Paperless Accounts Payable Processing
As a Consultant at Connectis Group, I’m always helping one organization or another to ‘Reduce their Document Burden’. While nobody can go “paperless”, there are strategic areas in most companies that can get a fast pay back by automating one or more key document process. If you’re a customer facing organization, you’re not going to be able to go entirely paperless, too many organizations continue sending you paper documents to manage.
If the goal is to get as productive as possible – meaning work smart instead of just applying brute force and save some money along the way, in my experience, the first place to automate should be the front accounting office with invoice automation also known as invoice capture. Every business, whether private sector or government is flooded with invoices; the majority of which are machine print (typed not hand written) single and multi-page documents. This is where most company’s paperless effort usually begins.
While some organizations have been able to force their supply chain to use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), most companies rely on sending and receiving invoices as paper through snail mail, some are faxed in but the trend is to push out invoices in PDF format as email attachments automatically sent by supplier ERP systems. Even if you don’t personally touch the invoices, think about the quantity of invoice documents your staff have to work with every day. Whether it’s dozens, hundreds or thousands – magnify the workload by all the associated manual typing into your accounting or ERP system and all the filing that’s got to get done. Every single day – day in, day out, on and on forever. That’s a huge burden.
We recently completed a project with Natural Resources Canada to automate such document processes into an automatic paperless transaction using docAlpha. The process involved automatically grabbing the invoice from emails and a folder that had scanned invoices inside and reading the contents of each of invoice, validating the purchase numbers and ensuring that all the calculations were correct – anything that didn’t follow the applied rules caused those documents to be routed to a Clerk to decide on on how to handle the incomplete or incorrect invoice content. Once all data approved, the information was released to their ERP system (exporting the data to a document management system will be our next phase). Job done. Now the drudgery of AP invoice processing has been reduced to an exception handling queue and adding GL codes – which is much easier to manage for this high volume office.
Having incomplete or incorrect invoices routed electronically to an exception queue meant transactions are all in one place and not moved around inside your organization as email attachments (that’s inefficient). Here’s some of what you can avoid: printing the invoices (toner, paper, time – you get the idea), walking them over to get them manually approved and signed (waste of time), scanning the approved documents back in so you’ve got another electronic copy – what a mess.
docAlpha InvoiceAction capture solutions save time and money by locating and capturing key invoice data from single or multiple page invoices. Documents and invoices are vetted thoroughly against validation rules, database look-ups from external databases and ERP systems, calculation checks, and recognition confidence ranking, item and row flagging to simplify the review process. These solutions also remember the physical field locations for maximum capture speed and accuracy the next time the same vendor invoice is processed – saving time.
In conclusion, paper isn’t going anywhere, but automation will make short work where volume processing is needed. Using a capture system, your process will become more streamlined, information collected faster than in manual environments, reduce or eliminate much of the typing, move the data along to those that need to make decisions and finally send the data to its final resting place.
Next step … Maxxvault document management, after all the electronic documents and data have to go somewhere.