Going from traditional paper-based invoice processing to paperless processing brought these benefits for one manufacturing company:
- Reduced invoice processing time from more than one hour down to 15 minutes.
- Achieved a 90 percent classification accuracy
- Lowered the processing cost per invoice from about $63 to less than $16
Just how were they able to achieve such results, and can your business expect a similar outcome from going paperless? The answer is yes. And, no.
The Way You Go Paperless Matters
There are operational advantages for nearly every organization which eliminates paper, but actual cost savings and efficiency improvement depends largely upon the way “paperlessness” is implemented. To stand out in today’s competitive world, businesses need to be on the lookout for new technologies. Finance and accounting, in particular must make an effort to reflect the latest practices.
For instance, Paper Alternative uses technology that leverages artificial intelligence to provide accurate document recognition and classification along with data extraction. For Paper Alternative clients, it’s no longer scanning and indexing as usual!
Whether clients opt to “do it themselves” by having Paper Alternative install the technology, or they choose to outsource the entire A/P process, efficiency follows! Once invoice information is imported into the document management platform, automated workflows take over.
The New Role of A/P Personnel
This elevates the existing A/P personnel to the role of process managers who oversee accurate, timely payment processes, and ensure vendor accuracy rather than performing “heads-down” daily work. Moreover, this solution is able to populate fields in virtually any other line-of-business application, including a wide variety of accounting packages such as Microsoft® Dynamics GP, SAP®, and Oracle®, empowering A/P personnel to continue to work in the software with which they’re already familiar.
The move from traditional paper-based invoice processing to paperless invoice processing provides A/P personnel with the opportunity to help their organizations realize a range operational and technological advantages such as:
1.) Automated, intelligent approval and payment process – A/P personnel are familiar with the frustration of delays that paper-based invoicing processes create because they rely on individual staff to receive invoices and initiate approval and payment. Paperless, automated processes remove the likelihood that a single person bottlenecks the entire process, and with artificial intelligence, the processes achieve new levels of accuracy for invoice approval and payment.
2.) Increased visibility – Meta-data search capabilities make A/P personnel look like heroes when the CFO or an auditor needs to access a particular invoice or wants to ascertain where it is in the approval/payment processes. With a search as easy and fast as an internet search, they can locate the requested invoice and provide the information requested.
The New Way to Store, Track and Audit
Paper-based accounts payable systems require a manual filing and retention system, which leads to unnecessary costs. Companies that use traditional paper-based processes have to make room for large filing cabinets, which requires additional office space. They also have to assign personnel to move archived invoices to another physical location.
Paperless A/P eliminates all of that! Moreover, Cloud document management ensures storage in multiple locations to eliminate loss, with easy access no matter how old the invoice is. Electronic document management also ensures that there is a digital audit trail for each invoice, documenting approval, payment and any other company-specific requirements. Digital audit trails ensure an efficient and secure method of tracking, protecting A/P employees, the company and the company’s vendors.
Getting On-Board for Competitive Advantage
Paperless A/P has traditionally been a change that has moved through organizations with a top-down approach. CEOs and CFOs see it as a way to benefit the bottom line, while A/P managers and personnel viewed it as a potential threat to their jobs. Today, more and more A/P employees know that paperless A/P can be an opportunity to move to the next level in their careers.
Whether you’re an executive or a forward-thinking A/P employee, it’s time to learn more about paperless accounts payable and what artificial intelligence can do for your processes.
This article was previously published and has been edited and updated.