Shared Inboxes Part 3: AP Invoices

Nick Carpenter

If you haven’t checked out Part 1 or Part 2 of this series, be sure to go back and explore the common pitfalls of shared inboxes.


When discussing finance processes with organizations, we’ll often hear from AP teams, “oh we’ve moved everything to digital.”

But, it turns out what they really mean is they simply have a shared inbox that most of their invoices are sent to.

Well, can email really get the job done for them?  No, email is a transport that allows them to receive the invoice… but that’s where it ends.  It doesn’t give them any visibility.


  • Has this email already been opened?
  • Has someone already forwarded it on?
  • Many more

Even worse, sometimes they will still be printing off all of those emails and manually pushing out that paper even though it’s coming in electronically to begin with.

Like we’ve discussed through-out this blog series, there are many issues that can arise when you run a business process from a shared inbox manually –

  • Loss of Context
  • Team Member Overlap
  • Inefficiency
  • Lack of Transparency

As we look at these things through the lens of AP, you’ll see they can have major effects on your AP process and overall financial health.

  • Inefficiencies mean slower processing times and inflated processing costs.
  • Missed emails can lead to late-payments to your suppliers. This means additional fees and a damaged relationship with your suppliers. Maybe the terms of your next contract won’t be as favorable? Or your deliveries aren’t as high a priority?
  • Conversely, not knowing what invoices have been grabbed can lead to duplicate payments – wasting staff time and straining your cash flow.
  • Not to mention… How can you possibly expect to manage early-pay discounts?
  • Regardless, there is no visibility on the process. How long is it taking you to process invoices? Where are invoices in the approval process? What vendors are resulting in the majority of exceptions? What invoices are due, when and to who?

Streamlining your AP process with a best-in-class automation solution can alleviate the pains associated with a shared inbox.

  • Using Esker’s business process automation, invoices are automatically retrieved from an inbox upon arrival—no more watching and waiting.  Esker’s RPA technologies can be used to pull in other invoices from external portals to then be automated through the business process automation.
  • Our proprietary A.I. engine extracts the data (regardless of if it’s text or image-based) and creates a digital invoice
  • Once retrieved and digitized, invoices are automatically sorted and sent to specific staff for processing based your determined criteria (company name/ID, GL code, cost center, amount, many others)
  • Using rules and criteria you determine (similar to above), invoices are then routed for approval to the appropriate manager
  • Dashboards customized for each user in the org supplies everyone with real-time data throughout the entire process – giving your organization the visibility needed to make informed decisions, quickly.

With the increasing interest and importance in improving efficiencies and better managing cash, the digital optimization of finance processes is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have.

This fundamental changes the role of AP, from the monotonous task of keying in fields of data (or worse yet, pushing paper) to validating and mining the data in priority-based dashboards that give them visibility to everything they need!

Author Bio

Nick Carpenter

Nick Carpenter is a business development manager with Esker where he focuses on helping folks to leverage AI-powered solutions to drive greater efficiency throughout their O2C process. Starting his career at Esker as a sales demand representative, he understands the unique challenges different companies face and how to overcome them.

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