Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Overcoming Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Businesses need customers to survive. No matter how good your product is, if you can’t serve your customers’ needs in an efficient manner, there’s no guarantee that they will remain loyal to your business. All it takes is ONE small mistake or slip-up to turn a 5-star customer into a 1-star review.

 

High-quality Customer Service is determined by a number of factors, but speed is paramount if you want to keep customers satisfied. Even the most gracious and eloquent apology can’t make up for slow response times when your customers come calling. Your Customer Service team needs to be quick on their feet, and that’s impossible if your business still relies on paper-based Customer Service processes that leave your customers on hold listening to a repetitive tune while they shuffle through a cluttered file cabinet for information. Even companies that have already started implementing digital solutions to enhance Customer Service will find themselves at a disadvantage when compared to companies that have automated Customer Service capabilities. Do you know where your company stands?

Welcome to Your Paperless Office

If you want to overcome the paper-based Customer Service challenges that plague most businesses, you will need to focus on the following two objectives:

Digitizing Your Customer Service Documents

Paper-based Customer Service challenges stem from the physical limitations of paper. Paper takes up space and must be moved manually to transfer information from one person or department to the next. As a result, paper-based Customer Service processes are tedious, time-consuming, and ripe for error. By digitizing your documents, you can create precise digital replicas that allow you to store and retrieve documents instantaneously from a computer, tablet, or even mobile phone if you want to expand your Customer Service team to incorporate remote work. OCR software is the technology used to capture documents and import them into a Document Management system. Advanced OCR software can even recognize the numbers and characters on a document and use them to perform automated tasks, which should be your second goal if you want to overcome the challenges of paper-based Customer Service.

Digitize all of your Customer Service documents, including:

  • Product Literature
  • Orders
  • Invoices
  • Shipping Documents
  • Return Documents
  • Manuals
  • Parts Lists
  • Maintenance Histories
  • Customer Correspondence
  • RFPs
  • RFQs
  • Quotes

Automating Your Customer Service Processes

OCR software will help you digitize your documents, allowing you to finally get rid of those filing cabinets that take up valuable real estate in your office. Furthermore, a paperless office will never require additional offsite storage to accommodate paper loads, which means no more spending exorbitant amounts of capital on storage that yields no tangible return for your organization. However, this is only the beginning. If you want to truly eliminate all of the inefficiencies that result in Customer Service slowdowns, digitizing your Customer Service documents should be followed with Business Process Automation. By automating your Customer Service processes, you can serve customers faster and more efficiently while focusing your human capital on improving customer relations and tackling nuanced problems that require a human touch.

Customer Service Touchpoints Give You a Chance to Improve Customer Retention

While the statistics quoted by industry analysts vary, it is generally accepted that it costs as much as 10 times more to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. Expanding your customer base is crucial, but not at the expense of your existing customers. Winning customers and, more importantly, keeping them, are critical business requirements. But what keeps customers loyal? Price, quality, availability, relationships, and inertia all play a part, but Customer Service is the touchpoint where your business and your customers meet. It’s a make-or-break environment where great service is your only option if you want to maintain positive sentiment.

It’s no secret that customers respond favorably to good service. In fact, it affects their purchase decisions. According to Accenture, poor customer service has, at one point, caused nearly half of all U.S. consumers to switch at least one of their service providers.  To add insult to injury, recent reports suggest that Customer Service expectations are rising at a faster rate than companies can (or are willing) to adapt to. In a separate survey by Accenture, which canvassed 1,200 technology consumers in North America, Europe, and Asia. It was revealed that consumer technology companies that offer average – not poor, just average – Customer Service alienated consumers and risked losing almost three-quarters of their customers to competitors. The results are clear. Customer service is critical to customer loyalty and company profitability. It can’t be viewed as a cost, but it should be viewed as a prudent investment.

Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

One important difference between Customer Service and other areas of your business is that resolving customer issues often requires access to information that is spread across multiple departments.

Consider, for example, a standard Customer Service call:

  1. A customer telephones to complain that they did not receive everything they ordered.
  2. To ensure that the customer did, in fact, order everything they recall ordering, the CSR first examines the original order document that is likely located in a filing cabinet in the sales office.
  3. If the items and quantities match, the CSR then has to verify that none of the requested items are on backorder by referring to a copy of the packing slip that is filed away in the warehouse.
  4. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, the CSR must then review the shipping documents to see if everything was shipped in one box or in
    multiple boxes.
  5. If there were multiple boxes, the CSR has to verify that they all made it onto the truck and were delivered.
  6. Depending on the company’s shipping policies, the boxes may have been delivered by the company’s own truck or by one owned by a third-party shipping company.
  7. Finally, the CSR is ready to assist the customer — except wait, the customer has moved on.

Most Customer Service interactions aren’t this tedious, but this example does serve to show how the dispersal of information across an organization can send your CSRs into a tailspin.  When some or all of this information exists on paper, providing high-quality Customer Service becomes a costly and oftentimes futile endeavor.

The Financial (and Operational) Costs of Paper

The following are among the characteristics and costs of paper that hinder your CSRs:

  • Paper is costly to store, handle, copy, and distribute.  On the enterprise level, warehouses may be required to store the paper required to resolve customer issues. That paper has to be manually filed when it comes in (or is created) and then retrieved when needed. For collaborative purposes,  the necessary documents may need to be photocopied at a cost of several cents per page in addition to the related labor costs.
  • Paper storage leads to human error. In physical storage environments, documents may be misfiled or accidentally destroyed, resulting in hours spent hunting them down or trying to recreate lost information. This is not a trivial cost. Research from Price Waterhouse Coopers suggests that the average cost to search for a misfiled document is $120. In the meantime, increasingly frustrated customers are kept on hold awaiting an answer to their questions.
  • Paper is difficult to backup or recreate. Fires, floods, vandalism, there are countless ways for a paper document to become lost, damaged, or destroyed. Most companies lack a true disaster recovery plan, so it’s not until the unexpected occurs that they understand the danger of paper documents. If the only copies of valuable customer information are destroyed, it would be impossible to serve customers, and other ongoing operations may also be obstructed. In addition, failing to adequately protect customer and transactional data against such destruction, accidental or not, may place your company in breach of a number of regulations.
  • Paper can’t meet customer expectations. A shift in customer expectations over the years has further increased the drawbacks of using paper to support customer service. Web-based technologies have resulted in a greater expectation for rapid CSR responses from vendors. Customers no longer readily accept “I’ll have to put you on hold” or “I’ll have to call you back” when they call with a question. Yet that is exactly what they hear when a CSR has to track down information that exists only on paper.
  • Paper doesn’t support self-serve options. Customers today often expect, and industry economics frequently demand, new alternatives for customer service, including 24/7 self-serve support options. Paper-based information makes it impossible to offer this level of convenience. Plus, by refusing to offer self-serve options, you are funneling all support requests directly to a Customer Service department that is already overwhelmed by a lack of digitization and automation.

Say Goodbye to Paper-Based Customer Service Challenges

Despite the predictions a decade or two ago that we would by now be enjoying the benefits of paperless offices, most businesses are still dependent on paper because going paperless requires help — and good help is hard to find. If your organization, like many organizations, is still buried under mountains of paper, it will affect every corner of your business, from Accounts Payable to Human Resources and, of course, Customer Service. Once a paperless office has been established, automating customer service functions and offering Web-based self-serve options becomes simple. You can speed-up customer interactions and add value to those interactions while lowering their costs.

Are you ready to see how Enterprise Content Management and Workflow Automation can help your business overcome paper-based Customer Service challenges? Contact IntelliChief today, our experts are standing by to answer your questions and help guide your search for the right solution!

Paperless Logistics

3 Reasons to Support Paperless Logistics and Customs Clearance in 2020 and Beyond

Paperless Logistics

Following the precipitous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a better time for companies to reduce their reliance on paper-based processes that only serve to stimulate the spread of germs and disease. One industry that can greatly benefit at this time is logistics and customs clearance. This article will cover three important reasons paperless logistics and customs clearance should be embraced universally in 2020 and beyond, including:

 

  • Create safer working conditions
  • Support faster and more transparent clearances
  • Work remotely with confidence

1. Create Contactless Clearances With Paperless Logistics

If the coronavirus has taught the logistics industry anything, it’s that achieving a paperless logistics system that works for you and your customers has never been more crucial. Logistics and customs clearance historically rely on paper-intensive processes to keep imports and exports flowing to their rightful locations.  There are many documents involved in customs clearance, including:

  • Documents for Exports: Buyer Purchase Order, Sales Invoice, Packing List, Shipping Bill, Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, and more.
  • Documents for Imports: Buyer Purchase Order, Supplier Sales Invoice, Bill of Entry, Bill of Lading, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, and more.
  • Country-Specific Documentation

Logistics companies realize that by going paperless, they are establishing a safer workplace with fewer operational restrictions. What was once considered a time-consuming and cumbersome process can be transformed with paper solutions for Document Management, Workflow Automation, Data Entry Automation, and more.

Lancy Barboza, Managing Director of Flomic Freight Services, notes that by incorporating the “best available technology and work processes,” they have been able to set a new benchmark for service standards, enabling Flomic to “consistently deliver a timely and relevant response to our clients’ demands.”

And despite the fact that coronavirus has ushered in disruption after disruption for cross-border trading and freight movement, Barboza believes it has also revealed an opportunity to leverage technology for efficient paperless logistics processes that mitigate face-to-face interactions. Safety has become a top priority for most companies looking to go paperless, but it’s only one of many reasons for businesses to migrate to a more comprehensive paperless solution, such as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.

2. Support Faster and More Transparent Clearances

Paperless logistics opens the door to faster and more transparent customs clearances. It facilitates the type of contactless and paperless environment that all industry leaders are shifting to in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Going paperless and digitizing documentation accelerates clearances by eliminating the need for manual document retrieval. It also improves business intelligence to help employees make better decisions backed by real-time information. Furthermore, it allows business leaders to track productivity and decision-making to address lapses in judgment or operational inefficiencies. Slowdowns in the logistics industry are largely the result of outdated, manual processes — many of which can be eliminated altogether by going paperless.

3. Work Remotely With Confidence

Going paperless and going remote are two entirely different processes, but companies that decide to go paperless will find that transitioning to remote work is much easier when paper documents have already been removed from the equation. With paperless logistics, you can facilitate remote access to applications for importers and exporters to file shipment details from the office, home, or on the road. This greatly reduces the need to move personnel from the office to the customs station and vice-versa. The world of logistics and customs clearance are changing, and business leaders will need to acclimate to these changes in short order to maintain a frictionless workplace that isn’t constrained by physical boundaries.

Getting Started With Paperless Logistics and Customs Clearance

No matter where you are located in the world, every port requires a customs clearance process that is safe and functional. By transitioning to paperless logistics and customs clearance, you can provide an unrivaled experience that allows you to manage more imports and exports than ever before. Whether your distribution channels comprise the air, the road, the sea, or all of the above, you can benefit by going paperless.

To learn more about paperless logistics and customs clearance, contact IntelliChief today.

Enterprise Automation Statistics

10 Enterprise Automation Statistics for the Cost-Conscious Executive

Enterprise Automation Statistics

Industry 4.0 is here, which means top executives are taking it upon themselves to equip their businesses with the tools and resources necessary to stay competitive and improve profitability. Although there are several ways to improve operational efficiency across the enterprise, there are only a handful of solutions that can generate appreciable ROI from the outset, and among these, Enterprise Automation reigns supreme. Are you still performing your due diligence on automation? These 10 Enterprise Automation statistics will help you obtain a better understanding of why the time to automate is now.

 

For business leaders, it can feel like the goalposts are constantly being moved when it comes to Enterprise Automation. Innovation is at an all-time high, which means new features, functions, integrations, and products are always on the horizon. A quick search online might yield dozens of potential vendors. Due diligence could take weeks, even months, to complete. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean you should stall your Digital Transformation; instead, consider these ten Enterprise Automation statistics!

1. It Takes Employees an Average of 18 Minutes to Locate a Document Manually

Before you can automate, you must first digitize. Digitization of your business-critical documents ensures that they are never lost or destroyed. They can be recalled on demand without a trip to the file cabinet or warehouse, allowing you to establish a frictionless work environment where productivity is prioritized. It takes employees an average of 18 minutes to locate a document manually, which can account for up to 50 percent of their time. When you digitize your documents, you reclaim this time lost and set the stage for the real game-changer: Enterprise Automation.

2. 60% of Occupations Could Save 30% of Their Time With Automation

Once you’ve performed your due diligence and identified your ideal solution, it’s time to identify which business processes are best suited for automation. When automating workflows, you want to zero in on departments that process a large volume of paper and/or information. In our experience, some of the best departments to automate include:

There is no “wrong” answer when you start to automate business processes; however, there are certain departments that will yield a higher ROI than others due to a number of factors. Here’s the good news. According to a McKinsey Study, 60 percent of occupations could save 30 percent of their time with automation, which means the potential for automation within your organization is largely untapped.

3. Employees Spend 69 Workdays Each Year on Manual Administration-Related Tasks Instead of Their Primary Job Duties

Businesses that automate drastically reduce wasteful spending by eliminating repetitive, time-consuming tasks that lead to productivity issues. In a study conducted by DJS Research on behalf of Unit 4, it was revealed that people spend 69 workdays each year performing manual administration-related tasks instead of their primary job duties. Enterprise Automation helps you reclaim this time and put it to use however you see fit. Can you imagine how much more your employees could accomplish with an extra 552 hours per year?

4. Businesses That Adopted Big Data Reduced Overall Costs by 10% and Increased Overall Profits by 8%

Another benefit of Enterprise Automation is that it allows you to bolster your analytics efforts to get a clearer view of the nuances of what is (and isn’t) working process-wise within your organization. You can identify operational bottlenecks, inefficient processes, and even track individual performance to make sure each of your team members is putting forth equal input to help you achieve your fiscal goals. You don’t have to wait until the end of the quarter to collect data and generate reports like the old days. You simply click a button and your reports are ready to view or distribute. Improving business intelligence keeps everyone in your organization on the same page and working towards the same objectives, which explains Business Application Research Center (BARC) findings that businesses with big data capabilities are able to reduce overall costs by 10 percent and increase overall profits by 8 percent on average.

5. Bad Data Costs Businesses $600 Billion Annually

Collectively, businesses forfeit $600 billion annually as a result of poor quality data. On a case-by-case basis, this can account for as much as 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs. That’s not a figure to scoff at. The Business Literacy Institute considers a sustained growth rate of 10 percent a year to be “remarkably good,” so if you’re currently losing 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs to bad data, the numbers suggest that your business could be trending in the wrong direction.

6. Manual Business Processes Cost Businesses $5 Trillion Annually

$600 billion in lost operating revenue costs will certainly catch the attention of any executive, but it’s only a small fraction of the revenues lost to manual business processes. Manual business processes cost businesses $5 trillion annually. For reference, that is $2 trillion more than the U.S. deficit for 2020. Of all the Enterprise Automation statistics in this article, this might be the most alarming because it suggests a significant window of opportunity for any executive who is willing to take the leap and automate their company.

7. 75% of Businesses State That AI Will Allow Them to Transition Into New Businesses and Ventures

Businesses that are no longer at a functional disadvantage can do more with the resources available to them. Growth is a key indicator of a company’s overall success. 75 percent of businesses state that AI will allow them to transition into new businesses and ventures, allowing them to expand operations into new and increasingly profitable areas that would be barred off otherwise. For growth-minded executives fueled by ambition, an investment in Enterprise Automation equates to an investment in a growing portfolio of future-proof ventures.

8. 84% of Executives and Analysts Say AI Will Help Them Obtain or Sustain a Competitive Advantage

Executives and analysts alike are keen on automation because there is still a long way to go before this technology has been adopted universally. In other words, companies that automate sooner than later can get a head start in Industry 4.0. Just think, how would your business look today if you were the first to invest in a mobile-friendly website, automated customer service, or paperless process management? There’s a reasonable chance that with earlier adoption of these technologies, many of which were considered big risks at one point, your business would be further along with its Digital Transformation and more resilient to business interruptions. According to Forbes, 84 percent of executives and analysts say AI will help them obtain or sustain a competitive advantage — which means there is no time to waste.

9. 67% of Businesses Believe Implementing Digital or Software Solutions Is Important to Remain Competitive

AI plays an important role in automating business processes, but it’s not the only solution for companies looking to streamline and cut costs. 67 percent of businesses believe implementing digital or software solutions is important to remain competitive. Some examples of software solutions that can help enhance the enterprise include:

10. Automation Projects in Paper-Intensive Departments Generate an ROI of 30-200% in the First Year

According to ThinkAutomation, automation projects in paper-intensive departments, like Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and Customer Service, typically generate an ROI of 30-200 percent in the first year. In Accounts Payable, where Enterprise Automation can increase processing speeds by as much as 70 percent or more, many businesses recoup their initial investment in less than twelve months. Forward-thinking executives tend to leverage these savings to expand their solution across the enterprise to facilitate a more connected, data-savvy work environment.

These Enterprise Automation Statistics Speak for Themselves, Only You Can Speak for Your Business

Are you ready to cut costs, increase operational efficiency, and future-proof your business? These ten Enterprise Automation statistics speak for themselves, but it’s up to you to be the voice of reason at your company. If your team is still entering data to your ERP system manually, shuffling through file cabinets to locate documents, or paying the same invoice more than once, it’s time to make a change.

With IntelliChief, you can preserve your existing business processes and enhance them with industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation capabilities. To learn more, contact IntelliChief today.

Automation Skills Gap

How Businesses Can Address the Automation Skills Gap With a Team-First Approach

Automation Skills Gap

There is a significant skills gap with automation, one that must be confronted head-on to address deficiencies that could threaten your digital transformation. According to Forbes, “63 percent of business leaders believe the pressure to reduce costs will require their organizations to use AI in the next five years,” which means the clock is ticking on businesses that have yet to start to their automation journey. Don’t worry. This article is the perfect jumping-off point, answering essential questions like:

 

  • What is the automation skills gap?
  • Why is it important to open up a dialogue about automation?
  • Which tasks can be automated to benefit your team?
  • Why does automation give leaders the perfect chance to retrain and upskill their workers?

What Is the Automation Skills Gap?

Any competitor in an industry with a growing skills gap is in danger of losing their market share if they cannot find a way to address their deficiencies. In many cases, these skills gaps are the result of generational shifts in the types of occupations being pursued. For instance, the skills gap in the construction industry is the result of a lack of millennial construction workers. To attract new talent, contractors are investing in technology and software to help bridge the gap between the needs of the industry and the talents of the new generations. That said, generational shifts in the interest toward certain professions aren’t the only catalyst for skills gaps.

In regards to automation, the skills gap is related to technology. Digital Transformation is sweeping the globe, and those who fail to adapt will find themselves fighting an uphill battle against their competitors who have equipped themselves with the tools to work faster and more efficiently. McKinsey surveyed 1,500 executives across a broad range of industries and found that “addressing potential skills gaps related to automation/digitization” was a Top 10 priority for 66 percent of respondents. Furthermore, it was a Top 5 priority for 30 percent of respondents.

Industry 4.0 is here, and businesses are being forced to evolve. It is this evolution that has revealed an opportunity for the next generation to capitalize on the need for talented, automation-savvy workers that possess the soft and technical skills necessary to help businesses thrive in an automated world.

Remember, automation isn’t a substitute for your valued workers; it’s a complementary asset that improves work for everyone. It’s time to transform. For business leaders, that means not only consulting with automation experts to plot your Digital Transformation but also meeting with your team to retool your enterprise for a more profitable future.

Open Up a Dialogue About Automation

If you are already in the process of exploring your options to automate your company, it’s important to take note of three things before you commit to a purchase:

  1. Automation can be implemented to take over tasks, but it’s less effective at taking over jobs.
  2. Automation works best as a complement to your existing team.
  3. Automation can ameliorate working conditions to improve company culture and worker retention.

With these facts in mind, it’s time to open up a dialogue with your team so they are aware of your intentions to automate the company. Whether you’re looking to implement automation in Accounts Payable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, Customer Service, or another department entirely, you want to quell any concerns about automation and help your team understand why automation is important and how it will positively affect your company. You might be surprised to find that they not only take the news well but embrace it and support you. The automation buzz continues to build year-over-year, but not for the reason you might expect.

Adobe Digital Insights analyzed 3 million social mentions related to “future of work” and found that sentiment towards the role of automation in the workplace was overwhelmingly positive. People are more interested in learning about how automation can make their jobs more enjoyable as opposed to how automation could affect employment negatively.

Target the Menial, Time-Consuming Tasks Your Team Loathes

Now, it’s time to address the skills gap preventing you from taking the next step on your automation journey. The skills gap with automation refers to the soft and technical skills required to help employees thrive in a workplace that has incorporated automation in some form or another (i.e., AP Automation, Data Entry Automation, etc.). However, before you can address these skills gaps, you must identify them by mapping out business processes for automation. It is recommended that you undergo an in-person or virtual whiteboarding session with an experienced automation expert so you can target the menial, time-consuming tasks your team loathes — those that are the best fit for automation and tend to be error-prone, such as:

  • Data entry
  • PO/Non-PO invoice processing
  • GL coding
  • Auditing
  • Document routing

Once you have identified the processes suitable for automation, you will have a better understanding of the tasks that can only be completed by your valued team members. During this time, it’s highly recommended that you take a step back to focus on how you can retrain and upskill your workers to create a more resilient and self-sufficient workforce.

Focus on Retraining and Upskilling

Automation helps your business optimize processes that are commonly viewed as tedious and repetitive, but it’s not a panacea for all of your operational woes. As the emerging leader in workflow automation for the enterprise, we speak from firsthand experience when we say that your business will get significantly faster and more efficient, but there’s still work to be done if you want to gain a leg up on your competition. This is where your most important asset, your employees, get a chance to truly shine.

Did you know that 82 percent of executives at companies with annual revenues exceeding $100 million believe retraining and upskilling are the primary solutions to addressing the automation skills gap? It’s time to get to work! Job roles are changing and being redefined, yet 42 percent of US businesses lack a solid understanding of how automation will affect their future hiring processes in relation to specific job skills. Retraining and upskilling workers already under your employ are viewed as urgent matters by most business leaders. When you automate your company, you are presented with the perfect opportunity to assess areas of your business that can be improved and retrain your workers accordingly.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but many companies have found success by offering free e-learning content for employees or supporting re-training at institutions of learning. Arguably the best approach, and most hands-on approach, are retraining and upskilling opportunities that occur within the company itself. This approach helps you dial in on specific areas that need to be addressed, ensuring that your employees pick up the skills that will help them flourish at the company for years to come.

Closing the Automation Skills Gap for Good

Learning and development programs and training are highly effective measures if you’re looking to close the automation skills gap and embark on your automation journey. There’s no substitute for the real thing. Your workers have the knowledge, empathy, and unbridled freedom to do things automation could never, which makes liberating them from tedious tasks that much more important.

Are you ready to automate your company? IntelliChief, the emerging leader in Enterprise Automation, makes it easy to transition from manual processes to a fully automated workplace. We even train your team to get the most out of your system so you don’t miss a step during your Digital Transformation.

To learn more about how Enterprise Automation can take your business to the next level, contact IntelliChief today.

 

Automation Trends

3 Reasons the Enterprise Automation Buzz Is Building

Automation Trends

Automation was once viewed as the future of technology — then it became a reality. Today, automation has been scaled up and down to meet the daily challenges of organizations spanning countless industries across the globe. If you’re still in the camp that believes Enterprise Automation is just a trend, it might be time to take a second look at what Automation can do for you and your business.

Twitter. LinkedIn. Reddit. Wherever public discourse takes place, automation is trending in the @mentions. From 2016 to 2017, Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) performed a comprehensive analysis of 3 million social mentions related to “future of work,” such as automation and RPA. The researchers were able to attribute positive sentiment to the majority of these engagements. They weren’t talking about how automation would affect employment; rather, they were discussing the potential for automation to improve working conditions and increase productivity.

1. Automation Saves Valuable Time

It’s no secret that automation technology works faster than humans. It doesn’t need to “think” or “consider” letters or numbers before taking an action; instead, actions are taken automatically whether or not a human worker is available to push a process through to the next step. Automation doesn’t take sick days or vacations and it’s not limited to 40-hour workweeks or the costly constraints of overtime. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that in the analysis mentioned above, 30 percent of respondents mentioned saving time when discussing automation.

It might be a well-worn cliche, but there’s no hiding from the fact that time is money. With Enterprise Automation, you can assign menial, time-consuming tasks to automation so your team can focus on the things automation isn’t as well-equipped to handle. The days of manual data entry are over, and everyone is talking about it.

2. Automated Business Processes Yield Valuable Analytical Data

Still not convinced that automation is more than a passing trend? Consider this: 25 percent of automation-related conversations taking place on social media reference big data analysis as a primary driver for implementing automation. When business processes are automated, they gain the ability to automatically track productivity from start to finish, allowing C-level executives to glean valuable insights and make informed decisions on a rolling basis. No more waiting for the end of the quarter to figure out what went wrong and why. With real-time analytics guiding you, operational inefficiencies can be nipped in the bud to prevent your team from wasting time and resources that could be better allocated to other tasks or departments.

3. Humans and Automation Can Work in Harmony

Automation is often viewed as the harbinger of death for human jobs, but this is a gross overexaggeration that can be quickly disproven by examining how (and why) automation is being used by businesses all over the world. The average number of daily mentions of automation has doubled year-over-year. During that same period, the number of daily mentions of robots and jobs has increased by a staggering 70 percent year-over-year. However, to truly understand why this bodes well for humans and automation alike, we need to break into the meat and potatoes of these mentions to truly understand their sentiment. Here are a few examples:

 

Needless to say, the automation buzz is building — and for good reason. The automation “trend” has taken root and it’s not going away anytime soon. Organizations that can work faster and more efficiently while simultaneously cutting costs and improving work-life balance for employees have already taken the necessary steps to prepare for a future where traditional working arrangements are no longer viable.

Enterprise Automation: Once a Trend, Now a Requirement

Before the automation trend really took off, it was considered a luxury for enterprise leaders who not only had the infrastructure to support it but also the growth capabilities to afford it. Today, this is no longer the case. Automation technology and software have been retooled to boost business across all marketplaces. From start-ups to SMEs and beyond, automation is a difference-maker the likes of which we’ve never seen before, especially for large enterprises that can benefit from an integrated solution across multiple departments and locations. The automation trend is here to stay, and IntelliChief’s experts are standing by to ensure that your automation project capably addresses your challenges and helps you become more resilient (and profitable).

To learn more about Enterprise Automation or to see our products in action, contact IntelliChief today.

Workflow Digitization

How Controlling Your Workflow Directly Impacts the Success of Your Enterprise

Workflow Digitization

As more and more businesses embrace digital transformation, they are learning firsthand how important the process of workflow digitization is to their overall success. By attaining greater control over workflows across your enterprise, you can focus on growth and avoid costly service charges down the line. Here is what you will learn:

 

  • What is workflow digitization and why is it important for business leaders to develop a strong understanding of it?
  • Why is workflow such a difficult topic to discuss?
  • What conditions and situations cause workflow to become difficult to manage, and even more so to automate?
  • What is delegation of authority (DOA)? Why is it integral to workflow?
  • How can businesses scale and manage workflows in a cost-effective manner?

What Is Workflow?

Although the term “workflow” has been utilized in the mainstream for years, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it truly means and why it is so crucial to businesses in 2020. Workflow differs in numerous ways from the business processes your enterprise employs to remain operational.

For example, your Accounts Payable business process is probably very similar to that of your competitors:

  • Issue Purchase Order
  • Receive/Inspect Goods
  • Enter Invoice
  • Match Purchase Order to Invoice
  • Match Invoice to Receipt
  • Release Payment

The business process outlined above is standardized, and in a vacuum with ideal conditions, it might mirror your workflow. However, as anyone who has ever worked in an office can tell you, each step of your business process is really composed of several internal steps — many of which may not even be documented, a phenomenon some refer to as “tribal knowledge.”

When you digitize your workflows, you gain superior control of these nuances. Vulnerabilities can be mitigated, eliminated, or replaced with streamlined operations. Your workflow can continue to grow with your business and employees without missing a step. Best of all, with the right solution, you can continue to build out and evolve workflows to suit the specific needs of your business — all you need is a trustworthy partner to guide you.

Why Getting From Point A to Point B Is More Complicated Than Anticipated

As we mentioned above, there are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly workflow means; however, the concept is really quite simple when applied to everyday situations. For example, when you go to get gas for your car, the process of getting gas may differ drastically from the steps required to actually fill your tank…

Scenario 1

  1. You drive to the gas station
  2. Pay for fuel
  3. Fill your tank

This is what we refer to as a process in a vacuum. Only the minimum number of steps is required to complete the task, and everything goes according to plan — a rarity in business. Here is a more realistic scenario…

Scenario 2

  1. Drive to the gas station
  2. Pay for fuel
    • EXCEPT the outdoor card scanner is broken
  3. Walk inside and pay at the register
    • EXCEPT the entire payment processing system is down — cash only
  4. Drive home
  5. Collect the appropriate amount of cash to purchase fuel
  6. Drive back to the gas station
  7. Walk inside and pay at the register
  8. Fill your tank

Now, this scenario is slightly more complex. It is also a scenario you have likely experienced before. When things do not go according to plan, you are forced to take additional steps to complete the process. When automating workflows, your provider needs to understand the full scope of your working logic to map out your workflows accurately and minimize the number of exceptions drawing out your process longer than needed. Just for the sake of showing why flexibility is integral to workflow automation, we will get a little crazy with our third and final scenario…

Scenario 3

  1. Drive to the gas station
    • EXCEPT the gas station is closed
  2. Choose another gas station to acquire fuel from
  3. Drive to the selected gas station, which is located two miles down the road
  4. Pay for fuel
    • EXCEPT as you are about to swipe your card, you notice that the gas station across the street is offering gas at a lower rate
  5. Drive across the street to the other gas station
    • EXCEPT they are out of the premium-grade fuel your car requires
  6. Drive back across the street to the other gas station again
  7. Pay for fuel
    • EXCEPT your card shows an error when you swipe outside, displaying the message “See Cashier for Assistance.”
  8. Walk inside and pay at the register
  9. Fill your tank
    • EXCEPT two weeks later you discover that your credit card information was stolen by a skimmer when you attempted to pay outside. Uh-oh! Now you must recoup that expense before you can truly say you completed this process without a net loss.

All it takes is a few mishaps to turn a simple workflow into a complicated mess. Workflow is tricky, which means selecting the right partner for your workflow digitization and automation project is essential to achieving your goals.

Efficient Workflow Automation Must Be Comprehensive to Reduce False Exceptions

Keep in mind, when automating workflows, every step must be accounted for. Even those steps that are only required under very specific circumstances. Here is a shortlist of “what if” questions pertaining to invoice processing workflow challenges that will need to be considered before rolling out workflow automation. For the sake of simplicity, our example will use a “round-robin” style queue to assign invoices to the four processors in this order: Robin, Bill, Jen, Zach.

  • What if Robin calls in sick?
  • What if Bill works every day EXCEPT Thursday?
  • What if Jen is not allowed to touch invoices from a certain customer?
  • What if Zach isn’t familiar with the required workflow for a particular vendor?
  • What if Robin receives an invoice for a partial order?
  • What if Bill receives an invoice for the wrong amount?
  • What if Jen is working remotely?
  • What if Zach can only process invoices valued between $5,000 and $50,000 for customers alphabetized A – D, but he is out of the office?

Believe it or not, these are relatively simple challenges as far as workflow is concerned, but they must be accounted for all the same. In the enterprise, where dozens of processors may be employed with varying levels of permissions, these exceptions — the invoices that cannot pass for any number of reasons — can slow your process to a halt. Avoiding them at all costs is the key to getting faster, leaner, and more profitable.

Establishing a Resilient, Streamlined Workflow Starts With a Successful Implementation

Remember, your employees are tasked with thinking on their feet whenever a document enters your organization. They must not only have clearance to handle a specific document but also the knowledge of what action they must take to keep the information en route to its final destination.

Most of these nuanced workflow details become second nature over time, which is fine if all of your employees plan to work for you until retirement. Unfortunately, this can be a major hindrance when an employee decides to leave your organization. Not only do you lose manpower and productivity, but you also lose undocumented knowledge that helps grease the wheels of your workflow. When a valuable employee leaves, you may start to notice that your workflow needs improvements.

In an article published by EdTech, Steve Smith, the University of Nevada, Reno’s vice provost for IT and CIO, noted, “A significant portion of the work precedes implementing the workflow. Particularly for automated workflows, the approval steps and the individuals must be clearly defined so only those with the need and authority are included in the workflow.”

In other words, workflow digitization is a significant undertaking before the solution has even been implemented. The discovery and solution design phase are critical if you want to control workflow on your terms and ensure that you are delegating authority as needed to keep your business running smoothly. Unfortunately, many vendors are too focused on bells and whistles to establish a reliable implementation process, which explains why 68% of software implementations fail.

Delegation of Authority: The Key to Streamlined (and Automated) Workflows

According to Indeed, “Delegation of authority is the process of transferring responsibility for a task to another employee.” It is a simple concept, but in many ways, it is the key to a successful workflow automation project. Why? When a task cannot be completed by one employee, it generally falls on the shoulders of another. Otherwise, transactional content can get stuck in limbo which costs your business time and money.

You recognize that your process can’t come grinding to a halt every time an employee isn’t available to perform a task, so there needs to be some form of DOA to ensure that transactional content not only avoids bottlenecks but also falling into the wrong hands. By establishing solid DOA rules and applying them to your digitized workflow, your business can process transactional content at a much faster clip than competitors who rely on purely manual processes.

One of the main concerns that must be addressed whenever discussing the topic of DOA is security. All users must be authenticated and authorized to work within your digitized workflow. This is integral to controlling your workflow, but it is relatively simple to fortify security within a basic system. However, once you need to connect disparate systems and eliminate information silos, your options for workflow digitization will become limited to a few key players within the industry — especially if your enterprise is hoping to deploy in multiple departments (i.e., Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, etc.).

Tips for Configuring, Editing, and Controlling Workflows at Scale

Workflow digitization and automation require extensive front-end involvement to bring the project to fruition. You might spend hundreds or even thousands of hours planning, mapping, implementing, and testing your workflow to ensure that it is both efficient and capable of saving you time and money. However, there is one small problem inherent to any solution intended to spur growth — the problem of scaling.

How can you continue scaling your solution to ensure that you maintain an efficient workflow? Here are some tips:

  • Work with a single trustworthy vendor to avoid makeshift solutions that will need to be augmented or replaced later.
  • Focus on process streamlining to make work less complicated for your team.
  • Reduce or eliminate paper-to-digital processes to cut down on menial tasks.
  • Find a workflow digitization solution that includes the option to purchase a Visual Workflow Designer This will allow you to build or edit workflows without coding to help you scale while saving on expensive service agreements.
  • Treat your vendor as a strategic partner to ensure that there is a mutual, vested interest in your success for years to come.
  • Set clear goals and work with your solution provider to achieve them.

Enterprise Success in 2020 and Beyond Depends on Your Ability to Manage and Maintain Efficient Workflows

When you embrace workflow digitization, your business will get faster, leaner, and more cost-efficient. Furthermore, when you introduce workflow automation, your system will be gaining the ability to deftly handle most of the transactional content entering your system without any human intervention at all. Can you afford to let your employees waste time on tasks that have become entrenched in your workflow due to years of stifled innovation? The answer is clear.

To learn more about how your enterprise can benefit from workflow digitization and automation, contact IntelliChief today.

 

Enterprise Automation

Clearing the Air: Let’s Talk Enterprise Automation Myths and Misconceptions

Enterprise Automation

It is impossible to ignore the impact of automation across the enterprise. With benefits ranging from reduced provisioning times to fewer data entry errors, duplicate payments, and lost documents, there are countless ways for enterprise automation to make a marked difference in your organization. The enterprise is evolving, and skeptics will find themselves at a significant disadvantage if they attempt to resist automation. If you want to keep pace with your competitors, you will first need to address some of the common automation myths and misconceptions that cause business leaders to pause.

 

What Is Enterprise Automation?

Enterprise automation expands the concept of departmental or “office” automation and applies it to the enterprise at scale. It places a strong emphasis on automating all aspects of the enterprise that can benefit from faster, less error-prone, and more streamlined processes, such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more.

Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about enterprise automation, which is largely due to the fact that this technology is capable of enhancing the enterprise in virtually endless ways. Furthermore, since no two enterprise automation projects follow the exact same rules and guidelines, the term has a tendency to defy a singular description. Lack of clarity can lead to incorrect ideas and blatantly false information, preventing you from acting in the best interest of your company. Therefore, as the premier provider of enterprise automation featuring universal compatibility with all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and applications, we have decided to take some time to clear the air and dispel some of the most common (and problematic) myths and misconceptions preventing you from automating in 2020.

Myth: Implementing Enterprise Automation Requires a Ton of Coding Expertise

Whenever business leaders consider software-based solutions like office automation, their most common concerns are typically centered around the amount of coding that will be required to ensure solutions are seamlessly integrated and easy to maintain and update. The amount of manpower that goes into coding projects can be extensive, resulting in more billable hours than you anticipated or were led to believe during your initial consultations.

Consider this: the cost to develop a professional-grade application with custom coding for iOS can cost as much as $150,000 or more if you want a reputable, US-based vendor to take on your project — and that is just for a smartphone app.

When it comes to enterprise automation, if you can find a solution that supports no-code programming, you will be able to save a lot of money during the implementation phase as well as ongoing maintenance after your solution is deployed. You will not need to retain an expensive independent contractor or full-time employee to keep your system running smoothly. Rather, with a no-code solution, your team will be trained on how to make the necessary changes to your system whenever needed. Additionally, if you do require support from your vendor, they will be able to quickly and efficiently tweak your system to help improve operational efficiency and increase your bottom line without the exorbitant service fees associated with custom coding projects.

Myth: The Learning Curve of Enterprise Automation Creates a Chaotic Work Environment

Your business needs a competitive advantage to survive but is entrenched in processes that need to be overhauled to improve operational efficiency and save your company; how can you ensure that enterprise automation will be a good fit? More importantly, how can you be completely certain that your workflows will not be thrown into chaos? To be fair, this myth has some truth to it depending on which vendor you select to take on your project.

Too often, businesses find that the solution that seems like the best fit on paper is actually more restrictive than they were led to believe. These vendors want you to play by their rules to ensure that their solution is capable of satisfying their contractual obligations, which means your company’s best interests may become secondary to those of your vendor. This is how a “solution” becomes a problem, resulting in a chaotic work environment that ironically creates more challenges for your team.

That said, when working with the right vendor, this should not be a problem. Enterprise automation does not have to be complicated. Your solution should offer you more direct control of your workflows based on your existing procedures while integrating with your core technologies. This will result in streamlined workflows that eliminate menial tasks and give your team more time to focus on tasks that require human intervention. Best of all, the business rules applied to your workflows will mirror the exact processes already being utilized by your team, significantly reducing the learning curve of implementing new technology into your existing infrastructure. If you are currently browsing enterprise automation vendors, it is highly recommended that you confirm whether or not you can keep your existing workflows intact. This is crucial to a successful office automation implementation.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Is a Static Solution

Many organizations consider automation a purchase like any other. They assume their solution will be designed, purchased, and implemented — and that’s it. However, this could not be further from the truth. Enterprise automation is not static, and your experience with automation will extend beyond your implementation. Your project might contain multiple phases, and the scope of work could be altered several times before your solution is deployed. These course-corrections are important if you want your solution to generate ROI from Day 1 and onward.

Enterprise automation should be scalable. Whether you deploy it department by department or in one fell swoop, there will come a time when you need to pick up the phone and talk to your vendor. But how can you be sure they will be there when you call? Enterprise automation needs to evolve alongside your business, which means your selected vendor needs to be all-in on your mutual success. Our recommendation? Start with departments that are heavily reliant on paper or have the maximum ROI potential for automation, then expand your solution from there.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Focuses on Patching Up Inefficient Business Processes

When it comes to enterprise automation, your goal should not be to simply bridge the gap in workflows that are inefficient. Enterprise automation is far too robust and flexible to be utilized as a “patch.” Instead, your enterprise automation project gives you a chance to take a step back and gain a global view of your entire organization.

From here, it is easy to spot operational inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other obstacles that prevent your business from maximizing profitability. It is even easier when your vendor takes the role of a strategic partner to help you unearth and, ultimately, address these inefficiencies. If your business is only dealing with a single issue, a point solution might be suitable; however, many businesses later discover that these simple solutions lack compatibility with future software integrations, or the scalability to meet their growth objectives. The real benefits of enterprise automation include:

  • Faster, more accurate processing across all departments
  • Instant storage and retrieval of all enterprise content
  • Superior enterprise collaboration
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Significant cost savings
  • Improved working environment
  • And more

Myth: Your Enterprise Automation Project Will Fail If Your Organizational Structure Is Overly Nuanced

Do you have an approved automation project? You want to be frank when discussing your requirements with vendors to ensure that you do not waste time with a vendor that cannot deliver. One of the best ways to separate suitable vendors from those that do not have the capabilities to help you reach your goals is by discussing your business processes and their corresponding workflows ad nauseum. Do not be shy if the way you do things is unique (or even impractical). If a vendor tells you that your organizational structure is too complex or nuanced for automation, they are not the right choice for your business.

Enterprise automation solutions exist for virtually every business in every industry, regardless of the legacy components, systems, and applications inherent to those industries. Look for a provider that has established integrations with your core ERP system, even if there is more than one. As we mentioned above, you want to work with a strategic partner who has a mutual interest in your company’s success. When you find a partner like this, no organizational structure is too complex to automate.

Myth: The Key to a Successful Enterprise Automation Implementation Is the Features of the Product Itself

Take a second to think about some of your recent purchases. What compelled you to buy? If your psychology matches most consumers, you probably weighed the features and benefits against the cost of the product to find the most feature-packed product for the price. This strategy is effective 90 percent of the time for 90 percent of purchases, but it is not a good buying strategy when shopping enterprise automation solutions.

Of course, features are important, but with enterprise automation, accessibility to a full suite of features is dependent on the success of your implementation. Most enterprise software implementations fail; not because the technology is flawed but because the team tasked with implementing the solution is not up to the task. Any vendor that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to office automation is going to find themselves at a standstill when attempting to configure their solution to the precise needs of their clients.

Selecting the right vendor and ensuring that they map their solution to your existing workflows is vital. It is easy to be won over by a robust feature set, but if you cannot use those features, what is the point? Keep in mind that features and a successful implementation are not mutually exclusive, but they are two considerations that should be weighed equally.

Myth: The Cost of Enterprise Automation Is Too Expensive to Justify the Project

Cost justification. The stage of automation where good projects go to die. In many cases, the justification is warranted by the potential for ROI but there is skepticism about whether projected models can be relied on to move forward. Let’s be clear, models help you understand how ROI will be attained, but they are less effective at giving you a precise measure of cost savings and performance improvements — this can only be accomplished by utilizing models that pull from a company’s real data.

Therefore, this myth is rather easy to dispel. When looking to justify your project, ask your selected vendors about their process for calculating ROI. Do they calculate ROI strictly in dollars saved? How do they attach a dollar amount to performance improvements? These are vital questions to ask during the research phase. When reaching out to vendors, ask if they have an ROI calculator that lets you plug in your unique business data to get a rough estimate of potential savings — but do not stop there. You should also ask how (or if) they calculate ROI during the implementation phase.

Are You Ready to Automate in 2020?

The enterprise automation buzz is everywhere. Business leaders have faced some of the greatest economic challenges in our country’s history this year, and the consensus is clear. It is time to automate in 2020 and beyond to not only stay competitive but viable as well. As digital transformation shifts the balance of power across markets, now is the time to cast skepticism to the side and embrace enterprise automation for what it is — the future of business as we know it.

Want to learn more about the benefits of our enterprise automation solutions? Contact IntelliChief today to learn how your business can leverage an Enterprise Content Management system to become faster, leaner, and more profitable.

 

ECM Solutions

10 Ways Enterprise Content Management Supports Your Digital Transformation

ECM Solutions

Although Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a sprawling topic with no shortage of interesting details to discuss, getting to the point can a serious challenge. This is largely due to the fact that Enterprise Content Management systems are capable of transforming your organization from head to toe in numerous ways. Today, we will keep it short and sweet. We are giving ourselves ten minutes to cover ten ways ECM solutions support your digital transformation. Ready? Let’s get started!

 

What Are Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Solutions?

The advantages of an Enterprise Content Management system can help your business gain a distinct competitive advantage. From the moment documents are captured and digitized, your business becomes significantly more productive and cost-efficient. Here are ten unique ways ECM benefits businesses:

1. Imaging

Document imaging allows your business to convert paper documents into a digital format. That means no more paper documents or paper storage to manually file through looking for information. Industry-leading ECM solutions can also capture and organize data from documents that have been put through the imaging process to eliminate manual data entry altogether.

2. Document Management

Your business deals with vast quantities of documentation on a daily basis, which means managing and organizing these documents is essential to grease the wheels of your document-related processes. Unfortunately, handling all this paper manually can reduce productivity by a significant margin. Some employees spend upwards of 70% of their time searching for documents. Document management eliminates restores productivity and mitigates menial tasks.

3. Collaboration

Teamwork makes the dream work, and it’s hard to find a tool that makes collaboration as simple and effective as an Enterprise Content Management system. With employees working together on a connected platform that spans your entire enterprise, you can say goodbye to accidents and errors while keeping everyone on the same page at all times.

4. Enterprise Search

Is finding the right document at the right time a problem for your organization? You are not alone. As we mentioned above, manual document retrieval is a time-consuming process that causes your most important business process to sputter and stall. Enterprise search gives your team the ability to search and retrieve all enterprise content permissible to them under your unique business rules.

5. Business Process Management

Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Sales Orders, Customer Service…every department in your enterprise relies on highly specific processes. You’ve built out these processes throughout the years, and, for the most part, they have served you well — but there is still room for improvement! With Enterprise Content Management, all of your content is organized, consolidated, and optimized to ensure that every department is firing on all cylinders.

6. Business Rules Management

Most businesses seek ECM solutions that will give them the tools they need to automate their most time-consuming, manual processes. However, before this can happen, you must have a firm grasp of your unique business rules. An Enterprise Content Management system allows businesses to program business rules into workflow to automate delegation of authority, invoice routing, multi-tiered approvals, and more.

7. Knowledge Management

How efficiently do you handle information and resources within your organization? Most businesses assume that they manage internal knowledge well. The truth is that most businesses have no idea how to gauge knowledge management — one of the many problems that can be solved with ECM solutions. Your individual workers are empowered when they can access the holistic knowledge of your organization, allowing them to increase expertise and better serve you and your customers.

8. Digital Asset Management

Another way ECM solutions can help spur your digital transformation is by helping you better manage your digital assets (i.e., files, videos, music, photos, and other forms of media. As long as you own the rights or have permission to use this media, you have a valuable cache of digital assets that may prove valuable for a wide array of uses. That said, if you want to get the most out of these assets, you’ll need a reliable way to store, organize, and retrieve them without allowing them to fall into departmental silos and, ultimately, obscurity.

9. Records Management

Keeping track of records is crucial to maintain compliance and avoid costly fees. Unfortunately, with company, state, and federal guidelines differing on how long to retain documents, managing all your records can become a tedious exercise in futility. This is where ECM solutions can help. Whether it’s accounting records, bank statements, legal documents, contracts, permits and licenses, insurance documents, employee files, or something else entirely, your Enterprise Content Management system is equipped with the tools to save and retain these records in a secure digital repository. Some ECM solutions even allow for custom retention rules, similar to the business rules we mentioned previously.

10. Web Content Management

If your enterprise relies on large volumes of web-based content to maintain operational efficiency, an Enterprise Content Management system can help you ensure that your team is connected, giving them the ability to create, edit, and publish content from a centralized database.

Want to learn more about the benefits of our ECM solutions? Contact IntelliChief today to learn how your business can leverage an Enterprise Content Management system to become faster, leaner, and more profitable.

Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

Accounts Payable Automation is a powerful tool for any organization that finds itself processing a large volume of transactional information on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to identify the nuances (and potential nuances) of their AP process. Matching a PO to an invoice and receipt is a relatively simple process to automate, but what happens when additional approvals are necessary to fully vet a transaction? What happens when a 2-way matching process requires an additional step? And what happens when a fourth match is required? Here’s everything you need to know about Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching:

Large Enterprises Require Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

Although Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching is rarely top of mind when an organization decides to seek out an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution for AP Automation, it can be achieved with the right vendor. For example, if your organization is headquartered in the United States but has operations spanning North America and Europe, the major drivers for such a project might include:

  • Scaling back paper-based processes (and eliminating paper)
  • Reducing time and cost associated with manual ERP data keying and workflow management
  • Streamlining back-office processes across disparate locations and systems
  • Eliminating late and duplicate payments
  • Obtaining more early pay discounts
  • Improving the work environment

All of these benefits can be realized with the right ECM solution for your organization; however, this list doesn’t need to be finite. Clearly, reducing the amount of time required to complete the matching process is key to faster and more efficient workflows, but if your solution only automates simple 2-way matching or more advanced 3-way matches, certain transactions will inevitably fall through the cracks. Few solutions can capably perform 4-way matches, but those that can tend to support higher rates of “straight-through processing” and greatly reduce the amount of manual, error-prone work performed by employees.

How Does Accounts Payable 4-Way Matching Work?

The precursor to a reliable Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching process is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system(s) at the heart of your organization and the ECM solution that will help you unlock new features using your existing software infrastructure. Most organizations will review vendors and perform due diligence until they find a solution that can be expanded throughout their organization without bringing additional vendors into the fold and integrates with their current ERP(s).

Before a definitive selection can be made; however, your organization must develop a robust understanding of your existing business processes and the underlying workflows that drive these processes forward. This is best accomplished by partnering with a vendor that is willing to perform a comprehensive discovery and whiteboarding session to identify just how complex these processes truly are (and whether or not Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching capabilities are necessary to help you reach your goals).

An example of a 4-way match is an invoice that must be matched to a purchased order (PO) and then to a receiver, before finally being matched against a quality inspection sheet. The additional flexibility of being able to emulate such a nuanced workflow with automation is extremely liberating for businesses that want to be able to fully automate their enterprise. And it shows as organizations that implement seemingly become leaner and more profitable overnight.

Additional Automation Benefits

Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching is an advanced capability that helps companies close the gap on straight-through processing rates exceeding 90 percent or greater. By automating the entire AP process from document capture to workflow and approval, your organization can cultivate an environment where only the rare exception will require manual handling.

In this touchless environment where no ERP keying or other human interaction is needed,  ERP lookups for vouchering, validating, and supplementing key data between systems are executed using a rules-based business process automation workflow mapped to your specific practices, enabling lightning-fast reviews and approvals. This is achieved using cross-reference table algorithms that normalize data among systems and constantly match variables to maintain data integrity. AP processing staff can be reduced or reallocated, giving them the additional bandwidth needed to concentrate on strategic operations. Lastly, the ancillary benefit of AP Automation in related vendor fees, paper, and onsite and offsite storage costs — which can oftentimes be eliminated altogether savings tens of thousands or more.

To learn more about how Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching can help your business gain a competitive advantage, contact us today.

4 OCR Advantages That Help Businesses Rise Above Their Competitors

OCR Advantages

Has your company implemented a plan to start its digital transformation? When you transition to Enterprise Content Management (ECM), you must also convert your paper documents into digital copies. But how do you do that? Learn more about the advantages of optical character recognition (OCR) in this article.

 

At this point, unless you work for International Paper, Kimberly-Clark, or one of the other major paper manufacturers, you should not be dealing with paper on a daily basis. Not in 2020.

When you consider the recent advancements in ECM and how it gives businesses the freedom to eliminate paper altogether, there has never been a better time to embark on your digital transformation. In your bid to streamline and optimize your enterprise, going digital is essential, and OCR software is the best way to ensure that all of your information is secure and accessible from a digital repository, even if its native format was paper.

What Is OCR Software?

OCR is a technology that recognizes printed characters. According to PC Mag, “OCR systems can recognize many different fonts, including those designed specifically for optical recognition as well as typewriter and computer-printed characters. Advanced OCR systems can recognize hand printing.”

It’s a flexible solution that can improve your business in a number of ways, which is why the benefits of OCR are universally lauded by the companies that have already integrated this technology into their day-to-day business processes.

How Does OCR Software Work?

OCR software captures the information from traditional documents and converts it to searchable data that can be recalled at the push of a button. It is important to note that OCR software is far different than a scanner. A scanner simply creates a digital replicant of a document, it cannot utilize the captured information in a purposeful way. OCR captures the document and turns it into a bitmap, which can then be analyzed using variations in dark and light pixels to guide it. These pixels are then converted into ASCII characters. Once the document has been captured, OCR software can read the individual lines and patterns that make up printed characters — even if the document is multiple pages.

OCR Benefits for Your Business

The advantages of OCR can help your business gain a distinct competitive advantage. From the moment documents are captured and digitized, your business becomes significantly more productive and cost-efficient. Here’s how OCR benefits your business:

1. Convert Paper to Searchable Data

Stop searching through cumbersome file cabinets for paper documents and eliminate the costs associated with both on-site and off-site storage. Digitize all your corporate content whether it is a paper document received in the mail, fax,  email, or something else entirely. Once your documents have been converted, a user can utilize search features to quickly find the information they are looking for without leaving their desk.

2. Eliminate Erroneous Data Entry

Data entry tasks are often time-consuming and littered with errors, and it is easy to see why. Copying information from one medium to another is hardly stimulating, so it comes as no surprise that this task is better left to OCR software. One of the main benefits of OCR software is its ability to quickly capture information. It doesn’t need to check and re-check to ensure that it has entered the information correctly — it gets it right on the first go with a very small margin of error. By preserving the integrity of the data flowing through your company, you can ensure that transactions are accurate and detrimental errors are mitigated.

3. Accelerate Document Processing Speed

Not only does OCR benefit your company’s quality of information but it also increases the rate at which this information is routed throughout workflow to complete the corresponding transaction. As we mentioned above, this starts with making the process of data entry more efficient by eliminating manual entry and digitizing information for instant recall. However, it does not stop there. Another advantage of Optical Character Recognition is scalable batch processing technologies that prevent your volume of invoices from overwhelming your processors.

4. Unlock Straight-Through Processing Capabilities

While OCR software can play an important role in helping your business become more efficient and less resource hungry, the greatest potential will be derived from the technologies that can be implemented together with OCR software to unlock straight-through processing. Straight-through processing, or “touchless processing,” allows your company to process invoices without any human intervention — unless the system flags an exception. That’s right. OCR is the key to business process automation, serving as the conduit for data to be automated in the first place. Here is an example of how it works:

Documents are automatically captured from a monitored inbox into your ERP or line of business system, giving you immediate real-time access to any information contained on those documents. Then, using a configurable workflow engine, this information is matched to the corresponding invoice and processed. If something doesn’t match, it is flagged as an exception and an employee is alerted. In some cases, exceptions are reduced by as much as 90% or more,.

Want to learn more about the advantages of OCR software? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions backed by robust capture capabilities.