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Since the fall of 2022, Stanford Financial Management Services (FMS) has been making continuous improvements to the Accounts Payable (AP) invoice holds workflow functionality and system notifications in response to feedback from the fall 2021 FMS Client Satisfaction Survey. Challenges with the invoice payment process and confusion about workflow notifications were a top concern cited by the university community. 

Phase One: Updating the most common invoice holds (October 2022)

The initial improvements to the invoice hold resolution process included updating notifications about the seven most common AP invoice holds to clarify the hold’s purpose and the actions required to release the hold. 

These improved notifications, along with several process improvements to how holds are generated and tracked, made it easier for departments to review and take appropriate action so that AP can release common invoice holds without requiring support from the Financial Support Center, resulting in easier hold resolution and invoice processing and payment.

Additionally, an at-a-glance table of the most common invoice hold notifications and actions required was added to the Topic Overview: Purchase Order Invoice Processing. Language in the How To: Release Invoice Holds was also updated.

Phase Two: Improvements on invoice hold notifications (June to Fall 2023)

In addition to improvements last fall, FMS will adjust the frequency and recipients of invoice hold notifications for some invoice holds to improve clarity and reduce administrative burden. 

To inform these improvements, FMS will host a focus group to gather current pain points from requisition preparers, financial approvers, or PTA owners that have taken part in the invoice hold resolution process as a to ensure the following:

  • Invoice hold notification contents have the most relevant information for recipients to act on.
  • Recipients of the Notifications (e.g., requisition preparer, financial approver, PTA owners etc.) have the greatest ability to assist in invoice hold resolution at the appropriate times.

FMS is also working on improving the language for the Hold Reason field in the Requisition and Purchase Order query tool so that preparers, financial approvers, and PTA owners can quickly and efficiently understand the reason for the hold and access resources to help them take actions to release it. 

Along with updated Hold Reason language, FMS will retire and consolidate invoice holds that are no longer necessary, but are still visible to the university community. After all of the invoice holds are finalized, FMS will create an at-a-glance resource page on Fingate that will list all AP invoice holds, their definitions, and actions required to release the holds. 

Phase Three: Discovery effort to evaluate invoice hold tolerances to reduce administrative burden (Fall 2023 to Spring 2024)

FMS will review the current thresholds for approval required (e.g., invoices over $5,000) to identify any opportunities to adjust these controls in a way that would still preserve effective risk mitigation and reduce administrative burden.


Stay tuned to this project page for news, updates, and for links to resources and materials to support these improvements. In addition, you can learn more in the following ways:

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