In the second part of Accounting Automation, we talk about how to automate the movement of purchase invoices and receipts. We will have a look at if cheques can be waived and how to simplify the process of entering purchase invoices and cheques into your accounting program.
Let us look at separate cheques and purchase invoices
A cheque is a confirmation of a purchase made from a store, original document, mostly in paper form. Some examples – I bought a candy box as a gift from a shop partner, refueled my car, took a taxi or similar. Payment can be made either in cash or by card, the employee’s own money or a company card.
Are cheques unavoidable or you can do without them?
Cheque handling can be annoying – keeping paper documents, collecting them, submitting them to the accountant on the right day can be a real challenge for even the most nit-picking person. Apart from the fact that cheques tend to disappear, they are not permanent – the information on them tends to disappear. It is also important to consider, that cheques always generate extra work for the accountant, requiring manual entry.
To reduce paper, take cheques from the last few months and analyze what purchases they are associated with. If possible, find a way to avoid cheques, for example:
- sign a Bolt business customer contract instead of a regular taxi ride
- sign a monthly invoice contract with some big gas station instead of any gas station
- prefer to buy goods from places where you can submit an invoice (if you were not yet aware, even Selver can send regular postpaid invoices to the company).
For those cheques that cannot be avoided, use some convenient app. Expensify is popular in the English-speaking world, in Estonia CostPocket (formerly tsekk.ee).
Here is what things are like with CostPocket: buyer takes a photo of the cheque, using a special application on the phone, notes whether it has been paid with a company card or is it reimbursable to the employee, and presses a button. That’s it! Employee can then discard the cheque and the cheque data is sent electronically to the accounting program.
Costpocket has connections with common software (Merit, Directo, Standard Books, etc.). For a longer list, see https://costpocket.com/en.
There are three different ways to handle purchase invoices automatically:
1. Digitization service provider – both digitization and purchase invoice management program
2. Digitization service provider – digitization only
3. Digitization capabilities of the accounting program itself
There are at least four digitization service providers in Estonia – Omniva, Fitek, Telema (eFlow) and Envoice. Telema also has the ability to manage invoices (EDI solution), while others deal with service invoices.
1. If your business is a bit larger, your invoices need to be approved by multiple people, you have a precise cost allocation logic and multiple cost items, then it is advisable to use an invoice management program.
Invoice management program logic:
Purchase invoices are sent to the invoice management program by the seller, either directly as an e-invoice or as an email through a digitization center.
Invoice management program identifies the correct expense accounts and expense items in the purchase invoice, and a confirmation loop can be used if desired. Invoice management program also serves as an archive of purchase invoices. You can also send cheques to the invoice management program with cost statements, all conveniently in one place.
After recording and confirmation, the purchase invoice information is sent to the accounting program.
Purchase invoice approval process
Purchase invoice approval process means that several people can approve the invoice. For large companies, the use of approval process can significantly speed up the invoice flow process. It is very time-consuming to carry around paper invoices with attachment folders or to receive confirmations by email. In a large company, the process can be very time-consuming. First, the accountant adds the expense account and sends the invoice to the agreed persons for confirmation. Invoice is then validated by the employee who made the purchase (adds cost breakdown information and can comment if necessary). The board member or the CFO will approve the payment of the invoice. Finally, the accountant reviews the data once more and forwards the invoice to the accounting program.
For smaller companies, the use of a confirmation process is important mostly for cost accounting. Invoice management system allows a company employee to classify correctly expenses. The outsourcer knows exactly which project this purchase invoice relates to, but the accountant has no idea about that. Information can be also sent via e-mail, but it is far more error-prone and time consuming.
2. In smaller businesses, only digitization may be used, unless separate approval and costing is required. There is no point in making your life more complicated unless there is a need for that.
3. You can also use the digitizing capability of the accounting software – you send invoices to the email, it arrives at the accounting program, digitization process is carried out (by the program only, the accountant checks and corrects) and you use invoice archiving in the accounting program.
Disadvantages of this option:
- greater dependence on the accounting program – invoices are kept in the program and downloading them separately is annoying (although Merit has now the option of downloading invoices, period invoices together in a zip file)
- only OCR (Optical Character Recognition) digitization is still of poor quality today (digitized service providers review and make corrections).
In addition, it may not be suitable for a company that many employees have detailed information about the company finances. An accountant most certainly does not like if people with no accounting skills, use the program or spoil something there accidentally.
Possible issues when using the invoice management program
As with any program, errors can occur when using an invoice management program. Some examples:
- purchase invoice does not reach invoice management program (sometimes invoice disappears somewhere in internet space and fails to arrive)
- digitization program does not do quality work
- invoices moving slowly through the digitization center (especially in the beginning of the month)
- interactions between programs may be interrupted (for example, if information comes from a warehouse management program, data reconciliations should be periodically verified).
Automation of bank movements
If there are few bank transactions and the transactions are non-standard, they can be entered manually into the accounting program. However, as the number of transactions increases, the easiest solution is to have the accounting software connected with bank via API (for example Merit is connected to Swedbank, SEB and LHV). In this way you can send payment orders directly from the program to the bank, the bank in turn sends the information on receipts and other movements directly to the program. Fast, convenient, operational.
Remember that transaction information sent through API and end-of-month balance must be verified.
Banking transactions run daily, not yet automatically and in real time, still needing approval of the accountant. We recommend that you agree with the accounting firm what time of the day the previous day bank will be entered. In the case of a smaller company, the bank may be entered once a week, for example.
If the API is not directly connected, payment orders can be sent to the bank as a file – you prepare it in the program, save it as a file, import it into the bank. Bank statements can also be downloaded as a file and imported into the accounting program. This is not so convenient as the previous one, but still a pretty comfortable solution. Especially when transactions are simple, purchase and sales invoices have been already entered and there are multiple transactions.
Robby & Bobby accounting service is built on automated solutions. When starting cooperation, we will review your existing solutions in your business and will find out, what we can do to further automate your business accounting and for simplifying processes. Our efficient and automated accounting works 100% electronically – eliminating the need for the accountant to go to the folders and keep the accounting folders in physical form at all. If you find this interesting, please contact us and we will discuss how to be of assistance to you.
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