Automating your Accounts Payable processes can save a company thousands of dollars a year and hundreds of hours by reducing the manual work it takes to process and validate transactions.
There’s no denying the impact of implementing an AP automation solution. Companies with automated AP processing have been able to take advantage of early payment discounts and avoid late payment fees. Studies have shown that the ongoing savings to an organization from automating AP processes can surpass 70 percent.
Successfully implementing an AP automation solution starts with selecting the right software. How do you know if you’ve made the right choice? Here are seven things to note as you vet potential solutions.
- Does it Conform to Your Business Rules?
Whether they’re written or not, your business operates in a particular way. And your AP department has its own procedures that support how your business runs.
The right AP automation solution should reflect how your team handles daily tasks. For example, if your AP team conducts a three-way match to any invoice received – based on the purchase order (PO) number and the receipt– before entering the information into your company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the AP software should be able to do that.
Instead of manually checking all the information listed on an invoice and flagging any discrepancies (e.g., a line item doesn’t match what’s listed on the PO or the receipt), then sending it to another person for review/approval before keying it into the ERP – that can take hours depending on your team’s size and workload – the software can achieve the same in a fraction of the time.
Choosing the wrong solution means missing out on efficiency gains and cost savings.
- How Well Does the Solution Integrate with Your ERP?
It’s all about how well your automation software communicates with your ERP system or systems (some companies have more than one ERP). With an AP automation solution, your AP team can search, retrieve and deliver vital information within your existing ERP – efficiently.
The Institute of Finance and Management recognizes the importance of having an automation solution that integrates with your ERP (or ERPs), as it not only makes the transition from paper to digital seamless, but also increases the visibility of an efficient AP function throughout the organization.
Choosing an automation solution with real-time ERP integration makes it possible to collect transaction data as soon as it is processed. What would normally take hours (depending on batches or cycles) to enter manually takes a fraction of the time. A solution that can’t do that is not be the right one for your business.
- Can You Normalize Units of Measure?
As much as you’d love to have everything on your purchase orders match, that doesn’t always happen. For example, a PO listed a 10,000-widget order as 10 boxes of 1,000 widgets; the invoice related to that PO, on the other hand, listed the order as 20 packs of 500 widgets each or another unit of measure.
While conducting a three-way match (your business rule), the automation software would flag the discrepancy as an error, even though both units of measurement reflect the same overall quantity (10,000 widgets). As part of your business process, the invoice would automatically be routed for review as an exception.
- How Does it Handle Special Charges?
Creating a voucher in for an invoice in your ERP requires codes for everything – that includes charges such as value-added taxes, county taxes, fuel surcharges, docking fees, etc. These special charges need to be coded before a voucher is complete.
For faster processing, your AP automation solution needs coding capability, so you can code special charges without having to log in to your ERP system.
- Who Performs a Part Number Cross-Reference?
Your part number is a different figure than your vendor’s part number. For whatever reason, you don’t use your ERP’s cross-reference function.
Not a problem. The right AP automation solution can make note of exceptions based on part number conversions and later automatically do a cross-reference check the next time it finds a discrepancy on an invoice.
- What if You’re Working Out of the Office?
Your employees are always on the go and may not necessarily have access to your ERP. Or worse, a major disruption happens (like a pandemic or a natural disaster) and everyone finds themselves working remotely.
With the right AP automation software, completing time-sensitive tasks, such as invoice approvals and general ledger coding, can be done directly from a smartphone or tablet.
- Is it Worth the Investment?
Some customers have realized gains in productivity and efficiency, among other things, from automating their AP process. One IntelliChief customer found that automating their AP processes was an integral part of its growth. Not only did the customer see a significant reduction in resource time and cost, but also played a role in ensuring the organization met its objectives related to increasing market share.
Ultimately, the answer to that question comes down to what you’d like to achieve by automating your AP function. The right AP automation software solution should demonstrate measurable results that you can see. IntelliChief’s savings calculator can help you determine efficiency and cost savings from automating your processes.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurement values that help your organization understand how effectively it conducts business on a day-to-day basis. Across your organization, KPIs can be used to target areas of inefficiency and propose solutions to address them. In certain departments, like Accounts Payable, measuring KPIs and utilizing them to inform your corporate decision-making can have a tremendous effect on your bottom line. Unfortunately, Accounts Payable KPIs are notoriously difficult to track.
Although tracking Accounts Payable KPIs is a challenge, you shouldn’t give up! They play a critical role in helping your organization achieve its most crucial business objectives —all you need is the right tools and expertise to get the job done.
What Are Accounts Payable KPIs?
Accounts Payable KPIs are a direct reflection of your invoice processing procedures. They help tell the story of who, what, when, where, why, and how in your AP department. For example:
- Who processes the most invoices each day?
- What suppliers take the longest to reconcile?
- When are invoices received?
- Where are invoices being held for longer than necessary?
- Why is AP failing to secure early payment discounts?
- How many duplicate invoices are being erroneously paid for?
Below, we’ll cover the five Accounts Payable KPIs your business should be measuring, but first, it’s important to understand how you can track these KPIs. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” But doing so can be easier said than done.
Of course, you can review balance sheets and dig through your system of record to try and piece together KPIs — but there’s an easier way. With automation, tracking Accounts Payable KPIs is as simple as logging into your workstation and reviewing an AP KPI dashboard.
How Does Automation Affect Accounts Payable KPIs?
When you think about Accounts Payable Automation, you probably imagine invoices being captured, automatically entered into your ERP, coded, and reconciled by intelligent software. From a functional perspective, these are some of the core capabilities of any solution worth its salt, but underneath your busy workflows lays another important feature — recording data related to all of these processes and relaying them to your administrators in an intuitive and organized fashion.
Just think, if you wanted to track how long invoices took to process on average in your organization, it would require each and every employee to time every stage of the invoice processing cycle. This information would then need to be coded or otherwise attributed to a specific invoice across multiple stages of processing and, finally, combined to give you the full summation of your invoice processing time. This process would be required for every invoice that enters your organization. Depending on your process, it could require multiple employees to collaborate to provide the necessary data to understand how long the average invoice takes to approve. Needless to say, this would have a detrimental effect on the exact KPI you’re trying to measure, adding extraneous work to an already highly manual and cumbersome process.
With Accounts Payable Automation, this data is collected automatically. Any information you want to collect to review your process is made available without any additional work needed. Therefore, your process would not only get faster but increase visibility and provide valuable insights to help your organization become more efficient while saving money. When recalling this information, it would already be compiled into graphs and charts that accurately reflect the KPIs you want to review and analyze. It’s a win-win for your AP department and C-level executives.
The value of this capability can’t be overstated. However, once you harness this power, you need to be mindful of how you use it. The following five Accounts Payable KPI examples highlight why this information is critical to all organizations.
Top 5 Accounts Payable KPI Examples
Let’s break down some examples of important Accounts Payable KPIs your business can track with AP Automation.
1. Overall Cost Per Invoice Processed
When measuring KPIs, you want to improve your understanding of how your business is operating and how much it is costing you. Determining your overall cost per invoice processed will help you do just that. This KPI is defined as the total cost of processing an invoice, including:
- Labor Costs
- Infrastructure Costs
- Office Supply Costs
- Postage Fees and Services
When you compare your organization’s cost per invoice against industry benchmarks, you can get a clear view of where you stand currently and how much further you have to go to remain competitive with industry leaders.
According to the Aberdeen Group, the average cost to process an invoice manually is $16.67 whereas the average cost to process an invoice with AP Automation is a mere $3.63. By monitoring this KPI, you can ensure that your cost per invoice is trending towards the lower end of this value. With the right solution, you may even be able to surpass this average. For example, the average IntelliChief customer reduces their cost per invoice by 75 percent.
2. Average Time Per Invoice Processed
On average, companies with a manual AP process take 16.3 days to process an invoice. This helps to explain why these companies tend to miss out on early payment discount opportunities and pay more late payment fees.
On the other hand, companies with AP Automation take an average of 2.9 days to process an invoice. That’s an 82.2 percent decrease in the amount of time it takes to complete the same job, which also affords these companies 82.2 percent more time to focus on high-level, strategic tasks that can’t be automated. Longer than average invoice processing times are oftentimes the result of process inefficiencies, such as needlessly complicated workflows, incorrect invoice coding, and delayed routing or approvals. Automation addresses these issues to accelerate the procure-to-pay (P2P) cycle.
3. Average Percent of Invoice Exceptions
Invoice exceptions cause issues even in the most high-functioning AP departments. They are known to create manual data entry bottlenecks and contribute to dysfunction whenever they appear in the invoice processing queue.
Common invoice exceptions include discrepancies (i.e., wrong supplier codes), incorrect or missing POs, non-PO invoices, and special charges (i.e., tax and freight) that must be added to the invoice later in the P2P cycle. Understanding your company’s average percent of invoice exceptions can help you reallocate resources to prepare accordingly.
4. Number of Invoices Processed Straight-Through Vs. Manually
Once an organization has implemented AP Automation, they can use automation-specific KPIs to gauge performance improvements and obtain a better understanding of how their process has evolved. When it comes to AP Automation, straight-through (or touchless) processing refers to invoices that are processed from start to finish without any human intervention. These “perfect” invoices can be received, reviewed, and approved faster than any other type of invoice.
It’s a true game-changer for organizations that seek to improve efficiency and accuracy while processing invoices at the lowest possible cost. The more invoices that your organization can automate “straight-through” the more significant the impact on your bottom line.
5. Percent Reduction in Received-Not-Vouchered Invoices
Received-not-vouchered (RNV) is a status that occurs when a PO is received and inventory or a non-inventory general ledger expense account is debited. At the same time, a matching open amount is created on another table. Once the vendor’s invoice has arrived, all tables should be reconciled. However, it must often be done manually. It’s a somewhat common issue, but it can be a headache for your AP department.
In fact, Toolbox hosted an interview with Susan Stooksberry of JDEtips to discuss methods for dealing with RNV invoices. With AP Automation, reducing the number of RNV invoices that must be processed manually is easy because automation performs many of the actions that help reconcile these tricky invoices. By reducing the percentage of RNV invoices that must be processed manually, your AP department saves time.
How to Measure KPIs for Invoice Processing
As we mentioned above, the best way to measure KPIs for invoice processing is to let an AP Automation solution handle the work for you. With automation, there’s no need to maintain spreadsheets, track time, or record data manually — data recording takes place around the clock and tracks every single action in real-time. With the right solution, your KPIs are never more than a few clicks away. You can access all KPI data from your Accounts Payable KPI dashboard, where your chosen KPIs can be viewed on charts, graphs, tables, or other visual representations to make KPI analysis simple and effective.
Building Your Accounts Payable KPI Dashboard
To build out your Accounts Payable KPI dashboard, contact your vendor to see if one of their systems administrators can assist you. Some solutions utilize simple interfaces to make programming your dashboard a breeze, whereas others will require a specialist. Depending on the KPIs you wish to track, and the level of customization required to track them, it might be best to let your vendor handle the bulk of this work. However, some solutions (IntelliChief included) feature “ready-made” dashboards to help you track important KPIs, such as the five we covered in this article.
Are You Ready to Start Measuring?
The sooner you start measuring KPIs for invoice processing, the sooner you can refine your AP process and work smarter, not harder. Start contacting AP Automation vendors today to see how your organization can become faster, leaner, and more cost-effective by automating invoice processing and analyzing auto-generated AP data. By this time next year, you could potentially reduce your AP costs by 70 percent or more, allowing your business to provide for strategic initiatives that have been swept under the rug for far too long.
Accounts Payable Automation has earned its reputation as a game-changer for large and complex organizations that handle tens, even hundreds, of thousands of invoices annually (or more). However, fewer than half of all businesses have implemented some form of Accounts Payable Invoice Automation solution to streamline financial operations.
From Gartner to the Aberdeen Group to the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) and the hundreds of ERP-specific user groups located around the globe, the benefits of Accounts Payable Invoice Automation have been thoroughly documented. For most businesses, implementing AP Invoice Automation is no longer a matter of if but when, so getting an early lead amongst your competitors is ideal for achieving industry-leading efficiency in your Accounts Payable department.
Now is the time to work smarter, not harder, and automation is the go-to solution. Here’s why it’s time for your organization to consider Accounts Payable Invoice Automation.
Real-Time Invoice Data and Payment Information Sets the Agenda for Your Financial Operations
Business leaders demand real-time access to tools and data whether employees are in the office or working remotely. This capability is even more critical in Accounts Payable, a department that is oftentimes plagued with inefficiencies related to manual work and non-standardized processes. Accounts Payable Invoice Automation can provide in-office and remote workers instant access to invoice data and payment information, allowing you to streamline financial operations and mitigate document shuffle.
In many ways, real-time invoice data and payment information set the agenda for your financial operations by giving you unheralded visibility into the inner workings of your cash flow. Other benefits include:
- Simplified invoice routing powered by configurable workflows that don’t deviate from your prescribed business rules
- Streamlined exception handling with automated prompts that guide processors on next steps, reducing the time it takes to process non-PO invoices
- Automating PO-based invoices to reduce the opportunity for human error
- Taking advantage of early payment discount opportunities and eliminating duplicate and late payments that collectively cost businesses billions annually
- Mitigating human error by automating common AP tasks, such as 3-way matching and line-item conversions
These benefits only begin to scratch the surface of what your business is capable of when you automate invoice processing. The core concepts of automation are standardization, control, and efficiency. As you will see below, the invoice processing capabilities your business can unlock with automation can have a transformative effect on your business, freeing up the working capital you need to invest in the future and become more resilient in the present.
The Ability to Make Informed Financial Decisions on the Fly Is a Significant Competitive Advantage
Large, complex businesses with dispersed workforces require AP Invoice Automation to ensure best practices, continuity, and scalable operations. When your organization’s footprint is spread out across multiple cities, states, or countries, staying on top of Accounts Payable takes a concerted effort. Unfortunately, as companies grow, these mission-critical business units have a tendency to become increasingly isolated, resulting in information silos.
When information silos are constructed, making informed financial decisions is nearly impossible. AP Invoice Automation helps to tear down these walls and connect personnel by supporting a centralized, digital repository where invoices and other AP-related documents can be stored, retrieved, and managed by permitted users within the organization.
Furthermore, once these documents have been consolidated, they can be reviewed and analyzed to empower financial decision-making. Leveraging analytics and business intelligence from automation, organizations understand the intricacies of their cash flow in greater detail than ever before. Some examples of the insights gleaned from this technology include:
- On an individual level, how fast does each approver work?
- What is the average amount of time it takes to process an invoice?
- Where are invoice bottlenecks most likely to occur?
- How many early payment discount opportunities are being missed each month?
- Which suppliers offer the discount terms?
- How many PO vs. non-PO invoices are received each month?
- How long does it take approvers to reconcile invoice exceptions?
Without automation, finding the answers to these questions can take days, weeks, or even months. You may need to organize an internal audit to get the clarity that AP Invoice Automation can provide instantaneously via built-in reporting and analytics tools.
AP Invoice Automation Helps Your Organization Scale With Ease
Mergers, acquisitions, global expansion, and departmental reorganizations are par for the course for successful businesses. Responding to these changes is essential, but it’s easier said than done — especially when it comes to Accounts Payable. When your team of processors is suddenly facing twice as many invoices as usual, you’ll need to devise a plan for scaling operations to meet the growing demand.
Invoice Automation is scalable and agile. When invoice volume spikes, automation will process the majority of new invoices, diminishing the potential burden on your team. They will still be responsible for certain invoice exceptions, but they won’t be faced with twice the workload.
Connecting systems of record is another challenge for growing businesses. Invoice Automation can integrate with multiple ERPs to improve connectivity between disparate business units. This saves businesses a lot of time and stress since there’s less of a need for strategic reorganization and other problems of scale.
What to Consider When Choosing an AP Invoice Automation Solution
Choosing a partner for AP Invoice Automation is an important decision — one that will affect your business for years to come. It’s important to fully understand what your chosen solution offers in its Accounts Payable software. Here are a few noteworthy considerations:
- Can the solution provide touchless, end-to-end invoice processing? (i.e., capturing invoices, coding/allocation, approval routing, data entry to ERP, etc.)
- Has the vendor deployed their solution for another client with the same ERP as your organization? Are there any case studies or testimonials for those clients?
- How long has the vendor been implementing AP Invoice Automation solutions?
- Does the vendor outsource any part of their development or customer service, or do they handle these functions in house?
- What is their support plan? Do they provide continuous support before, during, and after implementation?
- Does the solution allow you to measure and track process performance KPIs, such as cost per invoice processed, # of invoices processed straight-through per versus manually, average percent of invoice exceptions, average time per invoice processed, reduction in received not vouchered invoices?
As your organization compares Accounts Payable Invoice Automation vendors, keep these questions in mind to ensure that you are focusing on the capabilities and features that will have the most significant impact on your business.
Where Does Your Organization Stand With Accounts Payable Invoice Automation?
According to IOFM, 14 percent of businesses process supplier invoices in a completely manual environment. These businesses require weeks to process invoices that their competitors are processing in mere days. If your organization is still processing paper invoices manually, your cost to process an invoice can be anywhere from 4x-10x greater than your competitors.
Still, this only accounts for 14 percent of businesses. Your organization likely has some degree of automation – or at least digitization – to speed invoices along your queue. Let’s see how the rest of the field stacks up:
- 6 percent are not very automated and have no plans to automate
- 27 percent are not very automated but plan to automate further
- 11 percent are largely automated and do not plan to automate any further
- 44 percent are largely automating and plan to automate further
- 9 percent are fully automated and have effectively eliminated manual processes
Look at these numbers and consider where your organization stands. Have you done enough to automate invoice processing? Do your still view your AP department as an inefficient cost center? By acknowledging your existing strengths and weaknesses, you can take the necessary steps to improve further.
When the time comes to establish your AP Automation project team, it’s important to engage with your various stakeholders to ensure that you satisfy your organization’s requirements at all levels. Getting organized, establishing goals, and keeping all stakeholders accountable will not only help you achieve your AP Automation objectives but also help your vendor deliver your solution faster and more efficiently while minimizing backtracking.
Generally, there is some variance among who is involved depending on the structure of your organization; however, AP Automation project teams are commonly composed of the following stakeholders:
- AP Manager
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Chief Product Officer (CPO)
- IT Leader
Below, we explore why these stakeholders are critical to your partnership with an AP Automation vendor and how to utilize their individual objectives to reach your desired outcomes on a holistic level.
AP Manager Objectives
Accounts Payable (AP) Managers are responsible for managing and supervising the Accounts Payable department and staff in your organization. They run point on an assortment of tasks, such as ensuring company policy is adhered to, maintaining the general ledger, verifying payments are distributed in a timely manner, and executing strategies to help eliminate inefficiencies throughout the purchase-to-pay cycle.
Your AP Managers are like infantrymen, putting boots on the ground to solve problems where they arise. This gives them a unique perspective on the inner workings of your AP process and allows them to identify quirks and weaknesses that might otherwise go unnoticed. As a result, AP Managers typically experience the benefits of AP Automation more directly than other stakeholders.
AP Managers and the processors they oversee will be in the trenches utilizing AP Automation to process and reconcile invoices faster and more efficiently. Their AP Automation objectives include:
- Convert from paper-based invoices to electronic invoices
- Reduce document processing and storage costs
- Streamline management of invoices from multiple sources
- Reduce cost per invoice processed and increase the volume of invoices processed per FTE
- Eliminate duplicate payments and late payments
- Mitigate human error from manual invoice data entry and processing
- Manage AP processes when short-staffed
- Incorporate remote workers
- Standardize processes to improve consistency and reduce dependence on tribal knowledge
- Increase visibility into AP and improve reporting
Chief Financial Officer Objectives
Your Chief Financial Officer CFO) is responsible for managing financial matters at your company, such as tracking cash flow, financial planning, analyzing financial strengths and weaknesses, and proposing corrective actions to ensure that your organization is generating net positive gains.
CFOs are commonly the driver of AP Automation projects because they survey the business at a fifty-thousand-foot view and can see how these improvements work together to deliver results. CFO objectives include:
- Real-time visibility into working capital
- Superior control over AP spend
- Robust analytics to support strategic decision-making
- Capture more early pay discount opportunities
- Transform AP into a profit center
Another critical stakeholder to include in your AP Automation project is your controller. Controllers manage accounting records and produce financial reports. They play a pivotal role in both private and public companies. For public companies that trade on stock exchanges, GAAP-compliant reports generated by controllers are required by law for shareholders’ review.
Controllers are also responsible for overseeing how and where accounting records are stored, which is one of the chief reasons they should be included on your AP Automation project team. Other Controller objectives include:
- Improve visibility into AP data
- Obtain high-quality tools for analyzing and managing cash flow
- Streamline transaction processes
- Support simpler compliance, reporting, and audit procedures
- Faster financial close
Chief Product Officer Objectives
If you decide to include your Chief Product Officer (CPO) on your AP Automation project team, they will provide a unique, product-focused perspective. Depending on your industry, their insight can be critical to your AP Automation project.
While most CPOs are responsible for driving product vision, innovation, design, development, and marketing, they also play a role in distribution, manufacturing, and procurement as it relates to your organization’s product(s). After all, you can’t build great products without procuring the necessary ingredients to produce them, which means your CPO needs a clear view of Accounts Payable. Therefore, CPOs emphasize stability when included on your AP Automation project team. Their objectives include:
- Fewer “maverick” and out-of-budget purchases
- Enhance supplier experience through a dedicated portal
- Reduce or eliminate late payments to key suppliers
- Increase visibility into AP spend
- Better contract compliance
IT Leader Objectives
IT Leaders are often viewed as the gatekeepers preventing major projects, such as AP Automation, from coming to fruition. Skepticism amongst IT professionals is certainly warranted when it comes to projects of this magnitude because IT Leaders are focused on maintaining the status quo and keeping your organization’s information secure. That said, your IT Leader shouldn’t be focused on finding reasons to prevent a potentially beneficial project from moving forward; rather, their focus should be trained on keeping security intact as you progress with your AP Automation project.
For this reason, they are an essential stakeholder on your AP Automation project team. They can also help you vet your chosen vendor to ensure that they are experienced and trustworthy. When you choose the right vendor, your IT Leader is less likely to shoot down your project and more likely to embrace it with arms wide open. Getting them on board is worth the effort. Plus, they can benefit in some rather significant ways, including:
- Lessen the burden of supporting AP
- Extend the value of ERP investments
- Reduce the total cost of ownership for ERP
- Streamline security and compliance
- Forge strategic partnership for growing technological demands
Now That Your Project Team’s AP Automation Objectives Are Clear, What’s Next?
You’ve put together a team and you’re ready to implement AP Automation for your company. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to discuss next steps.
First, you need to determine which features and functionalities are necessary to meet your project requirements. Remember, AP Automation software comes in all shapes and sizes, running the gamut from point solutions for small businesses to enterprise-class platforms for industry leaders. Depending on the size of your company and the volume of invoices you process, the best solution for your needs will differ drastically from those that have been implemented by other businesses.
For starters, think about some of the high-level features that your organization will utilize, such as:
- ERP Integration
- Invoice receipt
- Data capture
- Approval workflow
- PO matching
- Exception handling
Then, you will need to decide what level of automation is suitable to meet your goals and requirements. The more you automate, the higher your ROI over time, but it will come at a higher upfront cost. Are you looking for short-term savings or long-term, systemic changes that will help you dominate the competition? Whatever you decide, AP Automation can help.
Does your organization know how much it costs to process a single invoice? At first glance, this figure might seem too granular and specific to be of any value. After all, your organization probably understands the difference between its revenue and expenditures. But upon closer inspection, determining your cost to process a single invoice can provide your organization with a concrete figure to compare its invoice processing capabilities against. If you can decrease this figure, you can increase your bottom line — which means better cash flow management and increased liquidity to grow your business.
Ready to determine your cost to process a single invoice? Follow these steps:
- Set your cost per invoice benchmark
- Estimate your average cost per invoice
- Calculate your average cost to process a single invoice
- Compare your total against your estimate and benchmark
- Consider solutions for decreasing your average cost per invoice
1. Set Your Cost Per Invoice Benchmark
In Top 5 Reasons to Automate Invoice Processing, we discuss the significant cost differential for companies that process invoices manually and those that automate invoice processing. Companies with no automation spent, on average, $15.96 per invoice whereas companies with automation only spent $2.94 per invoice.
When setting your cost per invoice benchmark, you want to set a realistic goal that falls between these two averages. If your organization hasn’t automated Accounts Payable, $2.94 can be an unrealistic benchmark. However, you don’t want your cost per invoice to exceed $15.96 as this indicates that your process is inherently flawed and may require you to rework your process from the ground up.
For our example, let’s set your cost per invoice benchmark squarely in the middle of these two values: $9.45. Of course, you can adjust your benchmark as needed to better suit your business. The goal here is to set a concrete goal that we can compare against your current cost per invoice.
2. Estimate Your Average Cost Per Invoice
Now that you’ve established your benchmark, it’s time to estimate what your average cost per invoice really is. Is it greater than, less than, or equal to $9.45? In the next section, we’ll give you all of the information you need to calculate your actual cost per invoice, but before we get to that step, take a minute to consider where you think you currently fall.
If your estimate is higher than the benchmark we set in the last section, that’s okay! If it’s lower, that’s also okay! Although you are free to adjust your benchmark, keep in mind that we set it at $9.45 because this falls in the middle of the range we’ve observed while servicing our customers. Estimating your average cost per invoice gives you an opportunity to think about where your AP department currently stands. It also makes the discovery of your actual cost per invoice that much more enlightening.
3. Calculate Your Average to Process a Single Invoice
Are you ready to see where your organization stands in relation to your benchmark and estimate? Take some time to record your answers to the checklist below. You may need to reach out to other leaders in your organization for information related to these questions. Keep in mind the individuals you speak with as they may play an important role in forming your committee for the enterprise software selection process. Enterprise software, such as Accounts Payable Automation, will help you bring down your actual cost per invoice and get it more aligned with the top benchmark of $2.94 per invoice.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- # of supplier invoices you process per year
- Avg. length of each invoice?
- % of PO-based invoices
- % of invoices that require exception handling
- % of invoices received via mail and email?
- # of POs and check pages filed per year
- # of invoice processors in your AP department
- Avg. annual salary, avg. fully burdened salary, and avg. fully burdened hourly rate for AP department
- # of early payment discounts that are available to you each year
- # of early payment discounts that you miss each year
- Total cost of late payment fees incurred per year
- Total cost (if applicable) of sending invoices from remote offices or plants to HQ for processing
- Total cost of collecting, printing, and storing POs, receiving documents, payment documents, and other transactional information, including the cost of outsourcing document processing and data entry
- Total time spent on recurring tasks, including invoice prep, document routing, mathematical conversions, duplicate payment resolution, and reporting (per month/year)
- Total time spent on occasional administrative tasks, including audit preparation and file destruction (per year)
- Total time spent by non-AP employees performing tasks such as sending procurement requests throughout our internal approval routes or entering receiving data into your ERP (per month/year)
Once you have your totals, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our experts will calculate your average cost per invoice using our AP Automation ROI Calculator. If you would like more information about the ROI Calculator before submitting your information, please send a request to email@example.com. In the meantime, bookmark this page so you can complete Steps 4 and 5.
4. Compare Your Total Against Your Estimate and Benchmark
Once you know your cost to process a single invoice, it’s time to compare it against your estimate and your benchmark. Based on your findings, following Step 5 could be either critical or unnecessary.
If you need to lower your cost to process a single invoice, considering a solution that can help your organization do just that is the next natural step. On the other hand, if your cost is already lower than the top benchmark and your estimate, your organization might want to seek a different avenue for cost savings.
Here’s what your findings suggest about your current processes:
- If your cost is higher than the manual processing benchmark (>$15.96), it means your organization is wasting thousands, potentially millions, on time-consuming and tedious manual invoice processing. It’s time to overhaul your AP process.
- If your cost is higher than the median benchmark (>$9.45), it means your organization is outperforming laggards but failing to streamline and optimize its invoicing processes to compete with the top-performing half of all companies.
- If your cost is less than the median benchmark (<$9.45), it means your manual invoice processing methodology has been refined but lacks the speed and accuracy of an automated invoice management system. In other words, your organization is a top performer amongst technology-deficient businesses. Conversely, it could indicate that your organization has an invoice automation solution that isn’t performing at the level it should be.
- If your cost is less than the automation benchmark (<$2.94), it means your organization has likely deployed some form of invoice automation to reduce its invoice processing costs. You don’t need to do anything — unless you want to expand your solution to other departments or find a solution that offers more features.
5. Consider Solutions for Decreasing Your Average Cost Per Invoice
With your cost to process a single invoice verified, it’s now time to consider your next steps and start asking questions, including:
- Is my organization satisfied with the cost to process a single invoice?
- How can I reduce the cost of invoice processing?
- Which vendors should I consider to help my organization achieve its goal?
- What is the initial cost of implementing an AP Automation solution for invoices?
- Do we need separate strategies for tackling PO-based and non-PO-based invoices?
- What other cost-saving strategies should my organization consider to further reduce the cost to process a single invoice?
For many businesses, AP Automation is the ideal solution for reducing invoice processing costs. With a robust, scalable solution, organizations can reduce invoice processing times by 70 percent or more while improving accuracy, eliminating duplicate payments, and seizing more early payment discounts. Together, these functionalities yield significant time and cost savings that are impossible to replicate without an enterprise software solution like IntelliChief.
Are You Ready to Reduce Your Cost to Process a Single Invoice?
Reducing your invoice processing costs is one of the best ways to enhance your bottom line. The majority of companies have not invested in AP Automation because they haven’t identified the need. Working under the assumption that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” these companies continue to squander profits on processes that are ineffective and costly. Now that you understand how much each invoice is costing your business, it’s time to do something about it!
To learn more about our solutions for automating invoice processing, contact IntelliChief today. Our industry-leading AP Automation solution integrates with your core technologies to support a seamless automated experience from start to finish.
Businesses around the globe process billions of invoices annually. As the process of purchasing materials and goods is refined and streamlined, this volume is only increasing. In fact, recent studies suggest that the volume of invoices received is likely to quadruple over the next decade. For this reason, many businesses are eager to automate invoice processing to better manage their cash flow.
The benefits of automated invoice processing are well documented, but many companies are still hesitant to take the leap. Many of these companies have heard the familiar pitches, including:
- Invoice automation increases efficiency
- Automating Accounts Payable improves accuracy
- AP Automation is a perfect entry point for digital transformation
But how can you be 100 percent certain that automating invoice processing is, in fact, the ideal solution for your business? In this article, we break down the top five reasons why companies are utilizing invoice automation to gain a competitive (and operational) advantage.
1. Automating Invoice Processing Saves Time
Do you still process invoices manually? If so, your process probably looks something like this:
- The invoice is generated by the supplier
- The supplier sends the invoice to the purchaser
- The invoice is printed and walked to an approver
- The data on the invoice is manually entered into the purchaser’s ERP system
- The invoice data is sent to the approver for review
- The invoice is approved
- The purchaser writers a check
- The check is mailed to the supplier
Of course, this process doesn’t necessarily end here. If there are any discrepancies or issues with the invoice, the purchaser and the supplier must work together to resolve them for approval.
Now, let’s compare the number of steps involved when this process has been automated. It looks like this:
- The invoice is submitted digitally via an invoicing platform (i.e., IntelliChief) to the purchaser
- The invoicing platform captures data from the invoice automatically
- The invoicing platform automatically processes the invoice through the correct approval routing procedures
- Once approved, payment is sent to the supplier
With invoice automation, the number of steps required to approve an invoice is cut in half. Better yet, each of these steps is occurring in real-time, which means your business doesn’t need to wait for an approver to interact with an invoice. Invoices are automatically captured and processed as they arrive without any human intervention, resulting in an 80 percent reduction in the amount of time it takes to process an invoice. In our research, we have found that it takes companies an average of 16.6 days to process an invoice manually as opposed to only 3.6 days with invoice automation.
Needless to say, time saved is money earned — bringing us to the second reason why businesses choose to automate invoice processing…
2. The Cost Savings Are Undeniable
When you can reduce the amount of time it takes to process invoices, you can get a more accurate look at your cash flow and make better decisions, but that’s only the beginning of the cost-saving benefits of invoice automation. You also save by:
- Decreasing the amount of labor required to satisfy your AP process
- Reducing paper-based overhead, including printing, mailing, and physical storage
- Eliminating late and duplicate payments
Over time, these savings add up. When your cost per invoice is up to 80 percent less, you can reinvest those dollars saved to help your business grow and evolve. We’ve done our own research by leveraging our database of hundreds of customers. We’ve found that on average, businesses that automate invoice processing pay an average of $2.94 per invoice. This cost spikes to $15.96 per invoice at companies with no automation.
3. Gain Superior Visibility and Cash Flow Management
With automated invoice processing, your business will have a more accurate picture of where it stands from a cash flow management perspective. Not only will you have a better idea of your total available cash flow but also how it is affected throughout the year. In other words, invoice automation makes it easier to plan your next move — growing your business has never been easier.
Here are some examples of what your business can accomplish with greater control over its cash flow:
- Invest in innovation
- Hire and train new workers for more fulfilling roles
- Expand product and service offerings or double down on your existing offerings by improving them
- Reinvest in other departments that can benefit from automation
It’s no secret that implementing automation makes it easier for businesses to scale as their needs evolve, but it also helps kickstart growth by providing some greatly needed stimulus. Plus, with better cash flow management, you can focus on further refining processes to become more efficient.
4. Redefine Efficiency and Eliminate Human Error
According to Billentis, 20-30 percent of invoices “have to be treated as exceptions in one form or another.” This is where the top-tier invoice automation solutions separate themselves from the pack. An important question to ask when considering invoice automation is this:
- Can the solution automate exceptions? And to what extent?
Most automated invoice processing systems can automate simple, PO-based invoices. When discrepancies occur, these systems break down and require manual approval. Unfortunately, this is also the scenario most likely to result in human error. What if your solution could automate the bulk of your discrepancies? IntelliChief can.
IntelliChief utilizes a variety of features based on approval logic to get the job done when other solutions can’t. Mismatched item numbers? No problem. Unconverted currencies? No problem. Missing vendor ID #s? No problem. The list goes on.
This helps you improve invoice approval accuracy while also benefiting from additional process controls, reporting, accountability checks, and more. What happens when the discrepancy can’t be automated? Invoices can be recalled on demand and instantly connected to other related documents, allowing you to analyze what went wrong and why. If the solution is repeatable, IntelliChief will take the proper action next time having learned it from your manual approver.
5. Reduce Stress With Automated Compliance
Your invoices are an important form of documentation when it comes to financial and tax compliance. Your auditor needs to know what you purchased, and for how much, to ensure that your business doesn’t have anything to hide. Unfortunately, paper-based invoices are easy to lose or damage, which can cause friction with your compliance requirements.
With invoice processing automation, you can essentially automate compliance by providing auditors with all of the information they need through a digital portal. With your system constantly updating itself in real-time, you don’t need to explain why a certain document is missing or features outdated information — everything is accounted for at all times.
The World Bank notes that invoice automation can help you fortify your tax compliance and legal security needs while reducing related costs by nearly 40 percent. Are you currently preparing for an upcoming audit? Rather than investing sweat equity and work hours into preparation each time an audit is required, you can automate the entire process from start to finish with virtually no maintenance — all thanks to automated invoice processing.
Are You Ready to Automate Invoice Processing?
Now that you understand how invoice automation can help you reduce invoice processing costs, decrease invoice cycle times, obtain more vendor discounts, eliminate paper/storage costs, and achieve superior visibility into your process, it’s time to speak with an expert about your specific goals and requirements. Before you start to shop around, it’s important to form an enterprise software selection committee and understand the integration requirements of your core technologies.
Once you have this information, contact IntelliChief to speak with an expert about your project. We’re happy to point you in the right direction to ensure that your automated invoice processing project helps your business gain a competitive advantage.
In an increasingly technology-dependent world, change is always on the horizon. Your organization has spent years, possibly even decades, working diligently to achieve success. Your people, processes, and customers are a direct result of your organization’s ability to adapt and thrive, but when the playing field is no longer level, it’s time to innovate before you dissipate.
For enterprise-level businesses, keeping pace with innovation is a constant challenge. By ignoring innovation, you only prolong the inevitable. By making rash, uninformed decisions, you shift your company in a dangerous trajectory. The most obvious example is enterprise software, including:
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
- Accounts Payable Automation
- Sales Order Processing Automation
- Records Management Software
- And various types of process-specific software
While these technologies have the potential to give your company a distinct competitive advantage in terms of security, accuracy, speed, and cost, finding the right solution takes input and collaboration from a variety of key decision-makers. Who should you include in the enterprise software selection process? It depends on your business, core technology, and objectives. This article provides several insightful tips to help you form a team that will lead you towards the best enterprise software solution to address your specific needs.
Consider This Before You Begin the Enterprise Software Selection Process
It takes time to find the ideal enterprise software vendor for your business. The vetting process can be long and costly, which means establishing clear objectives early on is essential for reducing the cost of your enterprise software project. The vetting process typically involves between three and ten vendors, which means the more vendors you reach out to, the longer and more costly your selection process will be.
Internally, your organization needs to set rules for performing due diligence, vetting qualifications, rejecting poor matches, and, ultimately, defining its shortlist. You don’t want ten vendors on your shortlist. Two is ideal. Three is manageable. But anything beyond that can make the final selection process harder than it needs to be.
Calculating the Cost of Selection
The enterprise software selection process can take anywhere from three to eighteen months. The faster you can pull together your team and start vetting vendors, the smaller the hit to your bottom line. According to the Supply Chain Coalition, it takes “up to 300 hours/person by a team of up to 20 key individuals” to select enterprise software for your business. But with the right team (and helpful vendors), you can cut down this number drastically. They estimate that the cost of selection, on average, equals $900,000. Here’s how they reached this number:
Company burdened rate ($150/hour) x 300 hours x 20 employees = $900,000
And that’s before you get any benefit from your new system. Over the last decade, we’ve implemented enterprise software, such as ECM, AP Automation, and Sales Order Automation, for hundreds of customers. We’ve discussed this statistic with them, and, frankly, the cost of selection has never been calculated anywhere near this figure.
Certainly, this figure could account for the worst-case scenario, but we believe that transparent collaboration is the key to accelerating your project and reducing the cost to implement. You want to recoup your investment as quickly as possible, which is why we’ve made it our goal to help businesses generate 100 percent ROI within the first 12-18 months of implementation.
If you want to learn more about how companies like yours have handled the selection process, our team is happy to walk you through some case studies from past customers that are already using IntelliChief. Now, it’s time to answer the titular question:
Who Should You Include in the Enterprise Software Selection Process?
The term “CEO” is used rather loosely these days. Investopedia defines a Chief Executive Officer as “the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (the board) and corporate operations and being the public face of the company.”
In most companies, high-dollar investments must typically be approved by the CEO. We recommend getting project approval from your company’s CEO before you start the selection process, then looping back around in the later stages of your search to update them accordingly and provide additional knowledge. You must provide a clear rationale for the project, the estimated cost to implement, and the projected time it will take to recoup the investment as well as future projections for cost savings and operational improvements.
It’s unlikely the CEO will be involved throughout every step of the selection process, but they need to be convinced if you want them to provide the proverbial thumbs up or down at important junctions along the way.
Other C-Level Executives to Include in the Selection Process
In addition to the CEO, you should also consider the following C-level executives when shopping for enterprise software.
As the head of your Finance department, the Chief Financial Officer oversees financial operations, budgeting, and financial reporting. When shopping enterprise software, the CFO is a powerful ally that can help you convey value to the CEO and accelerate the project timeline. Among the members of your team, they also have the most to gain. Enterprise software is highly effective for reducing costs across all areas of your organization — a benefit your CFO will recognize immediately.
The Chief Information Officer takes the lead in matters concerning information technology (IT) and implementation. This technical role is responsible for ensuring the smooth rollout of any new technologies in your organization. However, their job doesn’t exclusively involve overseeing hardware, software, and data for the C-suite. They are also tasked with researching potentially lucrative technologies, building use cases, and providing value propositions. In most implementations, the CIO plays a prominent role because they combine the technical know-how of IT with the high-level insights of the C-suite.
Recommended Solutions: Enterprise Content Management, Accounts Payable Automation, Sales Order Automation, HR Automation, and Document Retention.
Sometimes, the CEO is too busy or unavailable to greenlight a new project. As the second in command, the President (or even the Vice President) can be an effective partner in navigating the software selection process. Similar to the CEO, they have high-level knowledge of your organization’s needs and a strong understanding of what must be done to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Some companies have a single President, while others have several Vice Presidents overseeing various departments. Determining who you should turn to (or who should take it upon themselves to initiate an enterprise software project) depends on the hierarchical structure of your company. While these positions most commonly deal with logistics, business operations, and policy, they can also serve as the glue between various managers and decision-makers. They can help you determine which type of enterprise software will have the most significant benefit by examining operational weaknesses, inefficient business processes, and detrimental cost centers.
Recommended Solutions: Enterprise Content Management, Process Automation, and Platform Services.
The operations manager, also referred to as chief operating officer or COO, oversees various high-level HR-related duties, including:
- Scouting and attracting qualified talent
- Establishing rigorous training standards
- Refining the hiring process
- Analyzing organization processes and recommending improvements
- Enhancing workforce quality, productivity, and efficiency
Implementing enterprise software, whether in Human Resources or any other department in your organization, will affect your employees directly by altering the way they perform their jobs. While these changes are almost always positive, they are changes, and employees often resist changes to the status quo.
The operations manager can help make this transition a smooth experience for everyone by providing their expertise and representing the sentiment of current and future employees. They can also refine hiring processes to account for new technology.
Whether your organization is looking to automate HR-based processes or increase efficiency across multiple departments, the operations manager can provide an employee-first perspective to ensure that your enterprise software implementation makes work more enjoyable for all.
Recommended Solutions: HR Automation, Process Automation, and Document Retention.
The production manager plays a vital role in any organization that creates and distributes products. From scheduling to budgeting and meeting deadlines, the production manager has an inside track on the functions that allow your business to satisfy commitments to customers.
How does enterprise software factor into your production line? This is an important question that you will need to address at some point during the enterprise software selection process. The production manager can help you answer it.
For example, if you are shopping for Sales Order Automation, your production manager can help you understand the effect faster order processing and clearance will have on your production needs. When you get paid faster, you can complete orders more quickly, but what effect does that have on production? There’s a good chance that you will need to produce more products to satisfy faster order turnaround.
Recommended Solutions: Sales Order Automation, Document Management for Manufacturing, and Accounts Receivable Automation.
According to TalentLyft, warehouse managers (or shipping managers) are responsible for an array of important tasks, including “packing, verifying content for shipping, receiving packages, [and] ordering supplies.”
However, today’s shipping managers are also responsible for using software to optimize distribution processes, managing documents (i.e., advanced shipping notices, pick slips, bills of lading, and more), and directing packages from start to finish.
Depending on your enterprise software solution, any number of these processes can be streamlined or automated, which means including your warehouse/shipping manager in your search will help you identify a solution that meets your requirements from both operations and cost savings perspectives.
Recommended Solutions: Sales Order Automation, Document Management for Distribution, Document Management for Manufacturing, Enterprise Analytics, and Workflow Automation.
Accounts Payable Manager
One of the fastest ways to recoup your initial investment when purchasing enterprise software is by starting in Accounts Payable. If your organization is still performing AP tasks “the old way,” it will benefit immensely from Accounts Payable Automation.
AP Automation helps businesses reduce invoice processing costs, eliminate late fees, and capture more early payment discounts. It’s the perfect starting point for any enterprise software implementation because it demonstrates lightning-fast ROI and significant operational improvements. Once you see the benefits of AP Automation, it’s only a matter of time before you expand your solution to other departments — if your solution is designed for the enterprise and can be utilized for multiple applications.
Your Accounts Payable Manager is an integral part of any software selection committee, providing the technical expertise of your specific AP processes that will allow your vendor to automate your processes in a way that matches the way you currently do business (while refining these processes and making them faster and more efficient).
When implemented by a proven vendor with a penchant for AP Automation success, your AP manager’s job becomes much easier. AP Automation streamlines invoice processing, voucher creation, records management, and reporting.
Recommended Solutions: Accounts Payable Automation and Enterprise Content Management.
Line supervisors oversee work performed on the line, manage schedules, and monitor quality control. Career Trend describes line supervisors as the “eyes and ears on the line during operations.”
Although line supervisors do not perform high-level management tasks, they can provide the most granular insights into your specific processes. When mapping processes for process automation, talking to your line supervisors can ensure that nothing falls between the cracks. This is important because even minor tasks can throw off your automation implementation when unaccounted for. Plus, they will have a more complete understanding of undocumented tasks and tribal knowledge associated with the particular line they are supervising.
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
Forming a selection committee with members of your organization is a surefire way to ensure that your selection process is productive; however, there’s no denying the fact that the solution you need may not be one that you’re familiar with. For this reason, many businesses seek assistance from consultants outside of their organization. Outside consultants are helpful for a number of reasons, including:
- Experience dealing with customers that match your business profile
- Expertise on the subject of enterprise software as well as the various types of software that can be utilized to solve your unique problems
- Connections within the enterprise software industry for potential discounts
- Taking point during the selection process to weed out vendors that are only looking for a sale
- Impartiality during the selection process
- Familiarity with your existing core technology
- Industry-specific or ERP-specific knowledge
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
Account Executives (From Vendor Shortlist)
Once you have created a shortlist of vendors you are interested in discussing your project with, establish a point of contact at each solution provider. Are they trying to sell you their product? Yes. But in order to do so, they need to answer all of your questions and gain your confidence. In other words, you have all the leverage during the selection process.
Here’s an insider tip: the vendors on your shortlist are expecting you to be in talks with other providers. Use this to your advantage. Compare and contrast their offerings against the others on your shortlist. It’s a good idea to be transparent about the other vendors you’re considering as this can help you discover which ones are being substantive with their claims and which ones are only blowing smoke.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide for yourself which vendor has the right solution for your business, but it’s impossible to distinguish between the good and the bad without talking directly to an account executive from each contender. Here are some questions to consider as you talk to vendors:
- Does the solution integrate with my ERP system?
- If so, does the integration provide real-time updates?
- Will I have to change my business processes?
- Is the interface user-friendly?
- What features are available to improve straight-through processing rates?
- Does the solution permit remote work capabilities?
- Is the solution able to be audited?
- Does the solution feature analytics for reporting?
- Can the solution be expanded to other departments?
- What else is included beyond the software itself?
- How is training handled?
- What makes this solution more suitable than the others on my shortlist?
- How can we verify ROI before making a significant investment?
By asking these questions (and others), you can start to whittle down your shortlist from the recommended three vendors to your chosen enterprise software solution.
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
You’ve Formed Your Enterprise Software Selection Committee. What’s Next?
Now that you’ve assembled a diverse, knowledgeable team of experts from inside and (potentially) outside your business, it’s time to get to work. The longer you wait to implement a game-changing solution, the higher the opportunity cost of remaining the same. Businesses often fail to recognize the detrimental effect of existing inefficiencies that have been baked into your processes for years or decades — but this is the very reason why waiting to get started only hurts your bottom line. Fortunately, there are several ways to get started, including:
For more information on identifying the right enterprise software solution for your unique business needs, contact us today. Our experts are standing by to help your break down your goals and requirements. One quick chat with an expert can potentially save you hours of wasted time by ensuring that your search is pointed in the right direction from the start.
Most audits are conducted on-site, not because it’s practical or convenient but because it has become customary over the years. Since the dawn of accounting, in-person audits have become a facet of doing business that we begrudgingly accept. In fact, most companies conduct internal audits to be 100 percent certain that they are maintaining compliance with SOX, SOC 1 (Type 1 and Type 2), SEC Rule 17, and other external and internal compliance regulations. Although it’s worked reasonably well, technology now permits businesses to conduct audits remotely, which means greater flexibility for business, reduced auditing costs, and greater peace of mind. But how do you conduct a remote audit? And how do you know if your business is prepared for remote accounting audits?
What Technology Do You Need to Conduct a Remote Audit?
For companies interested in conducting remote audits, it is important to recognize that technology is the key to unlock this useful capability. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that combine Document Management, Mobile Content Management, and Workflow Automation are ideal for driving remote auditing capabilities. ECM facilitates the digitization of all enterprise documents, which leads to expanded options for dealing with documentation both in and out of the office. Here’s how it works:
- Enterprise Content Management: a single, integrated platform that connects with your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and provides the framework for the various technologies that make remote audits possible.
- Document Management: technology that digitizes documentation and provides a secure, centralized repository from which all documents can be accessed, reviewed, and processed by approved users.
- Mobile Content Management: technology that facilitates access to your organization’s digital repository by providing remote access to mobile devices. Mobile Content Management not only allows users in the field to process documents without returning to the office but also permits auditors to collect and review documents remotely for faster, less expensive audits.
- Workflow Automation: advanced automation that leverages Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to streamline workflows and automate processes from start to finish. It also helps auditors find what they’re looking for more quickly and allows organizations to automate records retention using RPA-powered policies.
Are Remote Audits Right for Your Business?
ECM permits remote access, allowing approved users to source documentation from throughout your organization. It also allows businesses to create and control access by auditors using the same ECM system. In other words, you can provide temporary credentials to an auditor, allowing them to access the documents they require (and only those documents). This capability is ideal for enterprises that handle a large volume of documentation, such as invoices, sales orders, packing slips, and even onboarding forms.
The other benefit of using an ECM system to perform a remote audit is that it doesn’t limit your businesses to the types of audits it can perform. ECM is designed to be utilized across the enterprise in Accounting, Finance, Legal, Customer Service, Human Resources, and more. These departments often process thousands of documents per month, which creates a significant burden for your auditor if they are tasked with finding documents manually.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Auditing Technologies?
There are many benefits for businesses that conduct remote audits. First and foremost, it makes the process of undergoing an audit simple. Your company provides their auditing firm with an ECM user account with approved permissions that dictate what the auditor can access. Related transactional documentation is also readily available as long as your ECM system supports digital paper trails. Leading ECM systems operate as a “single source of truth” or SSOT. That means your auditor can find everything they need within a single, integrated system. Other benefits include:
- Provides a central repository with robust search capabilities based on any recorded criteria (i.e., invoice #, vendor name, item #, date, logo, and more)
- Supports centralized access from decentralized locations
- Reduces audit fees
- Accelerates audit completion
- Captures all transactional documentation using automated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, ensuring that no documents are ever lost, damaged, or destroyed
- Organizes documentation contiguously.
- Validates and updates information in real-times
- Improves business intelligence with robust analytics capabilities
- Tracks auditor activity and progress
- Guides auditors using plain-text notifications
- Generates reports that are useful for both your organization and the auditor
- Allows your organization’s decision-makers to easily review audit results whether conducted internally or externally
- Facilitates customizable, scalable dashboards that deliver convenient self-service analytics reporting for each audit
- Conducts multiple audits simultaneously from disparate locations
What Happens After You Embrace Remote Auditing Technologies?
Once you start to conduct audits remotely, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of on-site meetings. These will continue to occur, although much less frequently, and these interactions should be streamlined due to the added organization and file access provided by your ECM system. Collaboration with auditors and your department heads will be accelerated for faster resolutions. The company-firm relationship will remain strong, and perhaps even improve thanks to the added efficiency of ECM.
It’s still important to meet face-to-face every now and then, but in an increasingly digital world, it’s not unrealistic to believe that these types of interactions are already being phased out in favor of meetings conducted over Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Additionally, auditors are freed from long stints as a company’s on-site guest — something all parties admittedly appreciate. Your auditors will no longer need to travel, billable hours will be reduced, and you will gain greater control over the cost of audits. Your company will, ultimately, avoid audit projects exceeding projected timetables and budgets, resulting in mutual satisfaction in your fiscal relationships.
Needless to say, remote auditing is highly advantageous for all parties. ECM provides the platform to keep it convenient and cost-effective, allowing your organization to focus less on checks and balances and more on future growth.
Getting more products out the door more quickly lets you maximize your assets. It’s a universal objective shared by everyone from Finance to Operations — and it’s your competitors’ objective, too. Everyone knows you need to spend money to make money, but determining exactly how much revenue each asset generates can be a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a formula to help you figure out exactly that. It’s known as the asset turnover ratio.
What Is the Asset Turnover Ratio?
Have you ever seen this formula before?
Asset Turnover Ratio = Sales or Revenues / Total Assets.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, “The asset turnover ratio, also known as the total asset turnover ratio, measures the efficiency with which a company uses its assets to produce sales.”
The higher the asset turnover ratio, the better your company is performing. Higher ratios mean that you’re generating more revenue per asset, which is a key indicator of where your organization stands against its competitors. If you want to understand how every dollar in total assets equates to sales, this formula will reveal the answer.
So how can you maximize your assets? The answer is simple: Sales Order Processing Automation.
Improve Your Asset Turnover Ratio With Sales Order Processing Automation
Sales Order Processing Automation is one of the most effective tools for maximizing assets. By accelerating your fulfillment process and streamlining logistics, your company can increase revenues and reduce Days Sales Outstanding (DSO). DSO has a dramatic impact on this figure, which is why it should be one of your key KPIs, especially if you are utilizing Sales Order Processing Automation.
With automation, your organization can streamline and automate business processes to make them faster and less prone to error. In fact, some companies have been able to reduce order processing times by as much as 80 percent.
Reduction in Order Processing Time
Why is this important? Faster turnaround means buyers get their bills in a fifth of the time, starting the contractual payment clocks faster and accelerating revenue.
Getting Started With Sales Order Processing Automation
Now that you’ve decided that you want to improve your organization’s asset turnover ratio, it’s time to plan for your automation implementation. Before you start to worry, here’s some good news — it doesn’t take much to optimize your order processing workflow.
Our proven sales order processing system integrates directly with your ERP, making IntelliChief a safe and reliable component of your digital infrastructure. IntelliChief helps you bill your customers faster and track the status of every payment. It electronically captures all your documentation at its point of origin, then indexes the relevant content and organizes it in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. It even communicates with your ERP or line of business system, synchronizing your databases and updating your customer activity records in real-time.
So, what does this mean for your business? It means you have the opportunity to deploy cash assets into capital investments. You can enhance everything from sales and customer service to production and fulfillment.
Interested in learning more? Read our Sales Order Processing Automation white paper or contact us.
That deadline is tomorrow? Wait — John was supposed to be working on that!
Nothing causes your heart to drop quite like realizing a soon-to-be-due project has fallen through the cracks. That said, keeping everyone up to date is easier said than done, especially in companies where different departments work in different locations.
Multi-Location Offices: The New Normal
In today’s increasingly global world, more and more businesses are maintaining offices in several states (or even several countries). That comes with perks, such as the opportunity to transfer to another location, but it also comes with challenges. Collaboration, specifically, becomes harder in a multi-location office. Improving collaboration in a multi-location office provides a number of challenges; many of which cannot be overcome without the use of technology.
Communicating in a Multi-Location Office
Email certainly makes it easier to get important documents from one department to the next, but it’s not a perfect solution. The average office worker gets more than 120 emails every day. This makes it incredibly easy for important messages to be deleted or ignored.
Plus, in companies with more than one office, it’s not unusual for employees to travel on a regular basis. People are much less likely to check their email when they’re away – partially because it’s cumbersome to log into a business email on a mobile device, and partially because their attention is temporarily reallocated to other, more pressing tasks.
Unfortunately, just one missed deadline can make a big impact on a company.
Why Expediency Matters in the Enterprise
Here’s an example: you’ve just received a $25,000 invoice from one of your suppliers. If you’re able to pay that invoice within 10 days, you’re able to deduct 3 percent of what you owe. In this case, that’s $750.
But, before you’re able to pay that invoice:
- Someone has to retrieve it from your mailbox, open it up, put it in a pile with other invoices, and deliver it to Accounts Payable.
- Accounts Payable has to get the original purchase order from a Procurement Manager and confirm that the items were actually received.
- Accounts Payable then has to confirm that the invoice is accurate and enter that invoice into your accounts payable software.
- Because that invoice is a high-value transaction, the original AP employee has to send the invoice over to a manager for approval.
- Once the invoice has been approved, it has to be sent to another manager to have the payment scheduled and recorded.
If one employee misses an email requesting their input (or worse – has a paper document placed on their desk, where it gets buried under a pile of other documents) – that entire process can come to a stop. Let’s say Accounts Payable operates out of your New York office but has to confirm receipt with your receiving warehouse in Dallas, TX. It’s not as easy as just stopping by a colleague’s office to check on the status of the request.
Remember, in this particular example, you only have 10 days to get that invoice matched, approved, and paid (plus get that payment to the vendor). That doesn’t leave much room for error. One delay could lose you that $750 discount – and that’s not a fun conversation to have with management.
How to Improve Multi-Location Office Collaboration
So how can you make cross-office collaboration easier?
Unlock Process Automation
One way to do so is to have your documents automatically transferred from department to department. With a document management system, your employees can click a single button, and the document they’re working on is automatically routed to the next person who needs it. This can be repeated until the entire process is complete (as determined by the procedures you already have in place.)
Share a Calendar
You can also have your teams share a calendar, helping different departments see what needs to be completed and when in real-time. This is easy enough to set up in most corporate email services, like Outlook, although it’s up to each individual user to remember to check it.
Speaking of reminders: a quick notification can usually be enough to get a “forgotten” project back on track. But, someone has to send that notification, and you can’t have employees making themselves responsible for their peers’ productivity.
Manage Your Workflows With Software
This is another place where automation can come in handy. If you use a software program to manage your workflows, you may be able to set up instant notifications. For instance, if a document has been in an employee’s “to-handle” pile for a set amount of time, your software can bring it (back) to their attention.
Document and Perfect Processes That Rely on Multiple Offices
Lastly, make sure you have specific procedures in place for any recurring process that involves multiple departments. There are always one-off projects that you can deal with as they occur, but things that you find yourself dealing with again and again – like invoice approvals – are easiest when standardized. Nobody is left wondering what the next step in the workflow should be, or who they need to report to when their portion of the project is complete. This is the sort of clarity that works wonders for productivity – and streamlined inter-office communication.
If you were to ask 100 companies if they would like to reduce their invoice processing costs, there is a high probability that 99 of them would say “yes.” And the one that says no? They’ve probably started their invoice automation journey already — with a full invoice management system implemented and operable. For businesses that are still managing invoices manually, an invoice management system can provide considerable cost savings while bolstering efficiency to help your Accounts Payable department improve cash flow management and visibility.
Let’s face it, manual invoice processing is expensive and time-consuming. It’s a grim reality that other companies have been grappling with for a long time. Here’s what they’re saying:
What Other Companies Are Saying About Invoice Management Systems
The Institute of Financial Operations surveyed companies about their current approach to invoice management. Here’s what they had to say:
of organizations still deal with paper invoices and transaction documents
said that their volume of invoices increased or remained roughly the same over the past year
reported that the bulk of their increase in invoices was paper-based
confirmed that half or more of their invoices arrived in paper format
of total invoice volume was paper-based for majority of businesses
of companies required between 5 and 25 full-time employees for invoice entry and validation
had a steady or increased number of errors during invoice entry and payment in the last 18 months
of organizations said that PO-based invoice automation is important to a comprehensive automation project
60 percent said that they were focusing on controlling their spend and ensuring that purchases were made with preferred suppliers
were focusing on eliminating mismatches and exceptions that lead to blocked invoice payment
noted the average time it takes to process an invoice increased over the past year
were able to capture “a significant amount” of early payment discounts with invoice processing automation
used front-end document capture software
used optical character recognition (OCR) software to replace manual ERP keying
had full data extraction and ERP validation capabilities
The statistics illustrate an alarming trend. For most companies, invoice processing is still a largely manual process, but they are also spending more time thinking about their AP processes and how they can improve them with an invoice management system.
What You Can Do To Reduce Your Invoice Processing Costs
Reducing your invoice processing costs is easier said than done, which is why we have developed comprehensive solutions, including invoice validation software, to help companies overcome these challenges. Most of our customers achieve a full ROI within one year of implementation with a 75 percent reduction in invoice processing costs. With a robust invoice management system and invoice automation capabilities, you can avoid late payment fees and expedite invoice processing to capture a higher percentage of available discounts.
IntelliChief customers also benefit by:
- Reducing AP cycle time by 80 percent
- Preventing time-consuming manual data entry mistakes
- Improving visibility into the Accounts Payable processes with intuitive, decision-enhancing reports
The best part? You can keep your specific processes in place. Strategic automation is all it takes to achieve these results. with our invoice management system.
Is your organization looking for a way to reduce HR costs and improve productivity? There are many unforeseen Human Resources costs that businesses fail to account for. Everything from failing to upgrade your HCM system to utilizing a paper-based filing system can leech time and money from your HR department.
If you want to cut costs without cutting heads, you’re going to need to get creative. Here are a few of our favorite strategies for preventing unforeseen Human Resources costs:
Identify and Support Efficient Workers
It’s no secret that your organization’s ability to not only hire but also retain the “best” people for the job plays a significant role in how resources are utilized. Employees that work hard and provide tangible results are an invaluable tool when it comes to reducing your operational costs. Efficient workers complete tasks more quickly and at a lower cost than their counterparts. For this reason, it’s important to support these workers by giving them the tools to continue succeeding in the future. By doing so, you can insulate your organization against common industry challenges, such as a shortage of qualified workers or the growing cost to hire.
Is the Inability to Retain Workers Hurting Your Business?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average company spends $4,129 per-hire and takes 42 days to fill a job opening. By retaining high-quality workers, you can avoid these time and monetary costs. Why not let your competitors worry about finding and attracting new talent while you forge a path forward into the future? Keep in mind, every “bad” hire is also detrimental to your bottom line. Randstad reports that the cost to replace a bad hire can cost organizations up to 10 times the salary of the outgoing employee.
Of course, maintaining workers is a challenge. Employees are constantly looking for new opportunities that offer higher compensation, more fulfillment, or a less intensive workload. It’s nearly impossible to tick all of these boxes without investing in technology to help make work feel a little less like work. For example, your organization can invest in burgeoning digital technologies to eliminate repetitive busywork. Some highly effective digital solutions include:
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to serve as a single, integrated platform for housing an array of beneficial technologies, including those to help your organization manage content efficiently, automate processes, and incorporate remote workers.
- HR Automation to streamline hiring, onboarding, and ongoing employee engagement.
These are just two examples of the technologies that are being used to reduce the workload that burdens most employees. By eliminating the steps of your business processes that only serve to frustrate your employees, you can experience faster workflows that save you money while also improving working conditions for star performers.
Keep a Pulse on Your Training Initiatives
ECM and HR Automation are a few examples of technologies that reward star performers by streamlining and standardizing common tasks. For example, if a person spends four hours a day manually keying invoices into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, the time can be reclaimed by automating tasks. While technology can prove highly beneficial for bringing new workers into the fold, this doesn’t mean you should rely solely on it to improve your working practices.
Ongoing Training Improves Productivity and Increases Retention
It’s imperative that organizations keep a pulse on their training initiatives, especially once new technologies have been introduced. Your employees need to be trained on the nuances of your process and the technology you are utilizing to get the job done. Training accomplishes two primary goals:
- Improve productivity.
- Increase retention.
The first of these goals is accomplished because workers that take part in ongoing professional training opportunities gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. This becomes even more critical when content management and automation are being utilized to complete tasks.
The second goal is a residual effect of ongoing training. Training brings teams closer together. It instills a sense of camaraderie and clearly establishes goals that teams can work toward together. It also populates your employee pipeline with qualified candidates if an employee decides to seek a new opportunity.
Eliminate Unforeseen Human Resources Costs With Automation
Roughly half of all businesses are utilizing some form of automation to help eliminate unforeseen Human Resources costs, but with so many variations of automation available on the market, it can be hard to tell which technologies provide the greatest ROI.
As we mentioned above, automation is effective technologies in not only reducing costs but also retaining employees. When implemented correctly, automation helps make work more satisfying for your employees. Best of all, beyond the initial cost of the software license and implementation, automation provides continuous savings on a daily basis that only grow over time. You can increase accuracy and speed, mitigate processing errors, and reduce the cost to process documentation from start to finish.
When implemented solely in HR, automation can reduce costs by one-third. Everything from recruitment to screening to assessments and payroll can be automated. That means fewer paper-based distractions for your HR department and a renewed focus on acquiring and retaining top talent.
Promote Talent From Within Your Organization
Another effective way to avoid unforeseen Human Resources costs is by promoting talent from within your organization. Promoting from within is less expensive than seeking external talent. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to develop employees that are tailor-made for your specific business processes and technology. There are two key statistics that all organizations should be aware of when considering whether to hire internally or externally:
- Deciding to hire externally occurs 18 percent more often than promoting internally.
- External hires are 61 percent more likely to be fired from their new jobs than those who are promoted from within the company.
Build on Your HR Cost Savings in Other Departments
Your Human Resources department isn’t the only place you can save money. From Accounting to Finance to Customer Service and Shared Services, your organization can eliminate unforeseen costs by supporting employees with ECM, automation, and other business-critical technologies designed to streamline and standardize workflows. In a nutshell, these technologies help you work smarter, not harder, all while saving resources and increasing retention.
How do you manage the data generated throughout your organization? Many companies utilize various systems of record to help store and manage this information, but it’s less often that these systems are truly integrated to facilitate data-driven decisions. For this reason, many organizations are moving toward a single source of truth (SSOT) model.
Unifying Data With a Single Source of Truth
Data plays an integral role in your organization. It’s everywhere. From Accounts Payable to Finance to Legal and Human Resources, leveraging your data is the key to supporting a more informed enterprise, but supporting your efforts to benefit from data is easier said than done.
The challenge is eliminating the information silos that form when your business relies on multiple systems of record to preserve data. The data-driven enterprise not only ensures that all members of the organization have access to the same sets of complete data but it also makes it easier for data to be produced, reviewed, and shared.
By eliminating information silos and supporting a single, complete record of data, you can help your organization benefit from a single source of truth that helps them find the answers they are looking for to better serve customers, vendors, and your business. By embracing an SSOT model, your business can make better decisions without worrying about a lack of structure or continuity to its data.
SSOT in Action
The concept of SSOT isn’t meant to be complicated. Your business needs a reliable way to access information that is both secure and streamlined. It’s important to keep in mind that SSOT isn’t defined by a certain type of software or a specific strategy, which is why we refer to it as a “concept.” Of course, supporting a single source of truth will require software and a strategy, but it’s how you implement the concept that will determine the success of your SSOT project.
Let’s use Accounts Payable as an example. In this example, the organization has 25 AP processors spread out across five locations. One of these processors is looking for a receipt to verify whether an invoice that has just been received is actually a duplicate. With a single source of truth, any permitted AP processor would be able to search and retrieve the following information about the invoice regardless of which location it was received and processed at:
- Invoice #
- Invoice amount
- Vendor name
- Vendor ID
- Item name
- Item ID
- Date received
- Date approved
- And more
SSOT is intended to operate as an aggregator of your business-critical data, but how can this concept be applied to the real world? One way to achieve a single source of truth is by utilizing a single, integrated Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform. By combining the best of content management and process automation, ECM supports a secure, digital repository that operates as an SSOT while also providing the connectivity and integration required for automated workflows and rules-based record maintenance automation.
The Benefits of SSOT
Do you want to guarantee that your employees have access to standardized, relevant data across the organization? This is one of the most significant benefits of SSOT. Rather than make decisions based on isolated subsets of data from various departments, you can unify your data and get big-picture insights.
It’s as if you took all of your separate departmental information silos and merged them together while preserving the credentials and permissions that keep this data secure. Everything from production data to customer service data to sales and vouchers is available from a single source. By leveraging an ECM platform, you can also support digital paper trails that link related documentation together to help your users find the answers they are looking for even more quickly.
What Technology Is Required to Support a Single Source of Truth?
You recognize the value of obtaining an SSOT, but how can your business turn this concept into tangible results? As we mentioned above, a single, integrated ECM platform checks all the boxes you need for a cutting-edge SSOT. First and foremost, it collects, standardizes, and archives unstructured data to ensure that it is usable in a wide range of applications. Second, it integrates with your ERP, HCM, and other business applications for seamless connectivity without hiccups. Finally, your ECM platform must act as the “interface” for managing this information; even going so far as to allow you to manipulate data in your ERP from your ECM screens in real-time.
Any ECM platform that can satisfy these requirements should be able to serve your SSOT needs; however, if you truly want a seamless environment that doesn’t create friction for your data, you will want to find a solution that supports Mobile Content Management to help you expand your operational area to account for employees working from home or in the field.
Are your Accounts Payable queues overflowing with invoices? You’re not alone. Many businesses have trouble keeping up with high invoice volume, and this problem is only compounded when that volume starts to increase. This article discusses five tips for dealing with an increasing Accounts Payable invoice volume. Don’t let high invoice volume overwhelm your team!
Tip #1: Automate, Automate, Automate
Are you looking for a shortcut to improving Accounts Payable? Accounts Payable Automation is one of the most popular solutions for helping companies handle large increasing invoice volume. Form a strategy for moving your AP department towards full automation. If you can achieve a straight-through processing (STP) rate of 70 percent or more, you can drive down processing costs and future-proof AP against increasing invoice volume.
Tip #2: Tap Into Enhanced Business Intelligence
With the right solutions provider, your Accounts Payable department can be the benefactor of many emerging technologies. From workflow analytics to artificial intelligence and more, these technologies aim to make your business smarter and extend the use of your AP Automation solution. The data you generate on a daily basis has tremendous value. You need a clear picture of your AP data for working capital and spend management.
Tip #3: Optimize Your Payment Strategy
When you make timely payments, you actually help your organization save money. Are you missing out on early payment discounts? Are you processing duplicate payments accidentally? By optimizing your payment strategy, you can fortify relationships with vendors and suppliers while guarding your bottom line.
Increasing Accounts Payable Invoice Volume? We Can Help!
Your business is growing but scaling is a challenge. What should you do? We’ve helped hundreds of customers streamline and automate the payables process to keep costs low and help them scale their operations to meet the demands of business expansion.
The more products you buy and sell, the more supply chain documents you have to manage. There are manifests and cargo logs for outbound documents as well as receiving documents for inbound shipments — and that only begins to scratch the surface. It never stops, which is why many organizations seek a paperless solution to manage logistical documents.
What to Look for in a Supply Chain Document Management Solution
Controlling your supply chain documents requires a concerted effort between your Document Management solution and your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. By taking an integrated approach, you can utilize a solution that automatically captures your documentation whether scanned, faxed, emailed, or otherwise. Everything from bills of lading and carrier liability contracts to customs forms and shipping acknowledgments is automatically imported and saved in a digital archive. From one central platform, you can instantly retrieve everything you need to know about any particular order.
This paperless approach to supply chain logistics lets you:
- Assemble complete records for every shipment, with all related documents stored together in your system
- Provide different employees (and departments) with simultaneous access to your records, from computers and mobile devices
- Gain immediate visibility into the logistics of each shipment
- Create custom portals for your trade partners to access information as needed, so they’re not constantly reaching out to you for updates
Most importantly? It lets you instantly validate the accuracy of your supply chain documents with the vendor or customer information that’s stored in your ERP or SCM. Nobody has to waste their time reviewing the data and manually typing it in. And when it comes to workflows? Those are started automatically as well, with intelligent software quickly routing each project through to completion.
What to Expect When You Manage Your Supply Chain Documents Electronically
Our supply chain information management system removes the barriers – and the costs – of paper-based document distribution. This means faster, more efficient deliveries – and in turn, better customer relationships. It also means faster, more accurate processing of the documents that come into your organization from your vendors (and a perfect opportunity to end late payment fees.)
Logistics is fast-paced. You need to have access to your documents at a moments’ notice. Not only are missing records costly to track down, but they can bring operations to a halt – and your business just can’t afford that.
Control Your Supply Chain Documents With IntelliChief
If you’re ready for a better, paperless solution, IntelliChief can help. Our document capture and routing technologies can keep your information moving through workflows that automatically verify the accuracy of every shipment. We’ve worked with both local and global enterprises, and offer solutions that can benefit any type of supply chain.
According to the Institute of Finance & Management, 61% of top global companies have implemented Accounts Payable (AP) automation. But this movement hasn’t come without challenges. The main issue? Money. When a CFO looks at potential expenditures, they need to know how each one will impact their bottom line. And it’s not just the immediate impact on cash flow.
There are long-term risks (and rewards) to consider. Without the right profile, even the most promising project won’t get funding, which leads to a central question:
Is automating Accounts Payable processes worth the effort?
The ROI of AP Automation
For organizations asking this question, there is good news — AP Automation has an incredibly high ROI that scales with size. In other words, the larger the organization, the more they stand to save. Enterprises can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with AP Automation.
Reduce or Eliminate the Need for Manual Invoice Processing
One of the most notable and obvious benefits of AP Automation is that it allows your business to phase out tedious, time-consuming, and manual tasks. In a traditional back-office setting, Accounts Payable is a very manual process. How long does it take for one of your processors to perform a two- or three-way match? Just think, someone has to find the documents, check them line by line to make sure they’re accurate, and approve the invoices for final payment. This is often a disconnected process that AP professionals must repeat hundreds of times per month.
In an automated environment, these tasks can be completed without human intervention, resulting in fewer errors and faster invoice processing.
Work Smarter by Automating Accounts Payable Processes
By taking the manual effort out of this business process, automation makes it much faster. Time is money, so just imagine how you can reallocate and defer resources when hours aren’t wasted on manual AP processing. When you spend these hours on other important tasks, the impact on your payable department can be significant.
Those savings also start accumulating from the moment your AP Automation solution is implemented. Every electronically processed vendor transaction saves you upwards of $10, and that’s without taking into account an increase in employee productivity. Because their time and talents will be better utilized, they’ll be less likely to leave for more challenging roles, and you won’t have to invest resources in hiring and training their replacements.
Automating Custom AP Practices
AP professionals follow business processes designed to help them overcome the challenges they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Software that can’t be configured to your specifications can’t provide the same ROI as a solution that can be completely tailored to the user’s needs.
For instance, our AP Automation software is designed to provide the highest possible return on investment. Our Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform, which features robust Document Management, AP Automation, and an array of other products and capabilities, can help your organization by:
- Capturing documents from all inbound formats, including paper, emails and attachments, and native electronic files of any type.
- Indexing the data as soon as it’s received and using it to populate user-specific, designated fields within your ERP.
- Integrating with any and all ERP technologies, helping companies extend the software investments that they’ve already made.
- Automating key workflows to complete them before the deadline.
Here’s a sobering statistic:
More than 75 percent of payment-based supplier discounts go unclaimed by purchasers because they can’t process their invoices quickly enough to take advantage.
With fully configurable workflows, you can protect, standardize, and streamline your organization’s particular business processes. Only now, they will be faster, and you will have more accurate, real-time visibility into the status of every project and transaction. You will also be less likely to overlook a potential discount — and late fees will be a thing of the past.
Find Out How You Can Reduce Workflow Costs
Many studies suggest that the ongoing cost savings of Accounts Payable Automation can top 70 percent when compared to manual AP processes. At IntelliChief, we’re proud to say that our customers typically achieve a full return on their investment within a single year.
In conclusion, and to answer our titular question, is automating Accounts Payable processes worth the effort? You tell us.
Regulatory compliance takes major effort — and that effort often spans an entire organization.
Everyone in your company, from your CEO to Accounts Payable Director, IT Director, and every employee under their management, is responsible for doing their part to maintain compliance. Of course, we trust that our hard-working employees are satisfying their end of this unspoken contract, but how do we verify this?
Regulatory Compliance is Easier for Companies That Go Paperless
When it comes to records, companies have to control who can view, edit, or delete them. They also need to keep a comprehensive paper trail of every single access point or revision. This allows companies to passively maintain a robust record of recordkeeping-related actions while implementing layers of failsafe to ensure that all documents are available as required by policy, regulation, and law.
The more documents that flow through an organization, the harder it is to account for the complete security of every record contained in your file.
One way to make this easier? Taking key business processes paperless.
When you’re able to manage your documents electronically, regulatory compliance and risk management become much easier because access control is a built-in feature. It’s one of the easiest, most hands-off risk mitigation strategies that you can adopt.
Compliance Tips for Keeping Up With Document Retention Regulations
SOX, HIPAA, SEC Rule 17 … every industry is responsible for maintaining compliance with numerous document retention regulations, and as time passes, these regulations are only getting more comprehensive — and specific. There are riches to be made in the pursuit of businesses that fail to comply, which, inversely, means companies can save money by safeguarding their operations from noncompliance. Follow these compliance tips to protect your business:
Examine Your Company Documentation
Go through the documents that you currently have stored, whether on site in a filing cabinet or off site through a professional service. Decide what you need to keep and what is old enough to be destroyed. Pay close attention to document volume and the types of documentation your organization is tasked with storing securely. You want to develop a profile of your company documentation that will help you create a highly practical retention strategy.
Develop a Retention Strategy
Think about the documents that are continuing to flow into your organization. You need to develop a strategy for collecting, categorizing, and protecting them. When your company documentation falls into the wrong hands, it opens the door for potential violations.
Do you have an effective strategy for dealing with documentation from Accounts Payable, Customer Service, Human Resources, Order Management, and other areas?
Whether your company deals with large volumes of contracts, invoices, or employment applications, it’s important to identify the proper retention policies that your company is responsible for satisfying.
Leverage Enterprise Content Management
If you currently use (or plan to use) an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, see if there are settings that will let you automate burn policies to destroy documents once they’re no longer needed. Not only will you no longer have to worry about deleting files manually but you will also benefit from less “digital clutter.” Another popular option made possible with an ECM is maintaining a back-up server to retain copies of deleted documents in a separate repository.
Map Out and Secure Your Recordkeeping Workflows
You’ve developed a retention strategy, now it’s time to apply it to the way you process documents.
Start by mapping out your workflows so that you can identify potential weaknesses, such as employees manually handling sensitive documents when they don’t need to. Furthermore, you should make certain that financial and transactional data is only sent to the people who absolutely need to see it.
Configure your workflows based on your specific business processes to ensure that your company documentation can only be managed by approved users. You can build additional security protocols into your workflows, too.
Integrate With Your Other Systems of Record
Do you want to experience best-in-class content management? Integrate your core systems of record (ERP, CRM, HCM, etc.) with your ECM system to facilitate the flow of information throughout your organization. When connected, these systems can update your data automatically in real-time. At the same time, they can keep your business-critical data safe by implementing permission-based rules to ensure that company documentation is accessible to members across your organization.
Support Digital Audit Trails
Do you find yourself getting lost along the audit trail? If your policies are ever called into question, you may need to show detailed information about who has handled your company’s records. You need to be able to understand the who, what, when, where, and why of every piece of company documentation. An automated digital audit trail can help you maintain such a record without any additional work.
Get More Regulatory Compliance Tips From Our Experts
When it comes to regulatory compliance, it’s crucial to develop a plan before problems arise. Even a short delay can end up costing your organization thousands. Being proactive is better than losing hours (and reputation) to after-the-fact incident management.
If you’re ready to refine your internal policies, contact IntelliChief. We can help you implement a document security and lifecycle management plan that’s aligned with your industry’s unique regulations.
Maintaining efficiency in Human Resources can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. Many of those repetitive, time-consuming HR-related tasks that your team loathes can be automated to give your experts more time to focus on hiring and growth. After all, those are the most valuable functions of Human Resources. Organizations that are serious about increasing HR cost savings often turn to technology to help them get there.
This article explores three technologies that yield significant HR cost savings for businesses that want to become more resourceful in Human Resources, including:
- Document Management Software
- HR Automation
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
Why Implement HR Cost Reduction Strategies?
Many organizations assume that Human Resources is functioning at a high level. They see new employees being onboarded, receive updated employee handbooks every year, and get quick responses to their questions about insurance and 401(k)s. Across your organization, HR is viewed as a constant because “things seem to be getting done.” Little do they know, within the HR department, trouble has been brewing for a long time.
Oftentimes, it’s not until an HR-related catastrophe arises that we consider implementing HR cost reduction strategies. This isn’t an effective approach to HR management because these “catastrophes” are almost always the result of underlying issues with your HR workflow. If you can prevent inefficiencies on the micro level, you can assuredly avoid issues on the macro level.
Here’s an example:
Your HR department has to create and maintain a file for each employee, 1099 contractor, and vendor that you work with, which involves a massive amount of paper-based and electronic files. Your team is likely spending hours printing out applications and benefits forms, signing and dating them, and filing them away — time that they could be spending on more value-driven tasks.
More time is wasted once the time comes to retrieve a document or form because they must search through file cabinets to locate what they’re looking for. In Human Resources, every minute spent performing work manually — whether reviewing, approving, revising or filing — is time wasted. Why? Because there are technologies that can perform tasks on their behalf.
1. Document Management Drives HR Cost Savings
One of the fastest ways to unlock measurable HR costs savings is by eliminating paper. Paper is expensive and it doesn’t “play nice” with solutions focused on boosting efficiency. In a document-centric department like Human Resources, paper serves as a constant reminder that there is still work to be done to achieve higher levels of productivity. Document Management Software digitizes HR documentation to eliminate paperwork altogether. It also allows your HR department to search, review, modify, and retrieve HR documents from a desktop or mobile device.
2. HR Automation Eliminates Time-Consuming, Manual Tasks
Once all of your HR documents are digitized and your organization has removed paper from the equation, you can begin to automate time-consuming manual tasks with HR Automation. Automation prefers to work with structured data, but most of the documentation entering your organization contains unstructured data. The best way to seize the greatest HR cost savings is by utilizing technology that combines the capabilities of Document Management Software and HR Automation: Enterprise Content Management.
3. ECM Merges Document Management and Automation Capabilities
With Document Management and HR Automation, your organization can achieve major HR cost savings by automating key activities, keeping all of your employee files organized and accessible, and ensuring the security of all your confidential data. With Enterprise Content Management, you can use all of the capabilities of Document Management and HR Automation while also expanding your solution to other departments.
With ECM, your organization can achieve significant cost savings with a single, integrated platform. Here’s how:
- Automatically capture information from your paper-based forms.
- Save time by eliminating manual data entry for your HR team.
- Maintain a long-term archive without the expense of paper, ink, toner, envelopes, and secure storage structures.
- Consolidate all of your employee data into a single, secure platform.
- Provide immediate access to any requested record through a simple keyword search.
- Ensure business continuity in the event of an unexpected disaster or business disruption.
- Reliably delete records once they are no longer needed, simplifying the off-boarding process.
- Automate key workflows, such as benefits administration and paid time off (PTO) approvals, based on your business rules.
Extend the ROI of Your Existing HR Management System
ECM Software also integrates with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Resource Management (HRM) software. When a new file is received, it is instantly updated in your other databases. All of your systems are seamlessly connected, eliminating frustrating information silos and supporting enterprise collaboration. If your organization is interested in learning how to leverage its existing technology as part of its HR cost reduction strategy, an ECM provider can help you envision how other businesses just like yours are using ECM to gain a competitive advantage.
To see what sort of savings you can achieve in your own HR department, contact us today. Or, request a custom demo of our human resources automation software, and see how you can transform your workflows to fit in today’s fast-paced environment.
Accounts Payable is often viewed as a cost center, and it’s not because AP controls the money leaving your organization. You can’t overlook the cost of doing business (and the cost of doing business inefficiently), either. If your AP department is unable to process vendor payments in a timely manner or mismanages your cash flow due to a lack of communication, it may be time to consider whether a paperless Accounts payable system is right for your business.
With a paperless Accounts Payable system, your organization can improve the quality of all AP functions. If your Accounts Payable process is very manual and your invoice volume is high, going paperless is the best way to get control of your AP department. But how can you be certain that your company is a good candidate for a paperless Accounts Payable system? And how can you justify your investment?
This article explores the topic of compatibility by weighing the benefits of a paperless Accounts Payable system against the risks.
When It Comes to Your Accounts Payable System, Be the Exception, Not the Rule
Accounts Payable is a department mired in tradition. Invoices are received by fax, mail, or email to be keyed into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and matched against the corresponding Purchase Order (PO). In a vacuum, this process is relatively straightforward, but more often than not, seemingly small issues arise that derail your AP processors. Duplicate payments, missed early payment discounts, varying units of measure, currency conversions…the list goes on and on.
In a paper-based AP department, your team is responsible for manually identifying and working out these issues to ensure that your bottom line is protected. Don’t be afraid to break from tradition to seize control of your Accounts Payable department. When it comes to your Accounts Payable system, it’s better to be the exception as opposed to the rule. While your competitors spend time manually processing invoices, your team can automate this process from start to finish to boost processing speed and accuracy while also lowering your average cost to file.
Before You Choose a Paperless Solution, Consider This…
Before you select a paperless solution for Accounts Payable, it’s important to take a step back and form a plan for carrying out your due diligence. Allocate a reasonable amount of time to investigating potential solutions. Google is a great place to start as it serves search results according to intent. Be specific with your search queries and there’s a good chance you’ll discover a handful of options from the beginning — but don’t stop there. Research competitors, request demos, and ask for price comparison quotes. There are many types of paperless Accounts Payable systems, and finding the best match for your organization is going to take time. Before you choose a paperless solution, consider the following:
- Is the solution capable of helping your organization achieve its long-term plans?
- Is the solution capable of addressing your requirements or will it require further development?
- Is the solution affordable? (Remember to factor in potential ROI)
- Does the solution integrate with our existing technology and accounting software?
- Can the base solution be reconfigured to assist in other departments or business units?
The Benefits of Going Paperless in Accounts Payable
Let’s take a look at the real-world impact of moving to a paperless Accounts Payable system.
Transparency in Accounts Payable
How do you define transparency in Accounts Payable? Essentially, a transparent Accounts Payable system gives you the tools to monitor the progress of every invoice that enters your organization, giving you direct insight into valuable information, including:
- When an invoice was received
- Which processor received it
- How long it took that processor to move it to the next stage of the AP workflow
- How long it took to process from start to finish
- Whether any special actions must be taken to satisfy the transaction
- Where bottlenecks are forming and why
Invoice Processing Efficiency
Increased efficiency is one of the most highly lauded benefits of a paperless Accounts Payable system. Your organization knows that if it can get faster, it can save money and keep vendors happy, but getting there can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge with a reliable AP solution. With a paperless Accounts Payable system in place, scanning and uploading an invoice for routing is a breeze. Many companies are able to reduce their invoice processing cycle by days or even weeks by simply taking paper out of the equation. Your AP department’s productivity can be further increased by implementing Accounts Payable Automation to eliminate the manual work altogether. Here are some of the ways companies boost invoice processing efficiency by going paperless:
- Search and retrieve invoices electronically from a desktop or mobile device
- Annotate documents before routing to keep the next processor informed
- Guide processors with automated natural language prompts
- No more lost, misfiled, or destroyed documents
- Reduce labor costs
- Eliminate record storage
- Ensure that only permitted processors access certain documents
Superior Audit Controls
Another significant benefit of a paperless Accounts Payable system is superior audit controls. In a recent Forbes Council Post, Katherine Jackson, Vice President of Bayer Properties, explains:
“Signature limits were automated, ensuring every invoice submitted met with company approval guidelines. The system-generated audit trail provided comprehensive information for audit testing. There was never again a problem with lost AP records because someone had misfiled an invoice. The electronic records in the Accounts Payable system pulled over via an API into the accounting software for processing, ensuring there were no keying errors on the data being added to the accounting records. Month-end reporting improved our accrual process to ensure monthly expenses were captured correctly.”
In summary, they were able to establish a system where every document was accounted for at all times, leading to easier compliance with important regulations like SOX and HIPPA.
As your company grows, it will need to continue to bring new employees into the fold to handle increased invoice volume. This can make sustainable growth a big challenge. Calculating how you will scale your company to keep up with business is a real concern for many successful businesses. However, the added efficiency of a paperless system means you can continue to scale your company with only nominal AP-related cost increases — this is doubly true when AP Automation is introduced.
We Can Help You Determine Whether a Paperless Accounts Payable System Is Right For Your Business
Choosing to implement a paperless Accounts Payable system is one way to help your business gain a competitive advantage, but it doesn’t come without some risks. There is an inherent financial risk when making any business-related purchase, and a paperless system isn’t an outlier in this regard. To avoid the potential risks of selecting the wrong solution, talk to an expert that can help you determine whether a paperless Accounts Payable system is right for your business. Take this knowledge and apply it to other solutions. Ask all the questions you need to settle on a shortlist and be transparent with your selected vendors to ensure that your solution can address the problems you set out to solve in the first place.
Your organization’s content is the linchpin of its success. This content, comprised of invoices, sales orders, onboarding forms, employee files, interdepartmental correspondence, and more, is the fuel that drives your business forward. Without a reliable way to manage this content, such as a content management system (CMS) or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, information cannot be passed from user to user in an efficient manner. But how does a content management system work? And why is it so important for enterprises?
How Content Management Works in Favor of Your Business
When information stops flowing through an organization, operations come to a grinding halt and your ability to generate revenue is compromised. On a normal day, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how content flows through your organization, but every task you perform is integral to this process.
Due to the collaborative nature of many business processes (i.e., Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, etc.) breakdowns in your content management cycle are rarely isolated incidences. One small hiccup can lead to late payments, process bottlenecks, and dissatisfied customers and business partners. Effective content management helps you mitigate, or altogether eliminate, deficiencies in your content management cycle.
How does a content management system achieve this goal? Below, we explore the process flow and features that can be utilized to your advantage when implementing a best-in-class ECM system to help you manage your content.
Information Is Captured From All Forms of Content
For enterprises, the stream of information flooding into your organization at all times can be very difficult to maintain, organize, and process. Sometimes, this content is structured, which simplifies the process of handling it. However, a large volume of this information is unstructured or requires some form of manual processing to become structured. One of the most important concepts of content management is the structuring of unstructured information. In terms of accelerating business processes, structured data has far more utility than unstructured data.
Capture technology is an integral component of ECM. By utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to capture information from all forms of content, your organization can begin to add structure to its information at scale. Not every piece of OCR software is up to the task. Consider the differences between basic OCR software and an enterprise-class solution:
- Basic OCR: “Scans” a paper document and creates a digital replica that can be stored and retrieved electronically.
- Advanced or Enterprise OCR: “Reads” paper and electronic documents and identifies key information, and tags/archives it accordingly.
More advanced forms of OCR are preferred by enterprises because they utilize other advanced technologies, such as machine learning, to capture and process content intelligently. The value of this added intelligence will be made clear in the next section.
Content Is Tagged, Indexed, and Archived
Once an organization’s content has been digitized, it still needs to be tagged with metadata so that users can search for and retrieve the information they are looking for. With basic OCR, this information must be keyed in manually. However, with an advanced, enterprise-class OCR component, this step can be handled automatically by your ECM system, saving your business time and money.
Advanced OCR can recognize what type of content it is capturing as well as the specific datapoints found on the content. For example, if you receive an invoice in the mail for x number of widgets, OCR software can not only create a digital replica but also tag the invoice based on any number of identifying criteria, index the information accordingly, and archive the invoice in a secure digital repository.
But that’s not all. It can also recognize the process that needs to be carried out to satisfy the invoice request.
Content Is Processed Through Workflows
Once the process has been identified (i.e., an invoice is received so the AP workflow must be carried out), you can start managing your content through digital workflows that follow your unique business rules. Workflows can be customized to fit your exact processes. Continuing with the invoice processing example, you can set permissions based on the value of an invoice, the vendor that sent the invoice, or the time at which the invoice was received. These are a few common examples but you can tailor your workflows as needed to account for all the nuances in your process — no matter how specific.
Depending on the complexity of your content management system, your organization may also be able to automate workflows, greatly reducing the amount of time it takes to process an invoice from start to finish. Another important benefit of workflows is they help protect your company against duplicate payments, missed early payment discounts, and other potential filing and processing errors. In summary, the ability to capture content, tag it, index it, store it, and process it through workflows are all fundamental to an advanced, enterprise-class content management system.
Automated Retention Policies Are Executed
So far, we’ve covered three of the key features that help answer the central question:
How does a content management system work?
However, the capabilities of your chosen content management or ECM system must also account for documents that need to be terminated in addition to those that must be preserved for a certain period of time. Otherwise, your business could find itself in hot water when the time comes to provide evidence of regulatory compliance. Content management systems (typically ECM), can also automate retention policies to ensure that your organization is prepared for an audit at the drop of a hat. This makes dealing with HIPPA, SOX, and other regulations a breeze — even if your company deals with hundreds of thousands of documents a year (or more).
Managing Your Enterprise Content With ECM
When an organization manages its content with ECM, it helps them to eliminate paper dependence, streamline and standardize business processes, reduce risk, boost productivity to all-time highs, serve better customer experiences, and provide superior transparency over all connected business operations. Whether you deploy ECM in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, or any other department that processes large volumes of information, your organization will experience a multitude of benefits only possible with a comprehensive content management plan backed by a best-in-class ECM system.
Is your organization searching for a solution to its content-related woes? The experts at IntelliChief can help. Contact us today to learn about our industry-leading ECM solutions and unrivaled approach to business process automation.
You’ve decided that your organization needs to make a change to get faster, more competitive, and less resource hungry — and you want to start by eliminating paper. But where to start?
For many businesses, the answer is Enterprise Content Management (ECM). But what is Enterprise Content Management? And what do the various components of ECM mean for your organization?
The 5 Components of ECM According to AIIM
No, that subheading isn’t a typo. Before we breaking into all seven ECM components, we should reference the list put out by the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM). They define ECM as a ” formalized means of organizing and storing an establishment’s documents, and other content, that relate to the establishment’s processes.”
Following this definition, they have divided ECM into five components, including:
We briefly explore these components of Enterprise Content Management below:
Capture is the process of using OCR Software to convert information from paper documents into an electronic format. Capture is key to turning unstructured data into structured data and creating metadata for search and retrieval. It includes:
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
- Intelligent Character Recognition(ICR)
- Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)
- Barcode Recognition
The “manage” component refers to the management of every captured document throughout every stage of its lifecycle. Managing your electronic content means automating retention policies, digital collaboration, Document Management, Business Process Management (BPM), and more.
Securely storing your information is essential if you want to protect your customers, employees, partners, and, of course, your business. With ECM, all digitized documents are stored in a secure digital repository that can only be accessed by permitted users.
Preservation of your information builds on the “store” component. Reliable ong-term storage is essential for regulatory compliance and to ensure that you have everything accounted for whenever the need arises.
According to AIIM, delivery (output management) is the final component of ECM and is composed of three groups:
- Transformation Technologies
- Security Technologies
The 7 Components of Enterprise Content Management According to IntelliChief
AIIM’s breakdown of ECM does a great job of covering the fundamental requirements of a true ECM system; however, it fails to account for two very important factors. In fact, these two factors are arguably the most important things to consider when shopping for a best-in-class ECM solution. These factors also bookend AIIM’s list, rendering them absolutely essential. Below, we’ll explain why as we detail our list of the seven components of Enterprise Content Management as advised by our experience implementing ECM for hundreds of companies across the United States and beyond. They include:
Simply put, you cannot adopt an ECM system without a seamless integration with your core technologies. It’s just not going to happen. This is an essential component of ECM that cannot be overlooked. Whether you utilize Oracle, JD Edwards, Infor, SAP, Microsoft, or another system of record entirely, your ECM solution needs to act as a connector between these systems to ensure that business processes can be completed to satisfaction and information can be shared across departments or business units when required. It’s also essential for our seventh and final component of ECM.
Automation is arguably the biggest value add when it comes to leveraging an ECM platform for your company. Tedious, time-consuming tasks such as document filing, invoice processing, sales order processing, and more can be automated from start to finish with best-in-class ECM. In our experience implementing ECM For hundreds of customers, the ability to automate Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Order Processing, and other important business functions were commonly the main incentives for implementing ECM. Of course, the Content Management side of ECM is essential, but the cost savings made possible through automation are unheralded.
Large, complex organizations use many systems of record to maintain and manage information. As new documentation enters a company, it must be processed in an efficient manner to ensure that business is fluid and revenue is trending upwards. Invoices, sales orders, employee files, bills of lading…the work of processing documents is never done. Fortunately, there are software-based solutions to help make this workload more manageable. For most companies, it comes down to document management vs. content management, but what exactly are the differences between these two solutions? And which one is right for your business?
Document Management leverages electronic documents to streamline workflows. Whereas paper documents must be manually reviewed, transferred, and filed, electronic documents can be dealt with from a desktop or mobile device. It utilizes a secure, digital repository to ensure that all documents are available to permitted users at all times. It’s more secure, it speeds up processing, and it helps simplify the process of bringing new users into the fold. It can be used to manage all paper and electronic documents, including emails, faxes, and more. The secret to Document Management is the process of tagging and indexing documents, which ensures they can be retrieved instantly to be edited, escalated, or otherwise.
Effective Document Management is predicated on a number of factors, including:
- The ability to retain documents electronically
- The ability to view the history of how a document has been handled
- The ability to add notations to documents
- The ability to recover lost documents
- The ability to search and retrieve documents
- The ability to issue natural language prompts instructing the user on what to do next
Before we move to the other side of the Document Management vs. Content Management debate, it’s important to note that Document Management Software (DMS) must integrate with your core Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and any other systems of record that you utilize to ensure your business can eliminate information silos across the enterprise.
Content Management, or Enterprise Content Management (ECM), takes all of the features of Document Management and adds additional processing capabilities through the use of workflows, automation, and machine learning.
In plain terms, Document Management falls under the umbrella of Content Management. Therefore, the Document Management vs. Content Management (DMS vs. ECM) debate is an easy one to settle if you focus on your organizational goals. Do you want to simply go paperless? Document Management will help you get there. However, if you want to go paperless and automate business-critical processes like Procure-to-Pay (P2P) and Order-to-Cash (O2C), you will need the added capabilities only found in an ECM system.
Enterprise Content Management vs. Document Management System: Settling the Debate
Whether you choose to invest in Document Management or Content Management, you will be providing your organization with a valuable tool to help it achieve an operational boost. Your team will thank you because their jobs will get easier and less manual. Your customers will thank you because you will be able to deliver excellent experiences that show them you care. And your organization will thank you because you will be increasing your bottom line and giving your business the stimulus to grow and flourish.
Are you still unsure about your organization’s content management system vs. document management system decision? Our experts are happy to help. Contact IntelliChief today and let us know about your project. We’ll guide you towards your ideal solution and answer any questions you might have.
The decision to partner with a software provider for Accounts Payable Automation can be a complicated one. Your organization is looking to solve problems in Accounts Payable, but conveying those issues to a vendor can be difficult. It can feel like your ideas are too abstract to explain in concrete terms or you lack the necessary knowledge to start your search on the right path. Not to mention, the wrong choice can turn your investment into more of a gamble than you might care to admit.
If your accounting department has plateaued in terms of productivity, partnering with a vendor that can offer best-in-class AP Automation can help you turn a common cost center into a source of savings — both in terms of productivity and your bottom line. The trouble is, with so many vendors offering so many different products, it can be difficult to trust that the one you’re being pitched is the best fit for your organization’s specific needs.
This article discusses 10 vital questions to reference when vetting Accounts Payable Automation solution providers, including:
What Are Some Unexpected Invoice Processing Issues Our Organization Has Faced?
What Do You Know About Our Business and Industry?
Does the Accounts Payable Automation Solution Integrate With Our Current Technology?
How Do You Plan to Address Our Specific Needs and Communicate Results?
Will We Have to Change the Way We Process Invoices?
Does Your Solution Put Style Over Substance?
How Does Your Strategic Approach Align With Our ROI Goals?
Will We Be Included in the Implementation Process?
Can We Speak to One of Your Customers About Their Results?
How Will You Demonstrate a Successful Accounts Payable Automation Project?
These questions will help you gauge the possible benefits and drawbacks of any AP Automation partnership. By the time you’re done browsing these 10 important questions, you will have all of the information you need to perform your due diligence when shopping AP Automation solutions.
1. What Are Some Unexpected Invoice Processing Issues Our Organization Has Faced?
This is the big one. The productivity of your Accounts Payable department is entirely dependent on your team’s ability to swiftly process invoices as they arrive. When an invoice can be matched to its corresponding purchase order, the biggest slowdown is typically the manual data entry required to key that information into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Unfortunately, for larger companies with dozens or even hundreds of vendors, it’s far easier for Accounts Payable to become inundated with exceptions that require one of your end-users to manually verify information that extends beyond what is indicated on the PO. For example:
- How do you handle a duplicate invoice?
- How do you ensure that you’re taking advantage of as many early payment discounts as possible?
- What steps must be taken to resolve a pricing discrepancy?
- How do you verify that items on the invoice match the PO when they have different units of measure?
- How do you account for special charges that are added after an invoice is received?
In a manual AP department, these questions are often left unanswered; after all, simply managing the volume of invoices entering your organization can be a tall order in itself. Or worse, each of your end-users has developed their own strategy for dealing with these exceptions, resulting in a lack of process standardization across the enterprise. Your chosen Accounts Payable Automation solution should have enough advanced features to automate AP beyond simply verifying that an invoice matches a PO. Detail these specific challenges to any vendor your organization is engaging with and verify that their solution can in fact handle these specific circumstances. Don’t be shy. Request a demo to see for yourself.
2. What Do You Know About Our Business and Industry?
Accounts Payable Automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Automation runs the gamut from point solutions for small businesses dealing with one specific AP problem to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that employ a variety of technologies to digitally transform Accounts Payable into a fully automated, 100 percent paperless department. But the size and scope of your operations aren’t the only things to consider when vetting AP Automation solutions. You want to find a vendor that has already deployed AP Automation for other companies in your industry. These vendors will have a particularly fine-tuned sense of what you need to accomplish as well as the steps to get you there.
Familiarity with industry norms, standards, and regulations is becoming increasingly important as regulatory compliance continues to push businesses to improve information security. Whether your company deals with SOX, HIPPA, or some other regulatory body, a vendor that knows your industry will understand your pain points and actively work to meet your requirements.
3. Does the Accounts Payable Automation Solution Integrate With Our Current Technology?
Integration is the crux of successful Accounts Payable Automation implementations. AP Automation isn’t just a piece of software you upload to your computer. It must be integrated with your existing technology, such as your ERP system or any other system of record you utilize to run your business. It needs to be able to access and affect this information; otherwise, your solution will be hamstrung from the beginning.
In the last section, we mentioned that familiarity with your business and industry is important to ensure a successful AP Automation partnership; however, integration with your core technologies is equally as important (if not more so). You don’t want an inexperienced company mucking up your ERP or trying to replicate their success with one ERP by following the same procedures they always do with a system they aren’t accustomed to. Look for a vendor who is certified to work with your current ERP or can provide evidence of past project successes to show you exactly how your AP Automation project will be approached. Integration is key to getting the most bang for your buck. If you want “real” automation that doesn’t get stumped on simple exceptions, you need seamless integration that can provide real-time updates to your ERP tables.
4. How Do You Plan to Address Our Specific Needs and Communicate Results?
Do you want to ensure that your Accounts Payable Automation project is successful? When speaking with vendors, detail your specific needs and requirements but don’t forget to follow up with them to see how they plan to address these concerns. Furthermore, remain steadfast in your pursuit of measurable results. You can’t track what you can’t measure, and any AP Automation solution worth its salt will be able to provide you with data to verify that you’re meeting important KPIs, such as:
- The overall cost per invoice processed
- Number of invoices processed straight-through (touchless) per day versus manually processed invoices
- The average percent of invoice exceptions
- Average time per invoice processed
- Reduction in received not vouchered invoices
You’ll only be selling your organization short by solely looking for a reduction in costs. Accounts Payable Automation can help you achieve so much more — as long as your vendor works with you to establish a plan from the beginning. Any vendor simply looking to sell you a product is not going to help you utilize AP Automation to the fullest extent possible.
5. Will We Have to Change the Way We Process Invoices?
Let’s face it, there are going to be some changes to your process flow when implementing AP Automation; however, these changes should only serve to benefit your team and help make their jobs easier. Understandably, businesses are reticent to alter workflows that have served them reliably for years, but keep in mind that reliability doesn’t equate to cheap or fast. Therefore, when asking this question; don’t be afraid to be told that, yes, you will have to change the way you process invoices. The important thing is to ask “how” your workflows will be changed. There’s a very good chance that you will like what you hear.
Now, here’s what you should look out for. If a company doesn’t offer a tool for designing, editing, revising, fixing, or eliminating workflows in accordance with your business needs, it’s probably not going to be a long-term, viable solution. You only want to eliminate steps in your process that hinder your bottom line, such as:
- Manual data entry
- Searching for files in a filing cabinet
- Printing, scanning, copying, etc.
- Manually verifying invoice matches
- Manually performing 2-, 3-, and 4-way matches
There’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken, but many vendors are limited by the solution they are selling. This is another reason why a strategic partner is far more valuable than a standalone product; a strategic partner will align their technology with your existing processes to help your project launch quickly and efficiently while limiting the learning curve for your team.
6. Does Your Solution Put Style Over Substance?
When it comes to AP Automation, no amount of surface sheen can overcome a solution with limited capabilities. During your due diligence, it’s important to focus on function over form. Clean interfaces, bright buttons, and attractive analytics dashboards are superficial if they don’t serve your overall automation goals — or exist solely to masquerade a lack of functionality. This isn’t a question you should pose directly to a vendor, but it’s one that should be considered internally (at all times) as you perform your due diligence. When digging for the truth about the functional capabilities of an AP Automation solution, “can” questions are important, for example:
- Can your solution automate invoices with multiple lines or pages?
- Can your solution resolve exceptions automatically by scanning multiple database tables and performing complex functions?
- Can your solution integrate with all of my core technologies to boost overall performance?
- Can your solution solve my company’s specific problems?
- Can you prove that your solution does all that you claim? Or does it simply “look” like it’s up to the job.
With so many AP Automation solutions available on the market today, it has become imperative for businesses to focus on function. Allowing yourself to be led astray by a solution that looks great and claims to have all the bells and whistles you need could result in major disappointment if your requirements aren’t actually met by the time your solution is deployed.
7. How Does Your Strategic Approach Align With Our ROI Goals?
There are countless vendors to choose from, all of which are vying for your valued partnership. When it comes to Accounts Payable Automation, one of the greatest differentiators is the strategy being proposed to help you meet your ROI goals. As you perform your due diligence, you may find that some vendors are eager to throw around jargon while providing scant evidence of a cohesive, strategic plan. If you find yourself in this position, it’s a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate whether that particular vendor is the right fit. In most cases, the vendor that speaks plainly and is straightforward when detailing their strategic plan is the vendor you want to select.
Remember, your company is seeking a solution that will help them cut costs, save time, reallocate resources, and improve business for everyone — not a solution that relies on confusing technobabble to circumvent your real concerns.
8. Will We Be Included in the Implementation Process?
You might believe that signing an AP Automation partner means your portion of the work is done, but that’s far from reality. Your AP Automation vendor needs to be your strategic partner. They need to work directly with Accounting, IT, and the C-suite to ensure that every nook and cranny of your business processes are explored thoroughly, mapped accurately, and tested to perfection. This is only possible by working together throughout the implementation process. This doesn’t just give you an opportunity to oversee the implementation, it gives you time to connect with your vendor’s representatives, ask questions, and keep the ball rolling in the right direction.
There will be hiccups; every AP Automation project is confronted with unexpected challenges, but together, these challenges can be overcome. Don’t be shy. Press every vendor about your role in the implementation process. The more involved they allow you to be, the more assurance you have that your implementation is headed for success. To avoid potential concerns, ask vendors how they are going to manage communication and collaboration and what degree of your involvement they expect to have.
9. Can We Speak to One of Your Customers About Their Results?
As we mentioned previously, any vendor that has worked with a company with a similar profile to yours will be more likely to meet your goals and requirements. It might feel like a bit of an overreach, but if they are willing to connect you with one of their existing customers, you should take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask. This might not be a common practice for every vendor, but it is certainly a common practice for vendors that strongly believe in their products and services.
Typically, other companies that have experienced AP Automation success will be eager to share their stories and assist their vendor. Why? Because these customers understand the value of a strategic partnership that extends beyond a simple software sale. Sometimes, it’s better to speak directly to a customer to see how a vendor succeeded — or how they failed.
10. How Will You Demonstrate a Successful Accounts Payable Automation Project?
You’ve purchased and implemented a solution, but after 90 days, you’re not saving time or money. In fact, your AP team is more confused than ever. They can’t find what they’re looking for. Database searches yield zero results. Invoices continue to pour in but you’ve changed your workflow to align with a system that only causes you more trouble. At this point, your only question is:
What went wrong?
To avoid a crisis like the one described above, it’s important to establish clearly defined milestones to show evidence of the progress being made. By the time your solution hits “go-live,” you should already have all the data you need to justify your decision to automate Accounts Payable. Ask your vendor if they will use real data or models during the implementation phase, and don’t be afraid to set strict 30/60/90-day milestones to ensure that your system is getting faster and more accurate. If your chosen vendor can’t provide evidence of ROI before you go-live, they might not be the right vendor for you.
Successful Accounts Payable Automation Starts With a Strategic Partnership
Are you ready to automate Accounts Payable to cut costs, save time, improve visibility, preserve supplier relationships, and increase your bottom line? You can’t do it alone, but you can transform your business by aligning your organization with the right strategic partner for Accounts Payable Automation.
Together, you and your strategic partner will build a business case for AP Automation that will “wow” leadership, provide clear evidence of ROI, and present a comprehensive plan that accounts for every minute detail of your business processes. If you can find a solution that can be expanded to other departments, like Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more, you can squeeze even more value out of your solution without muddying your technology with various point solutions. You might even find that your best friend on the job is your strategic partner.
Did you know that, on average, companies that utilize Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software in their AP department report a 50 percent reduction in invoice processing costs? Furthermore, by leveraging their ECM platform’s AP Automation capabilities, many achieve straight-through processing (STP) rates of 75 percent or more when processing PO-based invoices.
These savings boil down to two major factors:
- Capturing invoices and indexing them in your ERP system faster and more efficiently
- Eliminating manual data entry and other time-consuming tasks with intelligent automation
1. Capturing Invoices With OCR Ensures Nothing Goes Missing
When you get an invoice, it has to make its way to your ERP. That could mean taking time out of an invoice processor’s day just to type in every individual line or information.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, an ECM staple, makes the latter scenario possible. It actively collects all paper-based and electronic files and documentation and syncs it with your ERP. Designed specifically for organizations that are looking to automate the Accounts Payable process, organizations can cut down on manual invoice matching, voucher creation, and ERP data keying with the right solution. Here’s how it works:
Invoices received as paper documents, email attachments, fax, or otherwise are scanned or imported directly into an OCR interface. This software creates a digital replica of the document and routes its information to an archive. Information is extracted from the header, body, and footer of each document.
This information is then verified by a combination of AI and machine learning and validated by utilizing automated database lookups, defined business rules, calculations, and defined confidence thresholds. The vendor information associated with each invoice is automatically identified, along with other critical information from line items and unstructured fields. IntelliChief Capture Enterprise, an industry-leading OCR software solution, even works on multiple-page invoices and batch invoices.
2. Eliminating Manual Data Entry Drives Significant Cost Savings
As a central component of our highly sophisticated AP Automation solution, Capture Enterprise has built-in invoice validation features, allowing it to process two- and three-way matches without user input through highly configurable workflows.
Invoices that fail validations, fall below confidence thresholds, or fail the invoice matching process can be reviewed and resolved immediately. Or, they can be routed through workflow for exception handling. Non-PO based invoices can be easily routed for GL coding and approval.
After all invoice types have been fully matched, approved, coded, or resolved, the data extracted and validated via Capture Enterprise for AP invoices will be delivered for ERP voucher creation.
Do You Want to Achieve a 50 Percent Reduction in Invoice Processing Costs? We Can Help
IntelliChief can help you substantially reduce invoice cycle times. Organizations with IntelliChief are better positioned to take advantage of early payment vendor discounts or negotiate more favorable terms with their suppliers. IntelliChief also eliminates common invoice processing errors like duplicate invoices, and it can help your organization avoid wasting money on finding or reproducing lost or damaged documents.
Accounts Payable audits. Even if you’re prepared for them, you still dread them. There are always more Accounts Payable audit procedures than you plan for, and they tend to be incredibly costly, too.
Even though you can’t avoid them, you can automate the prep work, making it so that your Accounts Payable team no longer has to stop what they’re doing to find a random, years-old document that your auditor requests. It also means that your hourly payments aren’t wasted on time spent rummaging through filing cabinets in an attempt to locate a specific document or invoice.
Reduce The Amount of Time Your Employees Spend Sourcing Your On- or Off-Site Records
Accounts Payable Automation not only automates invoice processing but also your AP audit preparation. Everything you need to prove compliance is readily available. Your processors no longer need to log the auditor’s request and search for documents manually. To streamline things even further, you can extend access to your auditors so they can access your archive through a dedicated on-site workstation, further decreasing the time required to complete an audit.
You have complete visibility into your inbound and outbound payments and a paper trail of who authorized what. It’s a complete record that maintains itself and provides more detail than what is present on the document itself.
Keep Your AP Audits On Schedule and Under Budget
As a component of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, your AP Automation solution should be able to provide real-time access to your documents across each of your individual systems. Everything in your archive is organized from the get-go, and searchable by any logged metadata. Say goodbye to the unnecessary overages that you used to incur as you waited (and waited) for your audits to be completed. This technology also makes it easier and more cost-effective to implement a more rigorous internal audit schedule. It’s so easy, in fact, that you could achieve daily AP audits if necessary.
Streamlined Audit Reporting
Of course, audits don’t end after the information-gathering stage. Whether you use internal or independent audits, you still need to report on their findings. Accounts Payable Automation software makes it easy for you to share key data sets with your management, advisers, financiers, and investors.
An ECM-based AP Automation solution will allow you to deliver reports with custom dashboards, or you can use the self-service reporting tool to let each stakeholder access what they want to see. Some solutions, such as IntelliChief, require no coding knowledge, instead, relying on intuitive drag-and-drop simplicity that lets users visualize each audit’s results within seconds. Once reports are complete, they can be scheduled, shared, and archived in the user’s choice of electronic file format.
Improve Your Accounts Payable Audit Procedures With IntelliChief
We pioneered the Accounts Payable Automation movement, which is why we’re proud to offer the most fully featured and complete AP Automation solution on the market. Our industry-leading straight-through processing rates combined with our resiliency as a strategic partner has helped us serve the needs of hundreds of customers across the United States and beyond. Improving your Accounts Payable audit procedures is easy with IntelliChief!
On November 4, 2020, Oracle announced the release of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Tools 9.2.5., focusing on digital transformation, user experience, system automation, security, and open platforms. As an Oracle Gold Partner, IntelliChief is proud to offer full support and seamless integration capabilities with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and our industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform to help businesses maximize productivity by going paperless and automating business-critical processes. Below, our experts have outlined all the essential information you need to know about this update.
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Tools to Accelerate Digital Transformation
What is digital transformation? It’s much more than a catchphrase. It’s a set of technologies, concepts, and process modifications that help businesses identify and streamline slow, inundated departments. The Oracle JD Edwards team is highly focused on developing their ERP to help businesses become more viable in an increasingly digital world. Depending on your company’s outlook and interests, your approach to digital transformation will differ from your competitors’. Ultimately, by embracing digital transformation, your organization is entering the digital economy with the tools it needs to succeed. Oracle states that digital transformation “transforms how you use your EnterpriseOne system and enhances its value to your business.” But what does this look like?
- Comprehensive integration capabilities with third-party systems
- Accurate data supported by real-time updates from all connected technologies and applications
- Support for seamless office-remote workflows via Mobile Content Management
- Define objective success criteria with the Assertion Framework for Orchestrations
- Enhanced configuration between EnterpriseOne servers and Application Interface Services (AIS) servers
- Upload multiple content types, including EnterpriseOne media objects and files, to REST-enabled content management systems
- Superior choice and control of system resources by leveraging configurable AIS session initialization
- Improvements to user experience by extending the EnterpriseOne user session to externally hosted web applications, allowing for the efficient use of shared data and resources
- Optimizations to streamline the retrieval of large data sets through Orchestrator
User Experience Improvements for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2.5
According to Oracle, “User experience enables you to optimize the EnterpriseOne user interface and align it with your user community and their business processes—without the technical development needed for and the future debt associated with traditional application customizations.”
User experience is centered around personalization and delivering positive experiences every time an ERP user engages with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2.5. That means lightning-fast access to forms and data, streamlined collaboration with team members, and keeping interfaces clean and uncluttered. The updated EnterpriseOne centers around three key features, including:
- Form extensibility improvements
- Enhanced search criteria and actions for enterprise search
- Improvements to application-level help, such as direct access to the JDE resource library from the drop-down menu in EnterpriseOne
System Automation Updates
Automating business processes in JD Edwards EnterpriseOne can be a challenging endeavor. It is no secret that manual tasks like data entry can create significant delays in your business processes. Automation is the go-to solution for this problem, but not all JD Edwards users are equipped with the necessary tools to leverage “true” automation capabilities that account for a broad range of situations and circumstances. For example, when part numbers don’t match on a PO, a third-party cross-reference table can help verify an invoice match to automate processing when the transaction would be flagged otherwise. Although an ECM solution featuring workflow automation capabilities is arguably the most effective way to unlock “straight-through processing” (no human intervention at all), the Oracle team has made some mild improvements to enhance native automation capabilities in EnterpriseOne, including:
- Virtual batch queues
- Removing the local database requirement to streamline Object Management Workbench (OMW) tasks and Save/Restore operations
- Automated troubleshooting for kernel failures
- Web-enabled OMW and Web-based package build and deployment
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2.5 is focused on boosting security by eliminating vulnerabilities related to EnterpriseOne deployments. One simple addition that should have a massive impact out of the gate is support for longer and more complex database passwords as well as automated Transport Layer Security (TLS) configuration between the Server Manager console and its agents. They have also updated some of the verbiage dealing with the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which facilitates secure communication between various JDE applications by supporting message encryption, data integrity, and authentication.
An Open Platform for Your JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Tools
The Oracle JD Edwards development team continues to push the “open platform” concept to ensure customers have direct control over the underlying computing architecture of EnterpriseOne, giving them the ability to adapt to evolving industry needs and requirements and utilize the technology that best suits their unique business needs. From hardware to operating systems to databases, middleware, and browsers, JD Edwards is keen to provide a stable platform that embraces innovation. JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.2.5 features support for 64-bit JD Edwards and UNIX platforms and numerous platform certifications, including:
- Oracle Database 19c: IBM AIX on POWER Systems (64-bit JD Edwards), HP-UX Itanium (64-bit JD Edwards), Oracle Solaris on SPARC (64-bit JD Edwards), and local database for deployment server
- Oracle Linux 8
- Oracle SOA Suite 184.108.40.206
- Microsoft Windows Server 2019 support for deployment server and Development Client
- Microsoft Edge Chromium Browser 85
- IBM i 7.4 on POWER Systems
- IBM MQ Version 9.1
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
- Mozilla Firefox 78 ESR
- Google Chrome 85
Additionally, EnterpriseOne 9.2.5 withdraws support for:
- Oracle Enterprise Manager 12.1
- Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
- Microsoft SQL Server 2014
- Microsoft Edge Browser 42 and 44
- Apple iOS 11
Optimize Your JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP With IntelliChief
IntelliChief is an Oracle Gold Partner with formal integrations for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. Our customers leverage IntelliChief to reduce manual data entry, embrace end-to-end automation, and help their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP get smarter over time. To see IntelliChief in action for JD Edwards, visit our Resource Library.
Are you interested in learning more about how your organization can get the most out its JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning approach to Enterprise Content Management and Workflow Automation for JD Edwards.
According to Accenture, “the procurement organization has been largely left behind in the digital revolution.” While this may be true in some respects, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that digital procurement can’t be achieved through the use of existing technologies such as Enterprise Content Management (ECM), which consolidates several core business technologies to provide real-time insights, superior process control, and streamlined decision making throughout the procurement process.
The Basics of Digital Procurement
The purpose of digital procurement is to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks that are detrimental to efficiency and burden your organization with unnecessary costs. By equipping procurement professionals in your organization with the tools they need to improve daily operations and perform their job at the highest level, you can reinvent the way you approach interactions with suppliers and third parties by supporting an integrated platform that brings all stakeholders to the table for direct collaboration.
It’s no secret that error-prone business processes can derail procurement and cause friction between your organization and the suppliers it depends on. Digital procurement is designed to mitigate these challenges by streamlining the procurement process and insulating it against human error.
The Benefits of Digital Procurement
When considering whether digital procurement is right for your organization, it’s important to consider how it will impact your organization from both a cost and efficiency standpoint. By digitizing procurement, you are effectively equipping your team with the tools to work faster and smarter — not harder. But what makes digital procurement such a game-changer for enterprises?
Hello Data, Goodbye Uncertainty
It’s easy to lose sight of the fine minutiae of your procurement process, but the only way to see the “bigger picture” is by collecting actionable data to help you understand how you can improve procurement. In a highly manual procurement department, it’s impossible to track data on what was purchased, at what price, when, and for what reason. These insights are made available with digital procurement, allowing for more informed decision making.
Equipped With the Tools for Success
For many companies, digital procurement is only one aspect of digital transformation that they plan to pursue. From Accounts Payable Automation to Mobile Content Management and Records Retention, the ECM technologies that help you digitize procurement are also effective across other business units and processes. In other words, ECM-based digital procurement equips your organization with the tools to succeed wherever efficiency is a concern.
Superior Spend Management
Digital procurement paves the way for procurement automation, which means a more structured procurement process that suffers from fewer instances of off-contract or non-catalog spending. Purchasers are no longer required to go looking elsewhere for materials from unvetted suppliers you haven’t established rapport with. This means less tail spend and a greater focus on boosting the spend being managed directly by your procurement team.
Industry-Leading Cost Savings
Digital procurement connects your organization with its suppliers in more ways than ever before. Of course, cost savings are a primary driver for any process digitization or automation project, but it’s important to underscore this benefit so your organization understands how these savings are being achieved. For example, by consolidating procurement operations to a single platform, it becomes much easier to compare prices. Similarly, users can examine pricing trends to identify when a purchase price seems higher than it should be.
One Platform, Unlimited Possibilities
It’s impossible to understate the value of a single-platform solution. You don’t want your procurement team to constantly navigate from one window to the next to complete purchases. If they can make decisions from one screen without getting lost in extraneous information, it will improve transparency across your entire supply chain. Fairmarkit recommends “sharing data with your suppliers” as this can give you “insight into next-tier suppliers and upstream value chains.”
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that even the most prepared organizations can’t predict the future. Business interruptions come in all shapes and sizes, including:
- Widespread health-related events
- Geopolitical risks
- Climate change
- Economic uncertainty
- Human error
- And more
By digitizing your supply chain, you are taking the first steps to insulate one of your most business-critical processes against factors you can’t control.
Is Procurement Digitization Right for Your Company?
Procurement digitization plays an important role in your company’s digital transformation, but it’s only one small step in the grand scheme of things — if automation is a goal for the future of your company. Ideally, companies that invest in digital procurement will expand their solution to encompass the entire P2P cycle. With an end-to-end solution automating every step of the P2P process, your company can save time and money by identifying and eliminating process deficiencies that hurt businesses.
In the world of logistics, ports and firms that have been reluctant to invest in digitizing their supply chain have found themselves at a decided disadvantage as they tussle with clunky, time-consuming processes that increase clearance times and decrease revenue collection.
The logistics industry is large and complex. It is highly dependent on cooperation and shared knowledge to stay ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, the detrimental effect of poor communication and cooperation between companies has been magnified under the lens of the ongoing pandemic. Early adopters of the latest logistics technology, like Enterprise Content Management, have effectively digitized the supply chain to insulate their operations against external disruptions; however, this only describes as a small portion of the overall logistics industry.
The Basics of Supply Chain Digitization
Digitizing the supply chain can be accomplished with the use of several cutting-edge technologies, including:
- OCR Software to capture, index, and archive incoming logistics documents, such as bills of lading, manifests, delivery receipts, etc.
- Workflow Software to streamline tasks by permitting parallel processing, updating your team with real-time notifications, and eliminating the risk of lost or misplaced documents.
- Workflow Automation to automate the capture and workflow stages of your business process, cutting costs by as much as 70 percent or more.
- Artificial Intelligence to help your solution get smarter over time.
By leveraging the expansive capabilities of Enterprise Content Management, digitizing your supply chain can be accomplished with a single, integrated platform that works seamlessly with your ERP or SCM. In other words, a single application to capture, digitize, and automate document-driven logistics operations.
Why Are Logistics Companies Digitizing the Supply Chain?
In the midst of the pandemic, it has become much harder to process, register, and transport goods from one place to another. To compound this issue, the deteriorating health conditions across the world have resulted in widespread staffing shortages. Logistics leaders were forced to pivot to account for these sudden changes. Some common procedures had to be adjusted to keep business flowing, including:
- Releasing goods in advance of the final declaration
- Performing post-release checks
- Deferring payments and taxes
- Waiving or reducing payments and taxes
While these were viewed as short-term measures by the industry at large, it has now become apparent that some of the procedures are here to stay — and technology will play a key role in securing their legitimacy for the future. For example, simply managing the sheer amount of data produced by goods and services as they cross borders is much easier with a digitized supply chain.
The Benefits of Supply Chain Digitization
Digitizing the supply chain is a no-brainer in the world of logistics. There are countless ways your organization can benefit from the digitization of supply chain management, including:
Accelerate Outbound Turnaround
Are you looking for a way to improve customer and vendor relationships? It’s no secret that your ability to complete deliveries on time while meeting your contractual obligations is essential to maintaining a stable of positive professional relationships.
Improve Document Security
It’s virtually impossible to lose track of a document once it has been saved in your ECM’s digital repository. More importantly, it’s impossible for the wrong user to gain access to a document if they lack the proper permissions. Therefore, while ECM allows for on-demand recall of any document (as well as any related documents), it also safeguards your organization by strictly controlling who can access various documents. These settings can be fine-tuned to meet the specific requirements of your organization, going so far as to implement security protocols on a user-to-user basis, helping you account for specialties, relationships, and more.
Increase Accuracy, Remove the Element of Randomness
ECM supports digitized supply chain management by operating as a connector between all of your business system’s databases, including your primary system of record, a secondary system of record, and various applications. Every document that is captured by the ECM’s OCR Software component is automatically indexed and verified. Users are alerted when a discrepancy arises that warrants a manual review. Not only does this increase accuracy but it also removes the element of randomness that hinders organizations tasked with processing large volumes of documentation. Furthermore, it all but eliminates the need for manual data entry as the majority of documents can be processed with no human intervention at all.
Decrease the Cost of Document Distribution
Another significant benefit of supply chain digitization is that it eliminates the need for mailing physical documents thereby decreasing the cost of document distribution. If shipping costs and other related costs are a problem, look no further than ECM to help streamline the flow of documents in and out of your organization.
Lightning-Fast Notifications for Streamlined Approvals
With automated workflows, everyone in your supply chain is notified as soon as a document is available for approval, effectively cutting out the “busy work” of back-office logistics. You will be shocked at how streamlined document-based processes become once ECM has been implemented in your back office.
Append Documents With Ease
It’s not uncommon to require amendments, updates, and approvals to be added to original documents without compromising the original document. The Document Management capabilities of ECM give your team the power to enter notes either in a pre-set field or in a digital post-it note placement adjacent to flagged information. Although this system allows users to compile helpful information on a document, the original data doesn’t change. That said, this helpful information can be added and tracked by ECM users throughout your logistics workflow.
Reduce Clearance Times and Improve Revenue Collection With Supply Chain Digitization
Technologies such as ECM that utilize AI to modernize logistics have become the gold standard for industry leaders. The automated, digitized supply chain can understand and implement rules-based logic to make decisions instantly without any delay. It can capably handle any volume of incoming documentation without fail, efficiently digitizing your documents and letting AI handle the rest. By taking an integrated approach to ECM for logistics, you can reduce clearance times and improve revenue collection to help your organization gain a distinct competitive advantage.
When you think about corporate growth, you may not think about the role of Accounts Payable. But AP can have more of an impact than you realize as you try to grow your enterprise.
The larger a company becomes, the more products it needs to create. And the more products it needs to create, the more supplies it needs to purchase.
As more and more transactions occur, Accounts Payable needs to grow in order to keep up the pace. Each employee can only process a certain number of invoices per day; eventually, more employees must be onboarded to keep up with rising volume.
A larger AP department does come at a higher cost, but there’s more than one way to expand your AP invoice processing capabilities —streamlining operations with Accounts Payable Automation.
Here’s how one IntelliChief customer leveraged AP Automation to grow their enterprise:
They Selected Software That Integrated With Their ERP
In a bid to manage and automate AP documentation while also supporting future software expansion, this customer sought an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform that would help them achieve their content management and AP Automation goals. After surveying the ECM marketplace, the company selected IntelliChief ECM and AP Automation.
One of the driving factors for this selection was IntelliChief’s ability to integrate seamlessly with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Extensive experience automating AP workflows was another key differentiator this customer couldn’t overlook. Best of all, IntelliChief was ready, willing, and able to improve their Accounts Payable department right away — and provide measurable results to back up their work.
This customer’s Director of Accounting noted that:
“IntelliChief has saved us considerable resource time and cost over our previous manual processes way of running our business, both in the AP department and in all others throughout the company utilizing the ECM system.”
With IntelliChief, they were able to continue their trend of consistent annual revenue growth and personnel expansion while meeting their business plan’s commitment to strategically increase their market share. By making sound investments in employees, facilities, and technologies, they were able to achieve meaningful success. The Director of Accounting continued:
“Automating our workflow with IntelliChief has provided us the ability to map our goals and targets, with visibility to processing status of daily tasks. This has provided us a phenomenal advantage with reviews and approvals, and with our cash flow management.”
They Transitioned From Manual Processes to Accounts Payable Automation
With a 34 percent increase in personnel over a five year period, this IntelliChief customer aimed to minimize the challenges of scaling AP by phasing out manual processes in favor of automated document management and accounting workflows. This reduced the cost and time commitment of their invoice volume, which averaged 500 transactions processed per day.
This particular customer was tasked with managing manufacturing and distribution facilities in both the US and Europe. They also held regional offices across the globe. In order to stay connected, they needed a solution that could give everyone access to all of their financial records with streamlined search/retrieve capabilities. IntelliChief, which specializes in AP Automation, helped them eliminate tedious, manual processes so employees could focus on invoice exceptions.
They Stopped Worrying About the Physical Challenges of Paper Records
Once the mandatory storage window has closed, the files are off to recycling. Meanwhile, a digital copy is kept in the IntelliChief archive. As you can see below, eliminating paper had a significant impact:
“We have paper storage both in-office and off-site in our warehouses. Freeing the space is allowing valuable square footage to be utilized more profitably.”
There was also the matter of audits. Working within a highly regulated industry, the company had to plan for regular audits — both internal and external.
They saw this as an opportunity to reduce the time and cost of these activities by establishing an auditing workstation on-site where auditors could search and retrieve documentation from the archive. This system eliminated the need to physically source documents from a file cabinet or warehouse in some corner of the world.
“Single point access had been an immense help with both Financial and Regulatory Affairs audits. The added convenience and time savings, both with auditors and our staff , is greatly reduced.”
In addition to audits, their Regulatory Affairs department utilized IntelliChief as a secure digital repository for all product and procedure information related to their governing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
They Automated Production, Quality Assurance, and Distribution
After verifying the benefits of IntelliChief Accounts Payable Automation, interdepartmental expansion was the company’s next move. Here’s how they expanded their solution:
- Automation in Production: IntelliChief helped employees collectively assemble all project documentation in a single system for real-time visibility and cross-departmental workflows.
- Document Management for Quality Control: IntelliChief simplified the process of managing work order documents by digitizing them for easy retrieval via IntelliChief’s search functions.
- OCR Software for Distribution: IntelliChief’s industry-leading Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software allowed them to capture shipping and receiving documentation at each logistics point. From there, that same documentation is automatically routed to AP for matching and payment, or Customer Service for collection and archival.
All of these expansions were ultimately productive and conducive to their ROI goals. Here’s what they had to say:
“The Production and Quality Control groups together have benefitted from tandem use of IntelliChief; it continually helped with project organization and oversight. Maintaining all project records together in a single repository, with automated workflow among those involved with each project, has simplified communications and enhanced delivery times notably.”
This Customer Can Now Grow on Its Own Terms. Can Yours?
This customer joined hundreds of others who leverage IntelliChief’s robust content management and process automation capabilities to streamline workflows, automate tedious tasks, and eliminate paper. They no longer face problems of scale, because IntelliChief can handle increasing invoice volume without interrupting your business process or making you pause to onboard new assets.
Warehouse operations are comprised of numerous processes, including receiving, put away, storage, picking, packing, and shipping. If your organization is heavily reliant on products and filed assets, these operations are crucial for delivering excellent customer experiences and fulfilling your obligations to the customer every time they invest their dollars into your products. The best way to nullify the costly ramifications of poorly managed warehouses is to seek help from warehouse management solution providers. After all, the way you operate your warehouses can have a widespread effect across your entire organization.
Maintaining a tight grip on warehouse operations is the only way to keep pace with competitors that have already revamped their business processes and invested in the latest warehouse management solutions. These businesses are leading by example, integrating everything from e-commerce to curbside pickup to facilitate uninterrupted customer access to the products that generate revenue for your business. Are you ready to take your warehouses to the next level of operational efficiency? Consider these points when vetting warehouse management solution providers.
Integration With Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
The first thing to consider when browsing warehouse management solution providers is whether or not their solution can integrate with your Warehouse Management Software (WMS) to provide a safe and seamless connection between your core technologies and the solution that will help you get the most out of them. Whether you rely on NetSuite WMS, JDA Warehouse Management, Infor Warehouse Management, Aptean Catalyst WMS, or another WMS, the first thing you should do when approaching a solution provider is detail your core technologies and warehouse infrastructure so they can gauge whether the scope of your project aligns with the capabilities of their solution.
For large enterprises and companies that employ complex warehouse networks, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution that integrates with your WMS will provide the full breadth of features and integrations required to streamline warehouse operations across multiple locations.
ECM for the Warehouse
What does ECM for the warehouse look like? Imagine a warehouse where all receiving, packing, and shipping documentation has been digitized for instant recall from a centralized digital repository; one where documentation can be accessed, reviewed, and processed from any computer or mobile device. By improving content management throughout all your warehouses, your organization can reduce costs and errors while reaching unheralded perfect order rates that help you outshine your competitors. However, that is only half of ECM for the warehouse. ECM is a robust solution intended to help organizations get the most out of every department; from Accounts Payable to Finance to Legal and Human Resources and beyond. This means your ECM solution is capable of solving a diverse set of enterprise problems. It can call upon an unprecedented set of tools and technologies to provide the fastest, safest, and most cost-effective warehouse management solutions. ECM’s content management capabilities are effective for insulating warehouses against erroneous orders and more, but it truly shines when automation is factored into the equation, too.
Point Solutions for the Warehouse
As opposed to ECM for the warehouse, which can enhance performance across all warehouse operations, some companies choose to address one aspect of warehouse operations at a time. For example, they might invest in a solution that only assists with the receiving or shipping of products to and from the warehouse. The merits of this approach are largely focused on cost; however, these “point solutions” are less focused on integration and cohesion – and more focused on doing one thing right. Therefore, other deficiencies in your warehouse operations will likely require the assistance of an additional vendor. This can be a cause for concern because most point solutions do not integrate with one another without custom coding, which quickly drives up the cost of your project, especially for projects requiring a multi-ERP integration.
Warehouse Management Challenges
After deciding between point solutions and ECM and forming a list of potential warehouse management solution providers, it is time to consult your warehouse managers to discuss the everyday challenges they face. These discussions should be thorough and cover every stage of your warehouse operations. Once these discussions have taken place, you can take your key findings to the warehouse management solution providers on your shortlist to see if they can meet your project requirements. Some common warehouse-related challenges include:
- Employee Management
- Inventory Management
- Picking Optimization
- Warehouse Intelligence
- Paper Volume
- Labor Shortages
- Blanket Pricing
ECM addresses these challenges by improving visibility, control, and access to information in your warehouses. Operating as an extension of your legacy systems, ECM acts as a single platform for accessing and processing all warehouse-related documentation. As a result, every worker in your warehouse is equipped with the knowledge to perform their duties more efficiently. Everything from pick sheets to cycle counts and capacity constraints is factored into your workflows, which can then be optimized, standardized, and automated with your ECM solution monitoring them for relevant documentation as it enters your system. In other words, it increases visibility to help reduce lead time, balance fulfillment rates, manage backorders, improve service levels, and boost customer loyalty for sustained growth.
Overcoming Warehouse Challenges With Your Warehouse Management Solution Provider
For most companies, warehouse management is not viewed as a strength. Unless your company is Amazon, which employs process, robotic, and industrial automation to support nearly autonomous warehouses, there is a strong possibility that your warehouses have untapped potential. Whether that means reducing your warehouses’ financial impact on your company or elevating warehouse performance to satisfy customers, ECM for the warehouse is the only all-in-one solution for not only addressing all warehouse-related deficiencies but also process inefficiencies across the enterprise.
Are you interested in learning more about how your organization can leverage ECM to boost visibility and efficiency in your warehouse operations? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning approach to Enterprise Content Management.
Human Resources and Human Capital Management are among the most document-intensive areas of your organization. For the employees working in your HR department, the amount of documentation flowing into your organization can feel truly endless. Everything from employee applications to contractor 1099s need to be dealt with quickly and efficiently — and there’s always more coming in.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a valuable resource that can help boost the resourcefulness of your HR department. With ECM, your business can automate the information processing activities that your HR department faces every day. As new HR documents enter your organization, whether in-person, by mail, fax, email, or otherwise, every record is captured, digitized, and organized for quick, secure electronic access and archival. It’s a low-cost, long-term approach to managing your HR resources that will help you maintain records compliance and avoid lost or damaged records.
Getting Started With ECM for HCM
HR automation leverages ECM to capture and digitize information for convenient use across your HR department. Once this is complete, documents can only be retrieved through a password-protected digital repository that integrates seamlessly with HRM/HRIS. Employees in your HR department can utilize search features for instanteous retrieval of any document or record —from any desktop or mobile device. Documents that have been saved to your ECM system can then procssed automatically using workflow automation that routes documents to managers, contractors, and other decision-makers for review or approval. Ready to get started? Here are five ways to improve Human Capital Management with ECM:
1. Consolidate Documents Regardless of Format
HR managers have to deal with both paper-based and electronic documents. You need a solution that can uniformly format and convert paper documents into electronic files with minimal input. From there, that system needs to organize your documents based on specific criteria, giving you a single, searchable system for document storage.
2. Validate Data Effortlessly
ECM helps you validate data quickly and with minimal effort. The faster and more accurate you’re able to transfer information from paper to digital, the lower your HR costs will be. Plus, as a bonus,when your documents are stored electronically, the cost of on- and off-site paper file storage is reduced or eliminated.
3. Improve Functionality Through Seamless Integrations
Integrating ECM with your Human Capital Management software will allow you to get the most out of both systems. Premier ECM solutions sync data with your HCM database or ERP in real-time. This way, you only have to process information once, from a single platform, and it’s automatically updated from there on out.
4. Eliminate Information Silos
Improving interdepartmental workflows is one of the most common reasons why enterprises implement ECM for HCM. HR connects multiple departments and often involves frustrating information silos. However, these can be eliminated with an enterprise-class solution designed to scale to multiple departments post implementation. ECM can help you route your documents, secure approvals, and increase visibility to significantly streamline your internal procedures.
5. Secure, Audit-Friendly Storage
Are you protecting the integrity and long-term accessibility of your records. If a disaster were to occur, what would happen to your company’s records? Secure archival is imperative to business continuity through temporary and catastrophic occurrences. Digital storage even protects against inadvertent storage errors caused by manual filing. Arguably the most impressive feature of ECM technology is the ability to apply automtion rules to virtually any task that is being executed using your digitized documents. In other words, you can set automated retention policies to ensure that you have what you need, when you need it — nothing extraneous clogging up your system.
Are You Ready to Improve Human Capital Management Productivity?
According to Forrester Research, “Human Resources departments typically use 50% of their staff’s time handling manual, mostly paper-driven personnel administrative tasks.” As the impact of Human Capital Management continues to expand, you and your staff are losing half your time to non-strategic tasks. Your company needs you to focus on more critical contributions. To make this happen, you need to become more resourceful – and IntelliChief is here to help.
There are many benefits of transitioning to digital paperwork but going paperless is not as simple as making a pledge to stop using paper. Going paperless requires an investment in technology and a close relationship with a vendor that can provide the tools and knowledge to help your organization eliminate its reliance on paper. This article discusses four tips for going paperless to help business leaders understand how to go paperless while avoiding the common pitfalls that can derail your initiative.
How to Go Paperless
Before we explore our tips for going paperless, it is important for businesses to understand how to go paperless in the first place. Migrating from paper to digital takes time, patience, collaboration, and investment. Covid-19 has accelerated the timeline for many companies who had “going paperless” on their to-do lists moving into next year, which means you need to start planning your paperless strategy today if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
The first step in going paperless is identifying a suitable strategic partner that specializes in transitioning businesses from paper-based workflows to digital workflows. Several types of vendors can assist with this transition, but an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendor will offer the most robust feature set allowing for greater functionality, compatibility, integration, performance, and scalability. However, before you can choose your vendor, you need to organize your company internally and get everyone on the same page. Follow these four tips for going paperless to start your search:
1. Create an Internal Team to Lead Your Paperless Initiative
Even if you hire a third-party consultant to help you evaluate and vet vendors, nobody knows your business like you do, so it’s essential that you form a trusted team internally to ensure your project is moving towards your goal at all times. Establish a team that fully understands your company’s business processes, including the underlying workflows that are not always consistent from person to person. For example, if you want to go paperless in Accounts Payable, you should form a team including members of your AP department and perhaps a member of your IT department to help translate any technical information that might not register with your AP Director, CFO, or your most active AP processor.
2. Consult Key Decision-Makers and Address Concerns
After establishing your team, it is time to consult them about their specific pain points. What do they hope to achieve by going paperless? What concerns do they have? How will they measure the success of the project? What will happen if the scope of work changes? You need answers to all the questions before you select a vendor. Even after you choose a vendor, the answers to these questions may change, but you want to set clear goals early and establish a precedent to avoid significant changes once your project has commenced. Remember, you can’t make everyone happy, but you can satisfy your team by listening to and considering every idea and pain point presented to you.
3. Develop a Roadmap
Now, it is time to get started! Talk to your implementation team, your consultant (if you have one), and any vendors you are currently vetting. Together, you can plot your roadmap and establish a plan that will get your key decision-makers to buy-in. Keep your existing processes top of mind when developing your roadmap. Which processes can be improved? Which ones need to stay the same? Keeping with the example of going paperless in AP, you must create standard operating procedures in collaboration with your AP team to ensure that your workflows are documented accurately. You must also plan for growth and scaling across multiple departments (if that is your endgame).
These considerations must be addressed openly with your vendor to ensure that they can truly provide the technology your business is searching for. Many companies go paperless in one department, such as Accounts Payable, and later expand their solution to other departments, including Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more. If this is the goal of your business, it must be accounted for in your initial roadmap to ensure the right vendor is selected.
4. Establish Clear Expectations
Ultimately, these tips for going paperless are worthless if your project fails to meet your requirements, but this pitfall can be easily avoided by setting clear expectations from the beginning. Answer important questions like:
- How soon do you want your implementation to be completed?
- How important is integration with your core technologies?
- What is your expected ROI?
- Do you want to process documentation without human intervention?
Your specific expectations will be unique to your business, and your list may grow after speaking to a vendor, so be sure to maintain transparency as you create your list of requirements.
As the United States transitions into 2021 with a full head of steam and the burden of 2020’s unique challenges, it has become apparent that organizations are facing an uphill battle. Industry leaders and analysts agree that automation has become a top priority to not only improve efficiency but also become more resilient. For most businesses, this starts in the Accounting department, where automation can unlock unprecedented invoice processing speeds while mitigating errors and generating an ROI of as much as 200 percent.
There are several types of automation that can be used to improve the Accounting department, including:
- Procurement Automation
- Payments Automation
- Accounts Payable Automation
Selecting the “right” solution depends on several factors, such as the scope of your AP operations, the core technologies you rely on, and the growth objectives that have been established for your company.
By failing to identify which type of automation is best suited to serve your business, you might miss out on some of the most important benefits that help you achieve true automation, often referred to as “touchless” or “straight-through” processing.
When it comes to automation, even the most minute detail matters. From the moment you start to perform your due diligence, you need to be wholly aware of your endgame. Are you trying to automate procurement specifically? Or does your organization want a solution that can automate Accounts Payable from start to finish? Can your solution also be used to automate Accounts Receivable? And what about other departments and business units?
Unfortunately, this article will not answer all of these questions — you will need to talk to an expert for that — but it will help you answer the most important question of all:
How Can My Business Automate Accounting Workflows?
As we mentioned earlier, Procurement Automation, Payments Automation, and Accounts Payable Automation are three technologies that can help the Accounting department become faster, more accurate, and resilient to business interruptions — all while reducing costs and freeing up assets for reallocation throughout the organization.
Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered “point solutions” that automate one function of the Accounts Payable process. For some companies, point solutions such as these can be a relatively inexpensive and effective solution for specific Accounting challenges. Accounts Payable Automation is considered an end-to-end solution because it automates the entire AP process. Accounts Payable Automation is inherently more complex but yields the greatest ROI in terms of operational improvements and long-term cost savings. By taking a closer look at these three types of automation, you can determine which is right for your business.
Procurement Automation is used to automate the first step in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process — procurement. Essentially, it helps organizations manage spending by consolidating vendors and products to a single platform to streamline purchasing. Users can compare prices and volume discounts manually, or automation can perform procurement according to programmed business rules. It also makes the process of following workflows, policies, and guidelines much simpler.
One of the most significant benefits of Procurement Automation is its ability to help you prevent unapproved purchases by taking out the element of randomness introduced by a human procurement professional. That said, this type of automation is somewhat limited in functionality and highly dependent on integrations with other applications that may require assistance from the vendor’s professional services team.
Whereas Procurement Automation handles the purchasing phase of the P2P process, Payments Automation deals with the latter half of this crucial process. Payments Automation helps to streamline payment completion and delivery. Whether your business makes payments via check, ACH, wire, or virtual card, Payments Automation can help improve efficiency and minimize erroneous payments.
When approached as a point solution, Payments Automation requires integration with other technologies, including Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, AP Automation, and more. Some solutions depend on third parties to complete payments, leading to privacy concerns. When implemented properly, Payments Automation can lead to faster cycle times, cheaper transactions, fewer instances of fraud, increased visibility, and more.
Unfortunately, Payments Automation has a glaring weakness. Integration is spotty at best. Some users may need to login and logout of multiple systems to complete a payment, such as the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and any other platforms that are not seamlessly integrated with the solution. These concerns are largely addressed by Accounts Payable Automation, which considers the entire P2P process from start to finish.
Accounts Payable Automation
In today’s increasingly competitive markets, simply automating procurement or payments oftentimes falls short of an organization’s ultimate goal. The P2P cycle starts with procurement and ends with payment, but there are many workflow steps between these tasks. This is where Accounts Payable Automation truly shines, although a robust solution can also factor in procurement and payment, too.
AP Automation is highly dependent on integration. Your solution should integrate seamlessly with your core ERP system and any other technologies that help you collect, review, process, and pay invoices. Seamless doesn’t just mean “playing nice” with the various applications that keep your business running smoothly. Seamless integrations will allow users to control all aspects of Accounts Payable from a single platform. Therefore, if your solution allows you to process transactions in your native ERP system without accessing it directly, it is highly likely that it has been seamlessly integrated. Very few vendors offer this level of compatibility and integration, which is why Accounts Payable Automation is typically seen in enterprises where anything except touchless processing is simply too slow or erroneous to stay competitive.
Some vendors offer a single product marketed as Accounts Payable Automation Software (or similar). Others offer a single-source solution for all enterprise content, including (but not limited to) Accounts Payable documentation, as part of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. There are some important distinctions between the two that must be considered before moving forward with a purchasing decision.
AP Automation as a Point Solution
Earlier, we mentioned that Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered point solutions. However, AP Automation can also be a point solution when the software focuses specifically on Accounts Payable and nothing else. These solutions might require you to realign your AP process with their preferred methodology to help automate AP from start to finish. From a cost perspective, these solutions might be less expensive upfront but prove more costly in the long haul due to a lack of control over the direction of the software and a high level of reliance on the vendor.
AP Automation as a Component of Your ECM System
When your organization utilizes AP Automation features as part of an Enterprise Content Management system, it is getting the most sophisticated and exhaustive feature set possible, meaning more robust integrations and capabilities from Day 1. As we mentioned above, some point solutions rely on other third-party solutions to achieve “true” automation. With ECM-based AP Automation, every step of your Accounts Payable process is supported with integrated technologies housed within a single platform. And while that single piece of technology is highly complex, this complexity is tucked away out of sight within a single user-friendly platform. For example, our Enterprise Content Management system covers all your bases, including:
- OCR Software to identify and capture invoices
- Document Management Software to store, manage, and review invoices
- Accounts Payable Automation to streamline AP-based workflows and eliminate manual processes like data entry and matching
- Records Management Software to execute automated compliance policies
Any enterprise is going to require all of these technologies in one form or another. Enterprise Content Management consolidates them into a single platform to make integration simple and avoid process inefficiencies.
Still Uncertain About Which Automation Solution Is Right for Your Organization?
Finding the right automation solution for your Accounting department is a crucial decision that will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications for your business. Although making a decision in a timely manner is important for accelerating the timetable on your automation project, it’s more important to find the right solution and move forward at a gradual pace to account for any potential pitfalls that may pop up during your due diligence. If you have questions about automation for your Accounting department, our experts are standing by to assist you — no commitment necessary.
Are you interested in learning more about the various types of automation that can help improve your Accounting department? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning automation solutions.
Machine Learning Applications
Continuously improve your workflows with process automation that gets smarter over time
Does your organization find itself overburdened with manual tasks? Machine learning applications can supercharge your process automation initiatives by helping them get smarter over time. With machine learning powering your workflows, you can eliminate repetitive tasks and free up team members to focus on unique challenges that can’t be solved with advanced algorithms.
IntelliChief uses machine learning in highly inventive ways to help large, complex organizations consolidate workflows, mitigate errors, and cut costs. Through the IntelliChief Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform and several integrated modules, our machine learning applications continuously identify, execute, and improve processes that can be automated.
What Is Machine Learning?
Machine learning applications are software-based applications that utilize machine learning principles to enhance business processes while making them “smarter” over time.
Machine learning is considered a subfield of artificial intelligence focusing on the development of machine learning models that can make predictions. Machine learning applications are the result of algorithms, code, forethought, and, ultimately, measurable results.
Many organizations have turned to machine learning applications to help streamline and standardize business processes, like matching invoices against a purchase order or capturing data from an invoice for automatic processing and archival. These processes (and others like them) are considered repetitive, tedious, time-consuming, and potentially costly when mishandled. Process automation that leverages machine learning helps organizations get the most out of their solution by equipping it with intelligence to get smarter over time.
In the textbook, Machine Learning by Tom M. Mitchell, Mitchell notes:
The field of machine learning is concerned with the question of how to construct computer programs that automatically improve with experience.
Machine learning applications apply this principle to your business processes and the technology that powers them. For example, IntelliChief uses a combination of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and machine learning to support one of the most complete Accounts Payable automation solutions available.
How to Use Machine Learning Applications
When it comes to using machine learning applications, the only limit is your imagination. Machine learning has been implemented in every industry across the globe, and it certainly has its uses in various departments in your organization, including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more.
In 7 Machine Learning Uses for the Back Office, we discuss several of the tasks that can be streamlined or improved with machine learning, including:
Processing Invoices With Ease
Machine learning algorithms can identify part numbers, prices, and vendor information. Once this information has been captured, it can be matched against the information from the original purchase order. Machine learning applications can even cross reference part numbers to help filter out exceptions, reducing or altogether eliminating the need for a manual two- or three-way match when processing invoices.
Increasing Automation Throughput
With machine learning, your team doesn’t need to manually calculate tolerances. Instead, invoices and sales orders are read and automatically compared against information that has been saved in your company’s ERP system, resulting in fewer “touches” by users and higher straight-through processing (STP) rates.
Capturing More Vendor Discounts
Machine learning applications can read invoice due dates and determine which invoices need to be paid by a specific date to capture vendor rebates or discounts. This information can be extracted and presented during the voucher creation process. If your company isn’t capitalizing on vendor rebates or discounts, it could be costing your organization tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Collecting and Organizing Unstructured Content
Most business documents are “unstructured,” meaning they don’t arrive in a standardized format. If they were, all documents would basically look the same, which is problematic for very different reasons. With machine learning, the format of an invoice or sales order that has been received from outside the organization is inconsequential. Once received, all data is captured and archived in a structured format, making processing much simpler for your team. High-quality machine learning applications can recognize data on unstructured documents, even those that have been filled out by hand.
Automating Workflows Without Coding
As documents are captured, real-time machine learning applications can trigger automated workflows to keep them moving through your organization. For instance, a program that recognizes a vendor’s name could send that document to the appropriate user based on the vendor’s email address. Talk to one of our experts about your unique business processes to see if machine learning can be utilized to help your work smarter, not harder.
Have you ever noticed how people become more stressed out whenever an auditor is on-site? You’re not alone. Auditors play an important role in verifying that businesses are compliant, but they have a tendency to show up when you least expect it, such as in the middle of a crisis. Machine learning software can alleviate this stress but regularly check for issues. If a discrepancy is detected, it can be dealt with in short order by routing the issue directly to an employee for review, resulting in fewer audit-related interruptions and stress-free compliance.
Processing Customer Orders
Customer service representatives often spend time on mundane tasks like keying orders into an ERP system or collaborating with other departments like engineering or quality, resulting in increased lead times. Lead time can be difficult to track, but this is less of a cause for concern with machine learning technologies creating and routing sales orders automatically. This results in faster Sales Order Processing that allows CSRs to focus on better customer service.
Experience Real-Time Machine Learning for Businesses
Does your organization lack control over the manner in which tasks are completed? Over time, business processes have a tendency to become less consistent as on-the-spot decisions are normalized and integrated into your workflows. Non-standardized workflows become problematic when one of your employees takes the day off or retires. They can also hurt your business by slowing down your processing queue or increasing your cost-to-file.
Organizations can avoid these common pitfalls by utilizing automation technology with real-time machine learning capabilities. Process automation certainly minimizes time- and cost-related concerns, but with real-time machine learning, you can also ensure that your automated processes get smarter over time. It doesn’t take a long time, either. For example, the first time an invoice is received from a new vendor, it may require a small amount of manual processing; however, the next time one is received, the system will already know what to do. Machine learning software helps to mitigate the “learning curve” necessary when new vendors have been introduced or volume increases. In fact, our advanced process automation software is designed to scale with your business, allowing you to continue growing without worrying about your team’s capacity to get the job done.
Machine learning is transforming the way that companies do business. But there’s no “standard” approach that’s right for every organization. Some companies are using AI to improve their manufacturing processes, while others are focusing on back-office administration. If you’re trying to decide how – or where – these technologies make the most sense for your business, there’s a wide spectrum of applications to consider. Below, we discuss seven machine learning uses that can enhance various departments across the enterprise.
Real-Time Machine Learning Applications for the Enterprise
At their core, machine learning tools (also called “deep learning” tools) are designed to help you identify patterns, collect data, and create predictive models that become more accurate over time. While humans can do the same work, computers can do it more quickly, for a higher volume of data. This makes real-time machine learning incredibly useful for a variety of projects. Some of the most common business-driven use cases include:
1. Invoice Processing
Machine learning uses algorithms that can identify part numbers, prices, and vendor information, then reconcile that information with the information from the original purchase order. Computers can even cross reference part numbers to help sort out discrepancies. This eliminates the need for a manual two- or three-way match when processing invoices.
2. Managing Tolerances
Instead of a user needing to manually calculate tolerances, machine learning applications can read invoice or sales order values and automatically compare them against information that’s saved in the user’s core ERP. This helps create fewer “touches” for the user and increases the straight-through processing rate for back-office documents.
3. Managing Vendor Discounts
Machine learning applications can read invoice due dates, then determine which invoices to pay (at what times) to take advantage of vendor rebates or discounts. This information can be extracted and presented during the voucher creation process.
4. Collecting and Organizing Unstructured Content
Most business documents are considered “unstructured”. An invoice or sales order that’s received from outside the organization can come in any format. Today’s machine learning applications can recognize data on unstructured documents so users don’t have to manually key it into the ERP.
5. Automating Workflows
When business documents are captured, real-time machine learning applications can trigger automated workflows based on the information it collected from the file. For example, a program that recognizes a vendor’s name could route that document to an appropriate person based on the sender’s email address.
6. Streamlining Financial Audits
Auditors can periodically review sample transactions to make sure they are correct, but machine learning software can regularly check for issues. If a discrepancy is detected, it can be passed along to a user for review. This results in fewer audit-related interruptions and stress-free compliance.
7. Processing Customer Orders
Customer service representatives often spend time on mundane tasks like keying orders into an ERP system or collaborating with other departments like engineering or quality. This increases the company’s lead time and is difficult to track. Machine learning technologies can create sales orders automatically and route order types for review automatically. This results in faster Sales Order Processing that allows CSRs to focus on better customer service.
Of course, there are many other machine learning uses, too. Siemens notes that the global market for smart machines is growing by almost 20 percent every year, while Dataversity notes that every single industry sector – from manufacturing and healthcare to financial services and law – has the potential to benefit from advances in automation.
What Can’t Machine Learning Do?
Although machine learning can handle a number of redundant tasks, there are certain areas where it’s not applicable – at least, with the technologies that are currently available.
An example: while computers can understand data, they cannot understand context. They can point out an anomaly, but they can’t always determine the underlying cause, and they don’t always know how to solve it. People are still needed to draw conclusions from the insight that predictive analytics provides — providing essential depth to your deep learning initiatives.
Of course, tasks that require in-depth analysis still need to be completed by humans. Computers can only handle processes that they’ve been specifically taught to automate, which means anything that requires critical thinking can’t be solved with an algorithm. That’s why most experts recommend viewing AI as a co-pilot – not an auto-pilot.
Machine Learning Projects Are on the Rise
In 2017, Statista stated that more than a quarter of companies had already set aside funds for machine learning projects – and that number is only projected to rise. If you’re looking to apply AI to your back office, IntelliChief can help.
Our software becomes more advanced the more that you use it. In many cases, it can complete processes that are currently handled by your employees, without any manual effort. For instance, it can help your Accounts Payable department process vendor invoices more effectively and even eliminate the data entry in sales orders. This can make your processes much more efficient – and much less costly.
And, as an enterprise-class solution, our machine learning software has countless potential applications throughout your business. From HR and order processing to accounting and finance, there are a number of ways that we can help you transform your business – and we’re here whenever you’d like to get started.
For more information about IntelliChief’s machine learning functionality, contact us today. Or, to see practical examples of how other companies have streamlined their workflows with our automation software, visit our Resource Library to download one of our peer-to-peer case studies.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a part of the United States Department of Labor formed by the OSH Act. They govern the health and safety of certain public sector employers and workers as well as the majority of private sector businesses. OSHA is oftentimes perceived as a pest in high-risk industries like construction and manufacturing, where an OSHA inspector can arrive with little notice to assure compliance with OSHA rules, regulations, and record retention requirements.
OSHA is unavoidable. Its jurisdiction covers more than 7 million worksites across the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and beyond. While OSHA inspections are generally the result of imminent danger situations, severe injuries and illnesses, worker complaints, referrals, targeted inspections, or follow-up inspections, it doesn’t require an on-site injury to find yourself at odds with OSHA. For example, OSHA inspectors commonly require employers to provide specific documentation for review. If you can’t produce the proper documentation, you could be cited, forced to pay a fine, or issued a stop-work order until the required documents are made available to your inspector.
Are you following OSHA record retention requirements? Or does your record retention policy put you at risk of noncompliance? This article aims to answer all of your most pressing questions about document retention and how to keep OSHA inspectors off your back.
OSHA Document Retention Compliance Is an Uphill Battle
OSHA doesn’t make it easy to maintain compliance, especially when seeking answers to your questions about OSHA document retention. For instance, when it comes to injury and illness recordkeeping, which utilizes OSHA Form 300A, the employer must submit the documents electronically. However, other forms of documentation like lockout/tagout inspections or noise exposure measurement records might never make the transition from paper to digital.
Over time, you can expect that OSHA will continue to tighten its retention guidelines and push towards more digital record-keeping. By digitizing all OSHA-related documentation in the near future, you can get a head start while ensuring that your company is meeting all OSHA document retention requirements.
What to Do When OSHA Asks for Documentation
As soon as an OSHA inspector arrives at your worksite, you should inform them that any requests for documentation should be issued in writing. Ask them to be specific and to list the exact documents that are required for review — no more, no less. Having this request in writing will also prevent the inspector from citing you for a document they didn’t request.
If these documents have already been stored electronically utilizing the document management technology in your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, you can retrieve them instantly and send the inspector on their way. If they must be retrieved manually, your onsite representative should run the request up the ladder to management. Familiarize yourself (and your team) with documents that aren’t required to be produced under any circumstances, including:
- Post-accident investigations
- Insurance audits
- Consultant reports
- Employee personnel information
Producing extraneous documentation that reveals any noncompliance could result in a citation. Only provide records as required by law.
OSHA Record Retention Requirements Vary by Industry and Document Classification
OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause dictate how employers are required to create, retain, and produce certain documents while under inspection by an OSHA compliance officer. There are small variances in the OSHA record retention requirements for different industries. For consistency, we will focus only on general industry requirements.
OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Fatalities, Injuries, and Illnesses Document Retention
Employers must retain the OSHA 300 Log, the annual summary, and the OSHA Incident Report forms for five years past the end of the calendar year attributed to this documentation. To be precise, the OSHA 300 Log is required to be retained on an “establishment basis” as governed by NAICS codes.
General Duty Clause Document Retention
There are no specific standards or retention requirements for “recognized hazards” covered under the General Duty Clause. This doesn’t insinuate that these documents should be neglected. The best practice for General Duty Clause document retention is to retain any training records dealing with “recognized hazards” for the duration of employment, including:
- The written policy
- Training records
- Disciplinary documents for policy violations
Additionally, there are certain documents dealing with General Duty Clause obligations that may be classified as exposure or medical record-keeping requirements. Be diligent when building your records retention policy to avoid any potential pitfalls, especially when it comes to OSHA records retention requirements.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Document Retention
The OSHA Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard, also referred to as “Control of Hazardous Energy,” mandates that employers maintain logs verifying that periodic inspections by authorized employees are being performed at least once per year. LOTO document retention guidelines stipulate that these logs be maintained for a minimum of one year or until a new log is validated and certification is issued. LOTO training records for individual employees should be saved for the length of employment.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Document Retention
There are several written certifications regarding hazard assessment and employee training that must be retained for the duration of a worker’s employment. PPE records for individual employees should also be retained until the employee is no longer employed.
Occupational Noise Exposure Document Retention
OSHA recommends that employers retain noise exposure measurement records for a minimum of two years and audiometric test records for the duration of employment.
Bloodborne Pathogens Document Retention
OSHA employs the “duration of employment plus 30 years for employee exposure records. Training records must be retained for far less; only three years from the date of the training. Still, many employers choose to retain these records until the employee is no longer working for their company.
Respiratory Document Retention
Similarly, employers must retain records pertaining to employee medical evaluations for 30 years past the final date of employment. Employee results from the most recent fit-test should also be recorded and maintained until the results of the next test have been collected.
Hazard Communication Document Retention
According to OSHA, “Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.”
Furthermore, they require all employers with hazardous chemicals present at their workplaces to label them accordingly and update safety data sheets for their exposed workers. Each safety data sheet (SDS) must be retained for 30 years beyond the duration of employment for all exposed employees. Employers must also retain copies of all SDSs for every chemical currently being used.
Process Safety Management (PSM) Document Retention
The Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard (29 CFR 1910.119) states:
The employer shall complete a compilation of written process safety information before conducting any process hazard analysis required by the standard. The compilation of written process safety information is to enable the employer and the employees involved in operating the process to identify and understand the hazards posed by those processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. This process safety information shall include information pertaining to the hazards of the highly hazardous chemicals used or produced by the process, information pertaining to the technology of the process, and information pertaining to the equipment in the process.
OSHA requires process hazard analyses (PHAs), related employee records, and verification records to be retained for the duration of the covered process or the employee’s tenure. Process safety information (PSI) documents used for developing, maintaining, auditing, and managing processes should also be retained for as long as the process is being used.
Finally, employers should save incident investigations covered by the PSM standard for at least five years as well as the two most recent compliance audit reports. Failure to comply with these retention policies could result in a citation, fine, or penalty.
Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) Document Retention
OSHA has not mandated time-specific document retention requirements for emergency action plans (EAPs). However, they do require that employers develop and maintain a written EAP for review during inspection. Small teams of fewer than 10 employees do not need to maintain a written EAP.
Permit-Required Confined Spaces Document Retention
Employers are required to retain canceled entry permits for a minimum of one year. They should also be reviewed within one year following each entry. In regards to employee confined space training records, it is recommended that employers retain these records for the duration of employment.
Electrical Safety Document Retention
OSHA’s electrical safety standards contain no specific record retention requirements. It is still recommended that employers retain these records for the length of employment. When conducting an electrical exposure hazard survey, the employer should retain documentation until the hazard is no longer present.
Powered Industrial Trucks Document Retention
The powered industrial truck standard contains no specific retention requirements for initial training certificates or those issued for three years following a near miss. While there is no specific mandate, these training certifications should be retained for the duration of employment for each employee to protect against liability.
You’ve Satisfied All OSHA Record Retention Requirements. Now What?
When it comes to record retention, OSHA-related documentation should only comprise a small percentage of your total paper volume. Invoices, receipts, contracts, employee files, medical records, and more must also be retained for varying amounts of time depending on state and federal laws as well as your internal policies. The key is to make the transition from paper to digital documents; whether in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Shared Services, or any other department. Once all of your information can be managed electronically, you can apply automated retention policies for every type of document in your organization, ensuring that your burn policies are executed according to your specific rules. You will never worry about audits or compliance ever again.
Your workplace records policy plays an essential role in helping your business maintain compliance with federal and state laws and regulations governing employee file access, retention, and security. If you’ve ever had a brush with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), then you fully understand the importance of a reliable workplace records policy. That said, if your business is making the transition from paper records to electronic personnel files (as it should), it’s crucial to take a step back and re-examine your workplace records policy to ensure that you are employing electronic personnel files best practices to protect your company. This article summarizes several electronic personnel files best practices and answers essential questions, including:
- What are electronic personnel files?
- What is records retention? (And how can it be simplified?)
- Why is controlling access to electronic employee files critical?
- What are the electronic personnel files best practices for storage?
- What is the best procedure for the destruction of HR-related documentation?
- Why must my workplace records policy be standardized to avoid compliance issues?
- How does Enterprise Content Management (ECM) support security and privacy in Human Resources?
What Are Electronic Personnel Files?
Electronic personnel files contain employee records related to personal information, background, employment history, and more. Traditionally, these records were consolidated in a single personnel file (i.e. a folder in a file cabinet). When an employee or employer needed to access information about a particular employee, they could reference their personnel file and browse through the available records contained therein. For small businesses with only a handful of employees, maintaining personnel files the old-fashioned way is relatively simple as there isn’t that much information to keep track of. Unfortunately, as businesses grow and evolve, so do their HR-related needs. What started as a single file cabinet for personnel files might expand to 10, 50, 100, or more.
In Human Resources, electronic personnel files eliminate the need for paper-based records and personnel files as well as the physical storage required to house them. Instead of sifting through cabinet after cabinet or calling into a storage facility for a copy of an employee file, electronic personnel files are stored securely on a server where they can be accessed instantly by approved team members. When your HR department needs to review information about an employee, they can retrieve their electronic personnel files with the touch of a button, expediting access to pre-employment documents, employment documentation, and separation of employment documents. Of course, not all employee files are available in their personnel file.
Medical information, credit information, immigration forms, and any documents relating to company complaints or investigations should be consolidated in a separate file (or files); however, these files can still be stored as electronic copies to enhance security and ensure compliance. As we will discuss later, ECM tools can help your HR department eliminate guesswork by creating standardized HR workflows to accelerate HR business processes and keep your records organized according to electronic personnel files best practices.
What Is Records Retention?
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “The length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event which the document records.” Although this statement is certainly in reference to taxes, it succinctly describes the objective of records retention — to hold or retain records for the right amount of time to avoid negative consequences. Your retention policy will be determined by state and federal law as well as your own internal retention policies, but managing both can be a challenge. This is one of the primary reasons why businesses opt to shift from paper records to electronic personnel files — compliance. Compliance is something most business leaders worry about. Things tend to slip through the cracks when you don’t have a tight grip on your business or visibility into all of your business processes.
With ECM tools, you can set automated retention policies based on pre-existing compliance rules or your very own custom rules. These policies are rendered actionable using a robust workflow engine that aligns with your business rules. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states “Medical records must be maintained for the duration of employment plus 30 years.” Automated retention policies let you “set it and forget it” while maintaining compliance.
With ECM software integrated with your HRM or HRIS system, your retention policies for specific electronic personnel files will be updated according to actions occurring throughout your organization. That way, when an employee quits and you update your system of record accordingly, this change is identified by your ECM system and the appropriate retention policy is applied to all electronic personnel files for that specific employee.
You can also automate your retention schedule for each classification of documentation, even records governed by more than one law. Whether you retain documents for the minimum or maximum time allowed by law is your choice. ECM software also makes it easy to identify documents that don’t have clear retention policies, such as records related to pending claims or litigation. The SHRM website features a summary of federal record retention requirements, which can be used to inform your records retention policy.
Why Is Controlling Access to Electronic Employee Files Critical?
Controlling access to electronic personnel files is essential for compliance. Your employees’ information is confidential. As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that this information is granted privacy. For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was enacted in 1996, ensures that “all forms of individuals’ protected health information, whether electronic, written, or oral” are protected (The Privacy Rule). It also requires health information to be stored in electronic form (The Security Rule). Additionally, there are countless privacy regulations that contain highly specific provisions regarding who can (and who can’t) access and use information. By taking the time to identify current and former employee rights dealing with personnel file access, you can implement a strategy to control access to protected electronic employee files. Better yet, your ECM provider can help you by leveraging their experience helping other companies become more compliance-friendly.
What Are the Electronic Personnel Files Best Practices for Storage?
Companies that digitize HR documentation in electronic personnel files store these files in a secure and centralized digital repository. This repository, an important component of any ECM solution, serves as the connection point between your electronic personnel files and system of record. With a seamlessly integrated solution, managing HR documentation in an ECM platform will provide real-time updates in your HRM or HRIS system. It can even apply business rules to certain documents, similar to how automated retention policies operate, to streamline HR processes. Look for a solution that is safe, secure, intuitive, and integrated with your other core technologies to protect the integrity of your system as a whole.
What Is the Best Procedure for the Destruction of HR-Related Documentation?
Every company has a different procedure for the destruction of HR-related documents. For destroying paper documents, paper shredders are the most common tool of destruction. However, many people have found creative ways to destroy paper using everything from a controlled burn to soaking them in water. In the workplace, you should employ a standardized method for destroying HR-related documents — nothing too crazy.
In a paper-based office, you need to determine a process for verifying that retention requirements have been satisfied and choose a disposal method that can be executed quickly and efficiently. In an ECM-integrated office, you don’t need to worry about any of these things. Your system will monitor all of your documents and execute your unique burn policy automatically without any human intervention. It’s a simple, reliable way to handle the destruction of documents.
Why Must My Workplace Records Policy Be Standardized to Avoid Compliance Issues?
Your workplace records policy, including your retention policy, should be standardized to prevent your business from deviating into noncompliance. Consistency is key, which means your policy implementation should align with your ECM strategy to get the most out of your system. In a paper-based office, how do you ensure that your record retention rules and procedures are being applied the same way every single time? By failing to standardize your workplace records policy, you can never be completely sure your next audit will go the way you expect. By integrating Enterprise Content Management software with your existing HR technologies, you can support Human Resources by giving them the resources to deftly oversee all electronic employee files while automating time-consuming and tedious processes that lead to errors, mix-ups, and gaffes.
How Does Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Support Security and Privacy in Human Resources?
Whether your records are stored physically or electronically, protecting the confidentiality of employee records should always be a chief priority. We’ve mentioned ECM software throughout this article as being a beneficial tool that supports security and privacy to strengthen your workplace records policy — but why is this the case? Here’s a summary:
- ECM tools, like OCR Software and Document Management, digitize your paper-based employee records into secure digital files that significantly expand your HR processing capabilities.
- With ECM software, electronic personnel files can be stored in a secure and centralized digital repository for on-demand storage and retrieval.
- Electronic personnel files can only be accessed by team members with the proper level of permission, eliminating the potential for unwanted eyes.
- Electronic personnel files can be processed with minimal (or no) human intervention using HR Automation capabilities found in industry-leading ECM solutions.
- By implementing automated retention policies and secure backups, you can preserve all personnel files, maintain compliance, and expedite audits.
By integrating an Enterprise Content Management system with your existing system of record, you can insulate your records for privacy and greatly increase security while leveraging the benefits of electronic personnel files and HR Automation to improve efficiency.
Want to learn more about electronic personnel files best practices using Enterprise Content Management and HR Automation? Contact IntelliChief today to speak with one of our experts about your needs and requirements.
There is an inherent disconnect between enterprise executives and the consumers they serve, one that is hard to address — even for companies with a long track record of success. Rapid marketplace innovation means keeping up with consumer expectations is more difficult than ever before, especially when it comes to Customer Service. This article analyzes several consumer behavior trends and devises strategies to help you retain customers that are leaving by implementing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for Customer Service.
Established companies around the world are acutely aware of the challenges of the current marketplace. As the cost of new customer acquisition continues to spike, refocusing on the customers that made your company successful in the first place has become imperative. There’s never been a better time to invest in customer retention, and there’s never been a better way than investing in your company, especially when those investments help improve the customer experience and, therefore, customer loyalty. As an enterprise executive, the following consumer behavior trends might be alarming, but when acted upon by implementing ECM with your Customer Service Management or Customer Relations Management (CRM) system, they can actually help you plot the course for a more successful future. How will you respond?
Even Loyal Customers Are Comparison-Shopping
Customers are no longer willing to stick with a vendor based on loyalty alone. Comparison-shopping has become deeply ingrained in our consumer culture, which means your best customers, the ones your business depends on to make large purchases regularly, could be eyeing your competitors to see if they offer cheaper prices, better service, more attractive loyalty incentives, or superior products. It’s just what today’s consumers do. There’s no use fighting it — you have to adapt. While customer loyalty continues to flounder, consumerism is at an all-time high, which means a customer lost is undoubtedly a customer gained for one of your competitors. This is one of the primary reasons why many businesses are turning to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation to increase back-office efficiency and serve better customer experiences. When discussing the laurels of ECM versus CRM, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: scalability. ECM can help you streamline and automate your Customer Service department while integrating with other technologies throughout the enterprise to insulate your business against disruptions and technical anomalies inherent to disparate or “point” solutions.
Customers Expect Their Problems to Be Resolved in a Single Session
What happens when a customer’s order goes missing? Of course, you do everything in your power to track it down, but are you set up to resolve your customers’ problems efficiently? This is a challenge facing most businesses in the United States — and you don’t need to own a company to understand why. When interfacing with other businesses, how often are your issues resolved in a single session? Are you put on hold? Or promised a callback? Customer loyalty is motivated by a number of factors, but nothing tarnishes your relationship with a customer like poor customer service. In fact, 4 out of 5 consumers have not expressed a notable increase in customer service satisfaction in over 10 years. If you want to retain customers, it’s time to enhance your customer service capabilities.
Web-Based Customer Service Can’t Replace Live Support (Yet)
Droves of companies have started to transition to web-based customer service; however, despite its popularity among business leaders, it has yet to fully win over consumers. Let’s face it, consumer challenges are becoming more and more technical as technological innovation continues to flourish in our world. Posting a library of help-related resources in lieu of phone support can be maddening for consumers who want quick answers to their questions. Live chats that aren’t overseen by a human employee are oftentimes even less effective. There’s still no substitute for a phone call with a reliable representative, but equipping these workers with the tools to succeed is something many executives overlook. If you want to improve customer service, you must not only diversify your customer service channels but also equip your team with the tools to store and retrieve documentation with the click of a button.
Businesses Have Little Control Over Customer Service Expectations
Unfortunately, your customers’ expectations of customer service are largely dependent on factors outside of your control. It doesn’t matter whether an individual is purchasing a pressure washer for their home or ECM tools for their business, consumer behavior is relatively consistent. Therefore, customer service expectations can be elevated by consumer experiences on a personal level. For example, if they purchased a pressure washer online and it was delivered damaged, but they were able to solve the conflict amicably on the first contact, this experience could manifest in unpredictable ways — like heightened expectations for another company’s customer service capabilities. Even if you’re a B2B shop, customer service can be redefined by a buyer’s B2C experiences. What does this mean for enterprise executives? Consumer trends for the enterprise can be gleaned by taking a close look at the best customer experiences you’ve come across personally.
ECM Tools for Customer Service Can Help You Retain Customers Who Are Leaving
No matter how much data you have, predicting how consumers will act always require a little luck. You can eliminate some of the guesswork by fortifying your Customer Service department with ECM tools designed to elevate efficiency and serve superior customer experiences. Oftentimes, this is accomplished in ways your customers cannot see or perceive. What happens behind the scenes at your company matters, and by implementing ECM for Customer Service, you can ensure that you retain more customers by providing the level of service they expect — whether making purchases on the B2C or B2B level.
Your business is committed to enhancing customer relations by creating better customer experiences. Does this philosophy hold true when turning the spotlight on your business and the way it handles employee file management? It doesn’t end with onboarding. As businesses grow and evolve, their needs change, as do the needs of their employees and contractors. By supporting Human Capital Management (HCM) with electronic employee files, you can ensure that your HR department has access to timely, accurate information at all times.
What Is Human Capital Management?
Human Capital Management is concerned with the management of workforce acquisition, workforce management, and workforce optimization. Usually, these areas of need are addressed using software applications and systems put in place to help manage the life cycle of every employee and contractor that enters your workforce. It might be your primary HRIS application, like Workday or Saba, or a complementary solution for tracking applications, onboarding, performance management, or payroll. These systems are critical for managing employee data effectively and maintaining statutory compliance in HR. What these systems lack is a reliable way to digitize information into electronic employee files for secure storage in a centralized repository.
Fortunately, this can be accomplished with the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software and automation. With OCR software, every employee file that enters your organization, whether by mail, email, fax, or otherwise, can be “scanned” for information. This information is then captured and stored automatically according to your HR business rules, resulting in numerous operational and cost-saving benefits.
The Benefits of Electronic Employee Files and HCM
If your business still relies on paper documents to store employee information, you can make significant improvements to your HR department by simply digitizing those files. Paper-based practices are rife with errors and lack security. What happens if an employee file goes missing? Or is destroyed? The cost to reclaim that document spikes the moment it falls off your radar, which is why electronic employee files are such a game-changer for HR.
- Capture and store employee files electronically, facilitating secure and immediate access when needed
- Automate retention policies for stress-free compliance and faster audits
- Enhance your level of internal service
- Provide convenient desktop and mobile access to electronic employee files
- Integrate with HRIS applications to update electronic employee files in real-time between databases
- Leverage a secure system of record for employee information
- Eliminate paper filing and storage, reducing the risk of lost, damaged, or destroyed employee files
- Identify missing documents with ease
- Secure your business with Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning
SHRM Confirms the Advantages of Electronic Record-Keeping of Employees Files
According to SHRM, “Employers often choose to maintain records electronically rather than keeping paper files. This relieves the need for physical storage space for employment records over a span of many years, which may save money and time. Also, electronic storage facilitates easy retrieval of information and allows for efficient access to documents. Organizations may also elect to go paperless as part of a commitment to sustainability.”
Furthermore, they find that “private on-premises systems offer more control in determining how to use, store, and locate data.” Therefore, if your business doesn’t want to rely on a vendor to ensure access to employee files, an on-premise solution might be more suitable than a cloud-based solution that offers less autonomy and flexibility. There are pros and cons for each type of system, so it’s recommended that you talk to an expert who can help you determine the solution that best suits your requirements.
Start Your Digital Transformation With Electronic Employee Files
What better way to start your Digital Transformation than by digitizing employee documents to ensure that the individuals who play a key role in your shared success are being treated with the respect they deserve? No employee wants to wait weeks to hear about the status of their time-off request or be left in the dark about whether or not their insurance was updated. With electronic employee files, information can be accessed at the touch of a button to serve streamlined experiences that bring your team closer together.
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
- Shipping Documents
- Return Documents
- Parts Lists
- Maintenance Histories
- Customer Correspondence
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:
- A customer telephones to complain that they did not receive everything they ordered.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- If there were multiple boxes, the CSR has to verify that they all made it onto the truck and were delivered.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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:
- OCR Software
- Integration Link
- Email Import Link
- Mobile Access Server
- Enterprise Analytics
- Document Retention Manager
- Visual Workflow Designer
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.
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:
- Automation can be implemented to take over tasks, but it’s less effective at taking over jobs.
- Automation works best as a complement to your existing team.
- 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
- 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.
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 over-exaggeration 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:
Contrary to doomsday headlines about widespread job losses, the @pega report findings suggest #AI and automation’s impact will be much more nuanced and could even have a positive impact on how we work. #MachineLearning #DeepLearning #NLP #futureofwork https://t.co/Yva05KE1xN pic.twitter.com/q129bUByXM
— 🟣 Antonio Vieira Santos #FutureOfWork (@AkwyZ) February 7, 2018
I think that the "automation causes mass unemployment" argument is overblown. I think technology just shifts jobs, and these tech advances are a major positive for society. The internet and airplanes killed some old jobs but also created millions of new ones. Will happen again
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) November 24, 2018
1. Machines will change jobs, not take them
2. Re-skilling should take advantage of existing strengths
3. Don’t fear the digital future, but be cautious pic.twitter.com/NgbFfZR1S6
— DynamicCIO (@DynamicCIO) January 23, 2020
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 enterprises 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).
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…
- You drive to the gas station
- Pay for fuel
- 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…
- Drive to the gas station
- Pay for fuel
- EXCEPT the outdoor card scanner is broken
- Walk inside and pay at the register
- EXCEPT the entire payment processing system is down — cash only
- Drive home
- Collect the appropriate amount of cash to purchase fuel
- Drive back to the gas station
- Walk inside and pay at the register
- 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…
- Drive to the gas station
- EXCEPT the gas station is closed
- Choose another gas station to acquire fuel from
- Drive to the selected gas station, which is located two miles down the road
- 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
- Drive across the street to the other gas station
- EXCEPT they are out of the premium-grade fuel your car requires
- Drive back across the street to the other gas station again
- Pay for fuel
- EXCEPT your card shows an error when you swipe outside, displaying the message “See Cashier for Assistance.”
- Walk inside and pay at the register
- 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.
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 2021?
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 2021 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.
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:
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.
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 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, your shortlist of solutions should be just that — short. 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.
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.
With half of all companies worldwide using big data to help them make informed business decisions, the demand for powerful business intelligence tools is at an all-time high. Companies that are already utilizing enterprise analytics are finding ways to set themselves apart from the competition. Those resisting this change are beginning to witness firsthand how the competitive landscape is shifting – and how enterprise analytics is driving those changes.
Businesses that rely on intuition alone will never have the same level of insight as their competitors that allow data to drive their most important business-related decisions. Plotting your growth strategy requires vast quantities of relevant data sourced directly from your business. What good are models and predictions when the data being utilized to generate them is inherently flawed?
Enterprise data analytics helps companies gain superior visibility into all of their business processes, the employees involved in those processes, and the various uses of capital that fuel those processes. With real-time enterprise analytics guiding key decision-makers, businesses become more resilient and less susceptible to having their market share usurped by a more tech-savvy competitor. The insight-driven enterprise is looking to establish a cohesive strategy for both present and future operations, and enterprise business intelligence tools like IntelliChief are at the crux of this crucial component of digital transformation.
Business Leaders in North America and Europe Embrace Enterprise Data Analytics
Today, over a quarter of businesses in North America have already started using enterprise data analytics to improve business processes. A roughly equal portion of North American businesses has already launched pilot projects to catch up with their competitors. The other half of businesses aren’t currently using enterprise analytics, but the majority of these businesses plan to use it in the future.
In Europe, slightly fewer businesses are utilizing big data in their business processes right now, but the overall sentiment is largely congruous with that of North America. Soon, half of all businesses will be using big data to improve processes and customer relations, especially in industries like retail, finance, manufacturing, construction, and education.
The Benefits of Enterprise Analytics
For those (roughly) half of North American businesses that are already using enterprise business intelligence platforms to gather valuable data about their processes, the benefits of enterprise analytics are clear:
- Improved strategic decision-making
- Superior process control and management
- Enhanced insight into customer, employee, and partner behavior
- Significant cost reductions
- Fewer errors related to manual data entry
- Increased revenue
According to Dr. Carsten Bange, CEO of the Business Application Research Center (BARC), an industry analyst and consulting firm focusing on Business Intelligence/Analytics, Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), “Big data analytics brings many benefits to the table, but companies shouldn’t underestimate the challenges involved.”
Namely, data privacy and data security are two very important issues that cannot be ignored as companies migrate to one of the available business intelligence platforms. Selecting the right vendor that will walk you through the process of implementing (and integrating) your solution within your existing ERP environment from start to finish is essential for companies who want to improve their technological infrastructure while simultaneously protecting their company against disruptions.
Are You Ready to Experience an Insight-Driven Enterprise?
Once a company has access to enterprise data analytics, they will need to select or hire an employee to manage the insights and their related initiatives (unless a C-level executive plans to oversee big data). For example, if a company wants to reduce invoice processing time in their Accounts Payable department, they will need to have an understanding of their overall processing time, individual processing time per employee, and the cost per invoice. Once this information has been gathered, additional training can be prescribed to the employees that are working slower than their counterparts or to those who are producing more erroneous transactions.
This is only one example of the insights gained with enterprise analytics and barely scratches the surface of what is possible with real-time analytics driving every key decision and mitigating the risk of the unknown. The insight-driven enterprise can capably identify wasteful cost centers, eliminate bottlenecks, and restructure in accordance with facts – not assumptions.
Are you ready to experience the benefits of an insight-driven enterprise? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions backed by robust enterprise data analytics.
Automating inefficient, time-consuming products has become essential in every industry in the United States. Whether you are a project manager working in construction or an Accounts Payable professional for an enterprise-class manufacturer, automation can help you forge a path forward during one of the most challenging economic periods in American history.
According to a recent Harris Poll survey, Accelerating Automation: How Businesses are Adapting to a Post-COVID World, “92 percent of business leaders agree that to survive and flourish, companies must enable digital channels and process automation in the workplace.”
As a business leader, your reasons for automating your company will differ drastically from those of others. Some automate to cut costs, while others do so to help control the workload being placed on employees. If eliminating costly transactional errors is your objective, automation can help with that too.
Business process automation benefits can be a significant game-changer for your company. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss four benefits of Business Process Automation. Keep in mind that these benefits are NOT mutually exclusive.
1. Meet and Surpass Your Growth Objectives
At the end of the day, every business has the same goal: growth.
Whether you want to grow to generate revenue, to spread your message, or to give yourself the tools to make a positive impact on the world, the most direct path to your goal is through growing your business – and business process automation gives you an array of tools to do just that.
The initial cost barrier of automation can be a tough pill to swallow; however, just beyond this initial investment lies an endless bounty of opportunity for businesses that decide to take the risk. Ironically, the risk of not investing in automation for the workplace is significantly higher – especially if your competitors are already getting their own automation projects underway.
Once your competitors automate their companies, you must begin calculating the opportunity cost of your decision to not automate, including:
- Stifled profits
- Overburdened employees
- Erroneous processes
- The rising cost of paper and storage
- Lost market share
- A growing gap in the capabilities of you versus your competitors
After you have justified your investment with the help of an expert, you will be able to forecast your ROI and create a plan to help you scale your solution into the future. With your company firing on all cylinders and productivity elevated by as much as 90%, you can rest assured that your company will continue to meet its growth objectives year after year.
2. Reduced Time to Fill Keeps Productivity at Peak Levels
Whenever an employee decides to quit or retire, they will leave a void in your business process that must be filled with another employee who possesses the same or similar skills and knowledge to complete the job at a high level.
If that role is unable to be filled, the responsibilities of that employee will fall squarely on the shoulders of your other workers. An overly long time to fill can cripple productivity and create bottlenecks in your workflow.
Automation can help you eliminate issues caused by an excessive time to fill. Better yet, it can bridge the gap when an employee leaves for good. If there’s no other candidate out there who can capably do the job or a lack of qualified talent, automation can nullify the impact.
3. Cultivate an Employee-Friendly Working Environment and Improve Retention
As a business leader, you are not only at war with your competitors when it comes to dollars and cents, you are also battling over the top talent in your industry. If your employees report being overworked or overburdened, regularly being tasked with taking on multiple duties or a large volume of manual tasks, they could be heading for greener pastures sooner than later.
The competition in the recruitment market is one of the least talked about struggles facing all employers, but that does not diminish its impact. The best way to avoid this obstacle is to retain employees, and the only way to retain employees at a high rate is to ensure that your working environment supports your employees and is willing to make necessary changes to improve retention.
Here’s the thing: Shallow improvements to the workplace, like installing pong tables and vending machines, won’t actually help you retain workers. Bells and whistles are nice, but they won’t help your workers relax if they are constantly working on repetitive or menial tasks.
Business process automation benefits your working environment because it takes on redundant tasks, freeing up your workers to focus on more meaningful responsibilities or those that require some form of creative problem-solving. Workers that arrive each day with a sense of autonomy over their work-life balance feel valued, which means they are more willing to stay with a company in the long run, as opposed to employees who constantly feel anxious or depleted.
4. Unheralded Efficiency Drives Your Business Past the Competition
Companies that focus on maintaining efficiency across all areas of their business generally have a leg up on the competition. They outfit themselves with superior technology that allows them to establish streamlined companies that waste very few resources. Take Tesla for example, which is now considered the most valuable car company on the planet despite being founded in 2003. Not only is their product more efficient, but their entire business model is also structured on the principle of efficiency.
Efficient processes ensure that information flows in and out of your business without any interruptions, resulting in faster transactions and increased operational bandwidth. For the enterprise, this is achieved by forming a seamless integration with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at the core of the business (i.e., Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft Infor LX, JD Edwards World, etc.). Once integrated, business process automation software can help you reclaim the 520 hours per year lost to repetitive tasks per employee.
Your company can cash in these hours on new projects, additional training, and other important organizational benefits. Repetitive tasks that could be automated cost the US economy over $10,000 per employee each year. How many employees does your company keep on its payroll? How many “invisible” dollars are you really losing? And how do these dollars lost compare to the dollars gained after investing in automation? These are important questions that should be answered with the help of an expert who has experienced implementing automation in the workplace.
Automation in the workplace can help you establish stronger and more resilient business processes to help you become an industry disrupter? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about the benefits of business process automation.
Information is the heartbeat of an organization. Businesses need to manage and distribute information related to all of their departments’ business processes. This list can be long, as it typically includes Accounting, Customer Service, Human Resources, Legal, Operations, and more) and may need to be compliant with Sarbanes Oxley or HIPAA. If the circulation and management of this information slows down or becomes ineffective, progress gets stalled, and business concerns start to surface.
When a company is working under a tight budget in a demanding economic environment, every technology-related decision is predicated on its ability to generate an appreciable ROI. One major cost area in companies getting scrutinized is paper-based business systems. Traditional paper-based methods for creating and delivering documents are fraught with huge costs, chronic inefficiency, costly errors, and offer little flexibility. Some of these costs, which can be mitigated with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation, include:
- Paper and paper-related expenses
- Capital expenses
- Employee productivity
- Business processes
Why Do Companies Still Rely on Paper?
Many companies keep old paper-based systems for two reasons:
- They do not know how much they’re really spending
- They fear negative ROI from implementing a new solution
Paper-intensive companies need to find alternatives to these methods to reduce paper usage and eliminate paper costs that decrease their bottom line.
Successful ECM Projects Start With a Review of Your Current Expenses
Converting a company from paper-based processes to digital processes can seem like it is going to be an overwhelming expense, but it doesn’t have to be.
Calculating an ROI financial analysis requires careful study of current physical costs (paper, toner, paper storage, postage, shipping, envelopes) and labor costs (retrieving, handling, and filing paper copies).
Forrester Research references the ROI of imaging, suggesting companies follow these steps before converting to a paperless process management system:
- Create a formal needs assessment
- Establish specific goals to be addressed
- Know your costs
- Evaluate solutions
- Build a business case with a clear ROI.
When companies go through the exploratory process, they begin to discover the excessive costs related to paper and inefficient processes. They can now consider adopting a paperless process management strategy document to achieve long-term cost savings and better efficiency.
Why Going Paperless Is the Only Solution for Enterprises
The Gartner Group recognizes the components of Enterprise Content Management as top technology priorities for businesses.
An ECM system makes it possible to lower the high costs of paper and paper-related products, reduce manual processing of documents, improve business processes, enable businesses to scale their operations, and improve general efficiency in their organization.
Cost reduction from eliminating paper and storage for documents, a cut-back in operating expenses (daily time savings, eliminated rework, time lost looking for misplaced documents) are some of the benefits businesses achieve immediately.
A new paperless system can be added in stages, with a series of projects that do not require converting all paper documents and business processes at the same time. New processes can be added over time as a business grows.
Are you interested in learning more about adopting ECM and Automation for your business? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning, time-tested solutions that have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.
IntelliChief is the clear choice for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), helping you meet your ROI requirements while streamlining and automating your company. Users can create, capture, manage, archive, retrieve, and distribute mission-critical documents directly from their PCs, eliminating the need for storage facilities, fax machines, copiers, and paper files.
As the industry leader in Enterprise Content Management, IntelliChief helps companies of all sizes go paperless with a typical ROI procured within one year or less. IntelliChief’s time-tested methodology is easily integrated with existing ERP systems and business processes. In fact, as one of the only universal integrations on the market, IntelliChief is uniquely suited to help companies across all industries regardless of their existing ERP infrastructure.
IntelliChief uses its workflow functionality to focus on business process improvements, resulting in smarter, more powerful results for users. It is easily incorporated into existing business applications without any customization or coding. IntelliChief enhances business processes in numerous ways, including:
Integrates Seamlessly With Any Enterprise Resource Planning System
IntelliChief integrates with any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, providing users with document retrieval directly from the ERP application, and access to the application data itself. It enables auto-indexing and the ability to initiate the workflow process. As the most flexible integration on the market, IntelliChief can be deployed across the private and public sectors to enhance businesses over every type.
Helps Employee Manage Problem Resolution
A documented, electronic version of business processes expedites approvals, automating sending and receiving of files for reviews, along with other related operations. IntelliChief enters all documents in electronic format for easy retrieval and resolution so employees can serve customers quickly.
IntelliChief creates a faster process by electronically routing information to the right person to approve, then route to customers or vendors. The workflow engine helps gain better visibility of the entire business process by notifying employees where certain documents are in the business process. It lets authorized users focus on the task at hand without worrying about following up on requests or hunting for lost transactions.
Complies With Industry Regulations
The electronic trail available for authorized users guarantees compliance with industry regulations. You’ll be able to meet specific deadlines to avoid penalties. IntelliChief is designed for highly flexible document retention rules. These rules help provide detailed audit trails and security against unauthorized access and loss of records.
Offers Web-Based Access from Any Location
IntelliChief offers full functionality through a Web browser. It is available to all authorized users from any Internet-accessible location where there is Internet access. IntelliChief is accessible directly from a green screen, a GUI, or a Windows-based dashboard.
Brings a Wealth of Knowledge and In-Depth Technical Support
IntelliChief has helped hundreds of clients across all industries solve their paper problems and business process challenges. They have long-standing expertise and are industry experts who offer support for all types and sizes of businesses to meet specific support requirements. Support includes highly trained personnel, offering both on-site and live remote assistance to respond quickly to problems for complete resolution.
Are you interested in learning more about how ECM and Automation can help your business gain a competitive advantage? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about why IntelliChief is the clear choice for Enterprise Content Management, and how our award-winning, time-tested solutions have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.
Understanding the costs and return on investment involved in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution is important before deciding on a software vendor. It’s important to consider the following factors when choosing an ECM provider:
Integrates With the Existing ERP System
Finding an ECM system that is engineered to unite with your existing ERP system is a huge benefit. When talking to ECM vendors, you should insist on finding a seamless integration that will allow you to achieve your goals.
Once a system is put into place, ECM needs to be a seamless fit, ensuring that current systems function as effectively as they did before installation. Having documents stored in a centralized repository results in the merging of business processes and computer applications so information is stored in a high-quality digital format.
Increases Productivity of Employees
When choosing an ECM system, it’s important to assess how much employees will be freed from unnecessary work to give them the needed time to be productive in other areas. Imagine if your workers didn’t have to spend upwards of 90% of their time manually handling paper documents and keying in data. What other tasks could they work on to benefit your organization? The possibilities are truly endless.
Supports Compliance With HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley
Companies need to take into account external government regulations and internal security policies as a critical part of doing business in their marketplace in order for documentation to be accessed in response to compliance audits and requests.
Health care providers have to consider how to create high levels of security for HIPAA and place physical safeguards (such as access to certain users) and/or technical safeguards (password-protected files) in place.
For Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, ECM systems need to store company information in a centralized location. Find a solution where documents are easily tracked through the entire process lifecycle for responses to regulatory audits.
Offers Browser-Based Interface
An ECM system should give employees the ability to access the system from any location using a secure browser interface. This will increase your ability to do business remotely by a significant margin without the need for a dysfunctional, expensive mobile app. If you want unrestricted mobile content management features, a browser-based interface is the most flexible, secure, and cost-effective option.
Provides Solid Experience and Market Knowledge
It’s crucial to work with a company that understands the business goals and technology needs. ECM solutions work well when the vendor has worked with many types of organizations. An ECM vendor who has a solid track record, significant experience, and who shares their large knowledge base ensures success.
Gives In-Depth Technical Support
Look for a company that offers extensive support and will partner to provide fast and easy solutions to problems. They should offer traditional support offerings as well as remote services, to meet all needs. They should offer a quick resolution of any issues.
Ready to find out whether Enterprise Content Management is right for your business? Contact IntelliChief to learn more about how we help businesses justify their projects with real-world ROI examples using actual business data.
Staying competitive is a challenge for every business in today’s business climate. Innovation is at an all-time high, and if you fail to keep up with the trends sweeping your industry, you could find yourself at a significant disadvantage. Fortunately, there are two ways to increase your bottom line:
- Generate More Revenue: This can be a challenge. Creating new pipeline typically requires a heavy input of company resources. You need to invest in training salespeople, marketing your product or services, and closing deals at a rate that supports your expenses.
- Decrease Unnecessary Spending: On the other hand, you can eliminate (or at the very least reduce) the types of unnecessary expenses that most businesses are completely unaware of. By doing so, you can free up capital to spend how you see fit or save for a rainy day.
In this article, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Automation experts at IntelliChief will cover the types of unprecedented cost savings that can be achieved when your company is running at peak efficiency.
Say Goodbye (and Good Riddance) to Paper
Paper and its related expenses are one of the biggest spending items for a company. Enterprise Content Management greatly decreases costs due to printing, faxing, storing, and otherwise using paper for all types of business transactions.
Replace Costly Physical Storage With Consolidated Digital Storage
Storage is an expense many companies incur for keeping paper documents. If a manual system requires the retention of paper documents, such as accounting records, for a certain number of years, the cost of doing business can rise sharply. These expenses only grow as more physical storage is required, as does the cost of retrieving these documents. ECM eliminates costly storage and consolidates all documents within your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with everything available at the press of a key.
Improve Working Conditions for Your Valued Employees
Labor is one of the largest expenses in most companies. Making copies, manually routing documents, and hunting for lost paper items is time-consuming, inefficient, and repetitive. Companies that can pass of menial tasks to automation tend to have happier employees. These employees are empowered by the use of electronic tools to search for information and complete customer service tasks with ease. Documents move through an electronic workflow system so employees make decisions quickly. Losing information is no longer a costly problem. Employees can collaborate to resolve problems and issues directly from their PC or mobile devices, in any location, working together at the same time for speedy resolution.
Bolster Confidence Among Your Customers
With a manual system, companies need to keep constant track of purchase orders, requisitions, orders, and invoices. Not only is it time-consuming but it also leads to important items falling through the cracks. ECM and Automation improve customer relations because it shortens the time to find information, produces invoices faster, and keeps employees updated for faster turnaround with vendors and customers. It frees up employees to go where they are needed, rather than continuously handling paper to get business done.
You can still receive Purchase Orders, Requisitions, and Orders how yo always have, whether it is a fax, postal mail, email, or Web; however, once these documents enter your system, they will be accessible on-demand whenever and wherever they are required.
Overhaul Accounts Payable for Immense Savings
With Enterprise Content Management, any authorized employee can gain immediate access to all Accounts Payable documents – purchase orders, acknowledgments, receiving documents, invoices, and checks.
A major advantage of using ECM is avoiding lost or missing documents and the costs incurred with a lost document — costing an average of $500 per document to replace. Other major savings by going paperless with Accounts Payable documents include lower costs for printing, postage, faxing, special delivery, and storage.
Electronically managing the Accounts Payable has many benefits:
- Saving money by taking better advantage of vendor discounts
- Saving money by using less equipment, furniture, and supplies
- Saving money and time with immediate access to all Accounts Payable documents
- Saving time with faster research, better organization, cross filing and matching documents
- Saving time for employees because of higher accuracy, avoiding manual keying errors, and
- Utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for quick, accurate search and retrieval of electronic documents
It’s also worth noting that these benefits are largely transferrable to other departments, including Accounts Receivable, Order Entry, and more.
Superior Compliance and Security…Simplified
Regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA requires strong security and specific legal mandates for companies. They have to consider external government regulations and internal security policies as a critical part of doing business. With paperless process management, time limits for retaining documents are easily established. When documents are no longer needed, they can easily be purged according to strict time controls to limit any liability issues.
An Enterprise Content Management system provides security against unauthorized access as well as the accidental or deliberate loss of records. Documents are automatically stored according to company-designed rules and regulations.
Stay Safe With Industry-Leading Disaster Recovery Services
The Gartner Group concludes that two out of five organizations that experience a disaster go out of business within five years. The principal reason: loss of documentation critical to a businesses’ daily function. A paperless process management solution has built-in backup and recovery capabilities in the event of a disaster.
All business processes can be integrated into a Disaster Recovery Plan with paperless process management. All documents can be retrieved as needed from any location.
In theory, making a case to automate your company shouldn’t require much justification at all. Businesses that automate are faster, leaner, and less susceptible to interruptions. Not only do they benefit by pleasing their customers and employees alike but they also save critical dollars that can be used to future-proof their businesses for years to come. If your main goal is to cut costs and gain a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry, automation is the answer —and the hard and soft dollar savings ensure that your project generates the ROI you’ve been promised by your vendor.
Hard Dollar Savings
The first category is the hard dollar savings or increased revenue in the operating budget. Hard dollar savings are usually the result of having tangible and identifiable reductions in expenses. These savings include:
Lower Business Operating Costs
Automation drives down business costs by:
- Substituting electronic repositories for filing cabinets to eliminate long-term storage space
- Using workflow automation to easily manage high volumes of orders, receiving documents, and invoices
- Scanning, classifying, recognizing, validating, verifying and exporting data/images quickly, accurately, cost-effectively
- Providing built-in tools to help avoid late payment penalties, and capture higher percentages of discounts
- Reducing mailing, postage and shipping costs associated with document delivery, to and from customers or vendors
- Cutting labor expenses – slashing time for printing, copying, filing, and document research using unsearchable paper
- Lowering equipment expenses by reducing the need for printers and fax machines, and added maintenance cost
Better Utilization of Personnel
Another benefit of automation is the elimination of menial tasks. Employee productivity increases because they no longer must make copies of documents or look for lost or misplaced files.
It also reduces the need for employees to manually send documents to supervisors to approve expenses and purchase orders. Using automated workflow routing of documents eliminates management time and expenses to manually move documents from one department to the next. They can complete tasks right from their desktop.
Increased Cash Flow
It can also automatically prompt users to take advantage of vendor discounts, and to invoice earlier, faster, and more efficiently. The result is increased cash flow, which allows your company to invest capital in the things that matter most.
Soft Dollar Savings
The second type of cost justification revolves around soft dollar or intangible savings. Benefits are realized, but they may not easily translate as cost reductions.
Increased market share, higher employee retention, and the ability to bring products to market faster are examples of strategic benefits that tend to get ignored in hard-dollar ROI discussions.
Other soft dollar savings include:
Better Customer Service
Immediate access to automated documentation encourages better customer service. Companies that go paperless show improvement in overall customer satisfaction with products and services. Employees have fast access to information to meet customer requests in shorter timeframes.
Environmental savings are realized by bringing a company paperless. According to the Environmental Paper Network, “If the United States cut its office paper use by roughly 10 percent or 540,000 tons, greenhouse gases would fall by 1.6 million tons. This is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.”
Eliminating the printing of multiple documents alone can dramatically cut carbon and energy costs. Lighting, heating, and cooling costs for print equipment are also significantly reduced.
Ready to find out how automated sales order processing can fit into your business? Contact IntelliChief to learn more, or to request a custom demo of our order to cash automation software, click here.
A recently published report by MarketsandMarkets™ forecasts strong growth for Enterprise Content Management vendors in all regions, indicating a shift from disparate point solutions to robust, scalable offerings.
At this very moment, countless businesses are inquiring about how Enterprise Content Management (ECM) can help bring them into the future. They have heard whispers of faster processing times and fewer errors, streamlined exception handling, and the increased capital that comes with a system designed to generate ROI around the clock. Companies are phasing out point solutions that have provided short-term relief for some of their most pressing issues and, instead, opting to look into the ECM market, which can deliver on promises of scalability, interdepartmental synergy, and cost savings.
Understanding the ECM Market
The ECM market is defined by the businesses it serves. Although ECM technology is robust, flexible, and scalable, the sector grows in response to the needs of its existing and future customers. When businesses fail to manage their enterprise content, it can create significant logistical challenges. For example, individuals working in procure-to-pay are often tasked with working with other employees outside of their direct team. If information is unable to pass from one department to the next, business grinds to a halt.
Initially, solutions vendors are expected to cater to large enterprises to help them manage large quantities of data from multiple departments or channels and measure data to drive decision making. That said, it is actually enterprises that are expected to really push the ECM market to the next tranche. For enterprises, the benefits of ECM include unrestricted access to data, significant cost savings, streamlined compliance, and operational elasticity.
The Why Behind ECM Market Growth
According to a new market research report published by MarketsandMarkets™, the ECM market is slated to grow from $40.1 billion in 2020 to an estimated $66.9 billion in 2025. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the forecast period is 10.8 percent.
The report, titled “Enterprise Content Management Market by Component, Deployment Mode, Organization Size, Business Function (HR Operations, Procurement and Supply Chain Management), Vertical (BFSI, Transportation and Logistics), and Region – Global Forecast to 2025,” goes on to identify a series of drivers for the projected growth in the sector, namely:
- Inability to keep up with high-volume transactional content
- Growing expectations for companies to facilitate streamlined content processing for all information entering or leaving the company
- The increasing need for improvements in tasks involving organization, categorization, content structure, workflow routing, accessibility, and more
The Automation Market Is Thriving in North America
North America is considered the leader in ECM development and market growth. Over the next several years, this trend is expected to continue as new investments fund new projects to push the envelope. Reliable, long-time ECM providers like IntelliChief will begin to experience pressure from newer competitors in the space, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. However, IntelliChief has the unique distinction of being an ECM solution through and through, ensuring best-in-class service and support that can’t be matched by larger corporations just starting to get their foothold.
Are you interested in learning more about the ECM and Automation implementation process? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning, time-tested solutions that have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.
Automating your business processes gives you the opportunity to gain a distinct competitive advantage, but all your hard work can be undone by an inferior implementation or a lackluster integration.
“Since the software implementation ended, we’ve literally never used it,” sighs an Accounts Payable Supervisor for a chain of Midwest manufacturing plants.
He sits back in his chair as his eyes slowly rise towards the ceiling.
“We purchased our current solution six months ago because it checked all of our boxes. Unfortunately, we have not had enough help implementing it to actually use it properly. That’s why we called your team.”
Another man, dressed neatly, sits across from him taking notes on a legal pad. “It’s just sitting on the shelf?”
“Well, not literally,” the AP Supervisor laughs. “But it might as well be.”
“Well first, let me start by saying that I’m sorry your business had a poor experience with your last vendor. However, I’m happy to say that we can help! We aren’t going to leave your side until your system is fully functional and you’ve observed an appreciable ROI. How does that sound?”
“Sounds like we’ve got a deal.”
When our Solution Engineers hear horror stories like this from our customers, which, unfortunately, is more often than we care to admit, they are flabbergasted. Whether you’re looking for a simple fix to address a single issue with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or a robust solution to transform your business, it is the vendor’s responsibility to ensure that your purchase is not only integrated securely in your existing work environment but also generating the ROI your company needs to justify its purchase.
When it comes to automation, you cannot afford to waste money on an unusable solution. Comprehensive, industry-leading features are important, but not if they’re locked away behind a wall of complicated code. Therefore, it is paramount that businesses keep implementation and customer service top of mind when shopping for an automation solution.
Caution: Companies Purchase the Wrong Solution All the Time
Let’s face it, shopping for enterprise software isn’t easy. When you start your search, you’re going to be confronted with hundreds, possibly even thousands of software options, but only a handful of those will have the features you’re looking for. Among those, maybe two or three will be compatible with your ERP system or line of business application – if you’re lucky.
It’s not uncommon for a company to purchase the wrong solution. In fact, it happens more often than you might think. Sometimes, it results in a situation similar to the scenario described above. In other cases, a solution might yield positive results but fail to live up to its true potential or the potential of a different solution. There’s an opportunity cost when you implement the wrong software integration, one that can undercut your bottom line for years.
The software implementation phase is your chance to test your system, ask questions, train your employees, and ensure that you have everything you need to successfully automate your company. Here are three reasons why you can’t afford to make a mistake:
Reason #1: Seamless Integrations Require Intimate Familiarity With Your Core Business Processes
Most businesses are seeking a seamless integration with their existing ERP system. In other words, a solution that has been carefully architected by an expert who understands the vulnerabilities of the system, how to work around them, and how to get the highest level of functionality from the integration – but that’s only the beginning. Let’s set aside the technicalities of a seamless software integration and focus on what matters most – your business. You need to be able to answer a lot of questions before you can be certain that your proposed solution is the right fit, chief among them:
Can the solution emulate my core business processes perfectly?
At IntelliChief, our Solution Engineers are trained to answer this question, and because IntelliChief has the rare distinction of universal compatibility with all ERP systems and line of business applications, our team’s implementation experience is unparalleled. Here is a brief summary of some of the steps that must be taken for a perfect implementation:
- Detailed analysis of top vendors, processing time, and opportunities for business process optimization
- Robust testing and validation of AP automation with top vendors
- Automated OCR testing using real transactional content
- Integrated training using live samples in the actual working environment
- Daily engagements to answer questions and address challenges
- 30-60-90 milestones to validate independent metrics against testing metrics
Reading #2: Only an Expert Can Provide Evidence of ROI Before Launch
Models and statistics do a fantastic job of conveying what should happen following your software implementation; however, many businesses find that their results differ drastically from their expectations. It requires a unique talent and a gift for working within the fabric of a client’s company to guarantee ROI that meets their goals.
There is only one way to truly know whether your software integration can meet your requirements, and that is by testing it live with your authentic business data. This will give you an unrestricted look at how your solution operates within your existing ERP environment. You will know precisely what to expect on Day 1, ensuring that there are no unexpected surprises as you begin to work faster, smarter, and more accurately than ever before.
Reading #3: Planning for Future Projects Begins During the First Phase of Implementation
Another reason why the software implementation phase is a strong determiner of future success is that it gives you the opportunity to establish a long-term plan. This is one of the major benefits of a software partnership as opposed to a faceless software vendor. There are only a handful of vendors who offer this level of service, IntelliChief residing chiefly among them.
With IntelliChief, you can automate one department (i.e., Accounts Payable), reap the benefits, and then use your new-found capital to continue automating other departments. For example, automating Accounts Receivable is essentially the inverse of automating Accounts Payable, which means you can essentially double your savings. It’s worth noting that a software partnership with an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendor like IntelliChief will give you the ability to scale your solution according to the needs of your growing company.
Due to the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, executives gearing up to automate their companies are facing a difficult choice – whether to cancel their project or proceed full steam ahead. Quick decisions can have long-term consequences for your business; these are the risks.
Business interruptions tend to pop up at the least opportune times. In early 2020, Americans were on track to reap the benefits of the strongest economy in the history of our country. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly swept in, erasing years of economic progress since our country began to rebuild following the Great Recession.
As a result, the economy tanked, millions of jobs were lost, and the future of our country’s business leaders was brought into question. Meanwhile, stock market speculation shifted into bear territory with a series of record Dow Jones point losses on March 16 (-2,997), March 12 (-2,352.60), and March 9 (-2,013.76). For reference, the previous record loss was -838.55 point on September 29, 2008.
Many businesses were forced to make difficult decisions to remain viable, such as whether to pause (or cancel) plans to automate their company. While it’s true that process improvement automation projects can be costly upfront, they can also give businesses the tools they need to remain viable regardless of the type of business interruption keeping them from operating at full capacity.
There’s an opportunity cost for every canceled project, and in the case of process improvement and automation, that opportunity cost can be crippling. Before you cancel your automation software implementation, consider the following risk:
1. The Financial Cost of Cancellation
One of the biggest selling points of process improvement automation is the tremendous ROI to be gained from faster processing with fewer errors. Automation can increase productivity by as much as 90% while ensuring that every opportunity for an early payment discount is secured. Furthermore, in the context of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, it can also eliminate duplicate payments when integrated into an intelligent workflow.
In other words, you do not want to squander your future ROI by cutting ties with a vendor you have already signed an agreement with, especially if you are already several stages into your implementation. Performing exhaustive due diligence is critical to making the right purchase. If you want to make things easy on your company, find a vendor that offers a reliable integration with your core ERP system.
2. Overburdened Employees
Automation can help reduce employee stress by eliminating time-consuming and redundant tasks, giving them more time to focus on big picture projects that have a long-lasting effect on the company. For example, the keying of data into your ERP system is inefficient when performed manually. It is a highly error-prone process that requires several internal confidence checks on the part of the processor. If any of the information is input incorrectly, it could lead to a delayed payment or order – either of which will have a negative effect on your bottom line. When employees are forced to do jobs that are impractical or overly repetitive, it affects morale daily. When these same employees are criticized by management for their work ethic, it raises the question: Is the employee’s performance lacking? Or is the process the problem?
Oftentimes, we find that the process is the true cause of a company’s woes, not the employees. With automation working alongside your employees, you can reach unprecedented levels of productivity while ensuring that your most important assets, your employees, are given the support they need to serve your company for years to come.
3. Loss of Market Share
There is no other competitive advantage quite like process improvement automation. The before-and-after data following an automation software implementation can be staggering. Not only does your company get faster but it also gets smarter and more cost-friendly. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common reasons why companies decide to start looking into process improvement and automation is because they have caught wind of their competitors doing the same.
Now, here is the inescapable truth. And please be warned, it can be a tough pill to swallow. In the future, every company will rely on automation in some capacity. It is not a matter of if but when your competitors will begin to use automation to improve their processes. It is highly likely that some of them have already started. Automation can help you maintain your market share and fend off your competitors by placing a wide functional gap between your capabilities and theirs. The longer you can take advantage of this functional gap, the brighter the future outlook for your company will be.
4. Legal Disputes
Have you already signed a contract with your selected vendor? If so, you could find that canceling your project is a bigger challenge than you initially expected. While not all companies will penalize you for pausing your project, there are many who will. Read your contract carefully before signing; otherwise, you could find yourself on the phone with your lawyer. To avoid a situation like this, seek out a vendor who treats you like a partner and not a customer. At IntelliChief, we are invested in the mutual success of our partner businesses. By helping you meet your goals, we can continue streamlining your business processes and helping you reach your next milestone. In fact, IntelliChief has several capabilities to help your business improve legal compliance, such as Retention Manager, which can automatically schedule purge policies and provide quick audit support.
Whether you are thinking about taking on an automation project or your current project has been placed on indefinite hiatus, our team is standing by to discuss any questions you might have regarding business process automation and successful implementations. Contact IntelliChief today!
IntelliChief’s secure, automated digital repository provides a reliable solution for the enterprise backed by 10+ years of implementation, experience, and feedback.
Advanced Market Analytics (AMA) recently published a comprehensive research report detailing the global backup software market. At more than 200 pages, it is a daunting read that explores the nuances of the burgeoning market; however, it fails to mention that backup software has already been available under a different name for many years. Software that duplicates content and securely saves it, ensuring that documents are retained for as long as they are needed by businesses, is an important component of any document management system or, if more features are required, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution – like IntelliChief.
What Is Backup Software?
Backup software gives users the ability to backup enterprise content into folders that can be accessed by authorized individuals and teams. Backup software, which is typically tied to a digital repository, can be utilized to save or restore an original file without compromising the quality of the document or the accessibility of the information contained therein. It eliminates instances of misfiled or lost documents, damaged documents, and automatically equips you with the tools for disaster recovery.
Where in the World Is Backup Software Needed?
The security and peace of mind supported by implementing backup software to support your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a surefire way to ensure that information entering your company is maintained for as long as it is needed to increase your bottom line. This is a need shared by business owners across the globe, which is why this functionality is popular in many regions, including:
- North America
By going a layer deeper and examining country-specific data, software vendors can obtain a more comprehensive understanding of their customers, and vice-versa, businesses can identify which vendors are equipped with the tools to help them ensure that vast quantities of information are preserved in high-quality, digital copies that can’t be tampered with or destroyed without executive approval.
With an Array of ECM Tools, IntelliChief Outperforms Backup Software Companies That Are Just Entering the Arena
The concept of “backup software” is nothing new. Backing up information has been a long-standing practice for most businesses but doing so can be time-consuming. It is time for a change. Backups should continue on a rolling basis automatically without human intervention. As soon as an invoice or other form of transactional document enters your organization, it must be copied and stored safely. Better yet, it should be linked with other related documents to form a digital paper trail – a popular IntelliChief feature that establishes it as the go-to solution for backup software for the enterprise.
With 10+ years of experience providing digital repository, business process automation, and document management services, IntelliChief is the only solution with the distinction of being an ECM platform that is universally compatible with all ERP platforms and applications. IntelliChief neatly integrates with your ERP system, unlocking additional features, such as automating rolling backups for all documents which are saved in a digital repository that can only be accessed by users with the proper permissions.
For the Enterprise, Digital Backups Are Only the Beginning
Companies cannot afford to lose information, especially information tied to high-volume transactional content. With backup software that saves duplicates of your enterprise content in a digital repository, you can ensure that your organization acts a vacuum that prevents any information from slipping between the cracks – and that’s only the beginning.
Once documents have been backed up to a digital repository, they can be routed throughout an organization via departmental or interdepartmental workflows. By introducing Optical Character Recognition (OCR), an ECM tool that captures information from paper and digital documents and saves it to your system, you can even support straight-through processing that allows you to process documents without any human intervention. With IntelliChief, your documents aren’t just saved securely, they’re enhanced and optimized to better support your company.
Ready to learn more about how IntelliChief’s digital repository can help your business maintain continuity and increase efficiency? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading backup software and ECM platform.
Digital transformation. It’s a phrase that seems to be tossed around more and more these days; however, despite its burgeoning popularity, it’s somewhat of a misnomer when examined through a critical lens. In today’s unpredictable business climate, companies don’t just need to transform, they need to evolve in order to adapt and thrive. The digital transformation sweeping the globe isn’t a passing trend, it’s the next major challenge in the survival of the fittest — and, as it turns out, the key to staying viable may be content intelligence.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Business leaders that are determined to keep up have a lot to consider as they seek solutions to assist them with their digital transformation. According to Salesforce, these technologies can be utilized to modify or replace existing “business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.”
In other words, every company’s digital transformation is unique to its own existing processes and structure. Business leaders can spend a lot of time digging through niche technologies designed for their vertical, but this isn’t always the best method. Niche solutions typically require multiple vendors and haphazard integrations. Starting with a robust, formalized solution can help streamline integration and minimize the learning curve of adapting to digital processes. So, where do you start? First, you’ll have to answer this question:
What is the one thing every business has in common?
Content. Documents. Information. It’s the fuel that keeps a business operational, which is why business leaders exploring options for their own digital transformation should seek a flexible solution that allows them to handle their content more intelligently. With content intelligence, businesses can adopt a solution that can be fitted to every department across their organization, making it the perfect technology to kick off your digital transformation.
Content Intelligence Tools Simplify Unstructured Data Management
Content intelligence encompasses a range of technologies designed to digitize business-critical information so it can be routed throughout an organization as efficiently as possible. Content intelligence allows a business to reduce processing times, increase fulfillment speed, and mitigate human error. Businesses benefit because their employees have far fewer manual tasks, significantly reducing the chance of missing or erroneous content.
Leading content intelligence platforms utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to read documents, capture and index information, rout it approved users, validate data across multiple related documents, and a number of other functions that help your organization manage unstructured data. The technologies that make up content intelligence tools include:
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
- Machine Learning
- Content Analytics
- Unit of Measure Normalization
- Universal Cross-Reference Tables
- Mobile Capture
- And More
Leveraging Content Intelligence for Your ERP System
Major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) providers, such as Oracle, SAP, and Infor, have grown rapidly over the last decade, culminating in Koch’s $13 billion acquisition of Infor in April 2020. A company’s ERP system plays an integral role in its day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, widespread adoption and a race to acquire third-party solutions that bridge the gap in these ERP systems’ shortcomings have made it integral for companies to seek partnerships that help them get the most out of their ERP system, such as business process automation for Accounts Payable or remote GL coding for invoices.
Regardless of which ERP system or line of business application a company relies on, a leading content intelligence solution will capture the important information from any incoming document and rout it a relevant user or into an automated workflow, depending on the software stack being utilized by the business. Any employee within the organization who has the proper permissions can then view, edit, and manage the document without leaving their desk. Companies that embrace business process automation can even eliminate approvals altogether if the matching process passes a certain confidence threshold — typically around 90 percent.
Content intelligence tools make quick work of duplicate invoices, mismatches, and other exceptions that fail to pass through your ERP system. Machine learning capabilities mean visually unique invoices, such as those sent from new customers, are quickly read, interpreted, and applied to any future invoices from the same source. In a perfect system, document routing can be automated for as many as 70 to 90 percent of documents, allowing companies to cut costs, consolidate resources, and eliminate “busy work.”
Make Informed Decisions and Gain Superior Visibility With Content Intelligence
Another benefit of content intelligence is the ability for business leaders to clearly visualize the inner workings of their business with analytics. How many invoices does your company process a month? Which employees are processing the most documents? How many documents are being held up for exception handling? How long does your process take from start to finish on average?
Businesses that can answer these questions have all the information they need to make informed decisions that protect themselves from the unexpected. Some content intelligence tools, such as IntelliChief, even provide ROI analytics to prove that they are making businesses less resource hungry and more efficient. Businesses can literally monitor ROI in real-time — a testament to the efficacy of content intelligence.
Managing Risk During Digital Transformation
Companies undergoing digital transformation are oftentimes riddled with anxiety as they modify business processes to fit the “future mold.” They conjure images of lost documents, organizational freezes, and unforeseen legal issues. Rest assured, these fears will soon be put to rest once their digital transformation is complete.
Content intelligence can bolster an existing risk management strategy by eliminating lost documents and generating a digital paper trail of all enterprise content. Plus, the superior visibility mentioned earlier means every aspect of your process is accounted for. Additionally, when the time comes to audit, having all of your documents and content available in a digital repository means your information is ready for review at all times.
The Content Intelligence Checklist
Are you ready to explore your options? There are several content intelligence platforms available on the market, but not every solution will be right for your business. Some providers are only interested in solving a single problem for an organization. Others, generally Enterprise Content Management (ECM) providers, are geared towards larger businesses that want a scalable solution for maximum ROI. Business leaders should keep this checklist on hand when researching solutions to ensure that they end up with the right content intelligence tools for their needs:
- Does my business process a large volume of paper, documents, or content?
- Are misfiled, missing, or lost documents hindering my processing speed?
- Does the solution I am researching integrate with my existing ERP system(s) or line of business application(s)?
- Does the solution support an array of different use cases?
- Does the solution support interdepartmental connectivity?
- Is the solution scalable?
- Does the solution offer named licenses or concurrent licenses?
- Does my current ERP provider recognize this solution (i.e., Oracle Gold Partner, Infor Solutions Partner, etc.)
Naturally, business leaders will be confronted with their own questions while perusing all the options available on the market — and rightfully so. Thoroughness is essential when selecting a content intelligence solution as it will serve a business for years to come, so we encourage you to take your time when performing your due diligence. If you find yourself at a crossroads, or simply want to talk to an expert about whether content intelligence is right for your business, we encourage you to contact us today.
Ready to learn more about how content intelligence can help your business thrive during digital transformation? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading content intelligence tools and ECM platform.
IntelliChief, the leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions, urges businesses to prepare for the upcoming 2020 hurricane season in order to maintain business continuity and ensure the protection of all business-critical data.
According to The Weather Company, an IBM business, “The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual.”
Dr. Todd Crawford, the chief meteorologist at The Weather Company, estimates that there will be a total of 18 named storms in 2020, including nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes. If this forecast is accurate, the 2020 hurricane season will trump the 30-year average, which class for 13 named storms per year.
For any business, maintaining operational data protection is a crucial aspect of business continuity. Without access to information, a business cannot flourish. When information is destroyed without a digital copy to fill in the gaps, it can lead to significant challenges for an enterprise-class business. Needless to say, with the 2020 hurricane season looming on the horizon, disaster recovery and business continuity have come clearly into focus, leading to questions like:
- Can you afford downtime?
- How long can you survive when revenue skids to a halt?
- If your business can’t serve its customers, will they immediately jump ship for a competitor, or are you secure in your niche?
- What is the cost to restore operations versus the cost to safeguard against future disasters and disruptions?
Although COVID-19 has pushed organizations to address business continuity weaknesses, Mercer reports that only 24 percent of companies are currently drafting a plan and 51 percent have no plan at all. These companies have been rendered vulnerable to force majeure events that nobody can control, and this vulnerability will only continue to be exposed as the first wave of tropical storms and hurricanes sweep the Atlantic.
Another issue is the scope of a disaster recovery or mitigation plan. Commonly, companies have a disaster recovery plan that doesn’t include the preservation of information outside of their on-location and colocation servers. In other words, data stored on your employees’ personal devices, disparate systems, and even information on paper is a high risk for permanent information elimination.
An ECM solution can help mitigate risk by elevating a company’s ability to maintain business continuity. ECM integrates with ERPs and line of business systems, closing the loop on data indexing, real-time verification, and validation of information across all applications and databases. During disaster recovery, it provides a centralized hub that your staff can access from any location, allowing them to continue working with systems they are familiar with outside of the office.
ECM also provides a daily operational benefit in the form of real-time captures and data validation. It even provides interdepartmental process workflow automation and analytics. As an enterprise-class solution, it can be utilized across your organization in Accounts Payable, Order Processing, Finance, Purchasing, Sales Management, Customer Service, Human Resources, IT, Legal, Logistics/Distribution, and more.
If you didn’t start planning your automation strategy before the end of 2019, you’re already lagging behind your competitors. In many industries, business automation is inevitable. Outdated processes inundated by years of stopgap solutions leave companies vulnerable when key employees depart the company. Specialized knowledge doesn’t always make a smooth transfer from one generation to the next, and that can leave you at a distinct disadvantage, especially during a crisis.
When you automate your company, you optimize your business processes and fuse them to the DNA of your business. You become faster, more accurate, less error-prone, and less vulnerable to business interruptions. You fortify business continuity and give yourself the ability to expand how, where, and when you do business. Best of all, your system continues to work when the office is closed, allowing you to achieve peak efficiency around the clock.
That said, one does not simply snap their fingers to automate a company. Automating processes with business automation requires preparation and planning. Follow these five steps to get started as you make the transition to the best version of your business.
Step #1: Make a Commitment to Long-Term Success
Most business leaders are understandably focused on the here and now. It’s easy to fixate on short-term success, but the long-term outlook for your business is the ultimate judge of whether you are truly achieving your objectives. A commitment to business automation is a commitment to long-term success, which means shifting your strategy and possibly KPIs to account for the adjustment. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but there’s no time better than the present to take the leap. Not convinced? Here are several reasons why you should affirm your commitment to automation today:
- Reduce the cost of labor
- Mitigate human error
- Unlock remote workforce
- Adapt to changing markets
- Optimize workforce distribution
- Eliminate workflow bottlenecks
- Enhance collaboration in and across departments
- Ensure compliance at all times
Step #2: Select Your Most Paper-Burdened Department
At this point, nobody needs to make the case for the benefits of automation – it’s a well-known fact. However, to get the most out of business automation, you need to take what you’ve learned and apply it to one of the most paper-burdened departments in your business.
More paper means more problems, which tends to result in an inefficient or resource-hungry office. These are the departments that cost businesses the most money; not because employees aren’t working hard, but because the outdated processes they are utilizing are simply no match for today’s more advanced paperless solutions. Commonly, Accounts Payable, Order Entry, Human Resources, and Accounts Receivable are the departments that can benefit most, both in terms of boosting efficiency, productivity, and ROI.
Step #3: Understand the Justification for Going Paperless
Before you can automate at scale, you need to go paperless. In many ways, eliminating paper is the precursor to automation. When you go paperless, you maintain digital copies of all documents in a secure, centralized repository that can be accessed by approved users based on permission level. This gives you the ability to access, review, edit, and rout all documents instantaneously, eliminating time spent shuffling through file cabinets or manually delivering documents. Unlike information on paper, information that is transferred into a digital format can be used in virtually endless ways, which means you can finally consider automating the processes that are holding your business back.
Step #4: Blueprint Your Business Processes
Now, it’s time to identify business processes in need of improvement. You need a deep understanding of your workflows if you want to automate it correctly. Try to avoid systems that try to force you to make sweeping changes to your existing processes. Improvements are welcome, but if a system can’t adapt to your tried-and-true processes, it might not be the right match. On the other hand, avoid duplicating a manual process using technology only because “that’s the way we have always done it.” Change is also an opportunity to improve by challenging why things are being done a certain way.
Engaging a partner with knowledge of best ERP- or industry-specific practices can also help to re-engineer a process and make it better than before. You want a robust product that can be “configured” to the particular needs of your business. Only then will you be able to fully realize the advantages of business automation.
Step #5: Automate Your Company With Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Software
The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. You’ve made a steadfast commitment to automating your company, identified your most overburdened departments, reduced your reliance on paper, and documented the nuances of your business processes – it’s finally time to implement your automation solution! We recommend avoiding point solutions that only allow you to automate certain departments or processes. A configurable Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution that can be applied to multiple departments gives you the benefit of dealing with a single vendor who truly understands the entirety of your ERP system and it’s connected applications. It also allows you to scale your solution on your own terms and timeline.
Are you interested in learning more about how business automation can help you work smarter, not harder? IntelliChief can help you automate your company to accelerate processing times and eliminate errors, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. To learn more about how we can help you plot your automation timeline to ensure that your business is protected against future interruptions, contact us today.
Whether as an individual, a business, or an enterprise, there are already innumerable reasons to reduce or eliminate your reliance on paper. Paper can be harmful to the environment, inefficient in the office, and incompatible with the global shift towards digital business. However, despite virtually every sign indicating that the time to go paperless has arrived, another argument against the use of paper for business has materialized seemingly out of nowhere: Covid-19.
A Paperless Office Can Help Prevent Transmission
In a world where readily available cleaning supplies kill 99.99% of viruses and bacteria, it’s easy to grow complacent when it comes to actively managing and improving your office sanitation plan. With the threat of the coronavirus looming overhead, now is a great time to re-evaluate your strategy so you can limit transmission once the economy has reopened.
That means more than restocking your cleaning supply closet and doubling down on hand sanitizer, it means taking the necessary steps to facilitate a paperless office that all but eliminates unsanitary filing and other processes that require the direct handling of paper. By researching paperless solutions today, you can begin to deploy a manageable, cost-efficient plan when Americans return to work.
Journal of Hospital Infection: Viruses Can Survive on Paper for Up to Five Days
An office is one of the most susceptible environments to contagious viruses. Individuals work closely together, sharing office supplies and engaging candidly as they solve problems. Taking a direct, hands-on approach to tackling business challenges is always an effective strategy; however, it also weakens your defenses against transmission.
The Journal of Hospital Infection studied several strains of coronaviruses and tested their longevity on inanimate surfaces. On paper, viruses were found to survive for as long as five days or as little as five minutes. In other words, paper poses a potential risk for transmission. If a sick worker prints a document and passes it to other employees, the virus could spread. If the virus is able to survive for five days and the document requires several reviews or approvals, the effect on an office could be devastating for employee health and business continuity.
There are other office supplies that support paper use and pose a threat, too. Cardboard filing or shipping boxes (24 hours), hard plastic copiers and other office supplies (2-3 days), and metal cabinets or file storage (5 days) also pose a threat for transmission. There’s no need for these items in a paperless environment, which means fewer surfaces are touched by employees.
Paperless Solutions for a Smooth Return to Work
Americans across the country are eager to get back to work. It’s up to businesses to ensure that, when they do, they have everything they need to work safely and efficiently. In a paperless office, they can do both. A paperless office is faster, more efficient, and less error-prone. It ensures that business-critical documents are always accessible and within reach at the touch of a key while eliminating human error and redundancies that reduce your bottom line.
If you want your business to continue to grow once the Covid-19 crisis has subsided, supporting a paperless environment is the first step. Once all your documents are stored in a secure digital repository (think of it as a centralized HUB for your enterprise information) you can take advantage of several other benefits including business process automation, remote content management, and no code workflow management (on no-code platforms). Considering the bevy of reasonable arguments against the use of paper, it really comes down to two questions: Why do you still rely on paper? How can we help?
IntelliChief stands by businesses affected by the coronavirus, which is why we are actively supporting those that recognize the value of a paperless office as one aspect of their plan to beat the virus and come out stronger than ever before. Please contact us today with any questions or to learn more about how we have been helping businesses maintain continuity during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
There’s nothing easy about the times we are living in. The economy is locked in a downward spiral that threatens our very way of life, and the stock market continues to spike erratically from all-time highs to all-time lows leaving even the most acclaimed marketing gurus with little idea as to how long (or how serious) this burgeoning recession will be. As a result, every decision faced is magnified by the potential impact it could have on your business, employees, and customers. As a leader, you must be acutely aware of how perilous this journey forward is, not just in terms of how you manage business assets and human capital today but also in the uncertain future.
If your company has been affected by severe business interruptions, it’s time to cut your costly reliance on paper! When you go paperless and embrace business process automation, you can lessen the impact of business interruptions and continue to thrive during times of uncertainty.
Save Assets, Eliminate Liabilities
How do you define an “asset?” For many, an asset is any resource that helps improve their business, such as hard-working employees, intelligent software, industry partnerships, and virtually anything else that positively influences the success of their business. Assets should be protected at all costs because they typically yield a positive ROI for your business; otherwise, they wouldn’t be assets!
On the other side of the spectrum, there are liabilities that you should eliminate to benefit your business. This can be tricky as some liabilities disguise themselves as assets. In fact, one such liability is paper, which has been masquerading as an asset for far too long. What’s wrong with using paper to do business? For starters:
- Inconvenient to store and retrieve
- Easily lost, misplaced, or destroyed
- Long processing times
- Heavily reliant on repetitive manual work
- Not scalable
- Incompatible with key components of digital transformation
- Slows business growth
When you go paperless, you can cut costs without cutting employees. Let’s face it, paper only serves one function: storing information. On the other hand, your employees have unlimited potential to assist your business in any number of ways. And with business process automation, they can work faster and more accurately without having to rely on old, inundated processes that prevent your business from reaching peak operational efficiency. When you make the commitment to support a paperless office today, you are fortifying your business infrastructure for whatever lies ahead in the future.
Layoffs Come With Hidden Costs
Unfortunately, when the economy is in the gutter and morale is low, many businesses are forced to rely on layoffs as a short-term solution to cut costs and keep a business viable while the markets work themselves out. No employer wants to find themselves in a position where this strategy has to be used; after all, employees are a company’s most valuable asset. Plus, layoffs can do more harm than good if you don’t consider the hidden financial and cultural costs:
- Financial Costs: accrued paid time off, severance pay, continuation coverage, vacancy, replacement, and other miscellaneous expenses that could cost you up to tens of thousands of dollars or more. Keep in mind that the average cost to hire an employee is $4,129 per SHRM.
- Cultural Costs: low morale, lost productivity, negative employee perceptions, missing tribal knowledge, and other people-based issues that are difficult to account for and even harder to assign a hard dollar value. Remember, if morale gets too low it can be difficult to retain new workers once economic conditions have recovered.
Support Business Continuity
When a company relies on paper-based processes or is undergoing a period of restructuring, it’s going to have a negative impact on business continuity. With a full team, everyone understands and acknowledges their role. They perform the same (or similar) tasks each day until they have been mastered. Many of these processes, such as Accounts Payable, rely on other employees to perform their own specialized tasks, too. Needless to say, when a portion of these employees is suddenly missing, it becomes nearly impossible to keep the entire operation running at 100 percent efficiency. This is another problem that can be easily solved when you go paperless.
A paperless office isn’t constrained to the same limitations as a physical office, and with business process automation, continuity is never an issue. Your processes become hardwired into the very framework of your business, which means employees don’t have to memorize complex filing rules or possess tribal knowledge to perform their jobs at a high level. If you need to cut costs but can’t afford to miss a step, you should consider how you can automate your company to ensure that business continuity is never interrupted again.
Embrace Long-Term Business Solutions
Speaking of business continuity, when you focus on eliminating paper, you are essentially reaffirming your commitment to a long-term business strategy. A paperless future is on the horizon, why not be one of the early adopters of this game-changing shift? If you go paperless today and automate your company, you’re equipping your business with the tools to work faster and more accurately than your competitors. Best of all, with all your documents stored digitally in an enterprise content management (ECM) system, your employees can keep working whether they’re in the office or working from home. When supported by business process automation, you can even process up to 90% or more of your documents without any human intervention at all. Companies that have already taken the leap are posting 40 – 75 percent cost savings as a result. Now that you’ve readjusted your projections for 2020 to align with the ongoing crisis, factor in 40 – 75 percent cost savings and see where your business stands.
Automate Your Company
When a company invests in a paperless office, all documents are filed and stored in a secure digital repository where they can be accessed at will. An ECM system expands on this functionality by allowing these documents to be processed via workflows that connect users with varying levels of authority within the company. Eliminating paper yields several basic yet potentially significant cost savings, including:
- Reduced paper use
- Eliminate filing cabinets and on-site storage
- Fewer office supplies
- Eliminate off-site storage
- Faster processing times
- Fewer errors
Consider this: it costs approximately $20 in labor to file a document, $120 to find misfiled documents, and $240 to reproduce a lost document. Just think, a document costs $20 to file, but if it’s misfiled the cost goes up to $140. If it gets lost altogether, that price goes up to $240. $240 is a high price to pay for one single document. At that price, an Accounts Payable professional earning a salary of $50,000 would only be expected to process around 200 documents per year to break even for the employer. That’s not very efficient or cost-effective, especially considering the average employee processes 700 invoices per month. This further goes to show that employees are assets with a high potential for positive ROI. As for paper…get rid of it!
Go Paperless Today to Avoid Future Business Interruptions
Help has already arrived in the form of a $2 trillion stimulus package, but this a one-time deal and shouldn’t be viewed as a long-term solution. As an employer, it’s important to understand that the true costs of laying off people rather than paper are vastly different. If you want to avoid future business interruptions and keep your business running when America goes remote, the first step is to go paperless. Then, once you have eliminated your reliance on paper, you can automate your company to realize massive cost savings that allow you to keep your valued employees and liberate them from repetitive, manual tasks. In the end, you will have retained a large portion of your assets and future-proofed your business for the next crisis, allowing you to focus on growing your business alongside the employees who helped pave the way.
Is there anything more frustrating than footing the bill for a fraudulent or inaccurate invoice? For years, business owners have struggled to give their Accounts Payable (AP) departments the tools they need to prevent invoice processing errors related to manual data entry, duplicate invoices, and faulty exception handling — and it’s starting to take a toll on several industries.
According to Infor, “approximately 0.1% to 0.05% of invoices paid are typically duplicate payments.” In other words, a business that grosses $150 million per year could lose as much as $750,000 to duplicate payments over a five-year period. This “lost” money could have been invested in training, bonuses, infrastructure, and virtually anything else businesses need to succeed. For most businesses, utilizing a 3-way matching process is a reliable way to cut down on matching errors, but it can also lead to additional Accounts Payable challenges.
In theory, a true 3-way matching process matches not only the invoice and purchase order but also its corresponding receiving information, thereby eliminating the chance for duplicate payments and counterfeit invoices. Unfortunately, this process can be a hindrance for businesses that aren’t equipped with the tools to process invoices quickly and accurately. For instance, some enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems require the processor to manually check to ensure that all related documents have been received to approve the 3-way match and complete the AP process. Another common ERP-related issue is a system’s inability to read purchase orders (POs) and receipt tables, rendering automatic voucher creation an impossibility.
IntelliChief, was built to overcome these limitations with unparalleled workflow automation and invoice matching capabilities. Unlock your team’s true potential by eliminating pitfalls in your existing AP process and watch productivity soar as you reduce manual exception handling by as much as 50% or more.
Issue #1: Workflow-Restrictive Implementation
Too often we find that enterprise-class software wants your business to play by their rules. Whether you’ve been in business for one, ten, or one hundred years, your existing business processes should be respected and considered whenever new technology is incorporated into your workflow. A lack of flexibility is one of the major detractors of point solutions that aim to address a single issue. You can’t apply their technology to other departments or workflows, and you must mold your existing processes to “play nice” with their system.
IntelliChief is unique because it is an enterprise content management (ECM) platform that integrates directly with your ERP system and can be configured to your exact business processes. Whether you utilize a 2-, 3-, or 4-way matching process, IntelliChief can be configured accordingly to help you reduce lag time and AP errors.
Issue #2: Queued Matching
How do you streamline a process that grinds to a halt every time something unfamiliar enters your queue? On top of that, how do you ensure that easily processed documents aren’t trapped behind a wall of exceptions? Realistically, utilizing any sort of queue in your process will lead to slowdowns and additional Accounts Payable challenges. For example, if your team members must enter an invoice to see if the receiving has been completed, it’s only a matter of time before your entire system is bogged down.
As an Infor Solution Partner and Oracle Gold Partner, IntelliChief matches invoices in real-time to help businesses avoid late fees while capitalizing on opportunities for early payment discounts. Exceptions are routed into workflow and automatically processed once the system has enough confidence in a match or recognizes that it’s within your tolerances. Any exceptions that fail the confidence test are then routed to a user for manual approval, leaving only your most pressing (and real) exceptions to be handled by your AP department.
Issue #3: No Unit of Measure Conversion Capabilities
Reducing the number of exceptions in your AP process is a surefire way to increase productivity. Whenever your processors are forced to deal with an exception, they are committing extra time to a particular transaction regardless of its value. Whether a transaction is worth $1 or $1 million, every additional second your team requires to process it is being siphoned directly from your bottom line.
Therefore, if you can reduce the amount of time spent handling exceptions, you can realize significant cost savings. IntelliChief can automatically perform unit of measure and part number conversions to reduce exceptions. For example:
- Lithium grease can be purchased in a drum or a 5-gallon bucket. There are 55 gallons in a drum, which means there are 11 buckets in a single drum. If the invoice and purchase order express this amount (i.e. one drum) in different terms (i.e. one drum vs. eleven buckets) it will result in an exception and require manual intervention to process. IntelliChief utilizes a cross-reference matrix to automate these conversions, eliminating the need for manual approval.
- Steel is often purchased in coils while copper tubing is more commonly purchased by the 20-foot section. Similarly, steel pipe is regularly purchased in 44-foot rail lengths but used by the inch or square inch. When suppliers and purchasers have different expectations about how a material will be utilized, it can lead to unit of measure normalization issues. The final product is ultimately the same, but your AP processors can’t be certain without checking manually. IntelliChief eases the burden of this complicated process by handling the conversions for you and eliminating this step altogether.
Issue #4: Lack of Support for Workflow Automation
By addressing the above concerns with an industry-leading ECM solution like IntelliChief, your business can take advantage of faster processing times and fewer exceptions. It allows businesses to accelerate invoice or customer purchase order processing by eliminating manual intervention and automating your workflow. Even complex matching procedures, such as those involving blanket POs, are no problem for IntelliChief.
As soon as your information enters the system, a 2-, 3-, or 4-way match is performed automatically. With normalization and cross-referencing, the number of transactions that require manual intervention is reduced even further. IntelliChief Capture Enterprise users can even unlock the ability to use straight-through processing, which allows invoices to be processed without any manual entry or intervention from the beginning. As the statistics below prove, the leap in productivity is nothing short of alarming:
- 260 Total Invoices
- 141 Processed Straight Through
- 119 Required Manual Intervention
- 54% Straight to Voucher
With Normalization and Cross-Reference
- 260 Total Invoices
- 254 Processed Straight Through
- 6 Required Manual Intervention
- 97% Straight to Voucher
With IntelliChief, you can reduce the burden of exception handling on your AP team, reach unprecedented processing speeds, and decrease the number of errors in your process by a wide margin. Even when your team is out of the office or unavailable, IntelliChief continues to process transactions in real-time from start to finish.
Overcome Your Accounts Payable Challenges With IntelliChief
There are many benefits for businesses that rely on 3-way matching, including stronger supplier relationships, increased profitability, and superior preparedness for financial audits. However, businesses that don’t automate this process are often overwhelmed with the time- and labor-intensive nature of manually performing 3-way matches. To scale this process as you grow your business, automation is critical. With IntelliChief, there’s no limit to how many documents you can process — even when the office is closed — thanks to robust automation capabilities that learn (and master) your business-critical processes.
Whether you’re a project manager, general contractor, or developer, you understand that successful projects are fueled by the contracts between the various parties involved both on and off the project site. You can’t afford to make payments to a general contractor or supplier without a sound agreement in place. It’s simply too risky. Unfortunately, with so many contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers involved in each project, ensuring that everyone in your network gets their due can be a challenge — unless enterprise automation is integrated into your business processes.
Although contracts are oftentimes considered the lifeblood of the construction industry, the invoices tied to these contracts are equally important — especially when you consider that invoicing works differently depending on the type of construction contract being used (i.e., Fixed-Price, Cost Plus, Time and Materials, Unit Pricing, etc.) What’s arguably even more complex is the process of routing all your invoices to the proper entity, confirming receipts, and satisfying payment obligations. Fortunately, construction industry professionals can streamline their processes with IntelliChief’s enterprise automation solutions.
Enterprise Automation for the Construction Industry
Enterprise automation for the construction industry includes world-class document management and AP automation. In construction, document management that supports project accounting is crucial to keeping projects on track and under budget. Even a single misplaced “0” or misfiled document can send your entire project into a tailspin.
Even though all parties working on a project ultimately play a role in its overall success, they’re equally as concerned with protecting their own best interests. Therefore, when a project is delayed because a dispute has arisen over late payment, it can complicate matters for everyone, especially when timelines are pushed back to resolve a dispute. IntelliChief can improve the speed and accuracy of Accounts Payable invoicing and other crucial business processes to help you take advantage of several benefits, including:
1. Mitigate Risks With Full Visibility Into Your Construction Projects
IntelliChief makes it easy to store and retrieve an array of important project-related documents, including:
- Contractor Contracts
- Subcontractor Contracts
- Change Orders
- Lien Waivers
- Supplier Contracts
- Purchase Orders
- Municipal Building Permits
- Bids and Estimates
- Plans and Specifications
- Code Inspection Documents
This is accomplished by converting your paperwork into electronic files that can be imported directly into your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Your back-office team will be able to retrieve documents quickly and efficiently without ever being forced to shuffle through a cluttered file cabinet. Whether a document is stored at your office or on-site in a construction trailer, it can be retrieved on-demand as long as the user searching for it has permission. By establishing custom profiles that limit permissions based on your business rules, you can control who can access which documents — even out-of-organization entities. With all your construction documents stored electronically, you gain full visibility into every aspect of your projects, allowing you to glean highly specific insights to help you mitigate risk.
2. Eliminate Noncompliance With Automated Retention Policies
With full document storage and retention policies based on government/state/county regulations, your business can obtain peace of mind whenever an audit is performed. Retention policies are completely configurable to align with your company’s policy and those of the aforementioned regulatory bodies. In most cases, construction-related documents should be maintained for 10 years or longer to avoid any legal or administrative issues. For example, in the State of Florida, a latent defect has a statute of repose of 10 years stemming from the date the defect was (or should have) been discovered. In a case such as this, having the relevant files in storage could mean all the difference. Here’s how it works:
- Documents are electronically imported into your ERP system
- You decide how long to save each type of document based on business and regulatory rules
- IntelliChief manages the file accordingly
The alternative? Purchase space-consuming file cabinets, store all of your paper files manually, hire more processors, and diminish your bottom line with avoidable back-office expenses that could be spent elsewhere — raising worker wages, hiring new talent, purchasing new personal protective equipment, investing in recruiting, combating the labor shortage, and more.
3. Reduce Human Errors and Delays by Automatically Generating Accurate Documents
When your Accounts Payable team is forced to manually enter all of the information from paper documents into your ERP system, every keystroke is a potential error. IntelliChief can virtually eliminate human errors and delays by automatically generating accurate electronic documents using integrated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. OCR can read invoices and pull their information into your ERP system. Then, IntelliChief can help you retrieve these documents using any number of identifiers logged in your index.
4. Improve Your Company’s Cash Flow With Faster Invoice Processing
Managing your cash flow is essential for growing your construction business. If you want to keep your current projects running smoothly while adding new projects to your pipeline, you’re going to need to have an accurate understanding of where you stand in regard to cash flow. IntelliChief can accelerate the invoice review, approval, and payment process to eliminate unexpected charges and prevent billing issues. With IntelliChief Analytics, you can determine financial bottlenecks in your organization and take action to correct them. You can also take advantage of more vendor discounts by paying on time — every time.
5. Allow Product Manager to Code AP Invoices Remotely
IntelliChief can boost connectivity between project managers and your back-office without the need for shared office space. Project managers can approve invoices, give the green light on purchase orders, and even assign GL codes by project number — all while in the field. They can even attach notes electronically to decrease the number of back-office errors. With remote access, IntelliChief can be utilized on the project site, at home, or in the office to improve your job cost accounting processes.
6. Gain Financial Visibility Into Activity Status for Better Timing and Communications
IntelliChief automates the seamless transfer of key financial data to your ERP system, providing your business with the financial visibility it requires to accelerate timelines and streamline communication between departments. You can track project progress by retrieving invoices to examine payment schedules or identify late payments. Furthermore, IntelliChief can recognize other documents related to a particular project or portion of a project to provide you with a global view of your company’s financial health.
7. Strengthen Relationships With Partners, Investors, and Contractors to Gain Competitive Advantages
The most successful construction professionals didn’t get to where they are today by isolating themselves from the rest of the industry. On the contrary, they worked diligently to form strong bonds with other industry professionals. These bonds give your company a decided advantage over your competitors, but even years of collaboration can be undone by a single payment dispute.
IntelliChief enterprise automation helps your company strengthen relationships with partners, investors, and contractors by facilitating faster payments, more reliable communication, and greater transparency. Your vendors will be pleased with prompt payments, your partners will be relieved to discover that projects are wrapping up on time and under budget, and you’ll benefit from a greater degree of control over the future of your business.
With IntelliChief, you can work smarter, not harder. Grow your business by cutting out repetitive, error-prone tasks and replacing them with industry-leading enterprise automation that understands your company’s processes and helps it achieve its growth objectives.
IntelliChief Version 5.0 is now available – and full of upgrades that will help you manage your content more efficiently. The latest version of our software includes a new Retention Manager module for automatic lifecycle management, expanded no-code workflow automation capabilities, and upgrades to the solution’s document capture and indexing functionalities.
IntelliChief Retention Manager: An Easy Solution for Document Lifecycle Management
IntelliChief Retention Manager allows you to automatically dispose of your old documents at the appropriate time (or deliver them directly to an authorized user, who can manually approve the action). You can create purge policies and hold policies for each individual document, or each type of document, allowing you to easily lifecycle-manage all of your corporate content.
If you need to retain one of your records beyond the scheduled disposal date, you can request a temporary hold. Once an expired document is approved for deletion, it is securely deleted from your system, database, and repository.
Our New and Improved Workflow Designer
With IntelliChief, you’ve always had the ability to create your own custom workflows – but Version 5.0 includes a new and improved interface that makes the process easier than ever.
The new system lets you create and change your workflows with a few simple clicks. You can:
- Insert or modify workflow stages
- Expand and collapse your workflow diagrams
- Show all potential responses that are linked to a particular stage
- Validate your workflows
In the new Workflow Designer, all of this can be done without custom coding. Any user with the appropriate editing permissions can make modifications within Workflow Designer; the intuitive set-up is easy to understand without a technical background.
From a visual perspective, it’s easier to map out your business processes. Different shapes and colors can help you diagram each stage, and icons show you where you’re scheduling user notifications.
From a functional perspective, it’s easier to see what can and can’t be done. IntelliChief displays each available response based on the stage and its configuration, and you can select your preferred action.
Test Pending Changes Before They Go Live
The new Workflow Designer lets you build and test new processes without impacting your active workflows. As you determine what should happen at each stage of an automation sequence, pending changes are stored in a separate work area until they’re approved to go live. This gives you the freedom to design (and re-design) your workflows without interrupting your existing business processes.
IntelliChief 5.0 also includes digital stamps that let you mark up your electronic documents, the same way that you would with ink stamps for paper files. Our new Rubber Stamp tool works just like the Annotations tool in the IntelliChief Document Viewer, and lets you complement the electronic note tool that has always existed within your IntelliChief Workbench.
Capture Enterprise Updates
Version 5.0 includes updates to the Capture Enterprise module’s settings, as well as the System Monitor. You can more easily control how each document is captured and processed, without making custom changes to the Capture Enterprise application. You can quickly input data when a word is not automatically detected, and set custom page types to keep your content more neatly organized. You can also automatically monitor for files that remain in the Export folder, and any documents that haven’t completed processing.
Email Import IMAP Connector
The updated Email Import module can connect to your email system via IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol.) This lets it retrieve and download email messages for further processing, eliminating the need for a Virtual SMTP on the IntelliChief Server.
Other improvements included in IntelliChief Version 5.0 include:
- New inbox views and search results, allowing you to more easily find the content you’re looking for
- HTTPS support, allowing secure encrypted communications between IntelliChief clients and the IntelliChief server
- Workflow Server enhancements, leading to faster processing of documents with multiple index sets.
Upgrade to IntelliChief 5.0
Interested in an upgrade? Current customers can contact IntelliChief to learn more about the new release – including technical requirements for Version 5.0.
The IntelliChief Capture Enterprise for AP Invoices solution allows your business to take advantage of Accounts Payable straight-through processing cost savings. It was designed from the ground up for organizations looking to automate their AP processes from start to finish. With IntelliChief, your company’s goals of eliminating manual ERP data keying, invoice matching, and voucher creation are finally attainable.
How Does Straight-Through Processing Work?
Invoices received as paper documents, email attachments, or other means are scanned or imported into Capture Enterprise. Then, information from the header, body, and footer of these invoices is extracted. Next, this information is verified and validated with the data stored in your ERP using database lookups, defined business rules, calculations, and confidence thresholds. The vendor associated with each invoice is automatically identified, and other critical pieces of information, including line items on single and multiple-page invoices, are processed. If all of the necessary information is available for a particular document, it can be processed without user intervention.
But What About Exceptions?
IntelliChief offers Accounts Payable validations, such as mathematical calculations and automated two-way and three-way matching. Invoices that fail validations, fall below confidence thresholds, or fail the invoice matching process can be reviewed and resolved immediately or routed through your configured workflow for exception handling. Non-PO-based invoices can be routed for GL coding and approval. After all invoice types have been fully matched, approved, coded, or otherwise resolved, the data extracted and validated via Capture Enterprise will be delivered for voucher creation within your ERP or financial application without any manual keying.
Other Benefits of Accounts Payable Straight-Through Processing
New invoice layouts are set up in minutes by AP professionals as they process invoices, resulting in reduced invoice processing costs and cycle times. Capture Enterprise users have reported more than a 50 percent reduction in invoice processing costs and over 75 percent straight-through processing on PO-based invoices. By drastically reducing invoice cycle times, organizations are positioned to take advantage of early pay vendor discounts or, at the very least, to begin negotiations that can lead to increasingly favorable terms suppliers. Without IntelliChief, it’s markedly more difficult to get these types of conversations off the ground.
You have to spend money to make money, which is why Accounts Payable has long been considered the crux of an organization’s operational capabilities. Automating the Purchase-to-Pay process is one of the most effective measures enterprises can take to streamline Invoice Processing, improve vendor relations, and eliminate tedious, manual tasks. Below, we explore how one company achieved unheralded levels of productivity by automating the Purchase-to-Pay process.
Landoll Corporation Aims to Improve the Purchase-to-Pay Process
Landoll Corporation’s history can be traced back to humble beginnings in 1963. Starting as a small company with only three employees, Landoll’s founders never imagined that their company would grow to become a global leader in innovative product design for agriculture, transportation, material handling, OEM, military, and government sectors — but through hard work and diligence, it did just that. Today, Landoll continues to innovate by developing some of the most durable and high-quality farm equipment, construction equipment, and trailers available.
Over the last half-century, Landoll has faced many challenges in its bid for growth. One seemingly constant detriment to Landoll’s success was the manual, paper-based processes hindering progress in Accounts Payable. Landoll’s Invoice volume was astronomical, making timely vendor payments an exception, rather than the rule.
“When I looked at the size and scope of the business process that we had become entangled, I decided we had to develop a paperless business model.” — John C. Schmidt, Group Manager at Landoll
This realization began the search for a solution that would allow Landoll to automate the Purchase-to-Pay process. After multiple rounds of due diligence, Landoll settled on IntelliChief as their go-forward solution for P2P automation. Leveraging the robust Content Management and Workflow Automation capabilities of IntelliChief’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform, Landoll was able to automate the Purchase-to-Pay process to save time and money.
“The point to be made is this — buyers should be focusing on the buying process and developing quality vendors with the ability to deliver products on time at competitive prices, not shuffling paper between departments and staff.”
Getting Started With Paperless Purchasing
IntelliChief was implemented to streamline Landoll’s Purchase-to-Pay process. This would be accomplished by eliminating the need for paper, starting with the purchasing phase. Here’s how it works:
- A Purchase Order is created in the company’s Infor ERP application
- The PO is merged with an electronic form that is faxed or emailed automatically based on the vendor’s preference
- The PO is electronically archived in IntelliChief’s secure, digital repository
Paperless Purchasing Benefits
IntelliChief’s advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software client, Capture Enterprise, enabled Landoll to capture key information from transactional documentation. With comprehensive AI capabilities, Capture Enterprise makes all transactional data usable, whether structured or unstructured.
IntelliChief’s highly intelligent OCR software extracts data from all paper, fax, and email documents and automatically populates processing fields in IntelliChief. This information is then verified against the data stored in Landoll’s Infor ERP. This data is indexed and archived, as are the corresponding image files.
Consider this scenario involving Order Acknowledgements:
If a buyer gets an email response from a supplier stating, ‘We have received your PO and we will ship as expected by the requested date,’ it is considerably more efficient to capture the Acknowledgment in IntelliChief with the purchase documentation collection, instead of filing it in a drawer with the PO.”
Here’s how IntelliChief helped address this scenario:
“If a problem with the shipment occurs, the buyer can pull up the PO in IntelliChief and see all related documents and determine the source of the problem. When the vendor is contacted, all the purchase information is available to the buyer, allowing for a quick resolution. The same process is applied to vendors, quotes and pricing. Capturing it all in IntelliChief is a significant time saver.”
Handling Purchasing Discrepancies
When materials are received, the receiving documents are also electronically captured. The same processing occurs with Bills of Lading and related Packing Slips. IntelliChief doesn’t care what type of document is being captured, it captures all information indiscriminately and archives it automatically according to pre-existing business rules that leverage machine learning to get smarter over time.
Why is this important? It allows IntelliChief to connect receiving documents with the corresponding PO and any other related documentation. Without any manual labor, a full transactional record or “digital paper trail” is formed. When Landoll processors retrieve any document from this record, they will instantly have access to related documents — making the process of handling purchasing discrepancies a total breeze. Read on for more comments from John C. Schmidt, Group Manager at Landoll:
“For orders to have items that were back-ordered or shipped incorrectly, IntelliChief’s workflow can expedite resolution of these issues in an efficient manner. When there’s a discrepancy in the Packing Slip, it can be electronically routed to the specific buyer. It’s very easy and cost-effective when compared to our paper process days.”
Schmidt also pointed out another important benefit of going paperless:
“In the past, we used 15 filing cabinets and a warehouse to store our purchasing documents. With IntelliChief, we have no filing cabinets nor are we moving any files to the warehouse. The square footage previously occupied with filing cabinets in the AP Department is now being used for additional, much-needed meeting space. Filing time of the past is now directed to more productive purposes.”
Before IntelliChief, Landoll relied on two full-time employees to manage the filing, searching, and retrieving of Purchase Orders, quotes, and vendor-related information. Now, these employees have been reassigned within the company. Instead of tedious, manual data entry and file management, they are making strategic contributions to the company.
Payment Scheduling Optimization
IntelliChief also assists Landoll with payment scheduling and scheduling optimization. Before IntelliChief, Invoices that arrived via mail, fax, or email would eventually be manually printed, sorted, marked up, and distributed by Landoll’s Accounts Payable staff. Every day, an average of 100 Invoices were processed via this method. The process was highly manual, resulting in countless wasted man-hours in AP.
Whenever a discrepancy occurred, an AP processor would send a paper copy of the Invoice to the appropriate buyer for resolution, stalling AP processing until it was returned. Meanwhile, an Excel spreadsheet was utilized as a log to track the Invoices requiring resolution. This file would then be sent to managers for review and approval — more manual work to increase processing time.
This highly manual approval process meant Invoices were being handled four to five times each, resulting in poor payment scheduling optimization and:
- Late payment penalties
- Missed early payment discounts
- Slow processing times
- Frustrated vendors
- Manual processing errors
Finally, after an Invoice was approved and a check was cut, it was matched against a duplicate copy of the check and filed in the filing cabinets by vendor name. But those were the old days, and Landoll had no intention of looking back. Just ask Susan Slater, AP Supervisor at Landoll:
“Now, Invoices that arrive via fax are electronically captured and are routed to the appropriate AP staffer’s electronic inbox. Mailed Invoices are processed and scanned by Administrators, who then index them with the appropriate vendor and PO number. IntelliChief’s workflow process routes the Invoice to the appropriate AP staff’s inbox. Emailed Invoices are captured with Capture Enterprise, with email and attachments sent to the imaging database.” — Susan Slater, Accounts Payable Supervisor at Landoll
With IntelliChief, payment scheduling optimization is enabled with visibility provided through IntelliChief’s industry-leading integration capabilities. Invoices are now sorted to determine which ones to pay first. Attempting this with the old paper system proved difficult and inefficient.
This entire electronic procedure for capturing and routing Invoices helps speed up the process. It is essential to receiving early payment discounts, accounting for considerable capital annually.”
If there is a need to review past transactions or any documents associated with it, IntelliChief’s search function retrieves the required information by the vendor number, PO number, Invoice number, or any other relevant metadata.
Expanding Beyond the Purchase-to-Pay Process With IntelliChief
With IntelliChief, Landoll’s digital transformation had begun. Leveraging results from their P2P Automation, Landoll set its sights on expanding IntelliChief utilization to other departments, business units, and processes, such as its Order-to-Cash operations. Landoll has enabled everyone from Sales, Customer Service, Order Processing, Invoicing, and Collections to go paperless with IntelliChief.
Streamlining purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash processes is at the top of every organization’s to-do list. The P2P and O2C cycles are rife with inefficiencies that can be addressed with the right technology, especially when these processes are paper-based and highly manual.
In this article, we detail the story of one IntelliChief customer whose severe paper overload wrought internal havoc on their businesses, resulting in misfiled documents, lost invoices, and customer service delays. Their solution included:
- IntelliChief Enterprise
- IntelliChief for Infor XA
- IntelliChief Capture
- IntelliChief for Accounts Payable
- IntelliChief for Order Processing
Focusing on the Process to Improve Profitability
Here is the justification for this particular customer’s Purchase-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash project according to their Accounting Manager:
“We were looking to improve processes to save time and money and improve how we dealt with customers and how we did our daily jobs. Our ultimate goal was to find a way to improve the bottom line, to improve profitability.”
This company’s solution search party asked their ERP provider to recommend a content management and process automation solution. They recommended IntelliChief on the basis of its feature-rich capabilities and seamless integration with their ERP system. However, a simple recommendation wasn’t enough to obtain project approval. For that, the CEO and CFO wanted evidence of real ROI, including reduced costs for:
- Check Stock
“Neither the CEO or CFO wanted to see any soft dollars. We were able to show there were big savings, which could be used to improve profitability and services, and those were hard dollars.”
Therefore, the first challenge was streamlining the Purchase-to-Pay process, from purchasing to receiving and Accounts Payable. When creating POs, buyers printed them, emailed or faxed them to the vendor, stapled the confirmation receipt to the PO, and put everything in a basket to wait for confirmation. This process took up to 4 hours (on a good day). Clearly, something needed to change. Here’s our approach:
The cumbersome, time-consuming steps were eliminated with IntelliChief and a new, streamlined P2P process was established:
- A Purchase Order is created
- An electronic copy is saved
- FastFax (an integrated fax server for IntelliChief) faxes or emails the PO without user intervention
- Order Acknowledgments, received by fax or email, are archived in the IntelliChief database and linked to the appropriate PO
Not only is the P2P process streamlined but all documents can be retrieved on familiar ERP screens at any time by IntelliChief users.
Before IntelliChief, incoming products had receiving documents matched against POs, keyed into the ERP, and filed. When invoices arrived in Accounts Payable, invoices were matched against the receiving record in the system. If there was a discrepancy, AP staff needed to look for the original receiving documents to determine if they had been incorrectly entered into the ERP — or if the invoice was wrong. Consider these remarks by one Accounts Payable Associate:
“If the purchase had been made by one of our other facilities, I had to call them to send me a copy of the receiving documents, so I could match, review everything associated, and find out what happened.”
Today, after documents are matched in the warehouse and a receiving record has been created in the ERP, the receiving documents are scanned into IntelliChief, eliminating the need for hard copies and ensuring they are digitally available without the need to send physical paper to Accounts Payable.
Innovation All Across Accounts Payable
Let’s break down a few ways this customer streamlined Accounts Payable:
Every Invoice Accounted For
- Faxed invoices are captured via FastFax and archived
- Mailed invoices are scanned
- Emailed invoices are saved with the easy-to-use IntelliChief Capture application
Automated Invoice Matching
- IntelliChief automatically matches invoices against receiving documents and sends them to an electronic inbox (“Matched Invoices”)
- Similarly, invoices without a receiving document go to an “Unmatched Invoices” inbox
- These invoices are subsequently matched manually or rerouted into workflow once the PO is available
“Previously, every day I had to pull up the folder and try to match invoices. That was a big pain. With IntelliChief, the invoices are awaiting electronic matching with the receiver, as if they were saying, ‘Hey, here we are!’ It’s a tremendous time saver.”
Prior to IntelliChief, an insurmountable paper trail prevented invoices that needed quck approvals. Copies were made by AP staff, sent to the appropriate manager for approval, and returned to AP for a voucher.
“When invoices make it back to us, I had to contact each person to verify they received it, approved it, and sent it back. Sometimes invoices were paid late, or we couldn’t take advantage of vendor discounts because we couldn’t make the deadline. IntelliChief now electronically forwards invoices or approval to the correct person. They approve it with a single click. With IntelliChief’s automated workflow, the company has put an end to missing invoices, delays and unachieved discount savings.”
When Accounts Payable wanted to pay invoices, Accounts Payableagain had to match paper documents. Associates could spend upwards of half the day manually matching invoices and checks to be approved and signed by senior staff. This meant manually searching through filing cabinets for correct invoices and putting them in a folder with the corresponding check.
IntelliChief saves checks as an electronic image and manages them in workflow. It’s secure, simple, and streamlined.
“IntelliChief automates our check production; checks go via Workflow to senior staff, and they can simply click and look up the relevant documentation on-screen and either approve or void the check.”
Order Processing Pains
The second challenge was sales orders, which flowed in via fax, email, and postal mail. They were manually routed to the Traffic Group for review and carrier information access and logged before going to Order Entry. Then, they were sent back to the Customer Service Representative (CSR) or manager with any questions or when a discount required approval.
Here’s what the Customer Service Manager had to say about it:
“There was no way to know where in the process the order was at any given time, until it was put into the system. Sometimes we had to ask the customer to re-send, which you can imagine they weren’t very happy about. Then the workflow-by-hand is a tedious process, having to constantly ask staff in various departments where the order presently is, and where it’s going next. It slowed our fulfillment.”
After the order was entered, an acknowledgment was printed, proofed, and compared to the PO. Once approved, a CSR made a copy, faxed or mailed it to the customer, and filed the copy with the PO. It was slow, inefficient, and costly. Fortunately, it was also fixed.
Order Processing Done Right
With IntelliChief, order processing is efficient. Faxed orders are captured with FastFax, mailed orders are scanned into the system, and emailed orders are saved with IntelliChief’s easy-to-use capture capabilities. Every single document is archived in the IntelliChief database.
Electronic orders are sent to Order Entry or the CSR via workflow. Once in workflow, the order is routed to Traffic and then to Order Entry. IntelliChief creates and saves the Acknowledgment, which is faxed or emailed directly to the customer.
“We now have only 3 people involved in the process rather than 7 previously, and we always know exactly where the order is. IntelliChief cut our order process time in half.”
When customers called with questions about invoices, CSRs had to request a copy from Accounting. According to the Accounting Manager, this was also problematic:
“Prior to IntelliChief, the invoice had to be pulled from the files, which could take minutes or hours, and then logged. The order history (original PO, any change orders, acknowledgments, and all related documents) is now electronic. We can view order status through IntelliChief and see where any bottlenecks are. We can see if orders are not being entered. Invoices are emailed to customers, saving postage, labor, and mailing costs.”
IntelliChief Provides ROI and Intangible Benefits
IntelliChief provides the company both ROI and intangible benefits. Here’s what they said:
“It helped decrease the stress level! Being able to really see what’s happening, to see where holdups are is incredible. From a management standpoint, that’s a measurable benefit to me.”
But that’s not all:
We can’t wait until next year when the independent auditors come in. We’ll provide them with a workstation accessing IntelliChief, and they can do document searches without involving any of our Accounting staff.”
Banking on a Paperless Future? Start With Purchase-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash
Implementing process automation is admittedly a procedural shift. But in time, employees, managers, and business leaders can all agree that it makes life easier for everyone.
“The idea of not having paper anymore for some people was difficult to overcome, initially. They now understand automation is a real advantage for all of us, with how we serve our customers, and everyone realizes the competitive advantage it provides us.”
Paperless HRIS System
One digital archive for all of your resumes, applications, benefits forms, performance reviews, and more
In HR, an electronic filing system can make it easier to stay organized. Your Human Resources Managers can have resumes, applications, benefits forms, performance reviews, and other important records stored in a digital archive – with everything right at their fingertips when they need it.
IntelliChief’s document management software integrates directly with your HRIS platform. By communicating with your Applicant Tracking, Employee Onboarding, Performance Management, and Employee Self-Service modules, it lets you automatically capture, categorize, and sync your most important HR data.
Our electronic HR filing system helps you move away from traditional storage, keeping confidential information secure while letting you access it from anywhere. And because of its real-time integration with your HRIS solution, it lets you deliver your employee and contractor information to any Human Resources application – without manual data entry.
The Real-Life Impact of an Electronic HR Filing System
Our software lets you:
- Convert documents from their various native file formats to standardized electronic images
- Verify information using the data you already have stored in your HRIS platform
- Archive information electronically, and delete it once it’s no longer needed
- Automate HR workflows, such as application routing and employee off-boarding, to help you save time on routine administration
Automate Supplier Payments
Pay PO and non-PO invoices quickly to capture more discounts and improve supplier relationships
You shouldn’t have to spend valuable time managing your supplier payments. With IntelliChief, you can automate the entire process from start to finish!
IntelliChief helps you pay for routine B2B purchases, as well as non-PO transactions. It uses the information you already have stored in your ERP to confirm the details on each of your invoices. This way, you only pay for what you ordered (and received) at the prices your suppliers originally quoted. Furthermore, it gives you the ability to take applicable discounts if you so choose. Your organization will flourish as you stack concurrent 2/10 net 30, potentially saving thousands on the routine purchases you make each month.
Once your invoices are verified, the voucher is created and scheduled for payment. No more delayed payments, and no more costly late fees. It’s an easy way to keep your Accounts Payable cycle on track.
Straight-Through Processing to Automate Supplier Payments
When IntelliChief captures a new invoice, it automatically finds the corresponding purchase order and receipts. (No purchase order? No problem. IntelliChief can route expense invoices to the appropriate approver. They can approve, code and import the invoice data without keying it into your ERP).
For PO-based transactions, IntelliChief matches the supplier invoice with your company’s supporting documentation. Even at the line level, IntelliChief performs the match automatically and creates the voucher, as long as everything meets your variance policy.
For a typical B2B transaction, your employees don’t have to do a thing. There’s no need to manually enter the invoice into your ERP to check for a match. This keeps the supplier payment process simple and efficient. Meanwhile, IntelliChief’s workflow includes duplicate invoice checking to eliminate double payments.
Resolving Supplier Invoice Problems To Enhance Straight-Through Processing
If there’s a discrepancy between your purchase order and what’s listed on your supplier invoice, IntelliChief can help you find a solution. One example: you place an order for 100 units, but your supplier sends an invoice for 10 boxes of 10 units each. Your invoice and the purchase order don’t match – but they both reflect the same materials. Instead of wasting your team’s time on a simple unit & measure conversion, our software takes care of it for you to enhance straight-through processing rates.
Another common example is when you and the vendor use different part numbers. There’s usually a conversion table for part numbers in your ERP, but it’s rarely accurate. IntelliChief will prompt the user to save the converted part numbers the first time, allowing the system to remember the difference the next time that part number is ordered. Here too, your Accounts Payable team doesn’t have to perform the conversion manually each time.
Look Up Vendor Payment Terms
Our invoice processing software also ensures that you get the discounts you’re entitled to.
IntelliChief searches each invoice for supplier payment terms, such as a 2 percent discount if you pay by a specific date. When there is an incentive, IntelliChief makes sure the invoice is entered and paid by the deadline – without a last-minute rush from your team.
Schedule Supplier Payments
As each invoice is verified, IntelliChief tells your accounting software to start the payment process. It automatically creates your vouchers, then follows the payment schedule in your ERP or accounting system.
As each payment is issued, our software archives the corresponding transaction detail. If you pay a supplier with a check, the system will capture it automatically and authorized users (or auditors) can see a complete history of the transaction.
Track and Analyze Your Outbound Payment Activity
When it comes to your finances, visibility is key. IntelliChief helps you create detailed, real-time accounting reports for every supplier payment.
With IntelliChief Analytics, you can see:
- When each of your pending invoices is due
- What percentage of your invoices were processed straight through
- Which suppliers you spend the most with throughout a given period
- How many invoices you haven’t processed yet (and will need to accrue in the following period)
Thanks to self-serve access, anyone in your organization – from your Financial Controller and your CFO to your Accounting Manager or VP of Operations – can quickly access the information that’s most important to them.
Start Managing your Supplier Payments with IntelliChief’s Invoice Automation Software
The more successful the business, the more transactions you have to manage in your back office. And when you’re dealing with thousands of purchases at a time, an inefficient supplier payment process can easily overwhelm your team. At IntelliChief, we’re here to help. We can get started whenever you’re ready.
The cost of doing business has been increasing every year – and not by just a few percentage points. Some experts calculate that operating expenses double every 14 years. This makes it increasingly hard to stay competitive.
Of course, as industries change, new tools emerge. Businesses have a number of ways to reduce their operating costs, both now and in the future.
One option? Using technology to handle time-consuming tasks. This not only makes things easier for your employees, but it helps you reduce your expenses in the process.
Choosing Processes to Automate
Many routine processes are good candidates for automation. Software can help reduce the operating costs associated with:
- Collecting and verifying vendor invoices
- Looking up and assigning GL codes
- Scheduling outbound payments
- Processing sales orders
- Tracking shipments and managing logistics
- Handling customer inquiries
- Creating invoices for customer purchases
- Collecting and entering data into disparate business systems
Some companies turn to outsourcing services to help cut these costs. Unfortunately, there are downsides – most notable, poor visibility and a lack of control. But with automation, businesses don’t have to trust these responsibilities to a third party. Companies can still handle them on their own while placing less of a burden on their internal resources.
How Much Can Businesses Save With Automation?
The more you automate, the more you can save. It all starts with a comprehensive strategy.
Individually, each of the processes listed above may not seem that costly. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there can quickly add up.
Let’s use invoice processing as an example.
The average business can save $10 (or more) for each invoice they process automatically. At 1,000 invoices per month, that’s a savings of $120,000 per year.
And if that business were to also automate their order processing?
The best companies can process a sales order for just over $5. Meanwhile, inefficient companies spend around $40.87. That’s a difference of more than $35 per order. Over the course of a year? A business that processes 1,000 orders per month can reduce its annual expenses by $420,000.
An Increase in Business Doesn’t Have to Mean an Increase in Operating Costs
Most companies see an increase in operating costs as they grow. More transactions mean more administrative work – and more employees to keep up.
With automation, though, the economy of scale can make a big difference.
Software can do in seconds what an employee may need several days to complete. As you earn more business, automation lets you handle the increased workload with the resources you already have.
The only caveat: you need to invest in a solution that can solve your current problems, while also accounting for future growth.
Weighing the Cost of an Investment Against the Potential Benefits
When you’re looking to reduce your operating costs, paying thousands of dollars for a solution can seem counterproductive. But for the right technology, your business can easily recover the expense.
In an article for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Stephen O’Hearn states that “the crucial priority isn’t the costs you cut, [but] rather where you focus resources to stimulate growth.” Technology helps you work smarter – as long you spend smarter, too.
The best way to increase your ROI is to find one solution that can work in several areas of your business. This brings down the total cost of ownership.
It’s also important to find a solution that’s simple to use. A new software program can’t do you any good if your employees don’t understand how to use it – or if it makes them abandon their current processes. It can be hard to bring about meaningful change in a business, but when you introduce a solution that makes everyone’s lives easier, they’re more likely to adopt it for the long haul.
How IntelliChief Can Help You Reduce Your Operating Costs
At IntelliChief, we understand how important it is to keep your operating expenses low. We can help you implement cost-saving strategies across your entire business.
Our process automation tool can help you lower your operating costs across Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Finance, Production, Distribution, Customer Service, and even HR. And the financial justification is there: our customers typically achieve a full return on investment in just one year.
Our solutions integrate with the business programs that you already use. This lets you extend the usefulness of your legacy programs – programs that could otherwise be too costly to justify keeping.
To learn more about reducing your operating costs with IntelliChief’s business automation software, contact us today. Or, visit our Resource Library to see how other businesses have implemented our cost-saving measures in real life.
In 1893, an economist by the name of John R. Commons was the first to use the term “human resource.” He scribed the term into a book titled “The Distribution of Wealth.” Over a century later, it has become clear that this was a fitting name for the first text to mention humans as a resource because the Human Resources department in every business has become a crucial component in maintaining wealth.
That said, it’s really not until the 1960s when the idea of Human Resources became interminably intertwined with the individuals who are responsible for managing employee-related resources. The Human Resources department oversees everything dealing with the management of human capital within a company. They are tasked with managing all of the information regarding every employee within an organization. It’s a heavy lift, one made even more burdensome by a systemic reliance on outdated, paper-based processes.
When John R. Commons first penned the term “human resource,” it’s hard to imagine that he could fathom how big his concept would grow. Today, successful companies don’t just staff the most hard-working HR professionals, they equip them with Human Resources document management automation to ensure that every employee is accounted for and managed with the utmost efficiency. An inefficient HR department can not only create friction within your company but also affect your bottom line as your most important assets are mismanaged and unable to maintain peak productivity.
Why Human Resources Document Management Automation?
Being the hub of an organization’s resources, people, and the jobs they’re performing, the information contained within HR-HCM files functionally keeps companies afloat. Unfortunately, larger companies that have become overly reliant on paper find themselves entrenched by processes that become highly specialized (and less efficient) over time as impractical processes are utilized to “patch” shortcomings in an existing HR system. Plus, HR processes vast quantities of information, and whenever you have large amounts of information, you simply can’t afford to be running through reams of paper, too.
Before a company can take advantage of the benefits of Human Resources document management automation, they must first have a digital repository for all of their data to be stored. Ideally, using an enterprise content management (ECM) solution that permits workflow automation. From this centralized repository, all HR-related information can be accessed by users with the proper permissions. Such a system empowers businesses to take advantage of electronic employee file management, secure storage, remote access, robust file search capabilities, and more. Your employees will never need to dig through a file cabinet again. Plus, ECM solutions like IntelliChief automatically assist with compliance by creating a virtual document timeline from onboarding through its lifecycle.
Why Businesses Automate Human Resources
Some companies automate their HR department after they have already successfully automated another department, such as Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable. Others wish to free their workers from repetitive, manual tasks that take up time but yield very little value. While every business automates for their own reasons, the most commonly cited reasons include:
1. To Get Faster
Document management is a time-intensive process when handled manually. Accessing information from a physical file is a time-consuming hassle that is vulnerable to mishaps during both storage and retrieval. One misfiled document can cost your company over $100 in wages. This figure doubles when a new document must be produced to replace the original. None of these slowdowns occur within an ECM system, and with automation, only documents that fail to meet your tolerances are forwarded to a user for manual intervention. When implemented properly, you can eliminate almost all of your false exceptions and facilitate a working environment where 100 percent of an employee’s attention can be given to the task at hand, all but eliminating mistakes from your HR document management process.
2. To Avoid Business Interruptions
It’s never been more apparent than in 2020 that American businesses are not equipped with the tools to stay productive when significant business interruptions strike on the local, national, or global level. Avoiding business interruptions doesn’t mean dispatching your team to work from home when something prevents you from going into the office, it means sustaining productivity and profitability in the face of a crisis. This can only be accomplished when your team is equipped with the tools to access and interact with documents around the clock. Of course, automation allows your business to continue working after hours, but what about those documents that do require human intervention? Can your team access them when working from home? If one user is unavailable, can another user with similar permissions access the document to complete the task for them? With ECM and automation, your business is always prepared for the unexpected, allowing you to work through business interruptions when your competitors are sidelined.
3. To Save Money
“A dollar saved is a dollar earned,” and when it comes to HR document management automation, the cost savings can be game-changing for your business. Here’s where you can expect to save:
- Reduced paper, labor, and storage costs
- Fewer errors
- Faster processing and onboarding
- Less turnover
- Automatic audit compliance
- Hire accurately
Businesses save money because they always have complete visibility over the status and contents of all HR files, including:
- ADA medical records
- Background checks
- Drug tests
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) data
- Expense reports
- FMLA medical records
- 1-9 forms
- Insurance enrollment forms
- OSHA records
- Payroll records
- PTO requests
- Resumes and employment applications
- Reviews and disciplinary records
- Training manuals and onboarding itineraries
- Tuition reimbursements
Best of all, a scalable solution like IntelliChief can be applied to multiple departments, allowing you to eliminate inefficiency and financial pitfalls across your entire enterprise. Cost savings in one department serve as a model for potential savings in other departments, and scaling is easy because working with a single vendor who supports robust software integrations ensures that there are no compatibility issues with other applications.
Are You Ready to Automate HR Document Management?
As an employer, your employees are your most valuable asset. They provide the creative spark to help you solve complex problems, the persistence to ensure that your business is always running, and the resilience to help you overcome challenges. To manage them effectively, you need to support your HR department and give them the tools to capably handle all of your most important HR files. As your business grows, so will the amount of pressure placed on your HR department. HR document management automation can give them the relief they need to manage their time and output and ensure years of dedicated service.
Ready to learn more about how Human Resources document management automation can help your business gain a competitive advantage? Contact IntelliChief today to speak with an HR document management automation expert.
To get your company on board with an AP automation project, you need to show a clear ROI. Thankfully, it’s an easy case to build. Cost savings typically average 80 percent – and most companies achieve a full return on their investment within a single year.
The Financial ROI of Invoice Automation
Invoice processing is the most common process that AP departments automate. And the justification is there: the costs are reduced from $14-$17 per invoice (when done manually) to $3 (when automated.) The time investment is lower as well: the typical cycle is cut from 14 days to 3 days with automation.
Lower costs, fewer late fees, and more early payment discounts are the norm – not the exception. That’s the AP automation ROI realized.
The Non-Financial ROI of AP Automation
Realistically, the dollar savings are most important. But there are other, “softer” savings that you’ll also achieve. Consider:
The ROI of Control: Automating your AP workflows provides additional control for everyone involved. Standardizes processes leave less room for confusion or mistakes. And contrary to popular belief, automation doesn’t remove Accounts Payable employees from the process. It’s simply a way to eliminate steps that consume unnecessarily large amounts of time. With AP automation, you are still in control of coding and approving invoices, and adding them to the general ledger. You and your team will just have greater visibility and insight into the process.
The ROI of Time: AP automation buys you time. You’re able to transform your AP department from an expense to a profit center by pursuing higher-level tasks. Consider what you could achieve if your expert employees were focused on finding and negotiating potential discounts, optimizing your payment schedule, analyzing opportunities, and proactively working with vendors for better results. All of a sudden, your AP department can start generating revenue for your company.
The ROI of a More Capable, Productive Staff: As your company grows and invoice volumes increase, you will be able to keep up without hiring additional employees. Contractors and outsourcing are eliminated from the conversation as well. The team you have now will become more productive – and can help you keep up with long-term growth.
We get it: automating isn’t an instant decision. You need to evaluate (and oftentimes, maintain) your long-standing processes. You can do exactly that with a mappable AP automation program. IntelliChief’s solutions let you keep your current ways of processing, but automate them for increased efficiency.
The toughest part is the initial decision. It’s hard. You have to make yourself do it, but thankfully implementation isn’t difficult. And once your initial ROI projection is achieved, you’re likely to see more anticipation throughout the rest of your company. Soon, they’ll be following your lead and asking what else they can automate.
Shared services can help streamline back-office administration, offering a centralized option for accounting, HR, customer service, and other functions. That said, companies still need to optimize their model so they aren’t held back by common operational issues.
The most successful shared service centers don’t operate as any other business unit. (PricewaterhouseCoopers confirms this.) Instead, top performers:
1. Fundamentally Change the Way That Services Are Delivered
In the earliest shared service models, processes were consolidated to help companies capture the efficiencies of scale. Today’s approach, however, focuses on optimizing processes in the first place, eliminating redundancies, and implementing the newest best practices.
2. Automate Redundant Tasks Wherever Possible
One real-life best practice? Using automation to make time-consuming processes simpler. When there’s something that has to be done – but isn’t an ideal use of a company’s resources – it can be helpful to turn to technology. For instance, back-office shared service centers can use software to process invoices and approvals, making these routine responsibilities less of a burden for their employees.
3. Consolidate Technologies
Before turning to shared services, many companies use multiple technologies across different departments. But, maintaining several legacy systems is incredibly inefficient – not to mention costly.
In KPMG’s global business services maturity model, one of the key milestones for an integrated organization is “coordinated processes [and] technology”.
This tends to come later in a shared service center’s development. KPMG recommends doing so after the delivery model is consolidated, but before a company’s services are synced end to end. This allows organizations to get a comprehensive plan in place and then choose the technologies that can support their goals – not the other way around.
4. Continually Test and Evaluate
As is the case with any business model, failing to adapt can cause any shared services organization to fall behind.
Today’s industry-standard may be completely outdated within five years. For instance, Accounts Payable used to involve extensive manual math, while SSCs now have the option of relying on software to run their calculations automatically. Even if a process is currently working well, it’s important to remain open to continued opportunities for improvement. Activities like manual 3-way matching, manual keying, and unit and measure conversions can be completely eliminated, allowing users to focus on errors and exceptions (which software can’t automate).
5. Drive Changes From a Senior Management Level
Transitioning back-office processes to a shared service model is no small undertaking – but the results more than justify the cost. Changing the status quo (and maintaining momentum throughout the process) requires CEO-level commitment, as it’s only after a change is fully implemented that the benefits start to add up.
Let IntelliChief Help You Optimize Your Back-Office Shared Services
Whether you’ve just started to consider a shared services model or are looking to improve upon an existing approach, IntelliChief can help. Thousands of transactions go through IntelliChief’s back-office automation tools every day, and we’re here any time you’re ready to start doing the same.
If your shared services strategy doesn’t include automation, you may be using too many resources on repetitive tasks. After all – the goal of a shared services center is to increase efficiency – so why is your staff spending valuable time on processes that can be easily handled by a computer?
How Strategic Shared Service Centers Use Automation
In 2017, Deloitte surveyed more than 1,100 shared service centers. They found that more than half of the shared service centers were either already using automation or considering it.
Automation has the potential to help reduce costs significantly. Manual workflows, like processing invoices and looking up customer order information, can be done more quickly (and more accurately) by a computer. In turn, this frees up employees to focus on other tasks.
These benefits are especially timely, considering that Deloitte’s study also revealed that:
- 73 percent of shared service centers reported year-over-year productivity increases of 5 percent or higher. Even for centers that are currently pleased with their performance, it’s important to continue improving – or risk losing their competitive edge.
- Complex, knowledge-based processes had doubled (or in some cases, tripled) over the past 5 years. Strategic processes still need to be handled by humans – and that will likely be the case for the foreseeable future. Eliminating routine “busy work” gives employees the capacity to focus on these knowledge-based initiatives – and provide more strategic benefit to the company.
- More than half of the shared service centers had expanded their strategy to include three or more core functions. Scaling up is an excellent way to increase a shared service center’s financial benefits – but it also poses the need to adapt to the increased volume of responsibility. For some companies, that may mean hiring additional staff. However, automation is ideal for handling a high volume of tasks (and ensuring an accurate, predictable output). This allows companies to save on salary expenditures. As a result, automation has a place in almost any organization’s forward-thinking shared service strategy.
What Other Strategies Can Benefit Your Shared Service Centers?
Automation is just one of the emerging trends that shared service centers should be considering for future growth. Organizations also need to focus on:
- Discovering (and eliminating) duplicated processes across departments. For instance, Accounts Payable may be manually entering GL code information into an ERP from an expense invoice after the approver has written it on the invoice. Why are two people adding the same information? Another example is duplicate invoices. Often an AP user enters an invoice, only to find out that it’s already been paid. By centralizing core activities, shared service centers can help put an end to duplicated tasks.
- Leveraging core data across multiple processes and information systems. Similarly, many organizations handle the same data several times, often manually moving that data from one program to the next. Streamlining their strategy for handling their data is another way that shared service centers can reduce costs and improve productivity.
- Increasing their value-add through expanded reporting and analysis. Processes that are completed at shared service centers don’t happen in isolation. Every single one has a wide-reaching impact that decision-makers need to be able to evaluate – and SSCs can expand their strategy to include more real-time reporting and analysis. This can help corporate executives not only see the true impact of their shared service model, but also identify over-arching trends that will impact their business.
Discuss Your Shared Services Strategy With One of IntelliChief’s Process Optimization Experts
If you’re ready to help your shared services center become more productive, contact IntelliChief. Our specialists can help you create a strategy for faster, more cost-efficient back-office practices – all within the framework of the technology you already have in place. With ERP-integrated automation software, we can eliminate repeated manual work from your shared service model, reducing costs, and providing a high return on investment.
To see how other companies have streamlined their procedures with IntelliChief, visit our Resource Library and download one of our peer-to-peer case studies. Alternatively, to speak with one of our experts directly about improving your shared services strategy with automation, contact us today.
Your customers expect to receive their orders quickly — no matter how they’re placed or how much customization is involved. If you take too long, you’re less likely to earn their repeat business, and you can forget about a word-of-mouth recommendation. The bottom line: Your lead time is important, and reducing it can have a major impact on your business.
Of course, that tends to be easier said than done, but with a few strategic changes you’ll be able to reduce your lead time and optimize your entire supply chain, leading to more satisfied customers and a stronger competitive advantage.
Before you start to make changes, you’ll need to set realistic goals for improvement that take into account your current performance and the nuances of your particular industry. For example, if you manufacture made-to-order products, your lead times may be several weeks longer than a company that has a standard product line.
If you want to grow your business, you’re going to need to reduce your lead time. Here’s how:
1. Remove Unreliable Suppliers From Your Supply Chain
Do you routinely receive late shipments from certain suppliers? Keeping them in your supply chain could be costing you more than finding a different vendor.
A study performed by NC State University suggests that supplier evaluation almost always has a positive impact on a company’s financial performance — even when taking into account the potential cost of a transition.
However, if you do change suppliers to reduce your lead time, make sure you’re stocked up with enough inventory to last you through the changeover. Furthermore, ensure that your new supplier is prepared to start sending you products right away.
2. Choose Vendors That Are Closer to Your Warehouse
In today’s global marketplace, you have access to more vendors than ever before. Unfortunately, while chasing the best prices across the globe, you may end up waiting weeks for products to be shipped overseas. This not only makes your lead time longer but it also complicates the process of returning faulty or unwanted products.
One of the easiest lead time reduction strategies for suppliers is to give priority to vendors that are located close to your warehouse or manufacturing plant. And if you can’t find a local supplier that can compete on price, consider placing larger (but less frequent) orders from international vendors and keeping a larger inventory on hand.
3. Share Your Demand Forecasts With Your Suppliers
If you’re in an industry that naturally fluctuates, your orders may change from month to month. In order to keep your suppliers prepared for larger-than-normal orders, let them know that you’re expecting an increase in demand as early as possible. This helps to ensure that they’re not only prepared to handle an exceedingly large order but also prepared to do so as quickly as possible.
4. Bring External Processes In-House
Do you handle most but not all of your production processes in-house? Consider increasing your own capabilities so you don’t have to send your products out to a third party for completion. This requires a significant investment upfront, but the long-term savings (and the permanent reduction in lead times) generally make this a financially feasible option. Plus, you’ll be establishing your infrastructure for growth, allowing you to scale with ease once your profits start to trend upwards.
5. Automate Your Order Processing Workflows
Once you have your raw materials and are ready to start production, make sure that your own internal processes are up to par as well. Consider:
- How long it takes you to get customer purchase orders into your system
- How long it takes you to move engineering change orders through production and QA
- How often the process gets held up as a result of internal miscommunication
- How often orders get lost entirely
If your performance is poor in any of these areas, your lead times are likely suffering as a result. Automating your order processing workflows can help you get your finished products out the door more quickly.
6. Complete Multiple Processes at the Same Time
Certain processes have to be completed before others can be started – and there’s just no way around it. But, if you’re able to identify processes that different individuals can complete at the same time, you can increase productivity and reduce your lead time even further.
7. Improve Internal Communications
Order processing is an “all hands on deck” process. If you’re not collaborating well internally, you may be creating unnecessary delays.
Let’s use order entry as an example. If there are multiple steps in your process that require input from several people, you could be spending extra time you don’t have to. This is especially true if you’re dealing with paper, which can’t be tracked. Paper-based projects left sitting on someone’s desk increases your lead time, as well as the likelihood of lost documents.
Even though poor communication is a major challenge to solve (and often a symptom of other, deeper issues), manufacturers have several options for eliminating bottlenecks. One option? A workflow system that immediately routes order-related documents from one department or user to the next, while immediately notifying users that a project requires their attention.
8. Communicate More Effectively With Your Customers
So this doesn’t technically help you reduce your lead time, but it does help you keep your customers up-to-date while they wait for their orders. Since studies have repeatedly found that communication is a strong predictor of customer loyalty, it’s an important aspect to consider.
If you’re not sending out order notifications, consider investing in a system that’ll do exactly that. (Automation is a major time-saver here as well, with plenty of technologies that handle notifications automatically.) It’s a simple – and nearly effortless – way to set expectations and increase satisfaction.
Let IntelliChief Help You Reduce Your Lead Time
At IntelliChief, we understand how critical it is for you to keep your business running smoothly – and we’re here to help.
We’ve provided hundreds of companies with the tools they need to automate their sales order-processing procedures. The result? Less time wasted on redundant back-office administration, and more time to devote to sales and product development. Some of our customers have even reduced their lead times by up to 50 percent.
With more than 80 percent of enterprises already using AI – and 30 percent planning on increasing their investment over the next three years – companies that aren’t already using automation to their advantage may be feeling the pressure to catch up. But there are so many options to consider that it can be difficult to decide where to focus your attention. Automation? Robotics? Machine learning? What’s the right technology for your business?
The Difference Between Automation and Robotics
The terms “automation” and “robotics” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are minor differences between the two.
- Automation is the process of using technology to complete human tasks.
- Robotics is the process of developing robots to carry out a particular function.
Not all types of automation use robots – and not all robots are designed for process automation. That said, most robots are used for that specific reason – especially in the context of industrial use.
Traditional robots have sensors – like audio and visual sensors – that allow them to carry out complex physical processes without (or with very minimal) assistance from a human. (An example: a robot that travels around a warehouse, collecting items for orders.)
However, there’s also such a thing as a “software robot”, which refers to a computer program. Software robots – which can also be referred to as desktop automation or robotic process automation – are designed to conduct virtual processes rather than physical ones. For instance, some companies use data recognition software, which can be configured to “read” documents the same way that a human would. This reduces the need for manual data entry, which – when done by a human – can be time-consuming and error-prone.
Machine Learning & AI
Now that we’ve covered automation vs. robotics, we can introduce machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) to the conversation as well.
- Artificial intelligence is the concept of using “smart” machines to complete tasks.
- Machine learning is the practice of users “teaching” machines how they should function.
While all forms of automation are taught at some point in their development, machine learning is an ongoing practice. These are the programs that become more adept at their jobs the more frequently they’re used.
Machine learning tools are considered semi-autonomous. They can function well on their own, although they do require occasional user input to “teach” them how to make complex decisions in real time. (Autonomous robots, on the other hand, work entirely without human intervention.)
The Role of Automation, Robotics, Machine Learning, and AI in Business
Here’s where all of these terms come together.
If you’re looking to incorporate new technologies into your business, you may have several options to consider. It all depends on what type of goals you’re looking to achieve.
If you’re looking to assemble your products more quickly, a robot may be able to help you speed up your factory operations. If you’re looking to make repetitive administrative tasks more efficient, software-driven process automation would be more appropriate.
Of course, these are just a few examples of industrial robotics and automation – there are hundreds of opportunities to explore. Each one can provide you with a unique competitive advantage – and a different ROI.
IntelliChief Robotic Process Automation for Businesses
If you’re not sure where to start, IntelliChief can help. As a leader in robotic business process automation, we provide companies with intelligent software to help them simplify their most time-consuming tasks.
Our tools can be customized to accommodate almost any administrative function. For instance, we offer solutions for:
- Collecting and verifying invoices
- Entering sales order information
- Producing customer invoices
- Administrating HR benefits
- Onboarding and offboarding employees
- Managing logistics
When performed by employees, these repetitive tasks are highly inefficient and inaccurate – but our software robots are configured to make them faster and more predictable.
And, the more you use IntelliChief, the less you end up having to do. (For instance: type in a new customer’s information once, and we’ll remember it for the next time you bring up that account.)
To learn more about how our automation software can help you transform your business, contact us today. Or, visit our Resource Library to see how other customers have successfully implemented business process robotics in their back office.
Corporate accounting has long been driven by standard policies and procedures. But today, forward-thinking companies are updating their processes through automation. Modern advances in AI have made accounting faster and less error-prone – not to mention easier to scale. These advantages are part of the reason why – according to Forbes – a number of routine accounting processes are likely to be AI-based by the year 2020.
What Tasks Can Be Improved With Accounting AI?
Artificial intelligence is already capable of handling several common tasks, such as manual data entry and invoice classification. But, the more intelligent that technologies become, the larger the projected role of AI in the accounting area.
Artificial Intelligence for Accounts Payable
Artificial intelligence allows technology to process documents the same way that humans do (although these technologies rely on behind-the-scenes configuration rather than natural intelligence). Their algorithms make them perfect for collecting and validating invoices, as well as matching to their corresponding purchase orders and receipts.
In the past, AP automation programs were only capable of reading invoices if they knew exactly where each piece of information was going to be located. This made their application somewhat limited. But, today’s programs have become much more intuitive.
Thanks to machine learning, computers now have the ability to:
- Recognize patterns
- Remember data for future applications
- Learn from decisions made in similar circumstances
- “Understand” and replicate tasks performed by human operators
As a result, accounting technologies are becoming more effective at validating transactions, matching quantities and prices, and determining which transactional documents require exception handling.
Similarly, robotics in accounts payable can streamline quantity conversions and tax calculations using information that’s already in a database – no need for an employee to figure this all out manually. And, if there’s an invoice that needs to be reviewed by a human, workflow-enabled programs can immediately send that document where it needs to go.
Artificial Intelligence in Accounts Receivable
Automated intelligence makes it easier for accountants to manage incoming payments as well.
For instance, if a customer submits a single payment for multiple invoices