Survey Insights: Retooling Your Manual Utility Invoice Collection

Ma-Keba Frye  |  April 9, 2021   |  AP Automation  |  Data & Technology  |  Energy & Sustainability  


Energy management needs to be inherently innovative, but sometimes, businesses get stuck in the status quo. Urjanet recently surveyed energy management experts from across the U.S. to find out how they’re accessing the utility data they need and how manual utility invoice collection may be holding them back. 


Find out how your utility invoice collection compares to your peers >>


How companies currently collect utility invoices

Although the technology for automation is widely available, 48 percent of the companies we surveyed still rely on manual utility invoice collection. This often involves one of two processes: employees can log into utility websites and manually download invoices, or they can request invoices from facility managers and manually enter the data into their preferred system. Both of these hands-on options are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and error-prone.

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Common challenges of manual invoice collection 

Manual utility invoice collection comes with its own set of challenges that impact both a company and its customers. In 2018, SME reported that 82 percent of finance departments were overwhelmed by how many invoices they processed daily,  in addition to the complexity of the varying invoice formats they received. Manual processes lead to missing invoices, payment delays, service shutdowns, and late fees. 

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The most common challenge survey respondents face with manual utility invoice collection is data errors and missing data points. This may seem like a minor issue; however, when it comes to energy management and procurement, missing data points on charges or tariffs can negatively impact a company’s ability to conduct accurate demand response, calendarization, and more. 


In addition to data errors, 25 percent of companies noted that they experience delays in billing and data delivery, leading to late payments. Another 24 percent stated that unstandardized data formats are an issue. A lack of standardization amongst providers can slow down the invoicing process, making it nearly impossible to compare apples to apples. When different site locations have different bill formats and charges, AP and energy professionals alike are left to manually reorganize invoice data to meet their needs. 

24% of companies surveyed see unstandardized data formats as a key challenge of manual invoice collection.

Although manual reviews of invoices can solve the immediate issues of unstandardized data, automation can be a more permanent solution. The Urjanet Utility Data Platform automatically normalizes utility data into a standard, digestible format from over 6,500 providers across the globe. Through custom integration services, Urjanet can also categorize invoice charges to better fit an organization’s internal vocabulary.  

Barriers to a better solution

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According to survey respondents, the biggest barrier to investing in an automated solution is justifying the cost. Yet introducing automation into your workflow doesn’t have to break the bank. For instance, Budderfly’s innovative approach to energy management services requires no upfront costs. 

Another option is to start by automating invoice collection on its own, before investing in a full-service energy management system. To help you gain buy-in from your executives, you can use tools like an ROI calculator to estimate and demonstrate the savings that automation can drive.

A better alternative to manual utility invoice collection

In this digital-forward age, it’s time to make manual utility invoice collection a thing of the past. Urjanet’s utility data experts are here to help businesses streamline their invoice collection, prove the savings of automation, and ensure that companies are putting their data to work – rather than working for their data. 

Ready to retool the way you collect your utility invoices? Speak with one of our experts today. 


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About Ma-Keba Frye

Ma-Keba Frye is a Content Marketing Associate at Urjanet, assisting with content development and execution. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and volunteering.