How to detect duplicate payments
Duplicate payments represent 1-5 percent of your total spend, depending on your level of automation and centralization. This can take the form of duplicate invoices in your enterprise resource planning or source-to-pay systems, duplicate expenses in your expense management system, or even “crossover” duplicate charges between the two systems. Beyond flagging errors, waste, and fraud, AI can help with duplicate payment detection across spend systems.
According to the Institute of Finance & Management, 40 percent of organizations indicate that duplicate payments represent 1-5 percent of their total spend, depending on their automation and centralization. Our benchmark data here at AppZen indicate this may even be conservative, as our AI platform has robust duplicate payment detection that includes flagging not only invoices with similar or sequential numbers, but also identifying ones with completely different numbers, fat-finger errors in the invoice number, line-level duplicate payments, multiple payments that add up to a duplicate payment, and duplicate “crossover” spend between expense management and AP automation systems.
Using AI to perform duplicate payment audits allows you to take advantage of computer vision, semantic analysis, and deep learning to understand not just the structured field data in your spend systems, but also all of the words, phrases, images, amounts, dates, prices, and other important data in your unstructured documents like invoices and receipts that can help you compare payments and identify duplicates with far greater certainty than ever before.
Duplicate payments happen, but you don’t have to take them lying down. Many AP automation systems do a good job of duplicate payment detection for invoices with the same, similar, or sequential numbers, but anything beyond that is impossible, unless you have AI.
of organizations have between 1 and 5% duplicate invoices (IOFM)
Key use cases
Audit 100 percent of spend prior to payment
Review or audit all expenses and payables before you pay a cent. Because AI is automated and real time, you can review all spend for duplicate payments and pay suppliers and employees on time.
Extract and understand key information like dates, amounts, and spend categories from unstructured documents such as contracts, invoices, and receipts. These data points can serve as powerful clues in your duplicate payment detection process.
Enrich with intelligence
Enrich spend information with intelligence from business systems and external sources. AI gives you the visibility you need to find the duplicates you’d never be able to detect in traditional payment systems.
Assess and refine risk
Use AI to assess risk consistently. Refine the way you evaluate risk based on new data and user feedback over time. This lets you take automated action on duplicate payments and other types of errors, waste, and fraud.
Automate workflows, remove extraneous steps, and arm reviewers with the information they need to make smart decisions. Streamlining your review process lets you review all spend in real time, at scale.
Duplicates in expense reports
Duplicate expenses in a single expense report
Employees have a lot on their minds. Executing the perfect expense report is not one of them (nor should it be). They may fat finger the expense amount or merchant name, accidentally choose the wrong expense type, or even enter the same expense twice. A clever auditor will see this, but if they’re auditing only a sample of reports, they won’t. AI, on the other hand, finds and flags these errors every time.
Duplicate expenses across two different reports
People may also submit expenses twice…in two different reports. This can be an honest mistake (e.g., a parking receipt that inadvertently makes its way into next month’s pile) or something more nefarious. Sometimes two or more people will snap a photo of the same receipt, such as a receipt for a group meal at a restaurant, and expense it in each of their expense reports. Sample-based audits will almost surely never find this (unless they suspect something), but AI discovers and marks it as “high risk” for auditor review.
of T&E expenses are duplicates
Duplicates in invoices
Line-level invoice duplicates
Besides duplicate invoices, many invoices have line-level duplicates. If your AP automation system doesn’t extract line details or your analysts only key in a single line when they receive invoices, you won’t be able to suss them out. Even if you do happen to track line-level spend, it is still hard to separate duplicates from intended purchases of the same item. By contrast, AI knows the difference because it learns your organization’s purchasing trends for every product over time. If it sees an anomaly, its duplicate payment detection is likely accurate for that item.
Overlapping or cumulative payments
Sometimes suppliers send individual invoices followed by a larger, cumulative one. You could be billed monthly and then receive a quarterly invoice, or receive invoices for a down payment and then a total, but where the supplier hasn’t backed out the down payment from the total. As long as the totals for all of the invoices remain under the PO limit (if there is a PO), many AP automation systems won’t recognize the duplicate. AI, however, aggregates spend and remembers everything, so it flags these cumulative payments if they are duplicates.
Duplicate payments from manual entry errors
When an invoice process relies on manual data entry, there will be errors. What if your analyst enters an extra “1,” a “0” instead of “O,” accidentally fat-fingers a “.” or “-” in the middle of a number, or adds “SEP” instead of “SEPT” to represent your organization’s convention of adding the month to your invoice number? These types of duplicate payments are silly and common, but AP automation systems still miss them because there are few static rules that can catch all of the errors. AI, on the other hand, triangulates information from business systems, unstructured documents, and online sources, so it sees the duplicates that others can’t.
Duplicate payments in different AP automation systems
Despite your best efforts to streamline operations, you may have multiple AP automation systems. This comes with the territory and is the result of company mergers, staged upgrades, and simply organic growth. So, when these duplicate invoices hit two or more different systems, your organization may never know it. But AI integrates with multiple AP automation systems and flags duplicates regardless of which system they’re in.
Duplicate “crossover” spend between AP, p-card, and expense systems
As hard as it is to see across multiple AP automation systems, you have even less visibility between AP, p-card, and expenses. Any supplier with which you have a corporate account but also takes credit card payments is fair game when it comes to duplicate payments. AI, on the other hand, integrates with expense, p-card, and AP systems and has duplicate payment detection between them.
Duplicate payments from different supplier divisions
If you do business with multiple divisions of the same supplier, you don’t expect to be billed for the same purchase by each division! Even if you perform a robust duplicate payment audit, it’s easy to miss these. This is common if you do business with your supplier’s international division. You may have “Acme Corp” or “Acme, Inc.” in your supplier master, but not “Acme GmbH,” so if you receive duplicate invoices from two of those entities, your AP automation system may not pick it up. AI does, however, because it triangulates multiple data points and flags payments that are likely to be duplicates.
Duplicate invoices to different divisions in your company
Similar to how multiple supplier divisions create confusion, your own company’s divisions can add to the chaos. You may have two or more divisions in your enterprise that do business with the same supplier, so when each receives an invoice from that supplier, it’s entirely possible it could be the same invoice (they may even show up as two different companies in your supplier’s billing system, depending on how organized their supplier master is). AI addresses this because it triangulates data points and sees across multiple AP automation systems.
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