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How to avoid duplicate payments

The US Institute of Internal Auditors has found that duplicate payments make up 0.5% of annual invoice payments. In her presentation at The UK Accounts Payable Tech Summit 2011 Nicole Edbrooke, Head of Purchase to Pay at Essex County Council, showed how companies need to check continuously for duplicate payments, claim back previous ones and also prevent future errors.

Essex County Council found that duplicates occur through duplicate POs, manual keying errors, duplicate supplier records and the lack of a unique reference. Moreover, invoices of same value, e.g. rental invoices, can cause problems. Existing system invoice checks did not pick up duplicates if one character was different.

Essex County Council used Fiscal Technologies forensic algorithm software (AP Forensics) to identify and resolve possible duplicates before the payment is made. AP Forensics is a hosted solution which vets the daily payment file and highlights potential problem transactions. It builds up a knowledge based on their payment history and provides real-time feedback. The technology paid for itself in first month.

AP Forensics identified £124k from previous financial years, prevented £6k in first week, and also indicated the changes needed to manually created payment references.

Essex CC is introducing further exception reports to ensure payments are not made by different channels. Furthermore, they found that there were too many potential duplicates to be identified daily. They needed to prioritise based on the Forensic indicators and to introduce a programme of regular transaction checks.

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