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invoices & contracts

Five types of hidden invoice duplicates that only AI can find

by Jamie Barnett August 20, 2019

According to the Institute of Finance & Management, only around 60 percent of organizations have fewer invoices duplicates than about one percent of their total; with the rest experiencing anywhere from one to more than five percent, depending on their automation and centralization. I think we may be underestimating that figure. Here’s why.

Modern invoice automation systems have the ability to suss out and halt payment on duplicate spend. These systems often look for two invoices with the same invoice number and sometimes look for invoices of the same amount by the same supplier. I’m sure this process goes a long way in catching errors, but there’s a whole swath of duplicates it doesn’t catch. Here are five that our platform’s AI caught that will surprise you.

Duplicate payments to the same supplier, but under different names

Many enterprises do business with multiple supplier divisions, but they don’t expect to be billed for the very same purchase by each of those divisions. That’s just what happened to one of our customers. The company received duplicate invoices for the same deliverables –– one from the supplier’s division whose name ends with “Inc.” and the other from an international division whose name ends with “GmbH.”

Duplicate payments to the same supplier but with different names for YOUR company

Besides multiple supplier divisions creating confusion in the AP process, enterprises themselves can have multiple purchasing divisions that can cause confusion. One of our enterprise customers received duplicate invoices for the same deliverables to two different divisions in the organization. Since each division has its own AP organization and approvals process, the organization would not have noticed the duplicate. 

Payments that add up to an amount and then one big payment of that same amount

One thing our AI sometimes finds in our customers’ invoice automation systems is a supplier that sends multiple invoices during a period and then a cumulative invoice for that period. For example, the supplier may send three invoices, one for $8,500, one for $4,000, and one for $13,200 during a quarter and then a quarter-end invoice for $25,700. Whereas some invoice automation systems will not recognize that as a duplicate, our AI flags it as high risk.

Duplicate payments between two invoice automation systems

Despite their best efforts to streamline operations, many enterprises have a smattering of back-office systems. This comes with the territory in large organizations, and results from company mergers, decentralized organizations, and staged upgrades. So, when these duplicate invoices hit two different systems, the organization may never know it. Our AI platform integrates with multiple invoice automation systems, and flags duplicates regardless of which system they’re in.

Duplicate “crossover” spend

Just as many enterprises don’t have visibility across the multiple invoice automation systems they have, they have even less visibility across their invoice automation and expense management systems. While uncommon, sometimes enterprises end up paying twice for the same service –– once via T&E reimbursement and again via accounts payable. In our latest State of AI in Business Spend report, we highlight one of the more egregious examples: a $45,000 invoice from a hotel for an event for which the company already reimbursed an employee through expense management.

When it comes to duplicate spend, AI takes an expansive view, looking across all back-office systems, identifying duplicate spend across multiple payments, and taking into consideration the multiple divisions within the purchasing organization and the supplying one.

Jamie Barnett
CMO

Jamie Barnett is a marketing, product, and customer success leader in SaaS, security, and mobile. She is a die-hard Monty Python fan.

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