These FAQs are designed to help ELFS employees investigating issues with invoices that CloudTrade are processing.
This section (Section 1) is an overview of various aspects of the services provided to ELFS by CloudTrade.
Section 2 covers the most common FAQ areas and the information required by the Helpdesk to solve commonly-asked queries. Using these headings will pinpoint the relevant section when there is an issue with an invoice and help us to resolve your queries quickly.
What happens to invoices when they are received?
If a document is sent to the appropriate Trust’s email address, then the following occurs:
- A data-rich PDF from a supplier who is set up on the automatic system, then our system identifies the supplier and captures the information.
- An image document or a supplier that is not set up on the automatic system, it is sent to Mitie for processing and marked with an orange exclamation mark in Portal. The ‘Status’ column will say either ‘Unrecognised/Failed to Map Any Data’ or ‘Image Document’ or ‘Unsupported File Type’. The main reasons for suppliers who send suitable documents to not be set up on the automatic system are that they are a low-volume supplier or a relatively new supplier.
- Hardcopies are sent straight to Mitie and will only appear on Portal once they are processed. Mitie uses software which uses Optical Character Recognition to translate an image into text that is readable. Occasions can arise where the software misreads certain characters which is an unfortunate limitation of OCR.
TOP TIP: It is preferable for suppliers to send data-rich PDFs that can go through our automated system, although not every supplier is capable of this.
What is a data rich PDF?
The most common type of file that can be read by our automatic processing system is a data-rich PDF. These are PDF files that can be generated by most billing applications. Image PDFs produced by scanning a document are not data-rich and cannot be read by our automatic system and are therefore sent to Mitie for processing.
TOP TIP: You can tell the difference between a data-rich PDF and an image PDF because you can highlight the text on a data-rich PDF, as though you were going to copy and paste it somewhere. This isn’t possible on an image PDF.
Using Portal - Document Status
Here are some images of what Portal looks like. They will be referred to throughout this section. The columns that are visible in the images are the ones that are most useful when searching for documents
The ‘Status’ column (1 on image) shows one of the following symbols for each document. The ‘Reason’ column (2 on image) gives extra information about the current status of the document.
TOP TIP: It is recommended that you always have these two columns visible when using Portal. You can do this by clicking the ‘Columns’ button (3 on image).
There are several reasons why a document could be flagged as ‘Failed’. For example:
- Unrecognised/ Failed to Map Any Data / Image Document / Unsupported File Type: the documents are ones that have been sent to Mitie, you can search the transaction ID to see if it has been successfully processed yet.
- Duplicate: the document has already been successfully processed and sent to eFin previously. You can search the invoice number to see when it was originally processed.
- Duplicate (Whitelisted): the document has already been successfully processed and sent to eFin previously but ELFS have requested that it be reprocessed and have done this by whitelisting the invoice number (see the ‘Whitelist’ section for more details). The information has been sent to eFin.
- Forwarded to Email Address’/’Returned to Sender: there was some issue with the document which was identified and actioned through intervention. You can check the ‘Audit’ button in the ‘View’ column (4 on image) to see who actioned the document.
Using Portal - Has a document been processed by Mitie or automatically?
You can use Portal to tell if the document was processed by the automatic system or by Mitie. You will need to have the ‘Sender Email’ and ‘Transaction ID’ columns visible (5 and 6 on the image, respectively). You can do this by clicking the ‘Columns’ button (3 on image).
The sender email matches the original email the document was sent from. In addition, the transaction ID is in the form CT_ELFS_123_12345. If a document has a transaction ID in this form but the ‘Reason’ column says ‘Unrecognised/Failed to Map Any Data’ or ‘Image Document’ or ‘Unsupported File Type’ then it has been passed to Mitie.
The sender email is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. If the original document was an email attachment, then the transaction ID will end in ‘_E_N’ or ‘_E_’. If it was a hardcopy, the transaction ID will end in a ‘_H’.
For emailed documents, you can find the original one by searching the transaction ID with the `_E_N`/’_E_’ ending cut off. Here is an example of an image document that was processed by Mitie.
A transaction ID that looks like CT_ELFS_123_12345_E_ (1) means that the original document had several invoices in the same file and they had to be split up by Mitie. If you search CT_ELFS_123_12345 then you can see the original file sent and the separated invoices. The number in brackets refers to whether the invoice was the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, … etc. in the file.
Intervention - What happens when a document is sent to intervention?
Documents are sent to intervention if we have tried to process them (either through the automatic system or via Mitie) and some of the mandatory information has not been captured. This can either be because the document does not contain this information or because the system hasn’t captured it. A document in intervention will have the following symbol in the ‘Status’ column on Portal and the ‘Audit’ button will be visible in the ‘View’ column:
Depending on what information is missing, the document will go into either ELFS or CloudTrade’s side of intervention, where it will be checked and actioned accordingly. This may involve adjusting the automatic system’s rules for capturing the information, for instance if a supplier has changed how they label a data item. Alternatively, if a data item is not on the invoice it would be transferred from CloudTrade over to ELFS to be actioned according to ELFS guidelines.
Items that are sent to CloudTrade’s side of intervention will be actioned within 2 working days. See the section ‘Using the Audit Button’ for how to find out which side of intervention a document is in and how long it has been there. There are a few reasons why a document might take longer than this:
- The document is from a new supplier and the supplier code is not on the master list yet. It will be transferred over to ELFS, sent for set-up and transferred back to CloudTrade for the supplier code to be added
- The document has a missing or invalid PO number that needs actioning by ELFS. Note that documents of this type will only end up in intervention for Trusts where we have been told the PO type of the supplier.
- The document is a Mitie document that has been sent to the wrong Trust (either by the original sender or by Mitie). We will have to contact Mitie to reprocess the document correctly and so it may take slightly longer. Note that our system is automatic so most invoices that have been sent incorrectly pass through without being flagged up. A few invoices that have been sent to the wrong Trust are flagged up in intervention and actioned before they reach the Trust. This is the case if the supplier doesn’t transact with the incorrect Trust and so doesn’t have a supplier code. In addition, some of the documents sent in error to UHNM are flagged up due to the PO number requirements.
Intervention - Using the Audit Button
The ‘Audit’ button in the ‘View’ column can be used to see what has happened to a document in intervention. You can use the ‘Columns’ button if you can’t see this column. The ‘Audit’ button will only be visible for documents that are currently in intervention or have been through intervention.
The following is an example of what the screen might look like when you click the ‘Audit’ button. The actions are ordered from bottom to top and there is a time-stamp for each stage.
This document has gone into the Pennine intervention (as can be seen from the ‘Name’ column) and has been submitted by an ELFS email address. This means that it must have gone straight into ELFS’s side of intervention. The ‘Audit’ screen doesn’t differentiate between different types of submission – this document could have been junked, returned to sender, submitting successfully after using completion etc. The ‘Status’ and ‘Reason’ columns in the main Portal screen will tell you what has happened to the document.
Alternatively, notes can be added in intervention to explain what action is being taken. Here is one example:
Working from bottom to top we can see from the left-hand side that the document was sent the Herts Community intervention and then transferred over to ELFS’s side of intervention by a CloudTrade email.
On the right-hand side, we can see the notes. When CloudTrade transferred the document over, they added an explanation of the issue and a request for information. Then an ELFS added a note detailing the action they had taken. Finally, the same ELFS employee added a note with the supplier code and transferred it back to CloudTrade. We can see when it was transferred by looking at the top action on the left.
At the time of taking this screenshot the document was still in intervention, as signalled because the top action is not ‘submit’.
Whitelist - Reprocessing documents without them being flagged as duplicates.
The whitelist is used when an invoice has already been processed successfully and the information has been sent to eFin but the invoice needs reprocessing for some reason (either by the automatic system or by Mitie). For example, the invoice may have been deleted off eFin in error or it may have been processed with incorrect backing data. Adding an invoice number to the whitelist allows the document to be reprocessed without being flagged as a duplicate.
Note: the duplicate checker checks the Trust receiving the document, the supplier, the invoice number, the invoice date and the gross total. If any of these have been captured incorrectly for a document that needs reprocessing, then the whitelist is not required.
TOP TIP: When raising a helpdesk query that requires a document to be reprocessed, please add the invoice number to the whitelist beforehand and let us know in the ticket that you have done so. This allows us to resubmit your document sooner. For information about how to add an invoice number to the whitelist, please consult Melanie Roskell at ELFS.
On-boarding and setting up suppliers
Firstly, ‘on-boarding’ refers to the contacting of suppliers and asking them to switch over to data-rich PDFs. Whereas ‘setting up a supplier’ refers to the technical job of instructing our automatic processing system how to capture the various data items from a data-rich PDF.
At CloudTrade, we have a system for monitoring the documents that are currently being processed by Mitie. For high-volume suppliers, we first see if they are sending suitable documents and so can be set up on the automatic processing system. If they are currently sending image documents or hardcopies, we contact them and see whether they can change over to files that can be read by the automatic system.