Whether we know it or not, we’ve all experienced the behavioral effect known as the speed-accuracy trade-off. Just think about trying to move a mouse across the computer screen quickly or trying to quickly insert a key to unlock a deadbolt, and imagine how an attempt at speed can result in wandering cursors and fumbling fingers. Fortunately, there’s no tradeoff necessary when it comes to automating your accounts payable (AP) processes. When you do so with an enterprise information management (EIM) system, you get both attributes.
In a recent white paper, “Five Methods to Improve Accounts Payable Visibility and Reporting,” the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) notes that a controller’s job depends on “fast access to accurate and comprehensive financial information.” Unfortunately, at most organizations, AP information is stuck—and sometimes lost—in paper. According to the IOFM, nearly 60 percent of invoices still arrive as paper documents. In addition, only 23 percent of AP departments have a high level of automation, leaving 77 percent of organizations dealing with a variety of problems.
Paper + Inefficiency = Problem
Paper is hard to track, easy to lose, and expensive. Working with it is costly—consider the resources required to handle paper, store and maintain it, make the information on it visible, and dig it out of information silos. Merely guaranteeing the timely delivery of information is difficult, as are sharing information and collaborating, especially between remote workers or partners. In addition, paper also increases the difficulty of securing information, leading to greater costs and risks associated with compliance, audits, and reporting.
But paper isn’t the only culprit. Organizations that manage AP documentation digitally can experience problems if they’re still tied to inefficient processes. Even when AP information is digital, workers in many organizations still use email for reviews and approvals, manually hunting for invoices and other AP documentation in network folders. Often, the “digital” process implemented is a direct replication of previous paper-based process—which fail to capitalize on the full value of an enterprise information management system.
How, then, does an EIM system deliver speed and accuracy?
Fast AP: Document management, storage, and retrieval automation means all information is digital and can be accessed in intuitive ways—based on what it is, rather than where it is—so that AP departments have the precise data they’re looking for, quickly. Staff no longer has to spend hours tracking down the status of an invoice hidden under piles of paper on someone’s desk. They no longer spend days verifying specific documents have been reviewed by appropriate people and tasks have been completed according to regulatory mandates. They no longer waste so much time handling supplier inquiries, resolving invoice disputes, and trying to improve internal communication to ease the AP process flow. All of that happens easily within the EIM system.
Accurate AP: Automation ensures better monitoring of invoice status and improved record keeping, as well as the elimination of information silos due to a single platform that manages all information and processes. Most important, with the right EIM system in place—one that includes a robust version control component—workers ensure they’re always receiving the most up-to-date version of a document. No more searching on multiple desks for the most recent comments. No more looking up modified dates or comparing changes in digital files to be sure of a correct information. The current version is immediately and easily available.
An EIM system delivers everything an organization needs to improve the overall quality of AP processes. You get more accurate, comprehensive, connected, audited, compliant, and accessible financial information. You get more speed due to more efficient paper processes, no more lost invoices, no more information silos, and improved visibility into processes. And you get reduced costs for information processing, storage, retrieval, tracking, management, reporting, and collaboration. The IOFM paper says it best: “Each of these benefits delivers a compelling return on investment for accounts payable. Together, they fundamentally change the way that controllers manage and control financial information.”
If you are interested in learning more about how M-Files streamlines AP processes, check out these additional resources or contact us today:
Webinar: “Streamline your Accounts Payable Processes with M-Files EIM”
Whitepaper: 5 Methods to Improve Accounts Payable Visibility and Reporting
ECM Benefits for Financial Services Personnel
ECM Benefits for Invoice Processing
Blog originally posted here by Chris Davidson on December 30, 2015