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If Email Can Help Revolutionize Communications, Why Not Electronic Invoicing

Can you imagine effectively running your business using snail mail as your only means of communication? Just the thought makes most of us shudder!

Need to schedule a meeting? Take a piece of paper, write separate notes to each person you want to invite, put them in envelopes with postage, address them and put them in the mail. Then wait for the replies to come back. Then send updates/changes to the scheduled meeting the same way.

CommunicationsNeed to ask a supplier a question? Write them a letter detailing the question, put it in the mail, hope they got it and understood your question and wait to get a reply back.

Email has completely revolutionized how we correspond with people and has helped make us much more efficient in our communications. We just cannot imagine going back to paper to manage all these day-to-day tasks that are critical to a business. But then we take a look at how many companies manage their accounts payable (AP) operations and we barely see any changes to the processes that have been in place for the last 30, 40 or even 50 years! It is amazing to see how behind the technology times the back office operations (accounts payable and receivables, for example) are of even some of the largest organizations.

Let’s take a look at the typical paper-based accounts payable process. Open the mail, sort through the junk for invoices, send the invoice to the appropriate approver to sign off on the invoice (or dispute it, which often causes an even longer delay in the process), send the invoice to corporate AP for coding, manually enter the invoice information into the ERP or accounting application, prepare the payment, print the check, get appropriate signatures, and prepare them for mailing (and some steps have been left out for the sake of space). But the process does not end here. The AP staff then has to research and respond to supplier inquiries into the invoice and payment status. And so far we have not even considered the effort involved in ensuring price compliance with negotiated contracts or the management of early payment discounts.

And because the entire process can take so long, there is the risk of suppliers not delivering goods or services for failing to pay in a timely manner or charging late fees. This can be especially frustrating when you have the cash flow to pay your suppliers on time (or even early) but your process is so bogged down in paper that you cannot make the payments within the required time frame. The problem lies with the fact that the very heart of the process is reliant on paper and often inefficient labor-intensive methods.

It does not have to be that way – payables automation through electronic invoicing, automated workflow and electronic payments has the ability to offer the same transformation that can help change the way you run your business, as email has done!

Why send and receive paper when you can automate the entire payables process? AP automation can help make your entire process more efficient and accurate, give you better visibility and help save you money! Once you automate, you likely won’t be able to imagine going back to your manual process.

 It’s not a matter of whether you automate AP or not, but when, and the perfect time might be now!




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