Invoices & Contracts
May 14, 2019

Invoice Anomalies are Hard to Detect — But Not for AI

David Wishinsky

Accounts payable (AP) departments at large enterprises pay thousands of invoices each month. It’s difficult for AP teams to keep track of every invoice that comes in, making it tough to detect upward trends in pricing or the addition of surcharges over time. Suppliers can raise prices without warning or send multiple invoices for smaller amounts that are less likely to be scrutinized. With such a large volume of invoices, companies leave themselves at risk for overpayment and potential invoice fraud.

This is where artificial intelligence fills the gap — AppZen’s Star Matching-powered Invoice Audit remembers every invoice your AP department receives and catches unusual spikes in pricing (or anything else that deviates from the norm).

Below are a few examples of anomalies our AI detects.

Unexpected spikes in pricing

Let’s say that on the 3rd of every month, your company is invoiced for 40,000 units for the amount of $60,000. Suddenly, after 26 months of the same monthly charge, the bill unexpectedly rises to $75,000. Our AI brings this to your attention so you can verify the price increase is correct — before the invoice is paid, and saves you the headache of trying to claw back a refund if the increase was a mistake.

Gradual increases in invoice amounts

Our AI detects more subtle changes as well. Perhaps a particular monthly bill gradually increased a few dollars each month over the last year. Our AI brings this to your attention so you can contact your vendor or service provider for an explanation of the increase.

Suspicious purchase order (PO) limit anomalies

Sometimes there’s a legitimate reason for a supplier or vendor to send you several invoices — maybe the invoices are separated by shipment or were sent by different subdivisions of the company. Or it’s possible your employees know the purchase limit where formal contracts or POs need to be created, and instruct your vendors to split the invoice into multiple invoices just below the limits at which POs would need to be required. Our AI will flag when suppliers consistently submit invoices below the PO limit to determine if they’re trying to avoid scrutiny.

Detect potential fraud

Occasionally, fictitious companies pose as legitimate suppliers or vendors. They may submit low-value invoices to see if they get paid and then slowly increase invoice amounts over time. Or they may send several invoices with consecutive numbers to avoid triggering a duplicate in your system. Our AI will keep track of this activity and bring it to your attention in case any invoice activity seems fraudulent and needs to be addressed.

With the sheer number of invoices flying around, it can seem impossible to come to these conclusions and detect these patterns over time. With Invoice Audit, you’ll be able to determine which suppliers are trusted partners, and which ones you might want to reconsider doing business with. Suspicious invoices that may have flown under the radar previously will be flagged so you can determine if any charge needs to be disputed. More importantly, you’ll gain a better understanding of which of your suppliers and vendors you should build a lasting and mutually valuable relationship with.

Stay ahead of invoice fraud and save money

AppZen’s Invoice Audit helps strengthen future negotiations and prevents unscrupulous suppliers from taking advantage of your organization, so you can be confident that you have the full picture and stay ahead of invoice fraud. Our real-time audit of invoices, contracts, and purchase orders to help you identify fraudulent merchants, billing mistakes, and payment term violations to decrease spend in your accounts payable process and give you peace of mind. Learn more.

David Wishinsky

Senior Product Marketing Manager

David Wishinsky is a senior product marketing manager at AppZen. He enjoys Michigan State football and traveling.