Excel Upload of Payables Invoices

I keep hearing from customers about having the ability to enter invoices through Excel. Whenever I hear that, I used to wonder why they would need that as the current system (EBS R12) already has quick invoice entry and the regular invoice workbench for invoice data entry. Also if the customer really wanted to go electronic they could go with the XML approach of loading invoices. In my personal opinion going the XML way makes more sense as it eliminates the need to enter invoices manually into the system. But I guess we are still living in the paper dominated world where all the documents are still sent through paper.
   Coming back to the excel interface I am not really sure about the true benefits of this approach. This is not to say that there is none, as there are a few that I can think of. Ease of data entry, ability to enter invoices faster and no need to train users as most of the computer users are already familiar with the excel tool. But if I were to go a step further then I see some issues here. Notably that there could be errors during data entry as the excel template might not have all the online validations that are normally found if the user were to enter these invoices using the quick invoice/invoice workbench pages that is currently available in EBS R12. Because of data entry issues, the user might be forced to go back into the ERP system to fix the data entry errors. To me, this looks like doing double work.
    Currently in EBS R12, we have the quick invoice entry (which also has very minimal validations) where the user can enter both PO matched invoices as well as non-PO invoice. Following this the user has to run the invoice import program which will create the actual invoice. If the user does not like this approach they can always enter the invoice directly using the invoice workbench.
    Since customers are looking for the excel based invoice entry, I have a few questions that I would like to ask.

     1. Is this primarily used by internal AP dept? Or is the excel template given to the suppliers asking them to enter their invoices in excel?
    2. If this is used by AP dept, then are they using it for entering non-PO invoices or are they using it to enter PO invoices.
    3. Currently on the quick invoice page there are very minimal validations. Since excel is going to have very minimal validations, what is the advantage here? Why can't the user use the quick invoice page and why do they need excel?
    4. If the AP dept is using this for entering PO matched invoices, then wouldn't it be helpful if they can enter it in quick invoice page or the regular invoice entry. Using the online pages gives you lot of flexibility in the sense that the user can pick and choose select PO's schedules etc. Given this, why would the user want to enter data in excel which does not have any validations.
    5. Also if users were to enter the data in excel and if there were some mistakes, then they would have to go back to the online component to fix the data errors. This is doing double duty as the user has to first enter the data in excel and then have to go back to the online component to fix the data errors. Wouldn't they be better off if they enter this data in the online component directly?
    6. What kind of benefit does the customer have (AP dept) if they use excel. Is it cut and paste? If so, since the invoices are not the same, how can they cut and paste? Are they doing cut and paste only under the scenario where there are multiple invoices coming from the same supplier?


   I would like to hear from users about their comments on using excel upload. Let me know.

Comments:

On many of our contracts, we work with customer, partner, and subcontractor systems. Data interchange between systems, for better or worse, is typically Excel files. Until we move to a true SOA, the old ETL paradigm reigns, as does Excel.

Posted by Rob on January 11, 2008 at 07:44 AM PST #

Ramakrishnan, you have not considered the usefulness of an Excel spreadsheet that does contain all the required validation. Our best selling spreadsheet tool is "AP Invoice Wizard", an Excel spreadsheet that connects to Oracle EBS and performs the same validation as the import process. This beats the slow feedback loop caused by using a "dumb" spreadsheet. It is one of about 20 Excel tools we provide to Oracle EBS users. All write to Oracle interfaces via the intranet using IE APIs from Excel. AP Invoice Wizard provides a huge productivity improvement over forms. Users cannot customise the Oracle form, but they can customise the spreadsheet layout, removing all the optional columns they have no use for. Our customers have even found using the tool is faster than using the Oracle form for invoices they have to key. For example a stack of invoices from the same supplier. In Excel this is copy and paste. In Oracle it is key the same data over and over. In many cases Invoice data is supplied by the Supplier electronically. What a waste of time to have to re-key it! Since it is a pre-built interface tool our customer simply installs it - no development is necessary. Why should a customer have to write software in order to employ an Oracle interface ? An unacceptable viewpoint in our opinion. We have been providing the Oracle EBS community with powerful out-of-the-box interface solutions based on Excel since 2000 and are growing year on year. Many of the largest companies in the world use these tools - check the customer list on our website.

Posted by Bruce Doig on January 11, 2008 at 07:49 PM PST #

I have seen great value in using excel for invoice entry (specifically the More4Apps tool mentioned above). With excel, you can map other documents like construction agreements and bid forms that may not be represented in Oracle to a hidden worksheet formatted for upload to Oracle. We've used this quite extensively in the construction industry where there is a large number of small contractors and it doesn't make good business sense to set them up as XML trading partners. They fill out their bid form with all the detail of the work which is then mapped to an invoice in the same excel file. When it comes time to invoice, they provide the invoice number from their AR system and email the excel file which is then uploaded to Oracle by AP. This retains all the detail in AP if specific lines of the bid or agreement need to be capitalized/expensed or charged to different accounts as that mapping is handled there. We also build in logic to determine which lines are taxable and populate the invoice distributions accordingly. The value I have seen not so much in the actual entry of the invoice (all though it helps there too as AP doesn't need to re-key all the lines) but being able to create the invoice in such a way that it will meet our accounting and tracking requirements without burdening our contractors.

Posted by Jon Moll on January 14, 2008 at 07:58 AM PST #

A WebADI like upload of AP invoices would be a big plus. Whether it is conversions, 1099 balances, or any similar upload, in 9 out of 10 cases, the data is being reconciled, cleaned-up and mapped in Excel before it gets to Oracle. I am sure I am speaking for many users when I say that love an easy option to upload invoices directly from Excel.

Posted by Marian Crkon on January 18, 2008 at 10:39 AM PST #

I think this would be extremely useful - especially for smaller companies that don't have the technical expertise to start using XML. Using excel is always going to be quicker than entering data into the forms so long as it also validates before it loads. The validation functionality is available in other ADI applications so it must be technically possible. I know for sure that if this facility were available we would definitely be using it.

Posted by Claire Moore on January 20, 2008 at 07:56 AM PST #

Marian and Claire, It might have helped if you read the comments already on this blog. More4Apps's AP Invoice Wizard is like WebADI. It even uses similar technology to connect to Oracle. The AP development team has publicly stated they have no intention to build a WebADI tool for AP Invoices. Also - WebADI is a platform. Integrators are built on the platform and are constrained by its limitations. Currently WebADI is not good at handling parent/child relationships, i.e. Invoice and multiple distributions. Until it is, a WebADI integrator for AP Invoices would be severely limited.

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Posted by foeabmfprb on February 23, 2008 at 09:12 PM PST #

Hi, I just recently came across this. This is a great place for gathering data and I am glad I stumbled on it. I am currently looking at ways to automate loading of Vendor invoices as we get a lot of invoices from our Vendors. We just received a sample format from them in Excel. Since we are a fabless semi setup we have a lot of lots. Our vendor invoices us with all the lots data in it. We have jobs in OSFM that has triggered reqs. We create blanket releases and then match the invoices to receipts doing a 3 way match. Right now since invoices are in PDF we do the whole process manually and it is painful. I am the analyst here and I am looking at ways of automating the 3 way match. Thanks Vijay

Posted by Vijay on April 29, 2008 at 09:45 AM PDT #

Hi Vijay, When the vendor invoices are coming in an excel format, are they including the PO information like PO#, line #, shipment # etc? Since they are sending the information currently in excel format, I am assuming that you are manually entering them into the system. Is the goal to move away from pdf format invoices to excel? Are you planning on using this mechanism with selective vendors or vendors that you are doing lots of business with? What kind of PO information is present on the invoice? Have you thought bought moving towards XML invoices instead of excel. Unfortunately at this moment I can't think of an automated solution to your issue. :( Thanks balaji

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Posted by rcwxxe on October 16, 2008 at 02:15 AM PDT #

I reckon invoicing by using Excel is not that bad when used on a small scale it can be complex youhave thousands if invoices to process and tally later on..

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