How to Keep Track of Invoices: Why Your Company Needs AP Automation

How to Keep Track of Invoices

For people in accounts payable, the ideal workday might consist of several key tasks ranging from orchestrating invoice payments, conducting spend analysis, fostering favorable vendor relations, and so on. But instead, what many people in this position actually end up spending most of their time doing is sending invoice approval reminders over and over again, manually keying in data, fixing invoice processing errors, and the like. If the latter sounds like the cycle your accounts payable team — or your one-person financial department superstar —  is stuck in and you’re ready to break free, then keep reading.

In this guide, we’ll show you several different methods for how to keep track of invoices, no matter your business size, stage, or need.

How to Keep Track of Invoices: What Does That Mean Exactly?

When we talk about “how to keep track of invoices” what we’re really talking about is the concept of invoice management.

What Invoice Management Is

Invoice management is the process of tracking an individual invoice from the time your business receives it to the time you pay it.

During this process, some of the steps may include verifying that an invoice is legitimate and correct, conversing with the right parties to get approval to pay the invoice, and recording the payment in company records to keep your overall accounting accurate and up to date.

Not only does invoice management have many moving parts, there are also many sources from which your business can receive invoices — vendors, consultants, suppliers, and more.

No matter the size of your business or whether or not you have a full-on accounts payable (AP) team, there’s a lot that goes into how you keep track of invoices. And with that, here’s why it’s time to prioritize developing a system that streamlines how to keep track of invoices in your organization.

How Invoice Management Typically Happens

Many companies have automated at least part of their accounts payable process, such as with scanning invoices. But when it comes to how to keep track of invoices, far too businesses are still doing things manually.

Manual invoice management might start with an invoice being emailed in, which AP automation software is perfectly poised and input into an accounting system. But for companies that adhere to largely manual AP processes, they might follow the receipt of an emailed invoice by printing it out and performing tasks themselves such as three-way matching invoices, purchase orders, and receipt reports, or requesting payment approvals.

The good news for companies that haven’t fully automated their AP operations is that it’s easy to pick up the baton from whatever a company has automated so far and finish the job. We’ll explore in a bit how Stampli can help make this happen.

Why Invoice Management Matters

In a short, if a business doesn’t manage its invoices effectively, those invoices might manage the business. In fact, research has found that more 80 percent of companies can be overwhelmed by invoice volume and formats.

Slipshod invoice management isn’t pretty. A company will find itself losing track of vital invoices and missing early B2B payment discounts and even regular deadlines, which paves the way for late fees. It will need weeks or months insteads of hours or a handful of days to process invoices. This can also drive up the cost to process each invoice.

Processing invoices expeditiously and cost-effectively starts with having keen focus on how to keep track of invoices.

3 Reasons to Prioritize Better Invoice Tracking

3 Reasons to Prioritize Better Invoice Tracking

There are many steps when it comes to the invoice procesing, as highlighted above.

Of course, every business will need to put its own spin on this list, likely rearranging and sometimes even adding steps to complete the invoice management process in a way that aligns with their business needs and practices.

But here are a few commonalities among businesses for why it pays to prioritize methods for how to keep track of invoices.

1. It Will Save Your Time

An ineffective invoice management process is one that consumes a lot of unnecessary time for accounts payable staff. Staff might labor over keying in every invoice to their accounting system by hand. Or they might dread the treks down to the filing room to try to find POs and receipt reports to match with invoices.

Another vampire of time with an out-of-tune invoice management process can be waiting for approvals. A study by Stampli and AP Now found that 72% of companies experienced slow invoice approval internally on a regular basis.

Needless to say, AP automation can dramatically save time when it comes to invoice management. These days, it’s built to automatically key in invoices, match them with other key documents, and gather approvals, among a number of other time-saving benefits. Forget the malaise and redundant tasks for AP staff.

2. It Will Save Your Money 

The average cost of manually processing a paper invoice is $30. Why? Lots of reasons, including employee time spent tracking down invoices, entering data, and doing rework; money spent on late fees, lost discounts, legal fines; outsourced invoicing and more.

However, with a system in place that dictates how to keep track of invoices across every team member, every time — you’ll be able to really streamline your processes to save not only time, but also money.

Top-performing accounts payables departments can process their invoices at a fraction of the cost cited above. Provided a company has a sufficient volume of invoices, AP automation software might even pay for itself.

3. It Will Save Your Sanity

Unfortunately, the majority of teams that handle invoice processes feel overburdened.

Not only are they engulfed by almost unmanageable amounts of invoices to process each day, the fact that these invoices are in tons of different formats — which is mentally taxing — doesn’t make anything any easier.

The bright spot here is that how you decide to keep track of invoices can turn a once overwhelming task into a surmountable one with tools and tricks that empower your team to handle anything vendors throw at them on a daily basis.  

Tracking Invoices with AP Automation

Tracking Invoices with AP Automation

When you’re ready to nail down how to keep track of invoices — from the very beginning to the very end — accounts payable automation is the answer.

AP Automation, Defined

Accounts payable automation, in short, is technology that enables businesses to take accounting processes formerly done by hand and have the bulk of them done by computer software.

AP automation software typically employs optical character recognition (OCR), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to make decisions and handle the more routine tasks that were once completed by human AP pros.

Humans are still very much needed by AP departments and companies. They are part of the process and are in control over AP with automation. Rather than manually keying in data, their talents can be applied to other areas as well. Such as high-level fraud review, vendor management, analysis of purchasing trends, or another special project that has been shelved due to lack of time. Meanwhile, automation software can help the end-to-end process of accounts payable move faster, cost less, and is more efficient overall.

Key Benefits of AP Automation

When shopping for an end-to-end AP automation solution, you won’t just get a platform with a few basic functions. This is partly due to the wide range of benefits brought to us by automation, which not only helps track invoices from end-to-end, but also provides the following benefits:

  • Smart invoice processing with receipt, capture, and coding;
  • Streamlined purchase order (PO) and three-way matching processes;
  • Fraud detection flags that recognize duplicates and mismatches;
  • Communication features that enable AP employees to collaborate across the organization over the course of the procure-to-pay process;
  • Features that enable payments to be made inside the system, complete with various payment method options (Check, Corporate Credit Card, and ACH payments);
  • Flexible integrations with financial systems you already use.

Invoice management can truly go to the next level when a company implements AP automation. So how to get AP automation in place? Let’s look at how Stampli can help.

Stampli: Your Partner in Invoice Management

Stampli is an all-in-one AP automation platform that helps companies processes invoices (and credit card transactions) end-to-end, all the while giving them the freedom to pay outside Stampli, or within via Stampli Direct Pay for ACH and check payments, or by Stampli Card for corporate credit card purchases.

Wherever a business is or isn’t leveraging AP automation, Stampli is standing by. Stampli is the most powerful way to process and pay invoices, in addition to issuing, controlling and processing credit card transaction just like invoices— all within the same system. Again, payments can be made outside of Stampli and the payments functionality is simply there for a businesses convenience. Stampli, unlike other providers isn’t a payments-first solution, rather, a processes-first AP automation solution which has a businesses interests front and center, and gives them the control over all things accounts payable.

Stampli does this with Billy the Bot, an AI-powered bot that employs AI, ML, and OCR to process invoices — or flag fraudulent ones — in real-time. The more you use Billy, the better it gets at working within your processes and improving your accuracy and turnaround time when it comes to processing and paying.

Stampli (and Billy) can also perform three-way matching, data entry, and much more. How to keep track of invoices will never seem so easy.

Want to learn more? Check out Stampli and Treasury Webinars’ free survey report, “The How, The Why & The ROI of AP Automation.”

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