Within the world of TEM (Technology / Telecom Expense Management), invoice processing is a fundamental area for enterprise expense management teams. It is a core managed TEM service that a competent TEM partner can provide, which adds real value to your enterprise expense management organization.
What is TEM invoice processing? It is the process of analyzing and managing communications and other network vendor invoicing for enterprises. Invoicing commonly includes services for telecommunications, utilities, waste management, and other services.
Key TEM activities for this service include performing bill audits and financial reconciliations for all TEM invoicing, comprising telecommunications services for internet, mobile, landline, and other data services.
Invoice Processing Purpose
The aim of TEM invoice processing is to efficiently process vendor invoicing and identify billing errors; this core process also serves to position the TEM team to perform other important TEM services more effectively, such as negotiating better rates with vendors and optimizing TEM expenditures within the overall TEM program.
A strong TEM partner will assist with TEM functions such as data collection, data normalization, invoice processing, expense allocation, and reporting.
TEM software and services are used to automate and streamline the process, reducing manual effort and ensuring accuracy.
6 Key Components to Invoice Processing for TEM
1. Receipt of vendor invoicing
Your TEM provider will assist with implementing processes for the most efficient receipt of vendor invoicing. This will include the management of various formats such as electronic vs. paper. (And their TEM technology platform will naturally play an important role in supporting this process.)
At Tellennium, we advocate for electronic data interchange (EDI) invoicing wherever possible. One key benefit is that this data is broken down at the very granular universal service order code (USOC) component level.
EDI billing feeds have many advantages, such as high-level of detail, which includes call detail for per-minute audit capacity and USOC component detail for rate and inventory audits. (EDI files deliver Level 9 – call detail; Level 8 = USOC/service code, which is really strong.)
2. Invoice data management
Vendor invoice data must be extracted and normalized into the TEM platform for effective and efficient processing and reporting.
As an example, we utilize robotic process automation (RPA) carrier Import and carrier portal download technology to automate the downloading of electronic invoices, usage, and inventory files from vendor websites.
3. Invoice review & validation
The front-of-process TEM team will perform first bill reviews for accuracy; all pertinent contractual material, usage plans, and rate plans will be leveraged to identify any potential errors or suspect charges for the TEM team to address.
At Tellennium, we lean on our relational database/platform in this process to serve as the one enterprise-wide central repository for all our customer IT assets, including voice services (wireline and wireless), data, subscription services, and all equipment.
With unlimited customer-defined fields (CDFs), our team and customer contacts can link, track, query, and report on every asset and its corresponding detail.
4. Invoice approval process
Once the initial variance and audit reviews are performed, the appropriate TEM personnel will issue approvals for payment once billing accuracy is confirmed.
We systematically validate invoices via our TEM application and map them to the corresponding cost center/GL/departmental charge allocation hierarchy within the invoice.
Cost center splits and spreading of charges is a function supported by our TEM platform. Any missing invoice variances are flagged as exceptions and are viewed at the invoice level via the missing invoice icon and reported via a “missing invoice report.”
5. Invoice payment
The TEM team will execute timely payments to vendors as per agreed-upon terms with each service provider.
For example, at Tellennium, when making payments on our customers’ behalf, we reconcile invoice payments to confirm the vendor received and posted the payments accurately.
If not making payments on behalf of certain customers (as directed by them), we will still work to validate balance discrepancies and engage our customer accounts payable department to resolve payment-related concerns and assist in this regard.
6. TEM platform data archiving
All pertinent electronic data and imaging will be stored within the TEM platform for auditing and future reference.
For non-electronic invoices, Tellennium utilizes optical invoice recognition technology (OIR). With our OIR technology, our software can read, map, and present non-electronic (i.e., paper) invoices in the same manner and detail as electronic invoices.
5 Reasons for TEM Invoice Processing Support
1. High bill-error rate
Manual invoice processing is extremely prone to errors, resulting in incorrect payments and financial reporting discrepancies. Organizations utilizing homegrown and/or outdated applications or Excel spreadsheets will also be at a major disadvantage.
2. Regulatory compliance
Modern enterprises need to comply with various regulations and financial reporting requirements, which can be difficult to manage without a streamlined invoice process and advanced TEM-technology platform (e.g., GDPR data privacy).
3. Resource constraints
In today’s current chaotic marketplace, worker shortages and merger and acquisition activity (e.g., layoffs) are commonplace, resulting in labor challenges.
Modern enterprises commonly find themselves struggling to muster enough resources and headcount to handle the invoice processing workload. A strong TEM partner will be able to assist in deploying the right talent and in the right numbers.
4. Time constraints
Invoice processing is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially when done manually. Your TEM partner can leverage both the appropriate subject matter expertise (SMEs) and the TEM technology platform to help scale this process for your organization.
5. Invoice complexity
Invoicing and payment processes are often complex, especially for organizations that deal with a large number of invoices on a regular basis. A competent TEM partner will be familiar with the different service providers and will be able to leverage TEM expertise, as well as their TEM platform to make the complex simpler and more manageable.
There’s a lot involved in the world of TEM. We hope this article helped highlight and reinforce the key components of this fundamental TEM service area and the value that partnering with a TEM provider can provide.
If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your TEM vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.
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