Invoice matching - the process of matching invoices to purchase orders (PO) - seems pretty straightforward on the face of it.
In the purchase-to-pay cycle between a supplier and paying business, a purchase order is raised, invoice processed, and the two are simply matched to numbers correlating on both documents.
But it’s not often as easy as this. Invoice matching is a complex task that ends up being confusing and time-consuming - most likely due to human error on either side.
Automation tools are making invoice matching much more simple, saving accounts payable (AP) teams time and resources by providing ‘touchless’ automated invoice processing in the purchase-to-pay process.
What is invoice matching?
Invoice matching essentially connects three of the main processes in accounting - accounts receivable, procurement, and accounts payable - which is why it’s sometimes referred to as three-way matching.
Three-way matching analyses certain financial documents against others linked to it in order to verify the information provided is accurate so that payment can be completed:
Purchase order (PO) - the approved internal document sent from the buyer to the supplier which confirms the need to purchase a set of goods or services.
- Supporting documents - typically sent from the supplier after the purchase order is received, supporting documents - such as order receipts, packing slips or received notices - provide proof of purchase and/or delivery and can include information such as unit price, payment terms, and method of payment.
- Item invoice - sent by the supplier to the buyer after goods or services have been received, an item invoice will contain the same information as the original purchase order and supporting documents, but will also contain an invoice number, total invoice amount, and vendor contact information.
What should take seconds is actually a vitally important procedure in business, because if you’re not getting paid on time then you can’t spend at the other end.
In a recent survey commissioned by Yooz, UK organisations highlighted the key issues for late payments were trouble validating invoices (38%), slow/manual processes (37%), and administrative errors (33%).
Having automation in place would help with all of these factors. In the same survey, UK organisations highlighted late payments (41%) as the biggest risk by not using automation in their accounts payable processes.
Although invoice matching ultimately aims to make sure the payment amount is correct, it can also help provide more secure payments to vendors, suppliers, and clients.
Automating the purchase-to-pay process provides full validation of things such as purchase order number, supplier name, address, and invoice amount. A full, digital audit trail can also be viewed, downloaded and provided to check for accounts payable fraud.
With automation, businesses can place better trust in their accounting processes.
How are purchase orders associated with invoices?
The invoice matching process starts when a purchase order is created from the buying organisation and an invoice sent to the supplier.
The buyer starts the purchase-to-pay cycle, stating factors such as services/goods needed, the date the order was raised, quantity, vendor, price. Once approved internally, a purchase order number will be raised.
This last thing is absolutely key in this process, as this is ultimately how purchase orders are linked with invoices to save everyone time and effort later down the chain.
The invoice has to include the purchase order number in order to validate payment and be recorded in financial systems. This helps provide accounting departments on both sides that the transaction has been budgeted for, approved, and helps speed up payment.
That purchase order is then generated and sent to the vendor, typically via email or through an automated accounting system. Once the services or goods are delivered, the buyer would then need to notify the seller by registering an invoice with the accounting team to include in the business reporting.
But only as long as the invoice details match the purchase order. So what happens if the two don’t match up?
Why do invoices not match purchase orders?
Issues tend to happen when the information produced on the purchase order does not match the invoice. But how can this happen, especially as documents get checked by many different people and departments?
Most mistakes tend to happen due to human error. Unfortunately we’re all human, and mistakes do happen, but these could be costly if dealing with smaller suppliers who need efficient payment.
One example could be that the amount of products written on the invoice do not match the number on the purchase order, which could affect the price and therefore over- or under-payment.
Although some of these mistakes may be fine margins, any deviation absolutely has to be identified as part of the invoice matching process.
Nobody wants to use up resources to undergo an investigation into missing or unvalidated payments, nor do they want to take up the accounting departments’ time to contact the vendor or supplier to correct any errors.
The issue of invoices not matching purchase orders is one that continues to wreak havoc on accounting departments.
Having to manually manage errors in the purchase-to-payment chain can be one of the most time-consuming and resource-intensive tasks in the accounts payable department.
Businesses and organisations need to arm their teams with tools and systems that help automate these processes to make sure they never happen again.
How Yooz automates from purchase order to invoice payment
However, automation itself is not the answer. Rather than automating the validation of invoices to purchase orders, businesses need an end-to-end solution that covers the entire purchase-to-pay cycle.
Although automation is fast becoming popular to reduce repetitive, labour-intensive tasks, too many organisations still don’t have a solution in place able to deal with all of the processes involved with invoicing - from the moment a purchase order is issued right up to the initiation of payment.
That’s where Yooz comes in. Not only does the Yooz platform make end-to-end accounts payable automation affordable for businesses, it takes the risk associated with human error and fraudulent activities completely out of the loop.
AP automation from Yooz boasts one of the highest rates of accuracy and speed on the market today, reducing not only the chances of human error creeping in, but also the cost of manually processing invoices by around 80 percent and helping shorten the approval process from days to hours.
The platform can be up and running in a matter of hours without any complex training or instruction manuals, allowing accounting teams to enjoy the ease of automatically routing invoices and purchase orders directly to the right people without error.
Only with end-to-end accounts payable automation will you be able to successfully complete the purchase-to-pay journey every time and boost your bottom line.
Looking to automate the purchase order matching process?