Invoice audits are those notorious accounting practices that make you feel like you're squirming in the hot seat. You're well aware you have to endure them because they are critical for the health of your company. Much of the complications (and headaches) that arise from invoice audits are trying to interpret the cryptic billing details that might as well be ancient Greek.
Remember that invoices are all about the numbers. Numbers are always math and math will produce the same results. With this in mind, there are certain things to look for in your invoices that are consistent with every company. So take a deep breath and count to 10 - we'll go over 10 things with you to look for in every successful invoice audit. You got this!
It’s always a good idea to review the rates you originally agreed to with your vendors. If the rate looks a little high, never assume. Check it with your previous invoices and talk with the vendor. Locked in rates should never go up before their period expires.
Discounts are probably one of the most important things to look at in your invoices. If you’re already getting discounts, ensure that the agreement is consistent. Ask your vendor if new discounts have opened up in the past year. And if you’re not getting discounts, make sure you do either through your present vendor or a different one.
How many accounts does your company have? It may be more cost effective to have just one account, if possible, to save time and keep your resources together in one place.
Does your current service plan match your needs now? Is there anything unnecessary you can scale back? Check your service bundle packages for true relevance. Companies change and grow as well as vendor offers.
Invoice audits are the perfect time to review your utility plans. Compare your plans with other plans on a spreadsheet to make plan shopping easier.Talk with your vendor about new plan opportunities, too. They will often give you a good deal for valuing you as their regular customer.
SIX: MAINTENANCE FEES
Ah, the balance of equipment maintenance. Regular maintenance will save you money compared to replacement costs, but it’s also wise to check the maintenance frequency. Do you really need your router and servers tweaked every month? Probably not. With honest reviews of your maintenance fees, you can win extra pocket change for your company.
Not everyone thinks about it these days, but the timing of payments can affect how much you save in the long run. It’s a good time to review the big picture of your costs with your payment cycles. Will you save more with monthly or annual payments? What’s more cost effective? Don’t forget to ask about pay as you go plans, too.
EIGHT: DATA ENTRY ERRORS
They’re oh-so-very annoying, but you have to look for them. Whether made by computers or humans, these pesky little problems can add up over time if left unchecked. And when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to double and triple check the math!
NINE: "PHANTOM" SERVICES
While we’re on the subject of billing discrepancies, be on the lookout for “phantom” services, or services billed that do not exist. For example, sometimes waste removal companies charge “phantom containers” on their invoices even though they weren’t actually used on site.
If your vendor is offering upgrades, consider if your company really needs them. If you'll benefit from it, you could upgrade with refurbished equipment instead of new for equal performance improvement while saving costs.
Invoice audits can intimidate a lot of folks, but you don’t have to be one of them. If the time to perform the audits yourself is cutting into your profits, consider giving us a call at Valicom. Our well seasoned staff is pleased to accommodate your utility expense management needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brittany Peckham
Brittany grew up in Oregon, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Business School with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Resources with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Brittany has been working with Valicom for many years creating content for the TEM industry to deliver the many benefits users and organizations can experience in utilizing TEM services. With a passion for social media marketing, Brittany enjoys applying creativity throughout various areas of her life while expressing creativity in everything she does and loves being consumed in projects, from start to finish.