As per our damnation post last year, fraud and corruption is everywhere and running havoc on your organization and your supply chain. A recent Kroll Global Fraud Report in late 2013 found that 70% of companies were affected by fraud in the prior 12 months, which represented an increase of 15% over the previous twelve months. In other words, at the time, 7 in 10 companies were hit by fraud in the previous year. But it gets worse. The Economist at the same time also found that fraud was on the rise and predicted that it would continue to rise. If the rate of increase remained steady, then 4 of 5 businesses got hit with fraud last year and 9 out of 10 business will get hit with fraud this year. Yowzers!
Procurement fraud can be particularly costly and damaging regardless of if you are in the public sector or the private sector. The UK public sector estimated that fraudulent purchasing on an annual basis cost it £ 2.3 Billion in 2012! Zoinks! And while it’s harder to find good numbers for the US, a 2011 report by Computer Evidence Specialists found that Fraud cost the US $1.32 Trillion in 2010, of which 733 Billion was Corporate (with 68% committed by corporations and 32% committed by employees). Hamana! Hamana!
If you are a large organization, whether you want to admit or not, there is a small percentage of employees, suppliers, and customers that are looking to rip you off for as much as they think they can get. Every day of the week, including Sunday. Not everyone, not by a longshot, but enough people to make your job miserable.
So what can you do? As per our damnation post, a good start is to
- have an invoice policy that is strictly followed that only accepts invoices from approved suppliers, only for approved goods or received services, and only at contracted or publicly advertised rates
- have strict spending limits and controls that enforce them which ensure that only people with authority can grant approvals for bypass, and that such approval is clearly logged in an auditable fashion
- careful inspections of all goods received to make sure the organization gets what was ordered and what is paid for
But that’s just a start. The organization should also:
- analyze all invoices or expenses without a PO very carefully to ensure they are not duplicate, that the goods or services were received, and that the prices billed are the prices the organization committed to pay
- have strict policies on who is allowed to buy and what they can buy and have a policy that repeated or serious offences can, and will, result in immediate dismissal
- have a standard contract rider that no invoices for off-contract goods or services will be accepted without a PO that all contracted suppliers must sign, as this will severely limit how many unexpected invoices show up
- use data mining and machine learning to identify potential fraud as the same receipt submitted 3 times two months apart, or patterns of the same no-receipt charges, or duplicate billings for the same service months apart will be immediately identified as suspect, for example
- keep up on fraudulent statistics and schemes and identify methods to enable the quick identification thereof before new fraud methods and attempts cost the organization too much money
But whatever you do, don’t target employees and treat them like criminals. If you treat them like criminals, they will become criminals. Create good procedures and processes for invoices and payments, install solutions where it is easier to follow the procedures and processes than ignore them, and make it about cost control, not fraud prevention, and you’ll find that fraud just isn’t as much of a concern. (Fraudsters choose easy targets.)