BidEnergy Insights

Collective Invoices - Solution or Problem?

Posted by Stuart Allinson on 21-Nov-2017 09:46:21
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Let's not sugar coat it - energy is a complex area of spend.

The structure of the industry is confusing; the markets are a mix of politics and policy and the invoices are an overwhelming array of regulated and competitively priced charges.

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In attempt to simplify things, many multisite organisations place their energy supply with a single provider and are billed through a singular, collective invoice (or consolidated invoice).  But what are the advantages and disadvantages? Let’s start with the assumed positives:

  1. Everything is all there, in one invoice. If you have 200 accounts, it is administratively easier to receive them in a single monthly communication, rather than 200 separate ones.
  2. Time is money. Unless you have accounts that are not captured in the collective invoice, everything can be paid in one go, reducing the risk of late fees or disconnection.
  3. Ease of organisation. The supplier can more easily coordinate from their end, as the accounts are linked together in their billing system(s).

While these sound useful, there are also significant disadvantages to consider:

  • The devil is in the detail. Typically, collective invoices tend to get processed at the “aggregate” level, meaning all 200 accounts are reviewed and paid as one. As a result, if there is, for example, a problem with the 157th account on the list, this may not be picked up until much later, or not at all. You may end up paying for invoicing errors due to the lack of scrutiny.
  • Inconsistencies will cost you. Often discrepancies between your (changing) site list and the accounts within the collective might not get picked up – leading to you being charged for sites you are no longer responsible for, or an unpleasant surprise when an unbilled site finally gets addressed and added.
  • Sites that are no longer taking supply continue to incur charges. While zero consumption sites may be there for a reason, more often than not, they are no longer needed, but no-one in your organisation has noticed or notified the supplier. And, the oversight isn’t free.
  • Credits are confusing. If there is a problem that has generated a credit on a future invoice, the credit will almost always be allocated on the summary page. This requires additional time, not to mention frustration, re-allocating the credit to different accounts; an issue made worse if you operate different cost centres.
  • Not all collective invoices are the same. Not all suppliers are the same, and some can lead to later charges, depending on how they are processed by the supplier.

BidEnergy’s automation software accepts collective invoices, automatically validating them down to the individual account level – delivering the best of both worlds (a single invoice and getting down and dirty into the devilish details – in real time, without holding up your internal process).

Want to know how BidEnergy can help your multi-site organisation unlock the hidden value within your collective invoices? It's as simple as sending us a pdf!

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