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SOS Children's Villages Austria automates the incoming invoice run in SAP

Processing incoming invoices is often a major challenge for many organizations. Scanning, recording, checking, approving and then processing receipts takes a lot of time and offers great potential for automation.
Christoph Prieler, Finmatics
March 25, 2024
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Especially when accounting processes are still handled manually, for example with paper and stamps, digitization and automation can achieve significant added value. The non-profit organization SOS Children's Villages Austria also faced the challenge of preparing incoming invoices decentrally for digital processing in SAP in the best possible way. With around 1900 employees, the organization currently provides long-term care for around 1800 children as well as preventative and supportive outpatient services for 2500 children, young people and their families.

In order to digitalize and automate the incoming invoice process, a new process was created together with Finmatics and KPMG to enable incoming invoices to be checked, approved and forwarded efficiently and digitally at various locations in future. Thanks to the Finmatics app, a time saving of up to
70 percent were achieved in the approval process and the documents now arrive digitally at the financial accounting department in Innsbruck for further processing in SAP. At SOS Children's Villages Austria, incoming invoices were previously recorded at the various locations and physically signed in accordance with the internal control system. After being sent by post to the financial accounting department in Innsbruck, they were posted in SAP. The decentralized processing of paper documents in particular was extremely complex and laborious for everyone involved.

Workflow and guidelines

With the new application, cost centres can now be entered digitally, the approval workflow in accordance with ICS guidelines can be handled easily and on the move and documents can be transferred to financial accounting in a fully digitalized format. To ensure a smooth process between the new app and SAP, an efficient solution for data exchange was created with an add-on. A standardized SAP add-on was developed that enables seamless integration into the SAP ERP/ECC system. By using a Rest API via an RFC connection, the app can be accessed directly from SAP without additional middleware such as NetWeaver PI/PO. The add-on is provided in its own namespace and can therefore be used in any ECC installation without any problems.

The add-on offers a wide range of functions. This includes the import of document data and document images. The documents can be posted either as FI documents (without purchase order reference) or as logistics invoice verification documents (with purchase order reference). In addition, the add-on enables the storage of document images as PDFs via SAP ArchiveLink and links them to the posted document.

Another useful function is the synchronization of master data such as creditors between SAP and Finmatics. This ensures that the data in both systems is consistent and up to date. Finally, the add-on enables the transfer of purchase order data to facilitate the reconciliation of purchase order-related incoming invoices. 

Extensive customizing settings allow important posting parameters such as document type, posting key, etc. to be configured easily. In addition, enhancement options have been taken into account that can be implemented individually in the form of BADIs in order to influence posting logic and master data synchronization.

App and add-on

Thanks to the successful implementation and guarantee of efficient data exchange by the add-on, the incoming invoice process at SOS Children's Villages Austria has now been digitized and optimized. In order to enable an end-to-end digital invoice process, it was necessary to start as soon as the documents were received. Incoming invoices are flexibly uploaded as PDFs as required, photographed using an app or sent by suppliers via email. When they are received by email, the invoices are sent by suppliers to a specially created email address and then go directly into the automated workflow for checking and completion (cost centers). In a multi-stage process, the invoices are checked, approved and finally transferred to SAP via an interface. As soon as the invoices are available digitally, they are checked in the next steps in the multi-stage process at the respective location by the responsible persons, cost centers are added and then released for payment. Once all release steps have been completed, receipts are automatically transferred to financial accounting, where they are stored in digital form in SAP. At the same time, document images are transferred to SAP and archived in an audit-proof manner. For the automated payment runs in SAP, the payment conditions according to the vendor master are taken into account. Overall, SOS Children's Villages Austria was able to significantly speed up its incoming invoice process and make it more secure, transparent and future-proof thanks to fully digital processing. In particular, approval using a dedicated app and the AI-based verification and selection of invoice characteristics created added value for all parties involved.

Christoph Prieler, Finmatics

is an expert in the digitalization of accounting departments and CEO of Finmatics.

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