Minimize the Too-Much-Data-Entry Headache

Fix data entry with invoice automation

When asked to identify their most frustrating ongoing problems in a recent AP Now survey, over half mentioned too much data entry. That is kind of amazing given all the wonderful technology that is focused on the accounts payable function. Let’s take a look at a few things everyone can do to reduce this headache.

Step one: If your organization has gone down the automation path and it is not being fully utilized, you need to investigate why that is and deal with those issues. Vendors who say things like, “we’re more comfortable mailing an invoice that using the online approach” should be dealt with firmly. Inform them invoices not submitted through your automation approach are paid more slowly – and then make sure their payments are delayed. This may sound harsh, but your organization spent a lot of time, effort and money to automate and it should be fully utilized.

Step two: Once you’ve eliminated those problems, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Whenever you have manual data entry, expect a certain minimal amount of keying errors. That’s just a fact of life when using manual processes. The emphasis here is that it should be minimal. Even the best of processors will make an occasional error. This is just one more reason invoice automation is so attractive.

Step three: After eliminating the keying error issue, you need to analyze why you have all the extra keying. Is the extra work due to an error on the purchase order (PO), invoice or receiving document? Keep in mind, that you will always have occasional errors as no one is infallible and like your processors, everyone makes the occasional error. But that’s not what we’re aiming at.

Step four: At that point you can narrow in on the cause and source. For example, if you have a large number of POs with errors, dig deeper to discover who is issuing the problematic POs. Are a good portion of them coming from one office or one purchaser? If so, you need to discuss the matter with them to see if they can fix the issue, especially if they are making the same mistake over and over again.

If a large number of invoices from the same vendor have a consistent issue, it might be time for a chat with purchasing to see if they want to approach the vendor about it or they would prefer you do so.

Concluding Thoughts

Basically, the key to this issue is to identify problematic areas that are causing the lion’s share of the extra work and then figure out how to eliminate or minimize those issues.


This blog was written by the founder of AP Now, Mary S. Schaeffer.

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