We use Lotus Notes e-mail to receive invoices from district with approvals. Our locations scan the invoice with PO# or signature approval and e-mail to AP. We print off the image and enter. Is this an accepted practice?

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From your description, we understand you to mean that internal departments send you the invoice images via email, not vendors, and the imaged invoices are in lieu of the original invoice. This is an important distinction.

Whereas a vendor typically mails an invoice and then sometimes later faxes or emails a copy--meaning you now have two of the same invoice somewhere in AP--in your situation, the original invoice is at the business unit and only the image comes into AP. The potential problem arises in the possibility that a district emails the same invoice twice.There may be good reasons you handle it that way, at least for the present.

If you determine that there are, what is important is that you look closely at your process and insure that you have good controls on it so that you avoid the possibility of a duplicate payment. Run a check on all invoices by invoice number, date, amount and vendor name or ID number to guard against duplicate payments. Also, be sure you have and enforce a good vendor file naming convention, and a good method of number invoices that are without an invoice number.

On the other hand, why not have all original invoices sent by the vendors directly to AP, and have AP image them, then route them electronically via Lotus Notes for approvals. That way, AP knows when an invoice arrives (rather than it sitting on someone's desk for a few days in the district); and AP can track the workflow for approvals and know where the invoice is.

At the same time, AP either holds or has shredded the original invoice. That approach is considered a best practice for many organizations.

So look carefully at your situation and ask questions. Why are we doing it the way we're doing it? Is there reason to change it? How might we best change it? (But don't try to build Rome in a day; make both long term and short term goals.)

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