Bar the Door- How Automation Mitigates Fraud in AP

November 20, 2017

By Mark Brousseau, Analyst and Researcher in Business Process Automation, Brousseau & Associates


Front-page headlines about massive consumer data
breaches are a sober reminder to accounts payable (AP)
professionals about the vulnerabilities in their own


  • An eye-popping 80 percent of AP professionals surveyed by Forrester Consulting say they are “concerned” or “very concerned” about supplier-related risks.
  • AP professionals rank security and compliance among their top metrics for improvement – among hot-button issues such as cycle times, costs and accuracy, per the Institute of Finance and Management.
  • Sixty-two percent of CFOs at best-in-class companies say that mitigating risk is a top priority, Aberdeen Group reports.

Concerns about fraud in AP departments are well-founded. Manual or semi-automated approaches to AP processing lack the controls that reduce potential losses, including:

  • Tracking of invoice history and approvals
  • Ensuring that employees adhere to approval policies and separation of duties rules
  • Chain of custody assurances
  • Ways to prevent documents from being prematurely discarded or destroyed
  • Readily available audit information

The lack of AP controls is part of the reason that the average U.S. company suffers losses of 5 percent of revenue due to fraud, per the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. An organization with $8.5 billion in annual revenues would lose a staggering $425 million each year to fraud.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Full AP automation provides the transparency required to mitigate fraud. Users can instantly review:

  • Pending invoices
  • Invoice status by type
  • High-dollar invoices
  • Gross purchases by supplier

What’s more, the combination of artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic and analytics in some AP solutions automatically identifies duplicate invoices, rounded amounts, invoices that fall just below approval limits, and abnormal invoicing activity such as a high number of small-dollar invoices.

Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic and analytics empower AP departments to test complete data sets, rather than small samples that allow fraudulent transactions to slip through the cracks. Automated solutions also control user access based on role, seniority and other administrator-defined rules.

And some automated AP solutions display on a single screen the supporting details (such as purchase orders and/or contracts) for flagged transactions so users can instantly verify critical information.

Automatically identifying suspicious transactions benefits AP departments in several ways:

  • Less manual review
  • Fewer fraudulent payments
  • No guesswork
  • Better standing for AP in the eyes of controllers and auditors
  • The ability to continuously monitor all transactions

Want to find out more? View a recording of our recent webinar - "How Fraud Alerts Will Transform the Future of Accounts Payable”.

Want to mitigate fraud in you AP Department? Contact CIIS at