NetSuite A/P Automation Using PromoStandards Invoice Service

Background 

If your company is spending $10 or more to process every invoice, it’s not alone. According to a recent American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) study of 1,485 businesses, the bottom 25% spends $10 or more per invoice processed while the best performers (the top 25%) get the job done for $2.07 per invoice or less.

This represents a real opportunity to save money in a world where every penny counts, and it all starts with the data. A project focused on standardizing data across the Promotional Products Industry,  PromoStandards enables an easy integration between both channels within the vertical. By standardizing data services and formats, suppliers and distributors both achieve backend integration benefits and scale with ease. For more information, please check out their website

At eXtendTech, we’re committed to supporting NetSuite PromoStandards integrations via our SuiteApps. If you are a supplier or distributor running NetSuite, you can start leveraging services quickly and easily. 

In this article, we discuss the customer pain points that prompted us to develop a new methodology for creating Vendor Bills via the Invoice service and explain the post-processing routine that yields A/P automation once the information lands in NetSuite. 

The Objective 

We were working with a distributor that wanted to take advantage of the PromoStandards Invoice Service in order to free-up administrative overhead, automate A/P operations, reduce processing volumes, and start managing by exception. It was receiving bills via email, searching for the corresponding Purchase Order, and then manually processing the payment. This was a time-consuming process that took an inordinate number of man hours to complete on a weekly basis.

Being able to capture the invoice automatically would allow the distributor to automate the PO to bill transformation, and know when it hit an exact match (or if the difference was within tolerance levels).  

The Challenge(s) 
  1. The Items never match

We commonly see Client’s Item IDs that don’t align with Vendor Item IDs. This is a known challenge that we’ve discussed in this article and in other forums. When this happens, we still see great benefits in doing body/header level evaluation, and generally proceed with that in mind. 

  1. Transaction Number (PO#) changes

Our query logic generally calls to a service, and—if we hit a match—pulls the payload information down and gets to work. In this case, we use the Trans ID as the key. Our client allows override on Trans ID, so this changes its PO/Transaction ID when there is a revision on the Purchase Order. This updated number isn’t transferred or updated by the Vendor, thus prohibiting the matching up of a PO# with the Vendor Bill / Invoice. 

Because not every Vendor Bill was matched to a PO, we still had to monitor email accounts for Invoices and investigate whether they were auto-processed or not. If not, then the process had to be handled manually. 

Because we weren’t capturing the Vendor Bill/Invoice data from the Supplier unless we received a match, our query logic was stifled and the value of the solution was destabilized. #bummer 

There’s Still Hope – The Innovation 

Focused on eliminating the requirement to obtain Invoices through email or any other transmission methods, evaluating Invoice details programmatically, and automating processes within Client-defined tolerance levels, we were forced to consider alternative processes. 

We turned to polling the Invoice service for all new/open Invoices that were on file, and capturing the complete universe within a native NetSuite Custom Record (i.e., eXtendPS-DE Invoice Response Record). 

Victory! – The Invoice Response Custom Record 

By creating a Custom Record intended for the Invoice response, we now had the power to consume the entire payload within the record, parse key data variables into Custom Record fields, run evaluation logic against Client defined tolerance levels, and execute automated transformation sequences based on whether the Invoice passed or failed the tolerance level evaluations. 

We pulled all open Invoices into the system as independent records, thus ensuring the capture of the entire universe of available documents—regardless of whether a match was made (or not). This effectively turned off the client’s inflow of vendor bill emails.

The distributor now maintains an array of Invoices that can be auto-matched using logical, backend evaluations. If it hits a match, the Invoice is processed automatically. If there’s no match, then the Invoice will be separated to be managed by exception—a key process methodology that yields high levels of operational efficiency. 

Advanced PDF/HTML Template Rendering 

With the entire payload captured within the NetSuite Custom Record—and NetSuite Custom records now supporting Advanced PDF/HTML Templates—we designed a distinct PDF representation of a Vendor Bill. That way, users that require a tangible document for review or evaluating in a non-match scenario now have a familiar piece of media to work with.  

Due to the service normalizing Vendor Bill data across vendors, building a PDF representation works quite reliably. 

Conclusion 

By consuming Vendor transaction data and compiling records in a Custom Record array containing all of their meta-data detail, this NetSuite consumer can render data and stage a series of “trigger events” that automate processes that used to be handled manually. This, in turn, helps to reduce the per-invoice processing costs that many companies pay $10 or more to manage. 

Distributors and Suppliers who have not yet adopted PromoStandards are missing out on the advantages that serve both sides of the supply chain. While the standard continues to evolve, once deployed, certain available services can have an instant impact on your business. If your company is currently running NetSuite, you can start leveraging these utilities—and more importantly, this action-oriented way of thinking—to reduce processing costs and support scaling up without the need for additional overhead.

If you’re a NetSuite company looking to connect key customers or vendors with automated administrative and operational processes, we can help. Let’s have a conversation to see where we can apply our leading practices that save our clients thousands of man-hours per month. 

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