Accounts Payable Automation, Microsoft Dynamics 365

What the New D365 Finance Features Mean for Invoice Automation

Antti Kosunen

Microsoft recently announced new invoice automation capabilities in its Dynamics 365 Finance package. Set to become generally available in early 2021, their new features begin to address a couple of the needs of AP practitioners, but still misses the mark on several aspects needed to support full AP automation that optimizeinvoice processing.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the new features in the Dynamics 365 Finance release and how they compare to best-in-class third-party AP automation solutions. 

New, and Practical, Microsoft Features:  

Microsoft Feature 

Feature Details  

Best-in-Class AP Solution Feature Notes  

Match product receipts to invoice lines with three-way matching policy 

This is a welcomed feature. If an invoice arrives before the goods, which is often the case, the system can do the matching automatically when the goods arrive. 

This feature is widely adopted amongst best-in-class solutions and is only one of several features that enable a completely touchless matching process.  

Pre-validating vendor invoice posting 

 

Errors can be caught in the early stages of AP processing, instead of during final posting.  

Instead of following a trial-and-error batch run type of approach, exceptions are highlighted for the user in real-time. 

 

New, But Limited, Microsoft Features: 

The upcoming Microsoft update will also include the following features that are new to D365 Finance, but still very limited when compared to standard features offered by ISVs like Dooap 

Microsoft Feature  

Feature Details  

Best-in-Class AP Solution Feature Notes  

Analytics and metrics 

“Vendor invoice entry” view allows a user to see the status of vendor invoices from multiple companies. Power BI metrics are also available with basic KPIs.   

With best-in-class solutions, the multi-company approach is available across all phases of the process, not just in the invoice entry. There are also more extensive sets of ready-made reports and KPIs available.  

Submit imported vendor invoices to workflow 

A background process allows invoices to be automatically pushed to a workflow. For this to work correctly though, critical data like PO numbers must be captured completely accurate. 

Sending invoices to the approval workflow without human intervention is a standard feature for AP automation solutions. A crucial element is the ease of routing invoices that failed the automation.  

Tracking imported invoice amount and imported sales tax amount  

Values in XML are compared to calculated values in D365 to identify errors.  

The accuracy of the captured data is backed by SLA and not only limited to invoice and tax amounts. 

Tracking the invoice received date 

Storing the invoice receive date enables tracking the invoice processing lead times. 

Best-in-class solutions provide a full analysis of the process efficiency and bottlenecks, including many other dates are captured and tracked, beginning from the date the invoice was scanned, until the date the invoice was paid.  

Automation history for vendor invoices  

Identifies the status of the invoice in the approval workflow. 

History logs with detailed information about past, current and future actions and the changes made during the workflow, all in a readable format are available in best-in-class solutions. Altering workflows on the go are also possible 

Resume automated processing for multiple invoices  

Multiple vendor invoices can be re-sent to a workflow, instead of one invoice at a time.  

Although this is a positive addition, this should happen automatically instead of manually. The D365 Finance workflows are pretty rigid and not very user-friendly.  

 

What’s Missing from Microsoft’s Upcoming Updates 

Although the new features from Microsoft are a step in the right direction toward providing basic AP capabilities for AP practitioners, businesses and the broader audience are still left with many manual processes, requiring them, for the most part, to match, code, route, review and approve them manually, among other tasks.  

The following are critical features to make accounts payable easier that are missing from D365FO’s current offering and upcoming release.

Feature Gap 

Feature Details  

Simple way for invoices to enter the system  

A straightforward way for receiving the invoices from multiple sources without human intervention (email, paper, fax, XML/EDI)  

Scanning and capturing invoice data 

Invoice intake, scanning, data capture, and validation are not automized in D365 Finance, requiring manual data entry – the most error prone part of the AP process.  

Differentiation of user role needs  

Current features of D365 Finance are limited to focus on AP practitioners, and leave out the needs of the broader audience in the business, such as invoice approvers, buyers, and management.  

Mobile capabilities  

D365 Finance does not offer mobile app for invoice approval, non-PO coding, commenting, re-routing, or accessing invoice history. 

AI or Machine Learning  

There aren’t AI or Machine Learning capabilities enabling intelligent automation and assisting end-users with reducing error-prone tasks to free up their time to focus on value-added activities.  

 

In contrast to the comprehensive, end-to-end lifecycle approach of best-in-class AP solutions, Microsoft is offering a handful of single features. In essence, users can get a taste of a true AP automation journey with these new standard features, but they don’t have all the necessary ingredients to make the end-to-end journey automated, intuitive, and overall, simpler.    


About the Author
Antti Kosunen
, Dooap's co-founder, is a purchase-to-pay expert with probably the world’s first cloud AP solution under his belt. Father of four sons and marathon runner.


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