A recent study found that 62% of responding Accounts Payable (AP) departments use a minimal amount of automated invoice data capture, meaning they manually enter invoices. In addition, 54% of respondents still use a manual process to capture data and facilitate the approval process. These results are especially surprising when you consider that 95% of the AP departments surveyed are still receiving invoices on paper.
Automating the processing of all these paper invoices would go a long way to helping organisations take significant costs out of their Accounts Payable (AP) departments. The survey identified paper as the most expensive way to process invoices — with most of the departments pegging their average processing costs at $10-$15 per invoice. In addition, unless there is a reliable mechanism in place to manage the approval process for paper invoices, a ton of time is spent on follow-up with invoice approvers. Clearly, companies are missing a cost-saving opportunity by not automating their invoice processing. By automating the accounts payable process, enterprises have effectively reduced their invoice-processing costs by over 50% and increased their overall visibility into invoice receipt and workflow processes and increased their overall efficiency.
What’s more, automating invoice processing drives improved downstream performance, immediate operating savings, speeding up cycle times and allowing firms to take advantage of discounts. These benefits are critical to companies.
But the reasons to scan invoices goes well beyond back-office benefits. The information captured from invoices permits a company to achieve better visibility into its spending, ensure the use of volume discounts and rebates, prevent overcharges and duplicate payments, flag maverick spending, access better reporting on financial performance issues, and streamline compliance and auditing. Implementing a document scanning solution for invoice processing also lays a foundation for organisations to consolidate document applications into a shared storage drive. Many organisations have used their relatively low invoice volumes as an argument against automation. By consolidating multiple applications onto a single scanning platform, organisations achieve an even greater ROI.
Organisations are recognizing the potential of automating invoice processing. It’s about time. Combined with a shared services initiative, invoice scanning offers plenty of opportunities for organisations to drive operations savings and efficiencies, and achieve downstream benefits.
David Potter is a Document Management Specialist with over 27 years experience in Print Solutions and Document Management. At Sharp Electronics Group our approach to document management is to understand the current process involved in each situation and create automated workflows using both hardware and software solutions.