Introducing Rossum’s invoice approval workflows

The Rossum team is thrilled to unveil the latest enhancement to its intelligent document processing platform (IDP): invoice approval workflows. Building on our previous advancements for better collaboration, including automated email communication, these new workflows are the opportunity for accounts payable (AP) teams to further increase the speed and accuracy of their invoice processing. 

What are invoice approval workflows? 

Approval workflows are business processes designed to manage and streamline the approval of documents, such as invoices, within an organization. 

For example, when a company purchases a fancy event sponsorship from another company, the accounts payable department will receive an invoice for the event fees, and will need the approval of the field marketing lead before proceeding with the payment. 

They are part of a broader invoice process that includes the following steps: 

  • Invoice receipt and sorting
  • Data extraction
  • PO matching
  • Verification of vendor details
  • Invoice approval
  • Invoice payment
  • Auditing and reporting
Infographic showing how your invoices could be process across Rossum's intelligent document processing platform
Streamline your invoice processing in one platform.

How are invoice approvals typically handled? 

To this day, many AP teams still manage invoice approvals manually through a game of email tennis. However, this is a time-consuming and cumbersome process that consumes up to 20% of AP professionals’ work hours, and leaves plenty of room for human error, such as lost documents and missed deadlines. 

As a result, more and more businesses are now automating such processes through in-house technical solutions, or external vendors. 

What are the benefits of automating your invoice approval workflow? 

  • Save time & improve efficiency

First and foremost, your invoices will get approved faster. Once the invoice is captured and validated in your system, it will be automatically routed to the right persons or automatically approved or rejected, based on the invoice information (amount to pay, name of vendor, etc.). 

This means that your AP team can stop manually processing and chasing invoice approvals around the clock, and focus on more impactful tasks, such as speedier reporting. You will also be able to reduce the risk of duplicate or missed payments, as well as protect your supplier relationships. This might also be a way to identify opportunities, such as early payment discounts.  

  • Spot any potential bottlenecks

According to a 2021 Levvel Research report, “the top three invoice processing concerns for AP teams are missed discounts (44%), late payments (39%), and duplicate payments (29%).”

“My biggest pain is that invoices get stuck because the process is not finalized. We ask for approvals when we’re not supposed to. We’re missing payments because we’re dependent on an approval – and we’re always chasing approvals.” Chief Accountant at a mid-size company. 

With automated invoice workflows, you’ll also have visibility on your entire document pipeline: which invoices have been approved, which approvals are pending, where there might be a bottleneck that needs to be addressed…

  • Ensure compliance

Having an automated invoice approval workflow will force your teams to follow the invoice processes you’ve set out, which will help reduce the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.

  • Create an audit trail

By providing a record of all the activities and decisions taken during the approval process, an audit trail can help identify and prevent fraudulent activities, errors, and discrepancies.

How do I automate an invoice approval?

In order to automate your invoice process, you’ll need two things: 

  • A well-defined process that takes into account all of your invoice scenarios;
  • A technical / automation solution that will take care of the invoice routing for you. 

You will also need to understand how this solution fits into your broader tech stack – e.g., how are invoices coming into your solution, and how are approvals reflected in your Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (SAP, Netsuite or other providers). 

Approval workflows in Rossum: the advantages of an all-in-one invoice processing platform

As an end-to-end intelligent document processing platform, Rossum goes beyond mere invoice routing. 

  • Capture any invoice in seconds, no matter the template or language. 
  • Simplify your application stack where every step of your AP process is connected, from data ingestion to approval and integration into your ERP system. 
  • Don’t let your decisions happen without context: your approvers, and your AP team will have direct access to relevant information connected to the reviewed invoice (email communications with vendor, purchasing order data, etc.). 

Example of an automated AP approval workflow

Here is an example of what one of the automated invoice approval workflows can look like for a mid-size company. When invoices are ingested, all the information they contain is captured and categorized. Items such as the vendor name and the amount are then used to determine the level of approval needed, as well as the corresponding departments and approvers. 

Sample approval workflow design in Rossum
Sample invoice approval workflow design in Rossum

However, because each company has specific collaboration and operational needs, Rossum’s approval workflows come with unlimited number of steps, assignment rules and approvers, as well as auto-approve and reject options. 

Other key features include: 

  • Automatic assignment based on invoice data and external resources
  • Full visibility of approval request assignments and their statuses
  • Audit trail to ensure compliance & spot bottlenecks
  • Email notifications for easy approval by end users
  • Integration into your downstream ERP system

Invoice processing & AP: essential readings

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