Philip Douglas Apr 1, 2015 5:08:00 PM 4 min read

Dealing effectively with the emailed PDF Invoice Epidemic

The problem:

A quick conversation with your accounts payable team will verify that more than 50% of your invoices are now arriving as a PDF via email. For some, the number is already over 85%.

In the past 12 months, this approach has grown from around 20% and the expectation is nearly all of your invoices will arrive this way by the end of 2015.

You have probably adopted emailed PDF invoices for your own sales invoices. It saves you printing them, placing them in an envelope, posting them and hoping Royal Mail deliver them during the next week or so – plus saving at least £1 ($1+) for each invoice raised. This methodology is now universally accepted.

The opposite is true for the receiving account payable function. It has introduced the time and cost of saving the PDF, then printing it with your printer, using your paper and your ink before you can even start the AP process.

For many organizations, the emailed PDF Invoice has already become an epidemic. It is no longer a nuisance, it has become a significant, costly and unquestionably permanent problem.

The solution:

The best approach is counter-intuitive.

It is to ask every supplier to send all their invoices via email as a PDF – but to a different email address that you provide. This should deliver about 95% of all invoices as emailed PDFs.

The email address routes these PDF invoices to the Compleat e-Invoicing Portal. The Portal captures these invoices, converts them to XML data, attaches the PDF and then distributes them for processing.

The processing options include:

  • Posting them directly into your current ERP solution or purchase invoice approval software or P2P solution (with the PDF already attached), ready for processing.
  • Posting them into Compleat Purchasing Invoice Approval module (with the PDF already attached) which is tightly integrated to your ERP solution. We automate most of the GL coding, delivering a fully automated electronic approval process and on final approval, automatically posting them to your ERP solution.
  • Add Compleat Purchase Order automation module. The invoice transaction is automatically reconciled against the purchase order / receipting and for a 3-way match (order/receipt/invoice), auto-approves and posts the invoice to your ERP solution with ZERO TOUCH.

Compleat also provides the same level of automation for the reducing volume of scanned paper invoices.

Yes, this does represent the most significant advancement in the AP function since the introduction of computerized accounting some 35 years ago. (It is long overdue!)

Yes, it also removes all of the current cost and time associated with dealing with paper / PDF invoices.

But perhaps most important of all, because the savings will always far outweigh the costs of automation, how, if asked, would you justify not having made the change?


For a more in-depth look at how digitizing and automating the purchase and accounts payable (AP) process can do wonders for your business's efficiency, follow the link below for our free buyer's guide.

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Philip Douglas

Philip Douglas is Chief Technical Officer of Compleat Software. As a chartered accountant, Philip has extensive experience in UK, European & North American accounting. As a technical & application leader working with many leading accounting/ERP software vendors his accounting knowledge molds our products of today. Philip is the driving force behind our culture, products & vision & is the reason Compleat is the disruptive leader in the market.
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