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& Game Changers in Accounts Payable

The risk you run from contaminated master data in your accounts payable management

In a changing world in which businesses have to deal with alterations in contact and address details on a daily basis as a result of take-overs, mergers and insolvencies, there is a real art to keeping your supplier database up to date. We talk of contaminated master data where the accounts payable data contains double or inaccurate data. It poses a considerable risk for businesses. At SpendLab, we find that it is frequently a source of liquidity loss for our customers.

Why is it so important to have accurate master data?

Our experience tells us that businesses that maintain correct, updated accounts payable master data not only retain a clear overview but are also able to optimise their procurement processes and save on costs. Based on our recovery investigations, we’ve found that, these days, around EUR 1 is lost on every procurement invoice. Incorrect journal entries or inaccurate data input into the bookkeeping system is ultimately the root cause. The combination of a high number of purchase invoices and exceptions in the processing procedures result in organisations forfeiting in terms of their liquidity.

Why is it so important to keep master data up to date?

When you have contaminated master data, as we referred to it above, many of our recovery investigations have found that this results in a loss of liquidity. Solving this is not, however, quite so very simple in practice, since we note that adjusting master data forms a divided responsibility within organisational structures. For example, on the one hand, there is an expectation that a purchaser will correctly enter all and any data changes. On the other hand, a bookkeeper is deemed to verify all invoice details and have them confirmed by the supplier. In reality, neither task is carried out to the required degree of accuracy, if it is done at all.

‘We find that the accounts departments of many of our customers are under unrelenting pressure of work. This pressure often starts at the accounting year-end or when the VAT returns go in and continues during the verification procedures carried out by auditors and company accountants. Alongside this, the care and attention put into finalising budgets plus the incoming invoices that require processing all add up to an increased work load. This results in irregularities and an increase in the risks within the process of managing master data,’ Sam Verstraeten, Country Manager at SpendLab Belgium, tells us from his hard-lived experience.

What do you need to watch out for when altering master data?

Whenever it is planned to update master data, there needs to be a clear demarcation within the organisation’s structure. The reason? Because changes of this order in master data lead to changes in suppliers’ financial data. Our advice is therefore to clearly delineate the permissions exercisable by those people within the accounts departments who are able to adjust payment details and those who actually make the payments. This creates a clear division of responsibilities, which ups the overall level of security. Additionally, we also opt for an interim verification of all changes to suppliers’ payment data in order to catch any irregularities and errors that do slip through.

Conclusion

We find that the maintenance of master data in the purchases bookkeeping is a crucial part of a professional, efficient accounting process. Even despite the digitisation of accounting processes, the risk posed by contaminated master data is too great to be just left unattended to. If left unrectified for a number of financial periods, the money that you’re missing out on can mount up significantly. It’s a daily feature of what we experience among our current clientele. Fortunately, we at SpendLab are well equipped to track down liquidity risks and recoup the otherwise unrecovered funds.

Would you be interested to know what liquidity risks lurk within your own organisation? SpendLab is able to conduct a Recovery Audit for you, a complete investigation of your  accounts payable administration, including a check of your master data at supplier level. As part of the audit, we restore the financial consequences of incorrect, unknown and erroneous journal entries and payments. In other words: we make sure that your business recoups the money it’s entitled to. And we do it all on a “no cure, no pay” basis. Because, if we find nothing, we bill nothing. To find out more about our precise methodology, just get in touch with us. You’ll be under no commitment and we’ll be happy to talk to you!

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