Automated data extraction of accounts payable invoices and purchase order matching using OASIS AP
In 2014, a major Government Agency, controller of much of the Victorian regional water system and employer of over 1000 employees contracted eCloud Business Services to help eliminate the manual handling and distribution of invoices for approval. The purpose was to expedite the approval process and reduce processing costs.
The goal of the project was to achieve auto-approval of at least 90% of all invoices based on invoice matching with purchase orders, within 6 months of implementation of the OASIS service.
The client was looking for a solution that was compatible with OCR/ICR so that it can provide electronic capture, processing, and validation of invoices automatically.
The requirement to fully integrate with their finance solution, TechnologyOne, was a critical issue so that they could leverage the enterprise financial suite along with the available IT operating environment.
The client was keen to find a solution that could cater to their immediate needs, but was also flexible enough to meet its future demands.
The client selected OASIS AP to conduct the data extraction and PO matching service. Once an invoice’s data had been extracted by the eCloud engine and passed on to OASIS, the invoice is matched to a PO. Whether a match is found or not, the extracted information for the invoice, a link to the copy of the invoice in its original format, and the exception data are passed on to the client’s Technology One finance system.
This means that staff do not have to learn a new system; they continue to operate in their usual environment and the extraction and matching happen in the background before an invoice is transferred to the finance system.
Thanks to eCloud extracting all data from the invoice, the matching engine is able to automatically match each line item with the purchase order information. A set of conversion tables allows for SKU numbers to be matched to product descriptions, thereby speeding up the matching rate and decreasing the need for human intervention.
Finally, invoices that are not received in an electronic format, are scanned on the day they are received by eCloud’s dedicated scanning team and processed automatically.
The solution specifications were organised as part of an iterative schedule which meant discussions about the process, gathering, and confirmation of specifications were conducted in collaboration.
All data imports and exports from and interfacing with the TechnologyOne finance system were tested and approved ahead of the implementation. This provided full confidence that the solution was able to deliver the core components and most risky aspects of the solution prior to the implementation itself.
The solution was carefully monitored throughout user acceptance and within the first few weeks of implementation for optimal accuracy.
All user types impacted by the solution were represented in the design workshops and this provided an opportunity to further streamline, simplify, and automate existing processes.
The initial project included 10 financial document types, each with its own complex business rules.
Each invoice is matched to a supplier to be found among thousands of potential providers and to thousands of possible purchase orders.
Line item data is also taken from dozens of items from thousands of suppliers and purchase order information.
- The full solution including training of staff was completed within the 3 months’ timeframe set up at the start of the project
- A much lower rate of errors has led to significant time savings for other areas because no correction was needed once the invoice has passed through the authorisation stages and their associated electronic checks within the OASIS AP system.
- Audit controls are much tighter and include bank account number checking (for fraud protection), supplier details, approvals, line item error checking which allows differences between purchase orders and delivered items or services to be compared automatically.
- Staff now focus their time only on the very small proportion of accounts payable invoices that trigger an exception. This means that suppliers can not only paid on time, but that the organisation can take advantage of supplier rebates for doing so.