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Invoice entry strategies in Oracle Payables

An overview of two not-so-well-know Oracle Payables features that can substantially change your invoice keying environment.

Oracle Payables provides you with various invoice entry strategies. The most commonly used are a combination of electronic and key entry strategies. Based on your particular business needs and processes, the key entry can happen in several ways: centralized, de-centralized (including self-service) or a combination of both.

When working with decentralized key entry, invoices may be sent to a large organization's local office, where the invoice is keyed, rather than send the invoice to a central data entry group, as would occur in a centralized key entry. On occasion, some invoices will go to a central invoice entry group while other invoices go to a local office for entry. When you employ self-service entry, the person receiving the invoice enters basic invoice information into the system, where it may be routed for processing throughout the organization.

Companies typically configure Oracle Payables to best suit and streamline their particular key entry processes. But there are a couple of not-so-well-known Oracle Payables features that can substantially change the keying environment.

Feature: Invoice Gateway

The first feature is the Invoice Gateway. The Invoice Gateway is an alternative entry form to the Invoice Workbench, which some view as a more user-friendly way to enter invoices. The invoice transaction, once entered into the Invoice Gateway, is uploaded or imported into Oracle Payables. This architecture differs from the real-time entry environment of the Invoice Workbench.

The benefit of using Invoice Gateway is that it gives the user a view of more data fields for a single invoice than the Invoice Workbench, and it provides a simplified interface. The Invoice Gateway also has a less robust error-checking environment, which can result in faster data entry. The remaining error checking is done during the batch import or upload process into Oracle Payables. Workflow and document imaging is then used to make the import exception process very efficient.

Which invoice entry form to use

A number of factors can enter into the decision of which invoice entry form to use. For example, some companies that have decentralized or regional AP operations prefer the Gateway for its ease of use. Companies that are migrating from other systems or 10.7 character environments may be more comfortable with the Gateway interface. Some organizations feel the "cleaner" form can speed initial learning and data entry, and also provide a better view of all the data simultaneously as forms (i.e. the distribution form) do not get in the way of viewing other data elements. Finally, some companies use Invoice Gateway to leverage batch import capabilities to handle specific financial requirements, such as timing for recognizing obligations.

The Invoice Gateway is worth considering if you're looking for an easier or more efficient way to key data into the Oracle Payables environment, or if there is a need to handle a specific financial process that the Invoice Gateway can facilitate.

The good news is that Oracle Payables supports both entry forms to be in operation at the same time. This can allow one group to use the Invoice Gateway while another uses the Invoice Workbench. I know companies that enter certain types of invoices through the Gateway and others through the Workbench. It needs to be noted that training and setup work is required with either solution, so either choice has a cost associated with it.

Feature: Foldering

The second valuable feature is a standard feature of the Invoice Workbench called Foldering. While many companies know of the feature, many operations do not leverage its capability. Foldering enables the Invoice Workbench data entry fields to be re-ordered to make the entry form more suited to a company's own invoice entry process. For example, certain data entry fields that are rarely used can be put at the end of the form and frequently entered fields can be put at the beginning of the record.

Proper Foldering setup can enable AP personnel to more efficiently enter information and not move across a record unnecessarily. If this is not a feature that you are currently using it is one that is worth investigating.

About the author: Nord E. Samuelson is vice president of business development for 170 Systems, Inc. In this role, Nord directs the resources that establish and manage relationships with key business partners. Before joining 170 Systems, Nord held a series of key consulting positions with the Monitor Company, a management consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass. There he led project teams that used technology and management software tools to re-engineer business processes and strategies, including competitive analysis, product diversification, pricing plans, order fulfillment processes and IT infrastructure enhancements. In 1991, he founded Decision Architects, a Monitor Group Company. Decision Architects delivers world-class, strategic decision support software solutions and strategic technology consulting services. Nord holds bachelor degrees in economics and mathematics from Bowdoin College.

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