Solving the Paper Problem
More and more, paper seems to be on the way out of the payables process. From the sudden spread of email to the surge of green initiatives, everyone’s been talking about new ways to use less paper and take advantage of the tools available. OCR and data capture technology have been huge topics for years now. But, how many businesses are actually using these tools? How successful has the conversion from paper been so far?
Who’s Going Digital?
Despite accessible technology, there are a lot of businesses who aren’t taking advantage of digital back office processes the way they should. Companies are still struggling to manage this much paper. In a survey of AP professionals, one research group found that half of all invoices are being received on paper—either through the mail or interoffice communications. With all of this paper, processing delays can happen very easily. Beyond this, there’s a tendency to continue manual processes long past their necessity. The same research group reported that 73% of all invoices are manually entered. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) found that 62% of companies require signatures on paper documents for approval, like invoices or purchase orders.
Invoice volume fluctuates for a lot of businesses. Seasonal increases in production mean huge jumps for invoice processing. The end of the year is another time that most companies are forced to invest far more time and resources to finishing payables processing than they would have if the work had been better spread throughout the year.
Changes We Need
In 2016, we all rely heavily on technology. A lot of us have a hard time remembering everything got done before we had smartphones and other modern improvements. Laptops have gone from luxuries to standard-issue and are already on their way out as tablets dominate the market. Company phones are everywhere and it’s even more common to give employees a stipend for their personal phone so they can be reached for work anytime. Remote employment becomes more and more common every year. Companies need to be willing to change in a way that takes advantage of the new options available. In an increasingly global workforce, relying on paper-based processes is all but guaranteed to hold you back.
Losing paper is critically expensive. Just handling the manual processing of invoices and other sensitive finance documents is a cumbersome task that could be draining resources instead of boosting them. Using a scanning service or just a digital document management system can have immediate improvements for processing in the most paper-heavy departments—accounts payable, expense reporting, and purchasing in many organizations.
Bringing The Team Together
Software also brings about improvements in interoffice and interdepartmental coordination. Transparency in expenses and readily accessible documentation are beneficial for all departments. Giving finance the tools they need to forecast and budget appropriately is a way to save yourself a lot of pain and trouble down the road. Having a good system in place ahead of time means that everyone has the opportunity to work together to meet the needs of the group, instead of focusing solely on one department at a time. Your company has to be able to act as a single unit in certain circumstances. Adding standardization and automated processing to the finance department gives you better control while also allowing for collaboration with others.
Digitization and the elimination of paper aren’t just an important option in improving back office processes. It’s absolutely critical to continuing to flourish—and at some point, survive—in the increasingly competitive economy. It’s time to start asking the tough questions about current processes and find a software provider to bring your business forward.