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    What is Touchless Invoice Processing & Its Benefits?

    Touchless Invoice Processing: Features & Benefits

    by ProcureDeskLast Updated : Feb-08-2024

    Touchless invoice processing is an automated method of receiving, matching, and approving invoices for payment. In this workflow, your AP software handles invoice reconciliation and preps invoices for payment without human intervention. 

    In this post, we’ll explain:

    • How the traditional invoice approval process works 
    • How touchless invoice processing saves time, reduces errors, and improves compliance
    • How ProcureDesk automates invoice processing
    • How to get started with implementing touchless invoice processing in your AP process

    Here’s what the traditional invoice approval workflow looks like

    To illustrate the benefits of touchless invoice processing, let’s briefly explain the manual invoice approval process:

    • Step 1: The accounts payable team receives invoices from vendors — via mail or email, sometimes both — throughout the month. The AP team reviews new invoices to keep them organized and avoid duplicates (that could otherwise create inefficiencies and make it hard to track and organize invoices accurately). 
    • Step 2: AP team members must find the corresponding purchase orders (POs) and receipts for invoices to match and verify them before approving them for payment. This wastes valuable time, puts you at risk of late payments, and can lead to human error in paying unapproved invoices or sending duplicate payments. 
    • Step 3: Incorrect invoices, or invoices that don’t have corresponding POs or receipts, must be flagged for troubleshooting. Then, AP teams have to resolve issues with vendors.
    • Step 4: After matching and reconciling invoices, AP teams manually add accounting codes and enter invoice data into their ERP system. After logging these details, AP teams can send payment to the vendor. 
    • Step 5: Because invoices are paid from the ERP system, payment status is limited to those with access. Therefore, AP teams have to track invoice payments in a shared spreadsheet to grant visibility to others — and update the sheet after every payment. Again, this manual data entry is time-consuming and error-prone. 
    Further reading: The Invoice Approval Workflow & Automation

    Benefits of touchless invoice processing & AP automation software

    Touchless invoice processing is a benefit of AP automation or full procure-to-pay (P2P) software like ProcureDesk. These solutions store invoices in a central hub with POs and receipts, and they include features like e-invoicing, supplier portals, and routing rules to provide a fully automated invoice approval workflow. 

    Below, we’ll review how touchless invoice processing works.

    Step 1: Vendors share invoices directly to your AP automation software 

    Suppliers push or drop invoices to the AP software for you via e-invoicing or vendor portal. 

    E-invoicing and vendor portals are necessary to support true, end-to-end touchless invoice processing. These tools promote greater accuracy in validating invoice data, eliminating the need for a human review. 

    • Vendors can drop new invoices in your AP system and provide the details (invoice number, quantity, pricing) to validate invoices and initiate matching. 
    • Or, in the case of e-invoicing, vendors can push invoice data from system to system (via cXML or EDI) to generate an accurate invoice in your AP software. Then, these invoices are automatically matched and prepped for payment.

    After vendors share invoices, the AP system automatically initiates the matching process. (AP software can also detect and merge duplicates in the event that invoices are shared in your system twice.)  

    It’s important to note: You can still reap some of the benefits of automated invoice processing without e-invoicing or vendor portals; however, the workflow will require human review at certain touchpoints. 

    For example, AP software lets you connect your email address to pull vendor invoices to the system (or import paper invoices). When you add new invoices through either of these methods, you have to review and validate the invoice data (e.g., check that it’s accurate and make sure it’s not missing information) before initiating the matching process. 

    These systems can still automate matching and approval routing after that, but you don’t have the benefit of the complete streamlined flow.  

    Step 2: AP software automates invoice matching  

    Three-way-matching technology checks invoices against POs and receipts to find the corresponding documents and match them. 

    AP software will flag discrepancies or invoices that don’t have a matching PO so someone in the accounts payable department can look into potential issues before invoices are passed down the line. No human review is required here unless the system detects a problem. 

    3-way match invoicing

    Note: We should also mention that some AP software only provides two-way invoice matching (to match the invoice with the PO) — but this still leaves the receipt unaccounted for. Once the PO and invoice are matched, a human must still track down and match the receipt. 

    True touchless invoice processing requires three-way matching, or you’ll still need to be somewhat involved during invoice reconciliation. 

    Step 3: AP software adds accounting codes & preps invoices for payment 

    Once the system matches and approves invoices, auto-coding features analyze invoice data and add the correct accounting codes. Then, the invoice is pushed to your ERP or accounting system (QuickBooks, etc.) to facilitate payments. 

    At the same time, pre-set routing rules automatically notify users that invoices are ready for payment or a final review. 

    Invoices pending approval

    Once the AP team issues payment, the AP automation software updates so other users can view the real-time invoice status. 

    How ProcureDesk supports touchless invoice processing

    ProcureDesk is a complete P2P solution with AP automation features to streamline accounts payable workflows and improve invoice management. 

    Our solution supports complete touchless invoice processing with a combination of e-invoicing, supplier portals, three-way matching, automated routing rules, and ERP integrations.

    All invoices are received and stored within the centralized ProcureDesk dashboard. 

    • Vendors can access the ProcureDesk dashboard (via the Supplier Portal) and import new invoices for you. 
    • The vendor sends the order invoice from their system to ProcureDesk (using the cXML standard).

    Our system automatically initiates the matching and approval process when it detects a new invoice. ProcureDesk: 

    • Sources the right POs and receipts to reconcile invoices.
    • Adds the correct accounting codes.
    • Pushes invoice data to your ERP system for payment — or routes the invoice to a member of your team for a final review. 

    Note: You can also import paper invoices or link your email account to pull supplier invoices into ProcureDesk automatically. Our system uses optical character recognition (OCR) to extract invoice data and add the details to ProcureDesk. However, as we mentioned above, you will still have to validate those invoices before initiating matching. 

    ProcureDesk connects with dozens of ERP and accounting software, so linking the systems is easy. After you submit payment to the vendor, the payment status updates in both your accounting system and ProcureDesk, so everyone in the AP department is in the loop. 

    ProcureDesk removes bottlenecks and saves your team time searching and matching invoices, keeping documentation organized, and updating spreadsheets. Touchless invoice processing with ProcureDesk also lowers processing costs and prevents compliance issues (e.g., paying duplicate invoices or missed data entry).

    Pricing

    Our P2P solution with AP automation software costs $600/month. In addition to the features discussed above, ProcureDesk provides procurement management tools, expense control features, real-time spend dashboards, and more.  

    Watch our brief overview video here:

    You can also book a demo with our team to learn more.

    How to implement touchless invoice processing in your AP workflows

    Investing in a system that supports touchless invoice processing can save you hours every week and prevent costly errors in your workflows — but there are a few boxes to check before you can truly implement this in your organization. 

    • First, you need an AP automation solution like ProcureDesk that offers e-invoicing, vendor management tools, OCR, and three-way matching.
    • You need to configure the AP software by adding accounting codes, setting approval workflows, and integrating your ERP so the system knows what to do with new invoices after they’re matched. 
    • Last, but arguably most important, you need to communicate with vendors on how you’d like to receive invoices. 

    Not every vendor offers e-invoicing (big names like Amazon and Fisher Scientific do, but some smaller brands might not), so you should first check to see if vendors provide e-invoicing. 

    If they don’t, you can establish vendor portals to receive invoices this way. Then, you can share details on accessing and using the portal so vendors can drop in new invoices easily. 

    We’re here to help and answer any questions about implementing touchless invoice processing in your workflows. Schedule a free demo with a member of our team to learn more.

    What you should do now

    Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you scale your purchasing and Accounts payable process.

    1. Claim your Free Strategy Session. If you’d like to work with us to implement a process to control spending, and spend less time matching invoices, claim your Free Strategy Session. One of our process experts will understand your current purchasing situation and then suggest practical strategies to reduce the purchase order approval cycle.
    2. If you’d like to know the maturity of your purchasing process, download our purchasing process grader and identify exactly what you should be working on next to improve your purchasing and AP process.
    3. If you’d like to enhance your knowledge about the purchasing process, check out our blog or Resources section.
    4. If you know another professional who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter.
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