Achieving Straight-Through Processing for Telco and Utility Invoices

Honor Donnie  |  April 29, 2020   |  AP Automation  


Achieving 100 percent straight-through processing would be considered a utopia for most accounts payable departments. For businesses, it means that you have reached your peak efficiency, and processing costs are dramatically lower. While many organizations strive to reach this level, only 47 percent of AP departments can process invoices straight through today. Let’s take a look at what’s holding the rest back and how AP automation software providers with the right technology can help. 

Only 47% of AP departments can process invoices straight through.

The problem of non-PO invoice processing

There’s a reason straight-through processing hasn’t been universally adopted. One of the main obstacles lies in ineffective invoice capture, especially when it comes to non-PO invoice processing. With the processing of high volumes of invoices on a large scale, accuracy and efficiency are very important. Error-prone methods result in incorrect data and cause exceptions that require human intervention to be resolved.

One of the most common types of non-PO invoices is utility invoices. Without automated invoice capture, AP departments resort to manual efforts. Adding to this complexity is utility bills’ paper formats and monthly recurrence – all of which slows down straight-through processing. Paper-based invoices require either manual work to enter data into the system or OCR scanning, which still requires human intervention to ensure accuracy. 

Negative impacts of manual processes 

Thousands of dollars are spent each year on handling utility and telecom invoice exceptions. This leads to late fees, loss of early payment discounts, and service cutoffs. With straight-through processing, invoices are streamlined and fully automated, which serves to reduce both errors and the costs associated with correcting those errors. 

Thousands of dollars are spent each year on handling utility and telecom invoice exceptions.

According to Levvel Research, 70 percent of organizations spend anywhere from one to eight hours per week resolving AP processing issues. This requires allocating valuable staff time to addressing errors, which takes a toll on productivity. Straight-through processing can combat these negative impacts and create more space for growth and productivity through a secure and streamlined process. 

A recipe for straight-through processing

  • Accurate invoice capture puts you on the right path to achieve straight-through processing. This eliminates the need for exception handling caused by incorrect data entry. With a streamlined digital process, manual entry can be minimized. 
  • Digitized data in a machine-readable format that can easily be imported into your AP system helps automate downstream AP functions. Additionally, routing digital invoices for approval is more efficient than shuffling paper or sending attachments via email. 
  • Automated extraction of relevant invoice data increases the reliability of non-PO invoice processing. Specifically, with utility invoices, required data points include service address, account number, due date, amount due, and where to send the payment. Solutions that automatically retrieve data as soon as a new invoice becomes available ensures that recurring invoices, like utilities, are paid on time.   


Fill the gap with Urjanet

Urjanet can digitally capture utility and telecom data at scale from thousands of suppliers, enabling straight-through processing with true automation. Urjanet’s technology:

  • Collects recurring utility invoices automatically, month over month after a one-time setup 
  • Captures accurate data in a machine-readable format without human intervention
  • Delivers invoice data that can be seamlessly integrated into AP systems


To learn more about adding this service to your product suite, contact an Urjanet utility data specialist, or check out our solution overview


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About Honor Donnie

Honor Donnie is a Marketing Intern at Urjanet, with a passion for content creation. When she’s not at Urjanet, she can be found studying Political Science at Clark Atlanta University.

Tags   AP Automation   |   Cost & Resource Reduction   |   Urjanet   |   Utility Bill Management   |   Utility Bills   |   Utility Data   |