The global business world is more interconnected than ever before. Most of the products and services provided by businesses to consumers and other businesses rely on each other in some way. It’s this interconnectedness that powers most of our modern industries and keeps the global market operating smoothly. Having invoices paid on time, every time is critical to keep these valuable business relationships in good standing.
Herein lies the value of invoice approval workflows. These processes structure and organize the way that invoices get validated and paid to keep payment consistent and reliable. Automated invoice approval workflows can help to streamline your invoicing processes and save your organization time and money.
All you need to create invoice approval workflows is a solid understanding of what these processes are and how they operate. You also need to know which workflow tools to use to ensure that your workflows are as smooth and efficient as possible.
Here’s what you need to know to create a successful workflow for invoice approval.
Understanding Invoice Approval Workflows
Invoice approval workflows are processes that businesses can follow to streamline invoice processing and invoice approval for quick payment. They are similar to checklists that determine whether or not an invoice is accurate and valid.
These workflows begin when a vendor submits an invoice for payment. The invoice gets reviewed to ensure that the billed services, information, and amounts within it are valid before settling it. After everything is validated and the invoice approved, payment can get processed.
Steps to Create an Invoice Approval Workflow
Invoice approval workflows will naturally vary from business to business. But the basic steps needed to set them up are similar.
1. Establish a Database for Invoice Reception
Your invoice approval workflow should start by diverting all invoices to a queue for validation. This will simplify the process of tracking and processing them in an organized way.
You can either create a designated email address to receive only invoices. Or you can create a customized invoice submission form that will automatically add any submitted invoices to a queue.
2. Specify Conditions of Approval
Your team will need to determine whether each invoice you receive is valid before it’s processed. The conditions for this process will differ depending on your industry and the products and services you supply. Some common questions that you can use to review an invoice include:
- Has the vendor delivered the billed product or service?
- Are there any inconsistencies in the invoice that need addressing before settlement?
- Have any issues arisen regarding the product or service billed for that would justify a discount or reorder?
- Is the invoice complete and accurate, and does it contain all the data required for processing?
- Does the amount specified on the invoice align with the prices established between you and your vendor?
3. Create a Hierarchy for Approval
. However, inefficiencies can still occur if you don’t have a clear approval hierarchy in place. If you have a larger business, you may appoint department heads or managers to make decisions on the invoices specific to their departments.
Smaller businesses may have their accountants or other specific team members appointed to validate their invoices instead. Ensure that you have a clear idea of who is responsible for approving invoices and which invoices they’re tasked with handling.
4. Specify Workflow Routes
Invoice approval workflows usually follow an ‘if-then’ structure, which enables you to confirm that basic information is in order and slowly increases the complexity of your validation workflow. For instance, if the invoice specifies a bank account for payment remission, you can move it onto the next item on your list. If the invoice does not supply this information, then you will need to contact the sender to request more information.
You can use this same process to establish an approval hierarchy for your workflow too. For instance, if the invoice is submitted by a web developer, send it to your IT department for validation. Many developers use invoice templates that provide a full breakdown of the completed work. But if this breakdown is full of technical jargon, it needs validation by someone who can understand and verify that the costs are correct.
Once your workflows are established, you’ll have the ability to minimize any uncertainty involved in your invoice processing protocols. This will make it easier for your team to approve invoices faster.