Poor Invoice Process Management Leading to Low Job Satisfaction in Finance Team

Last September  Wax Digital and Sapio Research conducted a survey that targeted 200 senior managers with a responsibility for finance in medium-size to large UK enterprises. 44% of respondents were from organisations with 50-249 staff, 37% had 500-999 staff and 19% had over 1000 staff. Let's kick off our guest posts for 2018 with these research findings from Daniel Ball, director at Wax Digital.

New research has shown that the heavy burden of supplier invoice processing is leaving UK finance teams struggling with productivity. 82% of 200 UK finance professionals surveyed said that poor invoice process management was impacting their teams’ ability to perform effectively and leading to low job satisfaction.

This new study, we conducted with independent market research house, Sapio, showed that 60% of respondents think that processing supplier invoices is the most hated aspect of the job amongst their team,  70% find it laborious and tedious, and it causes frustration for 69%.

Over half of the finance people surveyed regularly have to deal with suppliers issuing invoices with incorrect financial values and 37% said that the wrong or missing PO numbers and non-matching line items are also common problems. For 34% missing VAT numbers were another frequent bugbear and 31% said that invoices often arrive addressed to the wrong legal entity within the business.

Finance teams are particularly concerned about the knock-on effects of manual supplier invoice management:

  • Many worry about departmental output, with 45% citing impact on organisational efficiency
  • 37% go on to say that these issues could hurt supplier relationships
  • Just over one third also fear their team will make additional manual process errors
  • A similar number show concern that their frustrated colleagues will leave their jobs

While there is a clear appreciation of the pitfalls and problems posed by invoice management, the answer is equally apparent. 97% of those surveyed believe that automated invoice processing or eInvoicing would improve their team’s job fulfilment and 99% see opportunities to reallocate personnel who are manually processing invoices to more useful tasks. 46% would move people to work on process improvements and 45% would get people to find new solutions to managing errors.

The fact that so many finance teams aren’t meeting their full potential should raise productivity alarm bells for UK organisations. As our survey shows, the ramifications of not having automated invoice management processes extend beyond organisational efficiency to team morale and personal performance.

The big gains however come in actually being able to reduce the cost to process a purchase order requisition through to payment, which can be in the region of £25 to £40 per order. Multiply this by the vast number of orders an organisation makes and the benefits of invoice automation become clear.

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Voices (4)

  1. bitter and twisted:

    If a supplier cant send a correct paper invoice, what magic will make them send a correct electronic one?

    1. Daniel Ball:

      Using PO flip via an invoicing portal you can prevent suppliers from invoicing anything other than the order (or receipt) value, so guaranteeing not just the data integrity but also ensuring a financial match too. Clearly that’s not an option you can use for all suppliers, so you’re going to still get supplier invoices that are incorrect via other electronic invoicing methods, but managing those exceptions is exactly what you want good AP staff for, not for opening/printing/keying paper documents or emails. Where there is an automated match then job done, where there isn’t then at least all the data entry has been taken care of and AP can simply concentrate on the value add tasks.

      1. bitter and twisted:

        Yes i was being a bit facetious. Its just that culling a few pimply faced minimum wage AP clerks is such a minor benefit. What really matters is a sensible purchasing/accounts system that minimises avoidable mismatches while handling unavoidable variances sensibly. Whether the invoice data comes in to the building via a cable or a piece of paper is a trivial detail.

        1. Daniel Ball:

          Agreed, building a culture of compliance around PO raising and having the systems to support that – up to the point of invoice matching – is where the real benefit lies, but a lot of (finance-led) projects start at the invoice end first. In that case it’s important to be able to show a win there while providing a pathway to better purchasing process management later down the line

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