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SAP Finance: Handling invoice variances with three-way match

what is 3 way matching in accounting

Three-way matching provides transparency into a business’s relationship with vendors and suppliers so it’s easy to see their supplies to the business and the payments they’ve received for them. This is useful for tracking payments to a particular supplier as well as for litigation, should that come up. Automating the matching process can help save time, money, resources, and energy. Shifting to a digitized process ensures promptness in payments, accuracy in encoding data, and accessibility in various platforms. As much as companies want to pay their suppliers on time, manual processing may cause delays because of the backlogs or misplaced documents.

  • It requires both the purchaser and the vendor to send several documents back and forth for verification purposes.
  • This helps avoid fraud from unwarranted and falsified invoices.
  • A good audit trail that tracks the flow of cash in and out of a business is indispensable whenever you’re faced with an audit.
  • If you want our team to help you optimize your payables process, fill the form below and book a free, no-obligation consultation.
  • One week after delivering the orders to Caffeinated, supplier Y sends an invoice for the delivered products.
  • This drastically reduces the potential for approving fraudulent invoices.

Once the hold is resolved or released, the invoice approval process must be repeated and if all tolerances are met, the invoice is approved for payment. During the online invoice approval process, the invoice quantity and amount is matched to the purchase order to ensure that tolerances are met. Organizations automate their three-way matching process in order to remove the manual work involved. This not only prevents error, but also saves time and allows for AP teams to match larger numbers of invoices at once. As organizations grow and more purchases are made, it naturally becomes harder to keep track of all the important information between buyers and vendors.

Four-way matching

Delayed payments tarnish a company’s reputation and may affect future transactions. The order receipts and vendor invoices are two standard documents needed for audits. Requiring these two documents before the completion of a transaction contributes to a straightforward process. Three-way match is the process of comparing the purchase order, invoice and goods receipt to make sure they match before approving the invoice for payment. If they match, the supplier’s invoice will be approved for payment.

what is 3 way matching in accounting

Keeping such close tabs on finances also helps decrease the possibility of fraud. The essence of three-way matching is to eliminate fraud and to ensure all incoming invoices are properly vetted before making payments on them. Now, while that is an ideal course to pursue, an organization’s accounts payable team might encounter hitches that hinder them from doing their best work and making sure every supplier what is 3 way matching in accounting gets paid on time. Three-way matching is an AP invoice process that determines whether a supplier invoice should be paid. Doing this can help companies root out fake or unauthorized transactions, which can cost a company an estimated 5% of its annual revenue, according to the ACFE report. The process of 3-way matching in accounts payable protects your business against incorrect or fraudulent invoices.

The Purchase Order (PO)

Then the AP team compares the quantity and amount on the PO to the invoice, referred to as 2-way matching. AP professionals recognize the 3-way match and 2-way match are crucial to ensure accuracy in the purchase order invoice process.

  • It is used where an organization is engaged in producing multiple products.
  • Three-way matching is usually done before issuing payment to the supplier post delivery.
  • Four-way matching on the other hand includes a quality control step on top of purchase data information verification.
  • Three-way matching is an AP process used to verify a supplier invoice by checking it against its corresponding purchase order and order receipt.
  • Order receipt – A proof of payment included with delivered goods detailing the payment method and what has been included in the shipment.
  • Too many companies use manual invoice matching and spend far more than they realize on it.

In the above flow, the purchase order is issued to the vendor for a quantity of eight at a price of $12.50. When the goods are received, they’re always received at the PO price for the quantity counted by the receiver. The GR/IR account is a kind of super clearing account in SAP that ensures the three-way match. A 3-way match in Accounts Payable, or AP, is the three step process of matching the purchase order, the goods received note, and the invoice against each other to ensure they all align or match each other.

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The supplier’s invoice is usually generated when goods are dispatched from the supplier, and it’s simply a request by the supplier to receive payment for their services. As the business grows, these processes develop quickly in scope and complexity—suddenly, the old ways of doing things might not be as effective as they were before. Understanding the manual invoice-matching procedures that your teams must execute and how they work is essential to identifying the best way to approach your company’s challenges. As a business owner, the last thing you want to do is pay a fraudulent or inaccurate invoice. Three way matching can help safeguard your accounts payable against incorrect or fraudulently submitted invoices. Accounts PayableAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period.

When this invoice is received, the hotel’s AP team sets about to verify its authenticity by using three-way matching. Three-way matching is an AP process used to verify a supplier invoice by checking it against its corresponding purchase order and order receipt.


So it’s no wonder small businesses have to face it all too often. Comparing the invoice against the PO in the 3-way match process allows AP to more confidently identify and avoid fraudulent invoices. It probably goes without saying, but preventing the payment of those fraudulent purchases saves you money, time, and headache. Imagine that your company has recently placed an order for ten boxes of paper. In two-way match processing, the product is delivered and you pay your bill.

  • It also cycles around the full payment procedure and collates the matching documents for a more streamlined process.
  • A receipt is a physical or electronic document that reflects the actual receipt of goods/services.
  • It’s worth noting that, depending on the size or idiosyncrasies of your business, this receipt process can be more complex and involve multiple parties.
  • The receiving report will show the right product quantity and that is what you’ll pay.
  • Such a system would obviously contain vendor information, so the AP team could easily see how many invoices they’ve processed from the same vendor, which can inform the vendor’s rating.

By acquiring, requiring, and matching the three documents, businesses can ensure a fool-proof and secure payment process. Thus, the “three-way match” concept refers to matching three documents – the invoice, the purchase order, and the receiving report – to ensure that a payment should be made.

This document is created by the supplier and may be sent to the buyer to confirm that the order has been received. These ordered goods or services – will be received either to the appropriate operating zone division or the central receiving. To determine your matching criteria, there is a requirement to set a tolerance. In some cases, most companies consider quantities inside the tolerance limits as matched. Similarly, when faced with an audit, the organization will have a full paper trail for verifying all legitimate expenses made by the company. Whether the goods or services were received by the business for which payment is to be made. The invoice contains the quantity that the vendor claims to have sent and the costs that they say you owe.

what is 3 way matching in accounting

If an invoice does not match, users can quickly double-check the imported data against the original image or look deeper for the discrepancy. Ultimately, your PO, invoice, and order receipt should all agree.

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