it.approval – a complete solution for managing invoice approval

– written by Anders Bang Andersen, Consultant, NTT DATA Business Solutions –

It sounds quite simple: Handle – Approve – Post. None the less I have seen numerous companies creating complicated manual processes in order to handle, approve and post a sales invoice. Manual processes which lead to time-consuming and inefficient handling, invoices disappearing at the offices, less transparency in the organization, frustrated employees and overdue invoices.


Approval of invoices is not a bookkeeping task

As a FICO consultant I often meet committed accountants who are frustrated about their colleagues neglecting the approval of invoices. What the accountant sees as a core-business process and a paramount bookkeeping task is often regarded as a necessary evil among their colleagues. And since the necessary evil is also inefficient, time-consuming and manual work, the task of approving invoices is put to the bottom of the pile.

Simple process with the right focus

The basic process of approving invoices consists of four sub process:

  • Handling
  • Invoice control with account assignment
  • Approval
  • Posting

In cooperation with our customers we have developed the it.approval product. it.approval is a complete system for managing incoming invoices for SAP users – ensuring an efficient and user-friendly process and increasing traceability and transparency in the organization. Each sub process can be customized according to the customer’s individual needs. For example the customer can choose between posting the invoice based on the amount automatically or manually.

Users have different requirements for each sub process, and it.approval focusses on the user’s requirement in each step. For handling and invoice control the focus is set on getting the most efficient and smooth process. For the approval step it is important that the process is as user-friendly as possible. For the posting step efficiency is also in focus.

 it.approval app

What exactly is it.approval?

The module is based on an SAP standard workflow, with a number of improvements that make it more flexible, user-friendly and suited to the needs and business processes of modern companies.

it.approval is, regardless of the source of the invoice, able to convert the invoice to an SAP format, do book entry, and to handle approval and authorization flows in accordance with the company’s established policies. The module is able to handle PDF files, scanned and Optical Character Recognition (OCR)-recognized paper invoices, emailed PDF files or electronic invoices. When creating the invoice document in SAP, the system links to the document via an image of the invoice, and is in this way securing the transparency and easy access across the organization.

On top of the regular SAP invoice handling transaction, it.approval is an SAP-standard based workflow that automates the approval process ensuring that invoices are distributed to the right persons with the right information. In this way it  makes the approval process as smooth and simple as it should be.

Usability and commitment

Often it turns out that smoothing the process by improving usability and making clear business rules leads to a larger commitment among the invoice approvers. Using the it.approval product the employees can approve the invoices directly from a link in their email-inbox or even via mobile apps, and with this increased user-friendly setup the necessary evil becomes a routine job that is handled with ease. But besides the increased usability and commitment, the it.approval product also gives the customers the advantage of:

  • An electronic invoice flow that ensures less paper to manage – leading to faster throughput and savings on interest charges
  • An automatic book entry – that means less manual work, leading to accounts department savings
  • A built-in analysis tool and an improved user-interface that provides a better overview and ensures efficient usage and fewer errors
  • An electronic archive which provides faster access to information
  • A module using standard SAP technology which ensures that everything will dovetail with the customer’s existing SAP environment, leading to lower TCO

It is quite simple

With it.approval supporting the clear business rules of approval, the invoice process in fact becomes as simple as it sounds: Handle – Approve – Post. Focusing on efficiency and usability the it.approval automates the entire process ensuring that invoices are received and distributed electronically within the company to the right people at the right time with the right information.

The entire invoice management process involves receiving, opening letters, copying, distribution, follow-up, manual account entry, approval, further distribution, book keeping and payment. In a nutshell, a long chain of manual procedures. it.approval is the alternative that enables companies to work smarter and not harder.

The latest customer to implement it.approval is a large Danish retail company in the fashion business. Before we started the project the company did not have a clear overview of their invoice process and they were sending the classic brown envelopes across the business units to get the invoices approved. Hoping that the invoices would be signed by someone and returned to the bookkeeping department for posting and payment.

Two months later we had designed the streamlined invoice process and implemented the system in the first subsidiary. After an additional month we rolled out the solution for a further 12 companies in the group. Now after running the streamlined process with clear business rules the company is following the pattern that we see at all our customers:

  • Savings in terms of time and resources
  • The electronic workflow ensures that there is less paper to manage – leading to faster throughput and savings in interest charges
  • Automatic book entry means less manual work, leading to account department savings
  • The built-in analysis tool and improved user-interface provide a better overview and ensure efficient usage and less errors

Read more

To read more about it.approval, please visit our website and download the product specifications:

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