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AP Automation: A solution for lost or missing invoices

In the intricate dance of Accounts Payable (AP), few missteps can be as disruptive as lost or missing invoices. Not only do they delay payments and strain vendor relationships, but they also introduce a slew of compliance and reconciliation issues. Fortunately, in the era of digital transformation, AP automation emerges as a beacon of hope, addressing this common pain point with precision and efficiency. In this blog, we'll delve into the challenges posed by lost invoices and how AP automation offers a robust solution.

The domino effect of lost invoices

When an invoice goes missing, it's not just a piece of paper or a digital file that's lost. It's a critical component of a business's financial ecosystem, and its absence can trigger a series of cascading effects that impact various facets of the organization.

  • Operational delays
    Every missing invoice represents a transaction that's left hanging. This can delay subsequent processes, such as order deliveries, restocking, or service provisioning, as these often hinge on payment confirmations.
  • Financial discrepancies
    Without the invoice, reconciling accounts becomes a challenge. Discrepancies can arise between what's recorded in the books and actual cash flow, making financial reporting inaccurate.
  • Vendor trust erosion
    Consistent issues with lost invoices can strain relationships with vendors or suppliers. They might question the company's efficiency or even its financial stability, leading to hesitations in future collaborations or negotiations.
  • Resource drain
    The hunt for a missing invoice isn't free. It consumes time, effort, and sometimes even money. Employees might spend hours retracing steps, communicating with vendors, or manually checking records, diverting them from other productive tasks.
  • Cash flow interruptions
    A missing invoice can delay payments, affecting the company's cash flow. This can have repercussions on its ability to meet financial obligations, from payroll to purchasing.
  • Compliance and audit concerns
    Especially in sectors where financial documentation is paramount, a missing invoice can lead to compliance violations. During audits, inconsistencies arising from lost invoices can result in penalties or unfavorable audit opinions.
woman working at desk with invoices
man and woman looking focused at computer screen
  • Reputational risks
    In the age of digital communication, word spreads fast. Regular issues with invoice management can tarnish a company's reputation, making it seem disorganized or unreliable to both current and potential business partners.

Understanding the root causes of lost invoices

In the vast and intricate landscape of Accounts Payable (AP), lost invoices are a recurring challenge. But to truly address this issue, we must first dissect its origins. By understanding the root causes, businesses can tailor their solutions more effectively, ensuring that the problem is not just addressed but eradicated.

Reliance on Manual Processes: In many organizations, especially those that have been around for a while, manual processes are deeply ingrained. Manual invoice processing, with its reliance on human intervention, is inherently prone to errors. An invoice can be misplaced, forgotten, or even accidentally discarded.

Despite the digital age, many companies still rely heavily on paper invoices. These physical documents are susceptible to a myriad of risks: they can be lost in transit, misfiled, damaged, or accidentally discarded. The lack of a digital backup means that once they're gone, they're often gone for good.

In larger organizations or those with multiple departments or locations, a lack of centralized invoice management can lead to chaos. Invoices might be sent to the wrong department, get trapped in inter-departmental limbo, or be overlooked in lengthy email threads.

Sometimes, the issue isn't internal but originates from the vendor's end. They might send invoices to the wrong department, use outdated contact information, or, in some cases, forget to send the invoice altogether.

Companies without a robust digital infrastructure or those using outdated systems, like filing cabinets for paper-based invoices or outsourced warehousing of invoices offsite,  might not have the means to efficiently track and manage invoices. This lack of technological support can lead to invoices slipping through the cracks.

In some companies, the approval process for invoices is convoluted, requiring multiple sign-offs. If there's a lack of clarity in this workflow or if any party in the chain is unavailable or untrained on the proper procedure, invoices can get stuck, leading to delays and potential misplacement.

At the end of the day, humans are fallible. Simple mistakes, such as inputting the wrong data, mislabeling an invoice, or saving it in the wrong directory, can result in a lost invoice.

By recognizing and understanding these root causes, businesses can take proactive measures to address the issue of lost invoices. It's not just about finding a missing document; it's about overhauling the system to ensure the issue doesn't recur.

AP Automation: The solution to lost invoices

In the complex world of Accounts Payable, where countless invoices circulate daily, the risk of misplacement is ever-present. However, as technology evolves, so do the solutions to these age-old challenges. AP automation stands at the forefront of this evolution, offering a multifaceted approach to address the issue of lost invoices.

computer iconDigital centralization

One of the primary features of AP automation is the creation of a centralized digital repository. This repository ensures that every invoice, regardless of its origin or destination, has a designated place in the system. Gone are the days of physical files that can be misplaced or damaged. With digital centralization, every invoice is just a few clicks away.

 alt=Real-time tracking and notifications

AP automation systems often come equipped with real-time tracking capabilities. This means that from the moment an invoice enters the system, its journey is monitored. Notifications can alert relevant parties about pending approvals, ensuring that no invoice gets stuck in limbo.

user iconVendor integration

Modern AP automation solutions often feature integrated vendor portals. These portals allow vendors to directly upload their invoices into the system, eliminating the risks associated with email or postal deliveries. This direct integration ensures that the invoice is immediately logged and processed.

right arrowAutomated workflows

Manual approval processes can be cumbersome and error-prone. AP automation introduces automated workflows that streamline the approval process. By setting predefined rules and routing, invoices are automatically directed to the appropriate parties for approval, reducing the chances of them getting lost in the shuffle. At an even further level of technology evolution, artificial intelligence via machine learning can identify patterns in any business’s unique invoice and payment process, and take action automatically for even further efficiency gains.

search iconAdvanced search capabilities

In the rare event that an invoice needs to be located, AP automation systems offer advanced search capabilities. Whether it's by vendor name, invoice number, or date, retrieving an invoice becomes a swift and straightforward process.

notes iconAudit trails

AP automation provides a clear audit trail for every invoice. This trail records every action taken on the invoice, from its entry into the system to its final payment. Such transparency not only reduces the chances of an invoice going missing but also provides valuable insights for compliance and auditing purposes.

shield iconEnhanced Security

With cloud-based AP automation solutions, security is paramount. Invoices are stored in secure environments with regular backups, ensuring that data loss due to technical glitches or unforeseen circumstances is virtually eliminated.

In essence, AP automation doesn't just offer a band-aid solution to the problem of lost invoices. It provides a comprehensive overhaul of the entire invoicing process, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and reliability at every step.

The Medius Advantage

Medius isn't just an AP automation solution; it's a transformative approach to invoice management. With features like real-time tracking, centralized repositories, and vendor portals, Medius ensures that your AP process is seamless, efficient, and error-free. Ready to revolutionize your AP process? Dive into the world of Medius AP automation and bid farewell to the woes of lost invoices.

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