts the invoice data by OCR, pre-validates it and transfers it to xft invoice manager together with the original scanned image, using the standard interface SAP ArchiveLink. For each scanned invoice, xft invoice manager generates a separate SAP workflow in the central invoice monitor and automatically determines the accountant responsible using the SAP vendor master data. At the same time, xft invoice manager performs additional data verification, for example, it checks whether the creditor data in the system is complete. In the meantime, the digitized original invoice is stored in the SAP archive system as a PDF document.
xft invoice manager automatically fills the invoice instance in SAP with the data extracted from the scan client. It then checks whether the conditions for automatic posting have been met (optional step). If not, the invoice is parked in SAP and its status is displayed accordingly in the invoice receipt monitor. In addition, the PDF of the original scanned invoice is automatically linked to the parked or fully posted SAP document.
From the invoice receipt monitor, the accountant triggers the approval workflow at the touch of a button. The system automatically suggests that the SAP user who placed the related order should be the approver, but the accountant can also select any other user in the system. Furthermore, there is a field for notes, where users can select a suitable text from various standard texts and add it to the workflow.
The approver now receives the invoice PDF together with the request in his or her inbox in SAP Business Workplace. At the same time, he or she gets an e-mail with a link that enables the invoice to be called using the SAP Web interface from outside the system and displayed in a Web browser.
To process the invoice, there are three options: releasing, rejecting or forwarding the invoice. If the approver does not release the invoice, he or she must state a reason in the field for notes. The accountant then can incorporate this reason into a letter that is sent to the vendor along with the rejected invoice. If the approver forwards the invoice, this information is displayed in the invoice receipt monitor as a new workflow step and the current agent is displayed. As a result, the accountant always knows exactly where the invoice is.
xft invoice manager supports this and many related invoice management processes, all directly integrated with standard SAP accounts payable functionality. xft invoice manager is a powerful tool to handle even the largest invoice amounts and brings structure and control to a process that formerly offered little insight during processing and such adds tremendous value for cash management and general processing efficiency.