One of the hidden complexities facing in-house IP departments is how to juggle the administrative work of IP portfolio management. Questel’s long-standing expert Daniel Ovadya explains how outsourcing invoice management can help businesses control costs, increase transparency, maintain compliance, and free up stretched resources.
IP portfolio management is part strategy, part generation, and part administration of IP assets. However, for many larger businesses, it is the administrative workload that takes up the majority of time and resources. With multiple jurisdictions and multiple suppliers to manage, considerable time is taken up on invoice handling alone, binding the capacity of internal IP professionals to focus on the more added-value and strategic aspects of their roles.
Meet Daniel Ovadya, a seasoned innovator with over 20 years of experience in the world of patents and intellectual property. Throughout his career, Daniel has worn many hats, from co-founding a startup that secured an EU patent in software to spearheading cross-border business development for cutting-edge products. Since 2014, he’s been on a mission to help innovative companies fast-track their innovation and patenting processes. With a primary focus on the DACH region, Daniel is dedicated to shaping the future of technology. As a specialist in analytics solutions, he’s actively involved in the development of new features and continually enhances patent services. Connect with Daniel to explore the exciting possibilities at the intersection of innovation, patents, and technology.
Why Cost Management Is Necessary
In-house IP departments face five main challenges when managing invoices from foreign agents: cost, volume, compliance, time, and insight.
Cost: Are you paying the right price?
With deadlines tight and time and resources under pressure, it can be difficult to negotiate, benchmark, and oversee the cost of work. While official fees are known and public, there are no standard prices across agents or jurisdictions. Without a transparent cost structure to consult, it can be frustrating for in-house teams to even work out if they are being charged a fair price.
Volume: Too many invoices to handle?
Not only do IP departments receive high volumes of invoices every month, but those invoices are rarely presented in a consistent format. For many businesses, controlling and reconciling these documents, descriptions, currencies, and charges can be a tremendously difficult and time-consuming task. Furthermore, the risk of overlooking mistakes is too high.
Compliance: Are you experiencing the “balloon effect”?
Efforts to negotiate fees with agents often result in time or costs simply being added elsewhere. For example, the task may be billed at the agreed rate, but an extra administrative task is added to cover “related” work outside the scope of that initial agreement. If your agreed fee schedule doesn’t control all possible administrative tasks, then you might not see any benefit from negotiating it in the first place.
Time: Are you still processing invoices manually?
Traditional approaches to invoice management are highly inefficient. Bills are received by email or post, uploaded or scanned into internal systems (typically, IP management (IPMS) and finance systems), and then circulated for review and approval. Approvers must look up past bills, contracts, and relevant correspondence to confirm the bill is correct, and only then will they approve the payment ready for it to be entered into accounting and IPMS records.
Insight: How are costs being reported?
Individual invoices may contain vital information about work completed, but pulling out that data for reporting purposes can be another source of frustration for internal teams. While your finance system may provide a report of outgoing costs by agent, jurisdiction, or IP asset, it may only provide part of the story. This makes budgeting future costs and/or justifying the sums already spent an ongoing challenge for internal IP professionals.
How Cost Management Works
Questel’s Cost Management service takes the headache out of invoice management by streamlining and automating the entire process.
First, we audit all incoming invoices to identify potential billing discrepancies across the IP prosecution lifecycle. Next, drawing on Questel’s long-standing expertise in this area, we create and implement a fee schedule based on our worldwide experience and the individual client preferences. Once that fee schedule is in place, we monitor compliance to ensure agents invoice according to the agreed rates. Finally, we benchmark agent costs to provide detailed insight into their charges and performance compared to other agents.
Each step of our invoice audit and compliance program is automated and overseen by our internal specialists. Using our proprietary cloud-based technology (PRISM), we employ a machine-learning algorithm to code and group invoices for speed and ease of review. Through invoice coding, PRISM actively monitors compliance according to the fee structure and description of work agreed upon with agents. Our team of paralegals undertake a first check of those results before they undergo a second expert review to prepare cost reports, data insights, and agent benchmarking for client review.
The result? IP leaders gain access to control and transparency over every element of their IP spend, while simultaneously reducing the burden on their in-house team.
Why Choose Our Cost Management Service?
We developed our Cost Management service to meet client demand for reduced administration and greater oversight and cost control. With more than 17 years of experience in this field, you can trust our knowledge and experience to save you time and money too.
Questel offers our cost management service at zero cost to our enterprise filing and translation clients, so this entire service comes at no extra charge. By ensuring that agents bill according to the agreed work and fee, it could also save you up to 25% on your external IP spend without negatively impacting on the quality of the work or the agent relationship.
Learn more and receive first-hand information from one of our customers in our talk at IP Service World: ‘How We Increased Our Efficiency and Saved 500k€ in International Patent Filings Each Year’ (11am on November, 20).
Questel provides a preliminary no-obligation invoice audit to identify potential savings on filing charges. To find out more, visit our team at IP Service World, booth #IP27-IP28 or contact us online.
Questel designed its invoice and cost management program to save businesses time, budget, and administrative effort. By analyzing the individual status quo, we not only work with clients to optimize invoice formalities but also employ cutting-edge technology to audit costs, implement fee schedules, monitor for compliance, and benchmark foreign agents, saving IP departments several hundreds of hours of administrative time a year.