Let’s start off by acknowledging that a completely paperless AP department might not make sense for every company. However, there are clear advantages of at least a reduced paper environment. The advantages are widely known: reduced manual touches, gained efficiencies, cost savings and time saved.
Every day we speak with finance professionals about the advantages of reducing paper in the accounts payable process by automating their invoice and payment processes, but many are hesitant. Change is hard; we are by nature afraid of the unknown, and sometimes it’s just easier to leave things alone if they are working for now.
But it’s important to evolve, both in your personal and professional life. Taking advantage of technological advances can help you stay relevant and ahead of the curve. The benefits far outweigh the initial uncertainty you may experience.
Let’s take a look at what a paperless – wait, I mean reduced paper – AP department really looks like…
By transitioning to a reduced paper process through the use of electronic invoice and payment solutions, companies can reduce their processing time by 700% and cut their processing costs in half. We know this because our customers have told us and because we do it too!
Automation reduces the invoice approval time from an average of 28 days to 2.7 days.
Let that sink in.
With automation, you can easily eliminate repetitive and time-consuming tasks like opening and sorting invoices, manual data entry, and waiting for interoffice mail or overnight courier for approvals. Think of all the things your team could accomplish if they weren’t busy copying and scanning files, searching for lost or misplaced invoices, and fielding inquiry calls!
Freedom & Flexibility
Today’s workforce is mobile. We work from home, we respond to customers on our mobile devices and we collaborate with colleagues from hundreds of miles away. Then why should you still have to be in the office to sign off on an approval?
A reduced paper process using cloud-based AP automation solutions enables you to pay vendors electronically, from anywhere, on any device. That means if you’re on a beach in Hawaii (and want to check your email), you can approve invoices without leaving your lounge chair, all while maintaining your banking relationships and your current approval workflows. This creates tremendous flexibility for things, such as step-level approvals and multiple approvers. You can completely customize the electronic approval process to fit your needs.
Added Visibility & Invoice Tracking
Paper invoices and checks get lost in the mail, take longer to get to the vendor than anticipated, or can get sent to the wrong address. Even if the address is correct, it still takes at least 2 days to receive or send a paper invoice or check.
Invoice and payment automation solutions give you visibility into your bill payment process by digitalizing all invoices and payments. In an automated system, you can easily see when invoices come in, which balances are outstanding, when payments are due, and who hasn’t approved invoices and payments.
In a paper-heavy environment, documents are constantly at risk. Physical copies of sensitive information can be easily misplaced, altered or destroyed. If these documents are lost or tampered with, you no longer have access to the data necessary to effectively operate your business.
According to a recent survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), nearly 70 percent of corporate respondents have been victims of check fraud.
With paper checks, by the time you’ve detected an issue or discovered an error, the fraud has already occurred. Payment automation’s advanced fraud detection technology scrutinizes every invoice and payment request before it’s a problem.
With all of these benefits in mind, how can you discount the value of a reduced paper AP department? Remember, in order for positive change to ever be made, you’ve got to step outside your comfort zone. Progress doesn’t just happen on its own. You have to take action and seize the opportunity to reap the rewards.