The Growing Need for Straight-Through Invoice Processing of Utility Bills

Ma-Keba Frye  |  December 4, 2020   |  AP Automation  


In the wake of this year’s events, we’ve seen how essential automation is to keeping your operations running smoothly. Companies have had to leverage innovation and technology to maintain business continuity and adapt to the new, digital normal. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the globe, companies scrambled to sustain their operations remotely. That included ensuring that utility bills were paid on time by switching to methods like straight-through invoice processing. 

Utility bills account for roughly 25% of companies’ total invoice volume.

Utility bills account for roughly 25 percent of companies’ total invoice volume. If relying on manual utility invoice collection, sudden disruptions like the pandemic can bring operations to a halt. Tim Porter, Urjanet’s Director of Strategic Accounts, recently spoke with Esker On Air to discuss the inefficiencies of manual utility invoice processing and the growing need for straight-through processing. Check out the full episode below, or keep reading for a recap of their conversation.

The migration to utility invoice automation

The digital transformation has been underway for some time, but as the pandemic caused companies to pivot their operations, the process was accelerated. During the interview, Porter shared that while many companies’ operations may have relied on automation when it came to invoicing, manual tasks like receiving and opening the mail were still in the way. Organizations moved quickly to integrate as much automation and technology as possible into their invoicing workflows to accommodate this shift to remote operations. 


READ MORE >> Reducing Hidden Areas of Inefficiency and Costs with Utility Invoice Automation


The pitfalls of manual invoice processing

According to Porter, one of the biggest pitfalls of manual invoice processing is the lack of speed. Companies have to await the arrival of paper invoices and try to find missing invoices, reducing the amount of time they have to pay. According to an IOFM study, companies that rely on manual processes can handle up to 1,400 invoices per FTE per year, while those that have implemented straight-through invoice processing can increase productivity to 22,000 per FTE per year. 

Implementing straight-through invoice processing can increase productivity from 1,400 invoices to 22,000 invoices per FTE per year.

Automation enables companies to improve productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce the costs of manual labor dependency. This also provides the added benefit of reducing late payments and fees. Porter highlighted one company that used to spend over $100,000 each month on FedEx next-day delivery to ensure that invoices were paid on time before the company switched to automated invoice processing.   

What straight-through invoice processing can do for you

For too many organizations, utility invoices are still paper-based. If a company is dealing with a large volume of utility vendors, managing those invoices can be overwhelming, especially if the utility provider opts not to join a P2P network. Some companies can turn to solutions like EDI to streamline utility invoice collection from a few providers, while others rely on Urjanet to fully automate invoice collection and data extraction from a global network of suppliers. 

Implementing straight-through processing for utility invoices can:

  • Increase speed and productivity
  • Ensure business continuity
  • Reduce costs related to errors, manual labor, late fees, and shut-offs 
  • Improve visibility into utility spend, trends, and metrics
  • Help scale operations


Check out this episode of Esker On Air in its entirety to learn more about the benefits of straight-through invoice processing. If you’re ready to streamline your utility invoice processing workflow, speak to one of our utility data 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.

Tags   AP Automation   |   Operational Efficiency   |   Urjanet   |   Utility Bills   |