Recommendations in SAP purchase and invoice processing

Based on years of experience with SAP improvement projects in the Procure to Pay (P2P) process, Avelon has established a number of best practices. Using our recommendations, significant improvements in the P2P process can be realized. In this blog we will discuss the do's and don'ts. They are summarized below, afterwards we go deeper into the details in the following sections.

P2P best practices summarized

  1. Excellence in invoice processing is the result of excellence in purchasing

    • Proper registration and authorization of purchase orders (POs) offers:

      • Compliance;

      • Control (insight into spend / budget / liquidity);

      • Faster invoice processing, higher percentage of on-time payments and payment discounts.

    • Goal: Reduce number of non-PO invoices.

  2. Adoption of PO’s by organization is only successful in an efficient and user-friendly process

    • Make PO registration and approval as simple as possible;

    • Do not force goods receipts if they are not strictly necessary:

      • 3-way match if relevant for warehouse, stock or valuation;

      • 2-way match with agreement on delivery with invoice approval for other (indirect) purchase.

  3. Focus on XML invoices

    • OCR only as an alternative where XML is not allowed;

    • Allow paper invoices only if PDF & XML is not possible;

    • Goal: grow towards "touchless" invoice processing for accounts payable administration

  4. Integrate P2P solution within your SAP system

    • Harmonized user experience;

    • No interfaces, equal functionality within the process;

    • Security and authorizations within one system;

    • Use SAP investment and avoid indirect license risk.

Excellence in invoice processing is the result of excellence in purchasing

A major drawback of processing invoices which are not related to a purchase order (non-PO invoices) is that the financial classification elements such as cost center, cost type and such are often unknown to the Accounts Payable Administration. This makes it difficult to realize direct routing to the correct approver. Approval of non-PO invoices is always necessary. The missing information regularly ends in the endless internal sending of the invoice. In addition to the absence of relevant classification elements, the lack of insight into obligations is a major disadvantage of accepting invoices without a purchase order reference. Enough reasons to aim for reducing the percentage of non-PO invoices.

The acceptance of the use of POs can only be successful in an efficient and user-friendly process. Submitting purchase requisitions and approving them must be simple and user-friendly.

Adoption POs by organization only successful in user-friendly process

The P2P process is a process that affects a large number of employees of every organization. Especially when it comes to indirect purchasing, this is often done by employees whose administrative purchasing duties do not belong to their core activities. Partly due to complexity, registration of purchasing takes place outside SAP, does not take place at all, or many understandable errors are made. The Avelon Procure to Pay suite helps to address these challenges and thereby professionalises the procure to pay process. The Avelon Procure to Pay suite consists of the following solutions in the field of purchasing:

  • Avelon Purchase Order app

  • Avelon Purchase Order Approval app

  • Avelon Goods Receipt app

Avelon PO app

Avelon PO app

Avelon Purchase order App

Registering and controlling the purchasing process is crucial in order to come to spendings that comply with internal and external rules (compliancy) before the inevitable invoice arrives. In addition, orders ensure simple matching of the invoice and thus less errors in accounting, shorter turnaround times and faster payment terms. Registering orders for services and consumables also provides the Budget holder with a better and more up-to-date insight into the available budget. Registering the (indirect) procurement needs is a problem for many organizations. The employees who are charged with this do not see this as the primary task and input is complex and time-consuming.

The Avelon Purchase Order Fiori app makes registration of (indirect) orders child-friendly and place and time independent. This lowers the threshold to register and is therefore the perfect start to your excellent ordering process.

The features of this solution are:

  • Simple and modern registration of orders through Fiori app;

  • Applicable in both decentralized and central procurement scenarios;

  • Smart Search, "Google like" search function for supplier and classification elements;

  • Reduction of classification elements per employee possible;

  • Insight into previously recorded orders;

  • Workflow log and own history purchase orders visible;

  • Possibility to add attachments (eg quotations) and internal comments;

  • Enter various texts for purchase order confirmation;

  • Automatic creation and storage of purchase order confirmation in PDF;

  • Create with reference, change and hold possible;

  • Registration and insight history orders are place and time independent (if mobile use Fiori app is allowed and tuned within your organization);

  • Replacement ATB with 1 to 1 conversion from ATB to order;

  • Compatible with SAP ERP and S / 4HANA.

    Read more about the Avelon Purchase Order app here.

avelon purchase order approval app

PO Approval app

PO Approval app

In addition to the creation of purchase orders, it is also possible to approve orders for which a release strategy applies via a Fiori app. The Avelon Purchase Order Approval Fiori app makes handling the order for the budget holder easy and accessible. The app consists of the standard SAP Purchase Order approval app, which immediately shows how many tasks are still open to the budget holder. The app has been expanded in a number of areas. The app has been translated into Dutch and the insight into the entire treatment history has been added. Finally, it is possible to show a print preview of the purchase order confirmation so that the budget holder can see exactly which order is sent to the supplier.

The app can not only be used in the workplace, but wherever there is an internet connection, on every mobile device. Not only is handling easy, but convenience is also served! Depending on your internal security policy, additional measures are required for mobile use.

In summary, the features and benefits of the Avelon Purchase Order Approval app:

  • Reduces the threshold of approval of an order by simple and modern ease of use for the budget holder;

  • Relevant approval information such as classification, description, amount visible;

  • Previously linked attachments visible to the budget holder;

  • Possibility to show print preview purchase order confirmation;

  • Handling history visible;

  • Mobile to use, wherever Internet connection is (if mobile use Fiori app is allowed and tuned within your organization);

  • Compatible with SAP ERP and S / 4HANA.

Read more about the Avelon Purchase Order Approval app here.

SAP Fiori goods receipt app in ECC

SAP Fiori goods receipt app in ECC

avelon goods receipt app

Processing a goods receipt within SAP is no sinecure, certainly not if this has to be done in the context of the 3-way match by someone who does not work on a regular basis in SAP.

The Avelon Goods Receipt App makes the capture of the goods receipt much easier and also mobile. An important part of the app is the Smart Search functionality as applied to the Avelon Purchase Order App. This makes it much easier to search for the right order where reception is to be booked. You can search by order number, supplier name or product description.

After selecting the right order, the number of delivered items can easily be entered and an attachment, eg the packing slip, can be added. In summary, the features and benefits of the Avelon Goods Receipt app:

  • User-friendly capture of goods receipt;

  • Smart Search, "Google like" search function for finding the right order quickly;

  • Attach attachments, eg delivery notes;

  • Mobile to use, wherever Internet connection is (if mobile use Fiori app is allowed and tuned within your organization);

  • Compatible with SAP ERP and S / 4HANA

Read more about the Avelon Goods Receipt app here.

Focus on XML or E-invoices where possible

The goal is to achieve "touchless" invoice processing through creditor administration. Touchless invoice processing means that creditors administration does not have to perform any manual actions to record the invoice in the SAP system. The system determines what the possible follow-up actions are. These can vary from automatically routing the invoice to the responsible(s) if there are price or quantity differences between invoice, order and goods receipt. With a so-called 3-way match, the invoice can be automatically made payable. With non-PO invoices, the invoice must be approved at all times.

Several Avelon customers switched from OCR processing in-house to E-invoicing. An end-to-end e-invoicing solution replaces the current OCR process by "outsourcing" this functionality to an external service provider. This service provider transforms received XML or PDF invoices into a uniform and consistent format. This allows invoices to be automatically imported into the SAP system and the current processing procedures are started. Invoice data of the PDF invoices are automatically recognized, just like the OCR process, with a guaranteed, significantly higher recognition rate compared to the OCR process.

Benefits E-invoicing:

  • Lower costs;

    • No more investing in own OCR systems and human efforts in validation of results and training of the OCR engine;

  • Improve accuracy;

    • Guaranteed recognition percentages compared with manual validation and correction by own creditors' administration employees;

  • Fast processing;

    • Guaranteed processing times;

  • Increase quality recognition and accounting.

Avelon has developed an end-to-end solution in collaboration with Invoicesharing to drastically improve invoice receipt, recognition and processing in SAP. The solution is aimed at receiving and processing centrally and then automatically read in SAP from all your digital invoices. These are both the PDF invoices and the e-invoices (XML). You can scan any paper invoices yourself with a simple scanner and then send them to the platform. This means that your entire invoice flow is processed uniformly. Read more about Avelon E-invoicing here.

Avelon E- invoicing

Avelon E- invoicing

Integrate P2P solution within your SAP system

With SAP Fiori, SAP has been able to offer a prize-winning user experience for several years. Thanks to this user-friendly front-end, so-called business users can also be involved in previously difficult to understand SAP transactions. By offering a harmonized user experience in the relevant steps of the process for business users, they can be directly involved in the process. Previously, sub-administrations were often carried out by support services. Due to the deployment of Fiori, these are no longer necessary and security and authorizations are enforced and adjusted within one environment. In addition, high fines are prevented by non-compliance with license agreements concerning the so-called indirect use of SAP software.

For questions or additional information on this subject, please contact Wouter Van Peteghem.

Thanks to Sander van der Wijngaart for writing this article.