(UPDATE) Painful Labor: The Hidden Costs of Inefficient Utility Bill Processing

Blaine Clapper - February 11, 2020

painfulLaborCosts associated with deficient processes and outdated technology are frustrating to any business owner or manager. Some of the most painful costs are those related to accounts payable processes.

Invoice processing and payment and associated costs are largely accepted as operating expenses that cannot be avoided.

If your organization still relies on manual utility bill processing, know that you're not alone. In fact, the vast majority of invoices worldwide are processed manually, but there are lower-cost alternatives.

Before we discuss how it’s possible to cut costs and build value with efficient invoice processes, let's look closer at the hidden costs of manual invoice processing. 

The Costs of Processing Utility Invoices

Numerous activities factor into the cost of utility invoice processing. Pay attention to how many are labor-related:

  • Direct Labor Costs: Sorting, distributing, and opening incoming mail, entering data, verifying data
  • Indirect Labor Costs: Checks and report control processing, exception item processing
  • Equipment Costs: Postage metering equipment, data processing hardware
  • Postage and Supplies Costs: Postage, envelopes, checks
  • Administrative and Overhead Costs: Occupancy expense, supervisory overhead
  • Other Costs: Bank fees for late payments, communication

The cost of processing a single invoice varies by industry and by organization, but the consensus is that the average is about $15 each. That's a big expense for just one invoice!  

It Doesn't Have to Be That Way

To help organizations eliminate the painful labor (and high cost) of manual bill processing, we offer Bill CAPture, a turnkey utility bill processing and account management service offered as a complement to our EnergyCAP software.

Using industry-leading technologies, Bill CAPture can process utility bills in a wide range of formats, including scanned images (via FTP Transfer, Email, or Website Download), EDI 810 files, data files (XLS, CSV, TXT, etc.), and paper bills. Where electronic files are not available, we use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert scanned bill images into EnergyCAP bill import files. With either method, all important charges and line item details are captured, allowing our customers to make use of their utility bill information in EnergyCAP to its fullest. Upon entry into EnergyCAP, the utility bill data is immediately accessible for auditing, analysis, and reporting.

The Bill CAPture service doesn’t stop with data entry. Every line of data is automatically audited by EnergyCAP to confirm accuracy and completeness. If a bill is flagged by EnergyCAP, a Bill CAPture representative reviews the issue and takes appropriate action—setting up new accounts and meters in EnergyCAP, resolving missing, duplicate, or corrected bill issues, and more—to keep the bill processing workflow moving. When needed, we contact utility vendors to request missing invoices, confirm account changes, update contact information, question unexpected charges, and request appropriate refunds or re-bills.

Our account management activities are based on each organization’s business rules and are documented and available for review within EnergyCAP, provided via reports, and discussed during regularly scheduled client phone calls or online meetings.

Since 1980, more than 3,000 organizations have trusted EnergyCAP to track millions of utility bills, resulting in a reported $5 billion in savings. Bill CAPture accentuates the energy savings through efficient invoice processing, lowering that $15/invoice average cost to somewhere between $2 to $3 per invoice.

For large organizations that receive thousands of monthly utility invoices, annual savings can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even for smaller organizations, there's distinct value in abandoning inefficient and sometimes inaccurate invoice processes in favor of the pain-free Bill CAPture service.

Topics: Energy Management- Bill CAPture

Blaine Clapper

About the Author
Blaine Clapper

Blaine is EnergyCAP, Inc.’s Chief Marketing Officer and an AEE-certified Business Energy Professional.

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