How to stand out from the crowd in the BPM Industry

How to stand out from the crowd in the BPM Industry

How to stand out from the crowd in the BPM Industry

The rapid growth of the Business Process Management (BPM) industry over the last few decades has been fueled by simple and, if we may say so, common business ambitions; of finding the best value. Its growth has been in-step with the transformation taking place in digital and communications technology at the same time, and the expansion of the internet to the deepest corners of the world.

With low skill requirements, and the technology backbone becoming a commodity, there have been few barriers to a provider setting up shop, making the industry extremely competitive. Many don’t survive, unable to face the rigors of drumming up business from clients while ensuring a steady supply of resources who will do the work.

Of course, many others do survive and thrive, from large companies with a wide variety of offerings, to small, niche players.

Like oWorkers, a niche player operating in the space of data-based BPM services. It has made an outsized impact in its eight plus years of existence, being recognized as one of the top three providers in the world.

 

Historical driver – labor cost arbitrage

The industry has been driven by the desire to find the best prices for human resources, which is the major resource deployed by the industry. The industry handles business and transactions that need human intelligence to be performed. What could be automated has been automated, the rest is handled manually. No doubt, as technology develops and advances, it will take over more and more work that is currently done manually.

With the expansion of the internet and the world being truly connected to the World Wide Web, along with greater bandwidth being available for the smooth flow of information across the networks, much of the work today can be done from anywhere in the world. Thus, the industry has kept expanding in search of the best labor costs, along with suitability in terms of education and skill sets. Other costs like real estate are also important, but, in general, they have also tended to be lower in geographies where labor rates are lower.

oWorkers attracts a steady stream of walk-in applicants, as they are regarded as preferred employers in each of the geographies they operate in. Over and above the labor cost benefits provided by their delivery center locations, this stream of applicants saves advertising cost for attracting talent. Eventually, the savings get passed on to clients through the pricing model

Challenges with the model of labor-cost arbitrage

The labor-cost arbitrage driven model, though it has served the industry well, has limitations. It cannot go on endlessly. Most of the geographies with a supply of skilled resources in large numbers have been taken, whether it is India, or the Philippines, or Egypt or Nigeria. There is very little untapped real estate or population centers to go to now.

Driving greater productivity from a human resource is not an endlessly achievable goal. At some stage it will be maxed out.

The low cost is already baked into the calculations of clients. Providers can no longer say that they have halved the processing cost. That was done years back. The halved cost is now the baseline. Where can they take it from the half? Clients are always hungry for more.

Over time, with work moving from higher to lower-cost resource pools, the relative cost advantages can be expected to reduce, even as prosperity rises. Thus, the industry can also be viewed as a channel for the promotion of financial equality around the world.

oWorkers provides labor market benefits that few competitors can match. Clients swear by their ability to support unexpected and unplanned peaks in demand by providing up to a hundred additional resources within 48 hours.

 

Future drivers of the industry

As the industry evolves, how should participants prepare for a future that is at least as exciting and profitable as the present?

Go from BPO to BPM

BPO to BPM is a step forward.

How?

The usage of the term BPM over the more traditional reference of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) is itself a reflection of the change taking place.

The concept of BPO assumes that the provider is an ‘outsourcing’ partner who is able to perform activities that they have been asked to by the client, and only as well as the client can do themselves. It assumes a relationship where the provider had a somewhat subservient role to the client, even where the provider and client were two parts of the same company.

BPM, where ‘management’ replaces ‘outsourcing,’ takes the relationship to a level of equality. It says that the engagement is a partnership where the provider is being engaged because they are better equipped to manage the transactions that need to be done, and in a more holistic manner that adds value to the client’s business.  

oWorkers has organically developed the capability of multi-lingual support and can, today, support clients in over 20 languages. This is another example of the ownership oWorkers demonstrates over the projects assigned by clients. They manage the work completely and do not merely turn around outsourced transactions.

Lead with technology

That technology will continue to be a significant factor in our lives and that it will continue to change and advance, are a given.

Providers need to come out of the clients’ shadow. Instead of continuing to use their technologies for processing, they need to start implementing best-in-class technology solutions for an activity and soliciting business from a position of strength.

They have the advantage of volumes. One client may not be able to justify investing in a technology, say for invoice processing, either because of lack of volumes or because it is not a revenue-generating activity. Providers, however, can tick both these boxes and invest in technologies that are advanced.

With technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPO) looming on the horizon, these could be exciting times for BPM providers with the appetite to invest in technology.

oWorkers operates from super secure facilities & protocols for client data security requirements, with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). They are also GDPR compliant. They have deep relationships with technology providers, enabling them to adopt state-of-the-art technologies for client projects.

Not just lower cost

Instead of operating from the shadows, with clients unwilling to openly acknowledge and recognize the relationship as sometimes happens, BPMs need to move to an open, public relationship with their clients.

This is important because the channels of engagement with customers are rapidly expanding., Customers are no longer coming through only the Call Center. They are coming through every nook and corner they can squeeze through. Even back-office transactions handled by vendors eventually impact customers. Even without running Call Centers, BPM will be the one who will either impact a customer’s experience through their transaction processing capabilities, or be the first to know customer feedback and reaction.

BPMs will need to demonstrate their willingness and capability to operate as extensions of the client who can add to their top line, instead of being a cost center that has to be managed to lower its cost.

Clients testify to savings up to 80% when outsourcing to oWorkers, especially for clients from Western Europe and North America. However, clients keep coming back because oWorkers operates like a partner, not a vendor.

Pricing model

For the longest time, the full-time equivalent (FTE) based pricing has been the default model in the industry, which is also known as the input-price based model, which defines the resources that are contracted to be deployed for the job. Output and outcome-based models have been experimented with but have found, at best, limited success.

With the FTE-based model as the standard, vendors have traditionally had little incentive in delivering processing efficiencies. And understandably so, as delivering efficiencies would mean a reduction in headcount and consequent reduction in revenue. The only time vendors do make an attempt to deliver efficiencies is when they are pitching for new business; in other words, when they really have no clue what the business is about.

What is the solution?

Though outcome-based models have not caught on widely, they seem to be the way to go. Getting a reasonable set of performance parameters to base it is tricky, but worth striving for.

Vendors have to evolve to gainshare-based models in pricing; a model where the vendor is incentivized to deliver efficiencies by getting a share of what is gained by the client.

These are arrangements a mature industry will expect.

oWorkers has pioneered pricing models, including their much admired one of offering a choice to clients between an input and output-based pricing model. They initiate gain-share model discussion at an early stage in client negotiations and solidify the model if the client is willing.

Specialization

BPM vendors are well placed to develop specialization in certain types of transactions and processes as a result of handling them for a bouquet of clients. A client, on their own, will only know about the work in that area they do for themselves, never for others. A BPM provider, on the other hand, by virtue of handling transactions for different clients, is in a position to understand the best way of processing and also implement learnings from one client into the processing of another client.

Higher aggregated volumes also provide them the leverage and ROI to invest in both technology and process improvement that, once again, individual clients on their own may not be able to.

Process and vertical specific knowledge and capability could be the key to unlocking value for clients as well as for providers. Providers are well placed to leverage the sweet spot created by the intersection of their knowledge of the client industry, emerging relevant technologies and customer needs as, in many cases, they are the closest to all three.

oWorkers has led from the front in specializing in services that are of more recent provenance and have gained expertise in them. Community content moderation, data annotation and invoice processing are a few of these services in which they lead delivery.

Outcome based commitments

A B2B decision is never an easy decision, as it involves a significant shift. There are likely to be doubts in the mind of the client whether such a move will create or destroy value, especially for clients attempting it for the first time. At the time the matchmaking is being attempted, vendors make an effort to present a rosy picture of the outsourced future that could look ‘too rosy’ to be realistic, creating further doubts.

Outcome based pricing has been discussed elsewhere in this piece. Experienced vendors could make a bold statement about their capability and seriousness by making efficiency commitments, and demanding pricing or value sharing in return. This will lead to driving the doubts and uncertainty out of the minds of decision-makers and expedite closures and faster adoption of such arrangements.

With an employed workforce, as opposed to the freelancer and contractor workforce preferred by some competitors, oWorkers is well placed to commit outcomes to clients as they have an understanding of the competence of their staff. Not any staff but staff who regularly rate oWorkers at 4.6 and above on external platforms like Glassdoor, leading to easing client worries regarding the outsourcing engagement.

 

Conclusion

“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” the Marshall Goldsmith book that talks about people and behavior, could be a relevant read for industry professionals.

The industry has matured. Vendors need to evolve and be on the lookout for opportunities of creating value for clients by differentiating themselves. The differentiation could be through technology, it could be through pricing, or through specialization or through other means. Being the partner likely to be the more experienced in the ways of the industry, they need to show the path to potential clients and create confidence for them to make the transition quick and smooth.

With a leadership team that has over 20 years of hands-on industry experience, oWorkers is well placed to be a leader in the evolving BPM industry.

How AI Adds Relevance to Customer Service With Empathy and Language Skills

How AI Adds Relevance to Customer Service With Empathy and Language Skills

How AI Adds Relevance to Customer Service With Empathy and Language Skills

How many of us feel that it is near impossible to reach a human voice when we need support from a corporation for a product, or service, we purchased from them?

And if, perchance, we do manage to reach a human voice in customer service, we wish we had not bothered, so uninspiring is the service?

 

Customer service is a balance

Customer service is a difficult balancing act. Not only does the server need knowledge about the products and services on offer currently as well as in the past, he/she needs to also possess the maturity to handle often agitated customers without getting themselves personally involved in the situation. In other words, they need to understand that the customer is calling because help is needed and not because he wishes to abuse the server. And, of course, the servers should be adept at handling multiple tools and applications at the same time, while trying to ensure they do not take up too much time on the transaction, which will add to the cost for the company.

With its 24×7 operations, oWorkers not only understands but has the wherewithal to support customers from around the globe for all their client projects.

 

AI-based technologies are being adopted

It is no surprise that companies are increasingly exploring the possibility of enhancing the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technologies in this critical area. Chatbot features have been in use in customer service for many years. Customers, however, have continued to seek out a voice to speak with or a live human to chat with despite the presence of chatbots.

AI-based voice interaction systems, armed with advances in technology that can impart a range of feelings, such as empathy, as well as a level of linguistic capability, are being experimented with. Several banks in the Gulf region are testing out customer response systems that are able to identify emotions such as frustration, anger and sadness. Mashreq Bank, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, and VISA, are understood to be basing their experimentation on a technology developed by a fintech startup.

It seems that in most cases, in blind tests, the customer has been unable to detect that the voice interacting with him/her is not that of a live, present, human. The same results have been found for live online interactions, like through a chat function.

The above notwithstanding, the technology does not claim to be perfect. Natural Language Processing, or NLP, the science of dealing with the myriad nuances of the spoken word, continues to be a work in progress. However, important advances are being made.

With its deep relationships with technology companies across the spectrum, oWorkers has the ability to engage the latest and best technologies for client projects, a privilege that clients can never get on their own.

 

The touch and feel of AI-based service

Imagine that you recently had an interaction with a service representative named Peter and rated it highly. Since a non-human representative does not need to sleep or eat, you can possibly connect to the same representative each time you call, weekday or weekend, early morning or late night, and have a feeling of continuity in your interaction, further augmenting the satisfaction.

The AI embedded in the technology will ensure that you interact with Peter each time you reach out.

The AI, on its part, will keep on learning and getting better and better with its access to a vast database of past interactions, along with each new interaction that happens. Improvement will be never-ending.

Implementation of AI and related technologies can be done effectively in the super secure facilities & protocols of oWorkers. The environment is conducive to maintain data security with its ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certifications and GDPR compliance.

 

Personalized service can be offered

We have already seen how you could connect back with the same representative when AI systems are in use.

You could also be responded to in an accent that is familiar to you based on where you are calling from, as well as your history. Language ceases to be a limitation. Whatever is the preference of the caller, the server will be able to seamlessly speak in that language. Of course, there will always be limitations, such as dialects and cultural differences. Spanish spoken in Argentina will be different from that spoken in Mexico. But that could be true even in interacting with a live human unless your service representative is your sibling or partner or someone as close.

Gender-based service can also be delivered easily, if it is found that customers in general, or certain specific customers, have leanings, creating experiences that will create a sense of personalization and importance for customers calling in.

Whether through AI interactions or with real people, oWorkers has supported a diverse workforce from its inception, which has enabled it to organically build the capability of offering support to clients in over 20 languages. These language skills are also useful in setting up automated AI-based customer interface systems.

 

Integrated with social media

The technology that is being currently experimented with provides ‘plug and play’ features that make integration with social media platforms a simple task. Social media, as we know, has become an integral part of reaching out to customers as well as enabling them to reach back for service and issues.

Once implemented, the technology can be used in multiple ways to raise the bar both for the company as well as for their customers. It could be used for informing customers about new services. It could be used to reach out to customers on a personalized basis and update them about the state of their account, such as bad credit, instead of the irritating impersonal messages like “if your account balance is below the defined threshold, please deposit funds immediately to avoid being levied service charges.”

Being an enterprise application, the technology lends itself to a client-specific implementation.

What does that mean?

It means that while many banks could be using the application, each will appear to be unique to customers as it will be set-up specifically for that company who will also be able to brand as per their own brand guidelines and marketing requirements.

With a track record of 8 years, oWorkers has kept pace with changing trends in the BPO industry and is well equipped to handle transactions that are current, such as those requiring engagement with social media platforms.

 

Leveling the playing field

The capacity to invest has always created a divide between the corporate haves and have-nots. Big banks and financial institutions, with deep pockets, tended to lead innovation in the sector through technology investments while smaller players like community banks and credit unions either watched from the sidelines or picked up stripped-down versions of the technology. As a result, they were not able to challenge the status quo and the pecking order in the industry remained unchanged.

With these technologies, the financial sector seems to be ushering in a new age of a playing field that is more level, and where institutions with lighter pockets can also have access to the latest and best technologies making a difference to the way they offer customer service.

oWorkers, for all their client assignments, are armed with a critical asset; the ability to hire the best resources. It has achieved the status of being a desirable employer in the communities it has set up delivery centers in, which brings in a steady flow of walk-in applicants. This also equips oWorkers to cater to short-term spikes in client volumes; it can hire almost 100 additional resources with a notice of 48 hours.

Best Practices for Remote Hiring in Virtual Contact Centers

Best Practices for Remote Hiring in Virtual Contact Centers

Best Practices for Remote Hiring in Virtual Contact Centers

Trust a good old-fashioned pandemic to shake up an industry and test the validity of long-held beliefs. Like operating from a physical space for Call Centers, which opens up a host of other requirements, such as the need to hire agents from anywhere who can work from anywhere.

 

The idea of remote Call Centers

The idea of remote work is not new in the Call Center world. Operating on thin margins and getting employees to work from home has long held the promise of better margins with lower real estate costs and perhaps more favorable employee salaries.

However, for one good reason or another, it has never happened. At least not at the scale at which it would make a difference. It was either going to compromise data security or fail to prevent dishonest practices from creeping in with no direct oversight, or lead to poor customer service with agents unable to seek immediate help from the floor. One thing or the other always prevented it from happening.

For oWorkers, virtual employees is only one additional step removed from the way it has been operating for the eight years of its existence; one step away from the client facilities. Identified as one of the top three providers in the world for data-based BPO services, for oWorkers, virtual workers are only a logical extension of the support that it has been extending to its clients.

 

Liberation after Covid-19

What the pandemic has been able to engineer might be nothing short of liberation for the industry from the confines of a bricks-and-mortar office.

With lockdowns enforced around the world, call center operators were unable to operate and faced revenue challenges. Their clients, at the same time, were challenged as their customer support systems were not operating. Challenging times such as the one brought on by the pandemic often help us separate the grain from the chaff.

In this scenario, to the credit of many call center operators, they managed to demonstrate the flexibility that clients expect from them and put together a patchwork of remote agents tied together on a platform that enabled them to continue services through remote work, albeit only a small proportion, that they gradually scaled up.

What this has made clear is that those earlier objections to remote call center work were mired in unreasonable arguments as they did not withstand the test of the Covid-19 challenge. In fact, it seems to be increasingly clear that remote operations will be an important part of the call center mix going forward.

oWorkers has been at the forefront of the shift to virtual work ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdowns started. Currently, its employees are equipped to operate from the office as well as remotely, depending on the situation, with equal facility. They operate on the backbone of secure protocols with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) for security of data. oWorkers is also GDPR compliant.

 

The people management challenge and how to address it

Recognizing a challenge is often a great start to managing it. And every change brings with it one challenge or another. Companies don’t run away from challenges; they make an effort to find solutions.

Hiring and retaining talent has always been a challenge in BPOs and Contact Centers. Attrition at the agent level has been a known bugbear. With agents moving up the value chain, thanks to the introduction of AI solutions in customer interactions, the reliability and value per agent is becoming greater as agents are now handling the more complex transactions that cannot be handled by automated solutions. In this current scenario, losing an agent is an even bigger loss even as selection criteria become tighter while hiring as companies look for greater levels of competence.

Add remote in the mix and the degree of complexity goes up by several notches for hiring, onboarding, training and retaining. With remote work now acceptable, agents can take up a job anywhere in the world without moving an inch physically. Though, by the same token, a company can also hire talent from anywhere in the world.

But, will legacy practices be as effective in the new normal? What will be the keys to success on the people front?

Cast the net wider

It is perhaps expected that with location not being a constraint, the net can be cast wider. However, there will always be costs associated with expanding the size of the net or casting it wider. It is expected that specialization will emerge in skill availability as well which will help define the locations for a net to be cast in, for a particular type of service agent. It could so happen that employees for F&A services are more easily available in Poland while for Call Center services, the Philippines offers richer pickings.

Blessed with their recognition as a preferred employer, oWorkers has been able to attract a steady stream of walk-in talent to take up the various roles on offer in the many client engagements in progress. So far, the walk-in talent has been employed by the walk-in center. With work from anywhere gaining currency, oWorkers is able to attract the best talent in all its centers across the world in the choicest locations, and then match them to the most suitable openings being handled by any of its centers.

Be reasonable and realistic at all steps

In traditional hiring, job descriptions used as advertisements for attracting talent for a particular role, might lead one to believe that the role might be that of the leader of a powerful nation, such was the hyperbole in the copy. While the desire has always been to attract suitable candidates in large numbers, an unintended consequence has been that such job descriptions have tended to attract many unsuitable, unqualified or over-qualifies prospects, leading the hiring team on a hunt for the proverbial needle in the haystack; the few suitable candidates out of the mountain of applications.

With hiring from anywhere, and candidates looking for jobs anywhere, this can quickly balloon out of control. There is an urgent need for companies to bring sanity and realism into the jobs they advertise in order to keep wasteful applications to a minimum. Many companies are experimenting with processes like unmonitored interaction with nominated employees based on which experience applicants can self-nominate out of the race even after applying.

oWorkers has developed multilingual delivery capabilities organically, as a result of a conscious policy of a multicultural and multinational team. Candidates can express their language preferences while becoming a part of the oWorkers team.

Let the candidate do some of the hard work

Some hiring teams believe in making the process easy for the candidate. They open up multiple channels through which candidates can reach them. They initiate a dialogue with candidates to schedule and reschedule interviews. In short, they try to ensure that the candidate is left with no reason to opt out.

There are others who believe that this process is self-defeating. It becomes so easy that candidates with just a passing interest go through the entire process and withdraw at the last minute. These hiring teams believe that if the candidate has interest, small setbacks will not deter him/her from continuing with the hiring process. As a small example, they suggest letting the candidate choose the interaction date and time. Only if he/she is interested will a choice be made. It can lead to the elimination of a lot of needless effort.

Driven by systems and technology, oWorkers places at the disposal of the candidate an intuitive hiring application. The hard work that oWorkers does begins after candidates have traversed the journey on the tool and are still interested. The tool, like all oWorkers facilities, works 24×7.

Hiring anywhere means honoring labor laws anywhere

Today, you could be running a business employing resources located in Romania and Egypt, or even the other way round. Work from home, or rather work from anywhere, has liberated many companies and people from physical confines. While companies can scout for the most suitable resources anywhere in the world, employees can also look for the most suitable employer anywhere in the world.

But this brings challenges. We operate in a world of laws and rules. Most laws operate at a national level. Almost every geography has laws that seek to protect the employee from being exploited by the employer. Employers are waking up to the new reality and trying to navigate their way around the labor laws not only in their own geography but also the geography where resources could be physically located. For most corporations the right answer at this stage seems to be to ensure both the regulations are honored.  

oWorkers operates as a locally incorporated entity in each of its delivery locations. It pays social and local taxes for its staff members who are employees, and not contractors and freelancers, as some of the competitors prefer.

Hiring assessments and techniques

In the physical world, beyond the candidate meeting the basic criteria for the role, recruiters often relied on a native instinct called the ‘gut feel’ when they interviewed and otherwise interacted with a candidate. In the virtual world, opportunities for physical interactions that would enable a ‘gut feel’ to be formed would be limited. Hence it becomes important to introduce reasonably objective assessment tools such as behavioral assessments, depending on the role being hired for, and the level, to get a more wholesome perspective on the candidate.

oWorkers has a robust screening process, employing evaluation of education, IQ, language and experience, even in their legacy geography-bound hiring.

Onboarding is important

How does one onboard new employees when they are operating virtually. For that matter, the entire organization is operating virtually. Onboarding is that bridge which seeks to convert eager hires into contributing employees. Physical interaction used to be an important element of the onboarding process. But that was then. Now, without that option available in case of virtual employees, organizations are experimenting with social media for creating the initial engagement with new hires. Unpoliced encounters are also permitted with existing employees so that people coming on board can be better prepared in an honest, open setting, and begin to build friendships even before they have joined.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Employees, both past and present, rate oWorkers 4.6 or higher, on a scale of 5, on external platforms like Glassdoor.

 

Conclusion

The need for connoisseurs who can recognize diamonds in their rough state has never been greater, with hiring going virtual. oWorkers brings the same disciplined process to hiring that they employ on client projects to deliver great quality at industry-leading prices, often letting clients shave 80% off pre-outsourcing costs.

Invoice processing services

Invoice processing services

Invoice processing services

Invoice processing services are a critical part of the activities of any organization. These are activities that generate a flow of money from one party to another. For one party, the buyer, it results in acquiring goods and services needed by their business, based on which they will create their own goods and services and generate revenue. For the other party, the seller, it is the culmination of all their effort and the reason for their existence, the generation of revenue. It means that their proposition has value for a client who is willing to pay money to acquire it.

Money is a key resource and flows through all activities of a company like a lubricant.

In a B2B (business to business) relationship, the seller raises an invoice based on the terms agreed with the buyer. It is a crystallization of all that has preceded and seeks to indicate the completion of a transaction, or a step in the transaction, creating a liability on the buyer for settlement, usually through transfer of funds.

What needs to be noted is that while the document is initiated by the seller, invoices processing services refer to the set of activities done by the recipient, the buyer, that will eventually end with a settlement through money transfer.

oWorkers is deeply embedded in business-critical processes of our clients around the world, such as invoicing. Having chosen to focus on our core strengths, we are already recognized as one of the top three players in the world in back office BPO services, no mean achievement considering that we have been in business for a little over 8 years.

 

Why outsource to an invoice processing company?

Each company has a unique positioning in the marketplace and a unique proposition, based on which it has a vision to achieve success.

Toyota and Volkswagen may be a part of the automobile industry, but they both have their own strategies and strengths and product suites which they seek to achieve success through.

AXA and Allianz may be large insurers, but they will have their unique set of products and services based on their understanding of market needs.

Regardless of the industry they work in and the strategies they adopt for success, what is common amongst all organizations is the need to create supporting processes either because of regulatory requirements or because they need to participate in a common marketplace.

Filing of tax returns, hiring from a common talent pool, adhering to safety guidelines at the workplace are examples. Invoice processing services are also an example of the same.

This creates a need for outsourcing.

How?

Most companies are expected to possess expertise in their area of work. Car manufacturers will perhaps have trained mechanical engineers and insurers will have a talent pool of actuaries and insurance sellers. What they often do not have is the skills to effectively handle the support requirements that exist.

While some may have the scale and financial muscle to hire qualified resources, for many others, outsourcing would probably work better.

oWorkers is uniquely placed to enable you to benefit from its specialized skills in this area, across the three global centers it operates around the world, while letting you focus on your core area of work.  

Despite the advancements in digital technology, invoice processing services remain a largely manual process. It is estimated that more than 70 percent of all corporations receive manual/paper invoices.

Why is that?

The main reason is that the generation of the document happens in the systems of the seller, often at the tail end of their sales or operating activity. In most cases, the systems of the buyer and seller do not talk to each other, resulting in that document being treated as an ‘alien’ object by the system of the buyer. Even if the two applications are the same, being enterprise systems, the implementation could be unique to each company, making anything coming from the same, but differently set up system, ‘alien.’

This creates the need for manual work which the current invoices processing company may not be comfortable with, not being their core line of work.

In such a situation, outsourcing to a professional invoice processing company like oWorkers, can work like a dream. With its entrenched position in local communities, oWorkers draws a steady stream of talent and is able to staff all client projects with suitable people.

 

Advantages of outsourcing invoices processing services

While all advantages of outsourcing are available to companies that outsource this work, a few need special calling out:

Expertise

As opposed to handling an activity, in which they have little experience or knowledge, the outsourcer will get the expertise of an invoice processing company that does it for a living and is an expert in it. At the same time, their own resources can continue to focus on their core business.

BPO providers like oWorkers have fine-tuned the art of hiring ‘horses for courses.’ They hire resources with adequate skills and train them up to be competent.

Technology

A supporting activity often does not get attention in a company. The attention is usually on their own business that generates revenue. This also results in lower capacity to invest in technologies to support the activity.

For a specialist provider, however, since it is a revenue generator, it gets senior management attention. They also invest in the latest tools and technologies in order to create efficiencies and win more business.

For the security of your data as well as to ensure financial transactions are executed safely, oWorkers operates from super secure facilities & protocols with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). We are also GDPR compliant.

Cost efficient

Specialists in any field often come armed with advanced educational degrees and experience, and can be expensive to hire. If a company gets these resources to handle invoices, it can be a costly proposition.

Most clients of oWorkers note savings of almost 80% when they outsource work. This is particularly true for clients from Western Europe and North America. They also love the pricing choice they get from oWorkers, to pay on the basis of input material or on the basis of output.

 

Best practices in invoice processing services

Through experience and involvement of a committed team of processors and supervisors, oWorkers operates with a set of best practices that delivers benefits to all clients. New clients are eligible for these benefits when they sign up. Improvement is always work-in-progress.

Upfront verification of invoice

Upfront verification is important to ensure that there are no errors once the data has been digitized, including basic checks such as ensuring it is meant for the company it is addressed to. If errors creep into the digital journey, they can leave a trail of issues. Verification also ensures that the payment is not delayed when the time for it comes. This keeps the buyer in the good books of suppliers.

Working with handpicked resources, out of the large pool of applicants, combined with our dedicated training team, oWorkers, an invoices processing company, executes on client engagements of various types, including verification of invoices that need to be paid. We are also able to support short-term requirements to support client volume peaks and can turn around such requests in 48 hours.

Check for duplicate payments

This has been the bane of many accounts payables teams, creating unwarranted stress on cash resources with the added complexity of recovery of funds. Even invoice processing services using automated solutions are prone to such issues.

With a system of checks and balances, such as exception reports, oWorkers is able to eliminate the possibility of duplicate payments. It helps to be working with employed staff, as opposed to contractors and freelancers that many competitors rely on. With longer tenures they develop the skills to do better. Both current as well as past employees consistently rate us above 4.6 on a scale of 5 on external platforms like Glassdoor.

Automation

Technologies are advancing more rapidly than many other things in this world. Even for inherently not-automatable activities like invoices processing services, solutions like OCR/ICR/AI/IDP are being leveraged and are able to handle up to 80% of the workload. Automation frees up resources to perform activities where they can add greater value.

oWorkers is second to none in deploying automation for client projects. With the relationships it has developed with technology companies, it is in a position to access the latest technologies, regardless of the activity.

Fine tuning the payment time

Paying an invoice too early or too late can have negative consequences.

Pay too early, and you lose the benefit of money in your account for a few more days earning interest, or avoiding paying interest on borrowings to that extent.

Pay too late, and you run the risk of being blacklisted by the supplier.

When our clients pay us, they pay for quality and efficiency. Optimizing the payment window saves money for clients. It is no surprise that many admit to saving almost 80%. In addition, oWorkers is also able to prioritize payments based on terms, rather than paying the First In First Out (FIFO) that many seem to follow.

Create performance standards and measurements

‘If it can’t be measured it can’t be managed’ is a well-known adage. Without specific goals and measurement systems to track them, many organizations have been known to flounder. Our professional management systems require standards and measures for every activity, including invoice processing services.

These standards, or KPIs, form the basis of our engagement with our clients and these also form the basis of our staff members managing their deliverables. We will help you establish and refine these standards and measurement systems.

Paperless processing and archiving

While related to automation, paperless management and archiving is an independent best practice too.

While automated systems will usually have workflows that take care of approvals required, an invoices processing company might still be following the practice of taking approvals on physical pieces of paper. Securing them in a digital as well as physical form becomes an equally important activity, in addition to archiving the document received that worked as the starting point.

oWorkers has fostered a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural workforce which has given it the benefit of organically developed multilingual capability. Whether processing on paper, or through workflows, this core competence is helpful in managing client transactions from around the world.

Implement a Purchase Order based system

A Purchase Order (PO) based ordering system is considered to be the gold standard for large corporations where the sheer volume and variety of orders places makes handling invoices a cumbersome task. Many future challenges can be eliminated up front by implementing a PO based ordering system.

oWorkers can help its clients implement a PO based ordering system. With state-of-the-art secure facilities that are further augmented by our ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), our technological capabilities are second to none.

 

The oWorkers suite of Invoice Processing Services

  • Verification of invoice data such as values, material, etc.
  • Matching invoices to their purchase orders
  • OCR/ICR/AI technology-based data entry
  • Scanning of originals
  • Archiving both hard copy as well as image
  • Extracting relevant data from line items and header
  • Receipt creation
  • Transaction logging
  • PO receipt creation for supplier invoices
  • Chat, email, and phone assistance
  • Monitoring workflow
  • Triggering approvals
  • Triggering payments

How to set up an invoice processing procedure

How to set up an invoice processing procedure

How to set up an invoice processing procedure

All activity in a company is carried out for a purpose. While there is a larger purpose, or goal, of the company, which is usually to make money for its owners while operating in a certain segment or industry or niche, as well as related goals that define the philosophy of the company and what binds it together. They are often known as the Vision and Mission statements.

There are goals also at the operating level. These goals could exist at multiple levels, depending on how big the company is and how many different sets of people and teams are needed to pull all of them together.

For achieving these goals, which could be broken down to Key Result Areas (KRAs) or Performance Objectives, for each individual with some responsibility for a part of the goals, the company also defines how business activities are to be carried out. This is done to ensure that activities are carried out in the most efficient manner, and achieve the best results possible. A common name for a collection of such procedures is Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs.

An invoice processing procedure is likely to be an important part of the Accounts Payable section of most SOPs, unless the company has a separate SOP altogether for either Finance or Accounts Payable.

The leadership team of oWorkers has over 20 years of work experience in the industry. They work with clients to set up optimum procedures for all processing activity taken up by oWorkers for its global clients, which includes several unicorn marketplaces as well as technology companies.

 

The role of invoice processing procedure

Generation of and payment of an invoice are important activities for an organization. After all, the main goal of most organizations is achieving financial success, which is eventually going to be achieved through the activity of generating revenues or selling its products and services.

The production of a product or service that can be sold usually entails working upon some input materials. These materials need to be procured, or purchased. Many times, a lot of additional material also needs to be purchased all of which goes into making the final product or service.

The route to generation of revenue is through sales. An invoice is the document that is issued as a proof or record of the sale. It is issued by the seller to the buyer.

The buyer, on receipt of an invoice, needs to work on it and ensure that the seller receives payment for it, based on the terms that may have been agreed if it is a B2B arrangement, or right away as is usually the case in retail sales. As it results in the outflow of money, checks and balances are usually built into the system to avert the errors and fraudulent transactions that can happen where money is involved.

Efficiency results in timely realization of sales receipts for a seller. For a buyer, it ensures they get reasonable terms and results in a harmonious relationship with sellers.

oWorkers case is aided by the prominent position it occupies in the communities it has set up delivery centers in. As a preferred employer, it attracts a steady stream of walk-in talent which enables staffing client projects with the best resources for the role.

 

Invoice processing procedure

In a twist of sorts, invoice processing services actually refers to the work done by the buyer, after they receive it from the seller. From a seller’s perspective, the act of issuing one is usually not referred to as one. It is often simply the tail end of a sales cycle.

To process invoices is to initiate the set of activities that take place once it has been received by a buyer from a seller, till the point when it has reached the point of settlement, usually a transfer of money. Like most processes in an organization, it is also, often, a composite of many other lower level ones.

The storied ability of oWorkers to attract the right talent is evident when a client faces unexpected volume pressure. With its ability to hire an additional hundred resources at a short notice, oWorkers provides invaluable support that cannot be measured only in monetary terms. Without such a partner, clients may need to resort to keeping a standby set of resources which would be an additional cost.  

An invoice is received

They say the best place to start is at the beginning. The receipt of an invoice from a vendor is the beginning of the journey for an invoices processing company.

Though we live in an era when digital technology is all around us, the initiation of invoice processing services is, often, manual.

What is that the case?

The reason is that the generation of the invoice that needs to be handled is from a different system that is used by the vendor. Else, though this is becoming less frequent, it could also be a manually generated one.

Either way, the document that is received in the form of an invoice is foreign to the technology and systems, if used, of the buyer and is, hence, not recognized.

Though attempts have been made to process invoices in an automated manner, there are many exceptions. At this point, the one case where automation from a buyer’s perspective is possible is where the buyer is a large enterprise that insists on vendors to raise invoices on their system, and create accounts for them to enable them to do so. Because of hugely different bargaining powers, many vendors will perhaps agree rather than risk losing the business.

Otherwise, in most other cases, it is issued and then sent, either as paper or as an attachment with an email.

oWorkers has the capability to deploy the most updated technologies for supporting client transactions.

How does it do it?

oWorkers accesses the latest technology thanks to its deep relationship with several technology providers.

Verification

Once received, an invoice processing procedure calls for verification to be done to ensure correctness. Firstly, verification is needed to ensure that it really pertains to you and has not been sent in error. Besides, the other details pertaining to the order which would make it a unique transaction also need to be validated.

If the company has a Purchase Order (PO) based system for ordering, it also needs to ensure that the PO number has been mentioned, as it is a safeguard against future errors and duplicate payments.

Other than the above, since to process invoices, in most cases, means starting its digital journey here, it is good business practice to ensure all information is correct, at the port of entry.

The following are the usual details verified by a standard invoices processing company:

  • Name of the client – is this really meant for you?
  • Name and details of the supplier?
  • Tax ID information of both parties
  • Description of goods/ services supplied
  • Calculations showing the amount due
  • Payment terms based on agreement
  • Payment information – how to remit

Verification also ensures that the vendor has an opportunity to rectify the errors and resend the corrected version within the time window for receiving payment as per original agreement. Late verification and late correction and representation could delay the whole set of activities, with the vendor having to wait longer than the expected period for the funds. It ensures maintenance of harmonious relations with the vendor.

Its 24×7 operations, in each of its global centers, positions oWorkers to turn transactions around quickly. oWorkers is at work, whenever a client needs it.

Data entry and imaging are done

Once the verification has been done, invoice processing services will kick off the digital journey, which is how most get processed.

This is not to take anything away from companies who have chosen to retain their invoice processing procedure as a manual activity. Many small companies make the choice to stay manual as they do not consider the investment a worthwhile investment for their level of activity.

While it is recommended that such companies should consider engaging the services of BPO providers like oWorkers who, with aggregated volumes across several clients, are able to deploy the best tools. But, to each his or her own.

A related step at this stage is that of imaging. Since the invoice has been received as a physical document, it might need to be retained in that form for posterity. However, as most companies now also have digital storage, they would also like to store a digital version for easier retrieval and access. Only if that does not serve the purpose, in the event of a dispute, will they need to look for the original.

Different applications will have different workflows. It is expected that the company would be familiar with the requirements of the system they have chosen to implement and make the digital journey smooth.

Invoices processing company oWorkers supports clients in 22 languages. This enables a unified support for transactions, regardless of the geography they emanate from, making it easier for clients to manage and oversee.

Approval to pay is obtained

As it leads to the release of money, the central resource driving a business, invoice processing procedures call for caution and build in a system of approval so that frauds and errors are minimized. The approval usually works on two universal principles:

  1. There should be dual control in the system. One person should not be allowed the freedom to complete the entire process on his or her own. In a checkbook payment example, for instance, the check book will be stored with one person who will not have the authority to sign it. The person who has the authority will not have the check book. Only when the person with the checkbook writes a check and presents it for signature will the cycle be complete.
  2. Approval authority should be commensurate with the amount of risk the company will be bearing. The higher the amount of approval needed, the more senior should be the authorizer, or even a combination of authorizers. The principle operating here is that by committing a fraud, a perpetrator would be jeopardizing his/ her own exalted position and the benefits that come with it.

And it is not merely the payment authorization that may be needed. There may also be a need to seek clearance from the department that had initiated the purchase request to ensure that the order has been fulfilled and that they are satisfied with what has been supplied. Only after that the money approval process can be initiated.

In some organizations, the payment approval is obtained at the time an order is placed. This is done in the belief that once an order has been placed and fulfilled, the payment cannot be held back. At the presentation stage, it is only a matter of ensuring that the fulfillment has happened. This is usually the case in companies that follow a PO process.

Many clients report savings once work is outsourced to oWorkers. Some even report savings of up to 80% measured against pre-outsourcing numbers.

Payment is effected

And lastly, the payment execution.

This is what the supplier has set up a business for; to generate revenue that will translate into profits for the company.

Modern payment systems allow almost instant, electronic transfer of funds from one party to another. Legacy check-based payment mechanisms caused delays as the check had to be signed physically, then sent physically to the supplier, who would deposit it to his bank physically for clearing, after which the bank would present it to the drawing bank for realization of the amount after which it would be credited to the supplier’s account.

Of course, additional activities may be required for certain payments, such as the ones made overseas or in a foreign currency.

The invoice processing procedure usually also defines the most suitable time for making a payment. Most companies prefer paying as late as possible so that they have availability of funds as long as possible. This way, they can either earn interest on balances or save on interest they would have otherwise paid in case they were operating an overdraft account. In either case, paying as late as possible makes sense.

However, it should not be so late that it ends up either violating contract terms, or incurring penalties and being blacklisted by the supplier.

Its ISO certified facilities and systems create a secure environment facilitating client data to be handled safely while making external transactions such as payments. oWorkers is also GDPR compliant.

Improving ap invoice processing requires consistent effort

Improving ap invoice processing requires consistent effort

Improving ap invoice processing requires consistent effort

It is perhaps a given that without improvement and upgradation, products, processes, things and even humans, who have evolved over millions of years, are necessary to prosper and, at the minimum, survive. Human beings compete for resources and the ones with the best ideas and strategies and tools end up winning. And that is what most humans wish to do; win. And that is unquestionably what companies want to do; win. In fact, the purpose of creating a company, which is an artificial entity, is to achieve success in its defined area of operation. For achieving success, one must be able to stand out in a competitive crowd. Not once, but again and again. For that, again, the company must keep improving its products, services, strategies, processes and everything else.

The cars we drive today don’t look and feel the same as cars fifty years back. Not just the looks, but even the technology that goes into the engines is different. Features like ‘cruise’ control and automatic transmissions were either not there or rare.

Why has this happened?

Because car companies have tried to improve their offerings.

And it does not end here. Car companies, and even non-car companies, are racing to create the smartest electric vehicles and batteries that can sustain them. Car and non-car companies, again, are racing to ‘autonomous’ vehicles that do not need a human driver. It never ends. We will never reach a state when one can sit back and say that whatever improvements had to be made have been made.

Why should improving ap invoice processing be any different?

As an integral business process, invoice processing has undergone changes in an effort to stay current with the times.

As a new entrant, oWorkers has relied on its ability to improve client operations to make a difference in the marketplace. The acceptance of its solutions is evident as it is already counted as one of the top three providers globally in the space of providing data based BPO services.

 

Suggestions for improving ap invoice processing

Through experience and involvement, committed processors start understanding systems and processes and the areas where improvements can deliver significant benefits. Some of this wisdom is presented in this section. It must be remembered that these are not one-time, but ongoing efforts, in an effort to keep building a better and better process.

Verification of invoice upfront

Despite the presence of processing technologies, invoice processing is still largely manual, at least at the start of the process, since it requires operating on a document that has been generated by another company’s, the supplier’s, system. Upfront verification ensures that the received invoice is accurate, pertains to your company, and, if the due date was today, would be processed and paid.

This avoids delays at the time the verification is done only at the time of payment, as the supplier might take time in correcting and resending it. While for the supplier it will mean delays in receiving the payment which could impact their cash flows, for the buyer it could result in spoiling the relationship and even being blacklisted.

Our human resources are our pride. At oWorkers, we have chosen to work with employed teams, and not freelancers and contractors that some of the other providers seem to prefer, as it reduces management effort and responsibility of growth and compliance. Our staff helps us execute on client engagements of various types, including verification of invoices that need to be paid.

Check for duplicate payments

Duplicate payments are costly for a business. They create unwarranted stress on cash resources and can sometimes be difficult to recover.

Though more common in places where manual processes are used, even companies using automated solutions with invoice matching capabilities, have been known to make duplicate payments.

Creating and constantly renewing a system of checks and balances, such as exception reports, can go a long way in eliminating this scourge and improving ap invoice processing.

oWorkers is evaluated by its staff on independent platforms such as Glassdoor. Both current as well as past employees, most of whom form a lifelong bond with the company even though no longer employed here, consistently rate us above 4.6 on a scale of 5. We pay all local and social taxes for our staff members and operate as a locally registered entity in all our global delivery locations.

Automation

While automation is an obvious suggestion, it needs to be understood that it is not a forever solution. Technologies are advancing more rapidly than many other things in our world. What is new today can be old and unsupported in 5 years. Hence, a continuous evaluation of emerging technologies for addressing business problems is required. Activities like GL (General Ledger) coding and matching invoices to purchase order accounts that take up a lot of manual time and effort can be done in the blink of an eye by the right software. A suitable AO automation solution can free up resources to perform activities where they can add greater value.

oWorkers is second to none in deploying automation for client projects.

How do we do it?

Our deep relationship with several technology companies gives us access to the latest in technology. Further, many of these technologies can be used by us for client projects.

Outsource invoice processing

Today, there is no limit to the activities that business process outsourcing (BPO) companies can provide. Invoice processing is not an obscure service being provided but a prominent service outsourced by millions of companies. Their reasons for outsourcing may vary, but they mostly experience benefits arising out of outsourcing. It enables them to efficiently handle a process which is not their core competence. At the same time, the outsourcer, with the aid of aggregated volumes across multiple clients, and the service being a revenue line and not a cost line, which is what it is for the client, is willing to invest in technology and process improvements. This, in turn, leads to improving ap invoice processing for the client as well.

Invoice processing is an area of expertise for oWorkers. With the ability to operate 24×7 across our three centers, and taking advantage of the time difference with global clients, we can speed up the turnaround time for all invoice processing related activities.

Fine tuning the payment time

Eventually the invoice needs to be settled by releasing payment. The payment has to be done in a manner that maximizes the benefit of any discounts and promotions offered by the supplier. At the same time the payment should be made only when it really needs to be.

Why?

This enables availability of those funds with your company for a longer period of time, either earning interest or avoiding payment of interest in case of an overdraft.

When our clients pay us, they pay for quality and efficiency. Many of them admit to saving almost 80% of their pre-outsourcing costs when they engage oWorkers.

Create performance standards and measurements

We know the adage, ‘if it can’t be measured it can’t be managed.’ One of the established practices in modern business today is the setting of relevant performance standards, or goals, for each role and its incumbent. These are designed to set expectations in terms of what is expected, and used as the benchmark against which actual performance is evaluated.

Hence, for improving ap invoice processing, if your company does not already have it, establish a set of standards or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Additionally, ensure that each of them has a reasonably transparent mechanism for collection of data that constitutes the outcome. And, most importantly, evaluate them regularly to ensure that they are relevant and reliable, and update them as and when required.

oWorkers has set a high benchmark by offering a choice to clients between an input based or output based pricing, with the choice resting with the client.

Paperless processing and archiving

Though linked to automation, this bears being called out as an independent recommendation. What sometimes happens with automation is that for approvals and other elements of workflow, documents are printed and circulated. If the payment authorization is on a physical piece of paper, it stands to reason that it will then also need to be maintained and archived, as that is the primary evidence of the authorization.

If the workflow, including authorization, can be handled through the platform, it reduces the need for paper to flow, as well as the need to store and archive it. This is even more relevant for large companies with distributed operations as tracking paper can be expensive and time consuming.

oWorkers has fostered a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural workforce which has given it the benefit of organically developed multilingual capability. Whether processing on paper, or through workflows, this core competence is helpful in processing clients transactions from around the world.

Implement a Purchase Order based system

Large corporations cannot live without a Purchase Order (PO) system as their requirements for purchases are generated by a number of different departments that could be physically located in many different places. The number of requirements generated can make even an automated system difficult to handle, including traditional trouble areas like duplicate payments. A PO based ordering process can substantially eliminate future challenges as it brings most of the approval processes up front and establishes an entry in the system that needs to be matched off when an invoice is being paid.

With our ability to attract employees, being a preferred employer in the local community, oWorkers can choose people for various client projects based on their ability, and train them accordingly.

Control over authorization

Money is fungible. Any money is good money unless taken through fraud or theft. Authorization and release of payment, hence, is a sensitive control area that needs to be balanced against the need for speed, since payments need to be made in a timely manner.

While a dual control mechanism is de rigueur, how that is handled is also important and can lead to improving ap invoice processing. Authority should be given based on position and seniority; the higher the amount the greater is the authority needed to pay. People with authority need to be periodically sensitized about the importance of releasing items in their queue in a timely manner. This may need to be done again and again.

We operate out of state-of-the-art secure facilities that are further augmented by our ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). We are also GDPR compliant, as we operate out of the Eurozone.

 

Improving ap invoice processing – a constant endeavor

As often noted, good quality does not occur by chance. It is the result of continuous effort. And it is worth striving for not only as a means of standing out from the crowd but even for basic survival. We need to remember that everyone else operating in the same marketplace is also doing so, striving for improvement, striving for quality. To not do so would be to invite disaster.

With companies striving for improvement in various spheres of their operations, many different methodologies have emerged that support the process of achieving that improvement. After all, a company acts in a deliberate manner. It seeks to act to further its interests and do so in a manner that can be understood and supported by a large number of people who are involved in it. That calls for a process or methodology to be followed even for making an improvement in a legacy process.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization), COPC (Customer Operations Performance Center), PCMM (Process Capability Maturity Model), Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) and Total Quality are some that come to mind.

And each of them could also have many variants. The sheer variety of quality systems, and standards, available, and, in use, can be bewildering.

Perhaps expectedly, a class of specialists known as Quality Analysts or simply Quality professionals has emerged over the last few decades. Their role includes guiding companies as they seek to improve their processes and operations in order to stay competitive and create value for owners.  

oWorkers has invested in a team of QAs who report to the senior management of the company and not to the delivery teams. This facilitates an independent review with the experienced leadership team jumping in when warranted. With over 20 years of hands-on experience, there are not many challenges that they cannot address.

Importance of the invoice processing job description

Importance of the invoice processing job description

Importance of the invoice processing job description

At some point the job needs to be done. There is only so much one can do in terms of planning and thinking and strategizing and organizing, though they often provide scope for dithering and delaying. In simple terms, it is not done till it is done.

In a world of specialized skills, the requirement of people for each type of work is getting sharper and sharper. It is expected that the closer the match the better the performance on the job.

Why should the job of processing invoices be any different?

Granted that digital technology has taken over many of the functions that were carried out manually in the past. But that is true across the board and is not specific to invoice processing. The buttons, however, and perhaps mercifully so, still need to be pressed by human beings in the know. That is where the buck currently stops; with humans.

It follows, therefore, that a company that has a need for processing invoices should either look for suitable people internally and train them, or search externally for people who can do the job for them. An invoice processing job description is perhaps a great starting point when trying to fill a position for processing invoices.

oWorkers has earned a name for itself in the data based BPO services space in a short period of 8 years. It is now counted as one of the top three players in the world, no mean achievement.

 

What is a job description?

A job description, or JD, is a document that defines the essential job requirements, what responsibilities an incumbent is expected to shoulder and carry out, and skills expected to be beneficial in performing the role. It might even cover the measurement scale, or Key Result Areas (KRAs) that will be used to measure the incumbent’s success in execution in a given period of time. It is also variously known as a position description, job specification and job profile in different companies, mostly referring to the same document known as a JD.

Though a JD is expected to exist for every role and provide clarity and direction to an incumbent, one of its most frequent uses is in job postings and advertisements to provide information about the role to interested candidates. Providing the right JD helps in attracting the right candidates which enhances the efficiency of the process by keeping unqualified applicants out.

A JD is an invaluable support tool for the recruitment team of a company, with often even the process of selection through interviews being based on the same. After selection it forms the basis for the employment contract as well as creating the baseline for the employee’s performance appraisal.

An invoice processing job description performs all these functions.

It must be added that a JD is often the result of a meticulous study and analysis of the role over a period of time across multiple incumbents.

oWorkers is adept at creating job descriptions as it hires for a variety of roles requiring a wide set of skills for the many client projects it supports. It helps that it is a preferred employer in the communities it operates in. It serves to attract walk-in talent without having to advertise for it, saving money that gets passed on to clients through the pricing mechanism.

 

Invoice processing job description

As earlier discussed, the job description needs to provide adequate information about the job it pertains to, to an incumbent as well as a candidate seeking that role. Over the course of time, job descriptions have acquired similarities in the way they are presented. A standardized JD template is what we will use to discuss the different aspects and sections.

Overview

This role in the accounts payable team is responsible for processing invoices that are received from vendors and suppliers of material, goods and services to our company. A person in this role is expected to carry out the required responsibilities as per the policies and procedures of the company, along with applicable laws and regulatory guidelines. Processing should result in the most optimum business outcomes while maintaining a harmonious relationship with suppliers. The person should also be on the lookout for opportunities for improvements and efficiencies in the process.

The JD expertise comes in handy even when oWorkers is called upon by clients to hire in a hurry for an unplanned requirement that has suddenly emerged. With the ability to hire an additional 100 people within 48 hours, oWorkers saves clients a lot of money in the form of salary they would have otherwise paid to an idle bench.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities can be vast. The following is an indicative list of what a person in the role could be called upon to do:

  • End to end responsibility of invoice processing from receipt till payment
  • Reviewing each invoice as it comes in, sending it back in case of errors and acknowledging it if in order
  • Creating and maintaining a system of payment before penalties become applicable and at the latest time possible
  • Managing the approval process in a timely manner
  • Ensuring availability of funds in accounts when payment has to be issued
  • Managing the relationship with vendors
  • Identifying and recommending opportunities for improvement of invoicing terms
  • Handling queries from suppliers related to invoices
  • Archiving invoices and other relevant documents
  • Ensure that service level agreements are met as they relate to invoice processing procedures.
  • Creating relevant accounting entries where required
  • Generating MIS and reports for all activities, including control and exception reports
  • Handle multiple projects and client accounts
  • Check purchase order (PO) number before processing of invoices
  • Initiate online data capture for ERP systems
  • Research data trends to analyze future market scenarios
  • Ensure complete accuracy of financial statements and tax data

Other responsibilities could be added to the invoice processing job description from time to time.

oWorkers pays social and local taxes for its employees and is rated 4.6 and above, on a scale of 5, by both current and past employees, on external platforms like Glassdoor.

Technical skills and experience

The following set of skills and experience is expected to aid discharging the responsibilities of the role in an effective manner:

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
  • A minimum of 2 years’ experience in a similar role, where invoice processing was a significant part of the role.
  • Advanced proficiency in invoicing software, such as Tally and FreshBooks
  • Knowledge of bookkeeping
  • Proficiency in standard software applications such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and Outlook Express
  • Advanced ability to collaborate, manage client requests, and answer queries
  • Ability to review invoices and verify tax information
  • Understanding of AP process and AP automation solution
  • Familiarity with the company’s policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of the legal framework governing invoicing and invoice processing

oWorkers is at the top of their game in technical skills and environment. What their invoice processing job description might not say is that they operate from secure facilities & protocols designed to maximize client data security with their ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). Additionally, they are also GDPR compliant.

General management and organizations skills and experience

Additionally, the following abilities are expected to complement the technical skills in the discharge of duties:

  • Ability to coordinate with internal departments
  • Ability to achieve high accuracy standards and right-first-time
  • Willingness to operate in a team
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to communicate with confidence and accuracy
  • Attention to detail
  • Good interpersonal skills

When the going gets tough, the team you want in your corner is the oWorkers leadership team, that has over 20 years of hands-on industry experience in general management as well as organizational management.

 

Best practices of invoice processing

Many companies might also attach other documents and information pertaining to the role that are designed to assist the incumbent or a new person in doing a good job. An invoice processing job description might also include a note on the best practices of the process.

Establish a Purchase Order process

A Purchase Order (PO) based buying process is often recommended in large companies and can, indeed, help in establishing agreement and clarity prior to the company getting committed to an expense. Further, it becomes an ‘outstanding’ item in the books until matched off against an invoice. Thus, chances of duplicate payments reduce as the PO would have already been extinguished by the first invoice. And lastly, it speeds up processing after receiving the invoice.

The ability to support clients in 22 languages gives oWorkers the strength to issue POs and handle vendor invoices in many languages. They are a partner in growth, not an impediment.

Create a measurement and tracking system

The basics of good management apply to invoice processing equally.

Professional management establishes expectations of performance and output up front in order to avoid surprises at a later point, and is usually done in agreement between the person in the role and the organization, through the person’s manager. These become the measurement standard against which the actual performance is delivered. Development of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), updating them as needed, and tracking them is an important aspect of the job.

oWorkers takes transparency to what some might call an extreme. They make their pricing mechanism, generally a well-guarded secret in companies, also transparent.

How do they do this?

They make it transparent by offering clients a choice between a dollar per unit of input and dollar per unit of output. Most clients say they have never been offered a choice in pricing methods. And most of them say they appreciate it.

Invoicing and payment terms are best standardized

Since a B2B contract is a unique construct, it needs to be verified and understood by the people responsible for managing compliance with the terms. Language can also create opportunities for interpretation in multiple ways, causing differences. Hence, the invoicing and payment terms for all purchases are best kept standard, greatly reducing the scope for interpretation and misunderstanding. It also reduces the effort of reviewing and understanding that needs to be invested where each contract is unique.

Clients of oWorkers have been quoted as saying that oWorkers has helped them save costs to the tune of 80 percent of pre-outsourcing costs.

Exception reports can identify compromises

No process is foolproof. Exception reports should be defined and run, if automated, or prepared, if manual, at agreed frequencies. Exception reports can help identify processing errors such as duplicate payments having been made.  

Though an invoice processing job description may not specifically say so, as a 24×7 operation, exception reports can be generated and verified any time of day or night.

Dual control mechanism

Dual control over critical processes that have the potential to create a liability or commitment or expense for the company is essential so that the checking and control can be exercised before the compromise has been made and not after. Time and time again it has been demonstrated that a single person with all the controls can cause havoc. It can be through the innocent act of making a mistake or a not-so-innocent one of taking advantage and perpetrating a fraud. Having a dual control in place, with the second level check being commensurate with the value or quantum of risk, is known to substantially reduce the possibility. This is management 101.

Working with employed resources is a decision oWorkers took at the start and have stuck with it. In comparison, some of its competitors rely on freelancers and contractors to deliver. With the help of a loyal, employed workforce, oWorkers has built a supervisory layer from within, through promotions. This layer of staff is effective in supervising transactions.

Leverage technology

While it could create some challenges, not leveraging technology has ceased to be a relevant reason today. With such a wide variety of options being available, it is expected that forward-looking organizations use technological tools to bring efficiencies to their business.

It is possible that some small companies may not find it worthwhile to invest in some areas of processing as their volumes might be low. That is exactly the kind of situation that BPO providers like oWorkers, who specialize in back-office work, cater to. Their ability to aggregate volumes enables them to invest in the best technologies that deliver efficiency to their client processes.

oWorkers has developed deep relationships with technology providers. This enables them to use the latest technologies in many processes, including invoice processing.

Periodic reconciliation

A regular process of reconciliation has been one of the basic tools of checking and control in most financial processes. This could be either viewed as an extension of the ‘exception report’ best practice or a standalone one.

The earlier the identification of a mismatch, the greater the probability of a speedy resolution.

With a team of Quality Analysts (QAs), oWorkers has invested in quality. The QAs act as the eyes and ears of the management and bring to light any issues that may require their attention. They also identify issues before they impact client delivery.

An understanding of what is invoice processing

An understanding of what is invoice processing

An understanding of what is invoice processing

While in somewhat technical terms invoice processing could be described as the process that manages invoices from the point of receipt to their eventual settlement, it has a relevance far in excess of what a definition or explanation can convey.

The slightly strange thing about invoice processing is that it is done not by the party generating it but the other party to the contract who receives the generated invoice and then processes it. 

For the party that generates or issues an invoice, invoice processing is the key to unlocking a supply of a critical resource; cash, which is the central resource in any company, and runs like blood through its various organs and activities. When its client, to whom it has supplied a product or service, processes it, the end result is release of payment which constitutes revenue for them and is the reason for their existence.

For the party that receives the invoice, it is a process that needs to be carefully handled as it ends with having to put their hands in the till and taking out the cash required to honor that invoice. Cash is a critical resource and needs to be carefully managed, as it can be easily misused. Hence, invoice processing often needs to go through approval and authorization processes. Efficient handling can multiply the resources of the company, ensure maintenance of a harmonious relationship with suppliers and get favorable payment terms like discounts and credit periods.

In a critical business process, such as invoice processing, it makes sense to deal with the best in the business. oWorkers, despite its youth, it is only 8 years old in the industry, is already one of the top three BPO service providers in data related processes such as invoice processing, supporting clients from around the world.

 

Types of invoices

An understanding of what you are dealing with can enhance performance and efficiency. While the primary objective remains the same, there can be a bewildering array of invoice types. A part of understanding what is invoice processing lies in understanding the types of invoices. The more common types are discussed here.

Pro forma invoice

A preliminary invoice that is meant to mirror the actual invoice when it is raised later is known as a proforma invoice. It is a way of confirming what the real or actual invoice, when raised, will look like. In that sense, it acts like a surrogate contract. It is also a way of confirming that the supply should be of the goods and services contained therein.

Its ability to attract the best local talent sets oWorkers apart from competitors. It is able to do so because of its reputation as a fair, stable employer, in all its delivery locations.

Timesheet invoice

Many times, the arrangement between a buyer and supplier is based on effort, or the time that they spend doing the defined work. These invoices are particularly popular in the services space where billing for time is common and an important step in understanding what is invoice processing. A lawyer, for example, usually bills an hourly rate and tracks the time he has spent on a particular assignment. Thereafter he will raise a timesheet invoice for the hours and the resulting value.

Commercial invoice

Though all invoices are commercial invoices, this term is used in reference to a document that is used for a declaration at the customs checkpoint, in the case of goods exported across international borders.

Having always followed a policy of working with a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic workforce, has enabled oWorkers to organically build the capability to deliver in 22 languages, which is a great help in all cross-border transactions.

Retainer invoice

A retainer invoice is like a bill that is written for services, generally, or products, occasionally, that are still to be delivered. It is a method through which a client can secure the time and service of an independent contractor by paying him in advance. The payment could also be only a part of the total value. The raising of the invoice before delivering the service, in a way, makes it secure.

Recurring invoice

Subscription services, which are a common form of buying a product or service, are recurring in nature. The invoices periodically raised for the service are known as recurring invoices. If I buy an annual subscription of the National Geographic magazine, I will have to do the same every year if I want to continue my service.

Its global delivery centers are located in some of the most sought-after geographies. All centers are equipped to operate in a 24×7 time window subject to there being a client need.

Credit invoice

Literature on what is invoice processing may not always cover a credit invoice. This is a type of a reverse invoice and used when a supplier needs to give money back to the client. It could be because of faulty products that have been returned or some other reason like an accounting error. The values shown on this invoice will be in the negative.

Expense claims

Employees often spend money from their own pocket for business purposes. It could be for a client dinner or it could be for local travel while on a business trip. These need to be billed back to the company and a reimbursement obtained. The usual method is to raise an expense claim which is in the nature of an invoice.

Volume fluctuations are not uncommon in business. Clients don’t have a responsibility of committing future volumes, unless there is a benefit associated with the commitment. When volumes fluctuate, you want the support of a provider like oWorkers who, with its deeply entrenched community participation, is able to hire additional people at short notice. Without oWorkers, you may have to let go of volumes or follow more expensive options like keeping a bench.

Interim invoice

There are occasions when the contract terms provide for intermittent payments based on certain milestones being achieved. These interim invoices enable the supplier to better manage its cash flows through periodic recovery of dues.

Account Statement

Yet another arrangement is where a contractor keeps a tally of all services provided during a fixed period. At the end of the period a statement of account reflecting the outstanding at the end of the period is presented, for clearance. This is also recurring in nature but the amount varies each period. This statement of account not only becomes a record of transactions but is also presented in the form of an invoice.

oWorkers works with employees, and not contractors and freelancers like some of its competitors. The additional expense is more than compensated by longer tenures and progression in the company to take up supervisory roles, a key pillar in the delivery structure of oWorkers. It pays social and local taxes for its employees and is often rated 4.6 and above, on a scale of 5, on independent platforms like Glassdoor.

 

Why do we use invoices?

Another way to understand what is invoice processing is to make an effort to understand its uses and applications. As we know, a business takes each action for a purpose. If it issues invoices, there must be a purpose behind it. And since it is done, it must be done properly, with adequate checks and balances around it. Hence it consumes time and effort. So, why exactly do we issue invoices?

Transaction record

Not all business contracts are supported by detailed contracts. In many cases, discussions, email exchanges and other communication can also underpin transactions. These distributed records become difficult to locate and assimilate, if required in case of a dispute. An invoice becomes a formal record of a transaction having taken place. It is expected that relevant details of the transaction will be listed on it. This could be classified as the most fundamental answer to the what is invoice processing question.

Notice of expectation of settlement

An invoice often acts as a formal notice, or request, from a supplier to a buyer, for settlement of the money part of the deal, with the products or services, presumably, having already been supplied. Else, there could be delays in settlement of left to interpretation. The invoice sets forth the expectation in no uncertain terms.

With super secure facilities & protocols for client data security with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), oWorkers brings reliability and technological excellence to processing invoices. It is also GDPR compliant.

Forms basis for accounting

All businesses follow a system of accounting to keep track of their transactions. Registered/ incorporated entities even have legal requirements to the effect. Accounting processes rely on various pieces of documents and evidence, one of which happens to be an invoice, both the ones that are generated for payment by buyers, as well as the ones received for processing. The accounting system, then, also generates a record of taxation and other statutory liabilities.

Legal evidence

In many jurisdictions, issuance of an invoice is a legal requirement to evidence a transaction. Even where it is not, the issuance and delivery of an invoice can be used as evidence, in the event of need, if legal issues arise at a later point.

oWorkers has a leadership team that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, and is able to steady the ship when it passes through troubled waters.

 

What is invoice processing in a few steps

Every major activity done by a company follows a sequence of activities or steps. Usually these are documented in order that the same thing can be done by everyone and the process does not become dependent on one or two resources.

What are the major steps in processing an invoice?

Verification upon receipt

Upon receipt, it is a good practice to ensure that the invoice has been correctly presented, instead of doing so when it is retrieved for payment. Error correction can take time and the supplier will lose time if done later. Early checking and communication is recommended and is also a good practice for maintaining respectful, harmonious relationships.

The basic details an invoice should ordinarily have include the Purchase Order no. (if applicable), Date, Client Name, Product or Service description, Applicable rate, Reflection of taxes and statutory levies, Tax ID of both parties and indication of how payment needs to be made.

The choice offered to clients between a per unit of output price and a per unit of input price is a feature appreciated by most clients. Many clients also note savings of almost 80% once they engage oWorkers for outsourcing services.

Creating an entry in the system

In most cases invoice processing begins life as a manual process, since the document is received from a supplier either as an email attachment or as a physical document.

If the company uses a software application for invoice processing, such as an accounts payable system, at this stage the invoice will be ‘born’ or created on the software, after which the rest of the journey will be digital. A digital image is also obtained for the digital storage system, which might be in addition to retaining the original invoice in hard copy format.

Companies doing manual processing can skip this step.

Authorization

The authorization, or approval, step is designed to ensure that money is being paid for a rightful purpose and is not a misuse of the company’s resources. Usually, the relevant approvals are obtained before placing an order, especially where the buyer has a Purchase Order issuance process for placing an order. This reduces delays at the time of payment.

oWorkers is able to access the latest technologies for invoice processing, thanks to relationships with technology companies, nurtured over many years. Companies processing manually should consider engaging an outsourced provider such as oWorkers for efficient processing of invoices.

Payment

The accounts payable team, who processes the invoice, is responsible for effecting the final payment after all necessary steps and approvals have been completed.

The payment needs to be made late enough so that the company does not needlessly go out of funds and loses an opportunity to either earn interest on balances or avoid paying interest on overdrafts. It also needs to be made early enough to maintain a good credit standing and ensure penalties are not attracted. This would complete the loop on what is invoice processing.

Once approvals have been received, payment is usually a formality. With modern digital payment systems, it does not take long for the payment to reach the beneficiary, unlike paper processing days when a check was issued, then physically sent, which was deposited in the beneficiary’s bank account after which it was presented by their bank in clearing to the issuing company’s bank.

8 Accounts Payable Invoice Processing Best Practices

8 Accounts Payable Invoice Processing Best Practices

8 Accounts Payable Invoice Processing Best Practices

In May 1954, Sir Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile, a distance of 1600 meters, in a time of under 4 minutes. Many had tried earlier and failed. It was, then, considered the ultimate athletic achievement, one that could not be repeated. But, guess what, just one generation later, in the eighties, British athletes Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe were going head to head and already running the mile at under 3 minutes 50 seconds.The current record is 3 minutes 43 seconds or thereabouts, a full 17 seconds shaved off a time once considered impossible. In just two generations.

Take pole vault. Sergey Nazarovych Bubka, who represented the Soviet and Ukrainian, erupted on the international stage in the eighties. In 1983, with a vault of 5.85 meters, he marginally bettered the 5.83 meters mark of Thierry Vigneron of France. Over the next decade, he loomed large on the event and bettered the mark several times, finally finishing with 6.14 meters in 1994. It seemed that Bubka had no peer and that the mark would stay forever. And indeed it did, for 20 long years, when Renaud Lavillenie of France bettered it with a vault of 6.16 meters. Thereafter, the world has witnessed the arrival of Armand Duplantis on the stage, another giant in the sport, who has already bettered it several times and taken it to 6.19 meters. And he is still active.

What does this have to do with accounts payable or invoice processing?

The common link is continuous improvement. Business is not immune to this facet of human endeavor.

Just like flowing water seeks the lowest ground, business always seeks value. Better rates, increased sales, efficient processing, lower costs are different elements it keeps working on in order to move towards its overarching goal of returning a profit to its owners, while competition, choices, regulation and other elements might present challenges in that journey.

Whether in accounts payable invoice processing best practices implementation or elsewhere in the business, it is an ongoing journey for each company, and one which needs attention every moment and every day. The day it stops trying to get better, its slide towards obsolescence will inevitably kick in.

Led by a team with over 20 years of industry experience, oWorkers is constantly challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries in order to deliver the best value to its clients.

 

Best practice implementation

Implementation of best practices in business is an essential step and process that tries to keep it getting better all the time and operating at its most optimum level.

It is essential but not enough.

What does that mean?

What it means is the implementation of best practices is an essential and basic minimum requirement. A company that ignores best practices that stare it in the face, unless there are good reasons for doing so, is courting trouble.

How does one get hold of the best practices to implement?

While it is a good question, the answer is open ended; it cannot be defined by a limited set of situations or circumstances. It can come from anywhere. An aware and connected set of business people should know where to look for best practices. A few places where you could start looking for accounts payable invoice processing best practices:

  • If a competitor is doing exceedingly well, it may be worthwhile developing an understanding of its processes, some of which could emerge as best practices.
  • If within a company, different units have different performance levels for the same practice, learning from each other could create a source for best practices.
  • Repetitive or recurrent issues like delays, penalties, disqualification, could be pointers to processes that are broken. It could initiate the process of looking for best practices.
  • Improvement initiatives have become a commonly used term now in industry. Even if you don’t know for sure that improvement is possible, you strive for it knowing that a small difference can mean a huge gain for the company. Many different methodologies have evolved that help companies structure the execution of these initiatives, such as Kaizen, Six Sigma, DMAIC and several others. These initiatives can result in best practices emerging.

oWorkers has implemented the model of an independent team of Quality Analysts (QAs), which in itself could be called a best practice. It is an independent team that reports directly to the senior management. In a way, it serves as their eyes and ears on the operations floors and enables them to intervene if the situation requires. The QAs also monitor the delivery team and ensure that poor quality is identified and corrected before it becomes visible to a client. This team also identifies areas for improvement and supports and leads improvement initiatives.

 

Accounts payable invoice processing best practices

Invoice processing is a critical business activity that is done in each and every organization that has something to offer and sell, which really means all. Though processes and applications used are likely to vary from one company to another, as a result of repeated execution of an activity, companies do learn what works and what does not. This results in the establishment of best practices that enable efficiency enhancement and optimum use of resources. The following section will discuss several such accounts payable invoice processing best practices.

Prioritize payments based on terms

There is a tendency in some companies to follow a First In First Out (FIFO) policy and maintain a clean desk in others. This results in invoices being processed as they come in. While these are good practices to follow, in case of processing of invoices, these could prove to be financially hurtful to your company.

How is that?

Most payment arrangements between companies include a credit period. What that means is that the payment does not need to be made immediately. If you are making payment immediately, you are needlessly letting go of your cash that could be put to other productive uses in the interim. In a worst-case scenario, it could even just sit in the account and earn some interest, or reduce the amount of overdraft interest.

Hence, payment prioritization based on the terms is a good practice.

With access to the most suitable manpower, on account of its position as a preferred employer in the community, oWorkers is able to further train its staff to execute sensitive jobs such as payment prioritization.

Payment terms are best standardized

A B2B contract is unique. The terms of the contract are negotiated and agreed between the two contracting parties. The accounts payable team then has to track the payment based on the terms agreed. The greater the variety in payment terms agreed upon, the greater will be the requirement of understanding each unique set of conditions, and the greater the probability of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Accounts payable invoice processing best practices require companies to follow a practice of a standardized set of payment terms. This enables easier tracking by accounts payable and substantially reduces the chance of errors. Even if errors in interpretation are made, it will serve as a learning experience for future similar issues. If terms keep varying, the chance of error will stay high.

Should there be a need for additional resources at short notice, oWorkers is the partner all companies want to have, with their ability to produce an additional hundred resources within 48 hours, an impossible task for most other providers.

Run a list of checks to identify duplicate payments

Even in automated invoice processing systems, the possibility of duplicate payments cannot be eliminated. Once made and identified subsequently, it would then depend on the vendor and the payer’s relationship with the vendor to recover the money.

But why reach that stage?

Through repetitive processing of invoices, it is often possible to identify the weak points in the process which could result in such an eventuality. It is also often possible to consolidate such areas and run a set of reports, or exception reports, to identify possible ‘at risk’ payments, which could then be scrutinized additionally. These could be run on a daily or weekly frequency based on the processes of the company.

oWorkers offers secure facilities and systems that are built around its ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) for payment processes to be conducted. The company is also GDPR compliant.

Accounts payable invoice processing best practices recommend establishing a Purchase Order process

Many companies have a process of issuing a Purchase Order (PO) to a vendor as an authorization for them to supply the material or service. A PO process usually entails a thorough pre-processing of the transaction in advance, including approval for purchase and spending the money that it will cost. A PO gets created in the invoice processing system and stays as an ‘open’ item until the corresponding invoice has been received.

Since most/ all of the approvals have been obtained at the time of issuance of the PO, the processing at the time the invoice gets presented is swifter. Besides, if there is no PO ‘open’ when an invoice is presented, it could also act as a safeguard against duplicate payments.

With access to the latest technologies thanks to its deep relationships with technology companies, oWorkers can switch between systems with ease. For companies open to it, oWorkers offers cutting-edge invoice processing services.

Create a measurement system

“What can’t be measured can’t be managed,” say many management gurus. Indeed, most professionally managed companies have taken this on board and make an effort to create metrics for every material activity along with a transparent system of measurement, so that the data collected is beyond dispute and means the same thing to everyone.

There is really no reason to leave the invoice processing system out of the ambit of measurement. Suitable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) need to be developed that are applicable to the unit as well as the people working in it, so that performance can be measured and they know whether they are doing a good job or not. Some recommended measures for the unit are:

  • Payment accuracy
  • Duplicate payment made number
  • Days payable outstanding
  • Number (and %) of invoices paid late/ that incurred a penalty
  • Number of cases of disputed payments

Their reliable and transparent measurement systems allows oWorkers the flexibility of offering a choice between different pricing options to clients, something they love. Most even speak of saving almost 80% of ore-outsourcing cost when they outsource invoice processing to oWorkers.

Establish a dual control mechanism

This is actually management 101. And what better department to implement this system of control than Accounts Payable. Dealing with the cash resources of the company, and having the authority to spend them, makes it a sensitive area. The same person writing a check and signing it and passing the accounting entries and reviewing reports for exceptions can create havoc.

Dual control becomes an important method of control. In very basic terms, in a dual control system, one crook cannot inflict financial damage on the company. It will require at least two people acting in concert to be able to do so. A related control is for the approval authority to be vested at a suitably senior level, or approval levels based on the amount. In a check-based system, the processing clerk would have the check leaves but not the signing authority. The senior person would have the signing authority but no access to the check leaves.

It becomes an even more potent control system considering oWorkers offers services in 22 languages. Whatever the language of the invoice, oWorkers will process it for you.

Leverage technology

In the age we live in, there is really no excuse for using the marvels of digital technology we have at our disposal. Having said that, invoice processing is perhaps one of the very few areas that is still not fully automated, as the starting point is based on a document that is received from a vendor who generates it from a different system or even manually.

However, barring the initial creation of the document’s identity of the application, the remaining steps can still be handled digitally. Apart from the obvious benefit of efficient processing, automation can help remove errors that can be made in manual processing, especially where the processing is repeated and recurring. Additionally, as payment systems are mostly digital now, it can result in a straight-through payment instead of a separate payment process being created. Even record-keeping is becoming digital.

As a pure-play data based BPO player, the niche where it has been identified as one of the three best providers in the world, oWorkers provides access to the latest in invoice processing technology for companies who may not be able to invest in them.

Frequent reconciliation

Frequent reconciliation, especially if processes are manual, and reviewing exception reports, where processes are automated, is an important part of accounts payable invoice processing best practices.

It will help early identification of mismatches and issues, aiding resolution and recovery. The frequency, ideally should be daily, but could be adjusted based on the organization’s requirements.

As a 24×7 operation, reconciliations can be done any time of day or night.

Processing paper invoice is a business need

Processing paper invoice is a business need

Processing paper invoice is a business need

Reading a book on an electronic device is not for everyone. Many people prefer to stick to reading the traditional way, in the form of a printed book. They like the rustle of paper, even the smell, and the joy of manually placing a tag to come back when they stop midway. Equally, there are many others who like the convenience of reading on a device. They like the ability to carry many books together on the device and its handiness and smartness.

There should be no judgment on these choices. This is how people are; different. Work with a digital format or work with a traditional paper format. To each his or her own.

As a data based BPO service provider, oWorkers is able to work with client processes regardless of the format and the level of automation. In eight short years, it has built a reputation for itself and is now regarded as one of the top three providers in its chosen space of work, leaving behind many established companies.

 

Processing paper invoice

There are many developments in business where the choice is taken out of our hands. If, for example, the cheque clearing house stops processing because there just aren’t enough people using cheque-based payments now, then the remaining users of cheques will, perforce, need to adopt the technology that is widely used and supported.

Equally, there are many other situations where a choice presents itself in a business environment; whether to adopt software based digital technology or continue with time-tested paper-based processing. Processing invoices is one such. In fact, invoice processing is a unique business process that, despite all the advances that have taken place in technology, begins life as a manual process.

Why is that?

The reason is that the basis for invoice processing is a document, called an invoice, that is generated outside the systems of the processor, by another party. That party is a supplier of goods and/ or services to the company who needs to process it for eventual payment to the supplier. The method of communication from the supplier to the buyer for this document is either in the form of paper that is sent across or as an attachment with an email. In either case, the beginning of the process is manual.

Paper or software, people will be required for processing to be done. People are one of the key differentiators in the BPO industry. Being known in the community as a preferred employer helps. oWorkers attracts job applicants all the year round, setting itself up for success in client projects by hiring the right people for the right jobs.

 

Better or worse?

Processing paper invoices or processing digital invoices; which is better?

It must be clarified that whether the processing is digital or in the form of paper, the initiation of the process is similar and gets triggered by the receipt of an invoice from a supplier which could come in the form of paper or as an attachment with an email. The discussion is more about the rest of the journey, whether on paper or digital.

There is a view in some quarters that tends to favor anything that is in a digital format and looks down upon any process or transaction that is not.

It should be remembered that companies have relied upon paper processing, or manual processing of transactions for many years, decades and even centuries. They have built processes, systems and controls over long years of usage. Even automation of hitherto manual processes is done as a mirror of the manual process, with the additional ability of workflows, faster retrieval, reporting systems, triggers and other features. So, it must be understood that there is nothing wrong with the manual process since the automated process takes almost the same steps.

The question for a business always is: Does it make sense to digitize this process? Does this investment deliver a positive ROI (return on investment)? That would usually be the call that would need to be made by the business.

It is no secret that the practice of processing paper invoices continues in many small companies. It is possible they do not have the volume to justify investment in a software for doing which only takes up a small portion of their time and attention.

Whether processes are manual or automated, real life is always different from expectations and business projections. Occasionally, an unexpected volume spike can create an opportunity but without resources to handle, it can go abegging. If the company plans for staffing at a higher level, it is spending money on resources who are not required most of the time. What should it do? If it has a partner like oWorkers it does not need to worry. oWorkers is equipped to cater to such spikes and has the ability to hire an additional hundred resources with a lead time of just 4 hours. Which business would not want this flexibility?

 

What are invoices used for?

It is perhaps a good idea to understand the purpose of an invoice in order that you may be able to take an informed view on whether to go digital or not.

Notice of payment becoming due

This is the most common function of an invoice. It seeks to inform the buyer that a certain payment, either interim or final, has become due as a result of the transaction, subject to the other commercial terms mentioned therein and agreed between them. There is no going back once an invoice has been issued and delivered.

Recording

An invoice serves as a record of the transaction for both the seller and the buyer. It is the document that binds them together since the same version is used by both. In case of a discrepancy on an invoice, the buyer is likely to send it back for correction before making payment. Hence, the last updated version is what both would have on record.

Accounting

An invoice is used as evidence of a transaction. The date of the invoice is used as the date of the transaction for all material purposes, including liability of taxation that may arise out of it and entry into the accounting system of the company.

Tracking payment

An issued invoice also triggers steps that eventually lead to settlement of the transaction. Settlement usually involves payment being made by the buyer to the seller. In the event of any dispute regarding payment, an invoice serves as the primary record for tracking.

Generating MIS

While companies today use all data points available to them for the purpose of getting some competitive advantage, an invoice becomes particularly useful as it serves to capture a client’s consumption pattern. Hence, for a supplier, it provides invaluable information on clients and their preferences over time.

Whatever the use, companies look for financial benefit all the time. Working with oWorkers gives them just that. Many clients of oWorkers, particularly from Western Europe and the US, note savings that can often stretch to 80% of pre-outsourcing numbers.

 

Steps in processing paper invoices

The steps remain the same whether the processing is on paper or on a software system. This is so because the underlying principles that led to the development of the process do not change. What does change is the tools and techniques.

What, then, are the main steps in invoice processing, paper or digital?

1. Verification

When an invoice is received, as a first step, it needs to be verified for accuracy. Accuracy can mean many different things:

  • Is the invoice meant for our company or has it been sent to us in error?
  • Is the quoted Purchase Order (PO) number accurate? If not in response to a PO, has the right reference been quoted?
  • Has the rate been quoted correctly?
  • Has the tax been calculated correctly? Is the Tax ID quoted correctly?
  • Are the financial calculations correct?
  • Are the payment terms as per the contracted terms?
  • Has payment information, where it should be sent, been provided?

It is considered a good business practice to do this verification up front and, in case of any discrepancy, send it back to the supplier for rectification and re-presentation. If done later, it will cause delays in processing, leading to the supplier receiving payment later than expected, causing needless hardship.

oWorkers operates from three of the most popular delivery locations in the world through locally registered units. It pays social and local taxes for all staff. Staff, both past and present, rate them at 4.6 and better, on a scale of 5, on independent platforms such as Glassdoor.

2. System entry

In most cases, the second step would usually involve setting up an entry in the software used by the company for processing invoices.

However, in the case of processing paper invoices, this step may be sidestepped.

What does it mean?

What it means is that the software, that usually has rules defined based on which the workflow happens and approval authorities get involved, will not be used. Instead, a manual approval process will be used through which the invoice will need to be routed manually (physically) across the different stages like approval and payment.

Of course, if the company uses systems for other processes, they may need to be complied with as per requirement. For example, if entries are created in an accounting software, they will still need to be done. It is only the invoice processing section of the journey that is manual.

Though oWorkers has many technology companies as clients, its relationships go deeper and have been nurtured over many years. As a result, oWorkers can access the latest technologies which are often also available to oWorkers for the processing of client transactions.

3. Approval of invoice

Approval of the invoice for payment could be considered as one of the major steps in the process, for processing paper invoices too.

As money is a key resource, usually approval levels are defined based on the amount that needs to be paid out. A sometimes implicit and at other times explicit step in this process is to seek confirmation from the person or unit raising the requirement for the material and/ or service that has been purchased and to which that invoice pertains, that delivery to the extent claimed in the invoice has taken place. Thereafter, the financial approval process takes over.

In some cases, companies might even have a process whereby the approval process is gone through while placing an order only. At that stage the person/ unit raising the requirement has to justify its validity to the approver. Once approved at that stage for purchase, the later stage when the invoice comes in the approval process need not be gone through again, and the earlier approval is treated as the authorization to pay, subject to receipt confirmation by the person/ unit requisitioning.

oWorkers delivery capabilities are available when you need them. Their delivery centers are equipped to operate on a 24×7 schedule. This facility extends to the ‘work from home’ environment they created soon after the first wave of the pandemic hit the world. Today, their employees have the flexibility of operating either from home or office, depending on the situation on any given day.

4. Payment

Eventually a payment needs to be made, or settlement reached with the supplier.

Processing paper invoices does not mean that the payment process is also paper based or manual. In fact, as stated earlier, while the processing of the invoice may be manual, it does not automatically mean that other parts of the processing will also be manual. If electronic payment systems are used by the company, and if that is the most efficient and suitable way to make payment to the supplier, then it will be used by the accounts department subject to the other parts of the processing being complete.

If, of course, the intention is to issue the payment as well in a paper format, most jurisdictions continue to use cheque-based payment and clearing systems, hence it should be possible.

 In some cases, however, additional processing may be required. An example could be where a payment of an invoice needs to be made in a different currency.

oWorkers operates from super secure facilities & protocols with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). They are also GDPR compliant. This not only ensures the security of client data but also enables safe execution of financial transactions.

 

Why oWorkers

Outsourcing to a capable partner remains a viable and preferred option for many companies and oWorkers remains one of the most trusted and sought-after among partners.

Led by a team of professionals with over 20 years of hands-on industry experience, oWorkers can support clients in 22 languages.

oWorkers operates with employed staff, and not contractors and freelancers like some of our competitors. This has enabled oWorkers to strengthen delivery with a supervisory layer of staff grown through promotions.

Your work will enable oWorkers to employ a few more people from the communities we work with, and give them their start in the global digital workplace.