You see what nobody else sees
19th February 2021
Within the Accounts Payable phase of your Procure-to-Pay cycle, invoices from suppliers/vendors are received, processed, and paid. Invoices are coded and approved for payment, marking the end of the transaction.
But that’s a simplistic view of what happens. The reality is far more complex and troublesome; credit notes, errors on documents, mismatched values, missing purchase order details, duplicate invoices, late payments, early payments, and possible fraud… There are dozens of issues that can occur and that can only be detected during the Invoice-to-Pay process. Each one has the potential to double the processing time and cost, and result in an incorrect payment to the supplier.
Should I care?
It’s a common misconception that inefficiencies with AP can be considered a cost of doing business – few realise that fractions of a percent reduction in overpayments soon add up to millions, and the extra time taken to resolve issues that could have been avoided is holding back the Finance team from delivering to its full potential.
What if you knew which approved invoices were wrong before you paid them, how much would you save?
It is vital that issues are identified as soon as possible to avoid expensive invoice processing time and unnecessary payments being made to suppliers. Between half a percent and 1.5% of transactions are paid multiple times or incorrectly in our experience – slightly lower than the APQC survey results[i] of 2020, resulting in £800,000 to £1.6 million of working capital leakage each year for a mid-size organisation.
AP teams and the limited controls in their transaction-speed oriented ERP systems are unable to check – at the necessary scale, for any but the most obvious issues. The much relied-upon 3-way match finds exactly matched duplicate invoices but little else.
FISCAL Technologies started augmenting AP teams with additional invoice checking in 2003 and has added to and evolved its checking every year since.
FISCAL’s NXG Forensics® solution checks at a forensic level for many types of error and exception. We have built a world-leading library of checks that identify anything that is a risk within a transaction, or with the transaction compared to historical transactions. And all transactions are checked – there is no sampling or minimum value floor, as found in a manual audit – we always see a lot more than audits find.
Next, we added supplier checking – all the details of each supplier/vendor are checked, any changes evaluated, and importantly, correlations between suppliers and transactions find even more exceptions that the AP team ought to know about. Quite simply, NXG Forensics performs more forensic checks than any other solution available.
Unique Approach to AI
With advances in low-cost, cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI), we added machine learning and other AI techniques that identify hidden risks and continuously improve our detection algorithms. By adding AI to our existing forensic analysis, we avoid two of the common problems with AI only detection – false positives and bias.
By combining statistical analysis and AI-based detection in a way that is unique to FISCAL, we have reduced the false positive detection of risks even further. This makes it quicker and easier to see and action the risks identified. Our approach also prevents any bias – a common problem for AI systems, caused by patterns in one customer’s transactions training the AI agent with a bias that is to the detriment of exception detection in other customers’ data.
Artificial Intelligence – so what?
Forensic-level check and AI – what do they do for me? The outcome of all our hard work is that NXG Forensics sees issues in your transaction and supplier data that no other system can.
As a result, every morning, your AP team is presented with a shortlist of high-risk transactions and suppliers that need investigation before payments can proceed. This only takes about 30 minutes each morning – reduced false-positive identification keeps the list short, while highly sophisticated forensic and AI‑powered checking ensure any and all issues are identified, proactively.
Our experience shows that our customers receive their initial payback usually within 3 months. This is due to the unique approach FISCAL takes to historical and continuous, preventative risk detection. 8x to 10x ROI is common, and the non-monetary benefits like improved supplier relationships and the assurance that Finance can provide to the business that strong financial controls are in place, are immense.