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How to Determine Your Cost to Process a Single Invoice

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:

  1. Set your cost per invoice benchmark
  2. Estimate your average cost per invoice
  3. Calculate your average cost to process a single invoice
  4. Compare your total against your estimate and benchmark
  5. 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 info@intellichief.com. 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 info@intellichief.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.

 

 

Top 5 Reasons to Automate Invoice Processing

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:

  1. The invoice is generated by the supplier
  2. The supplier sends the invoice to the purchaser
  3. The invoice is printed and walked to an approver
  4. The data on the invoice is manually entered into the purchaser’s ERP system
  5. The invoice data is sent to the approver for review
  6. The invoice is approved
  7. The purchaser writers a check
  8. 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:

  1. The invoice is submitted digitally via an invoicing platform (i.e., IntelliChief) to the purchaser
  2. The invoicing platform captures data from the invoice automatically
  3. The invoicing platform automatically processes the invoice through the correct approval routing procedures
  4. 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.

Who Should You Include in the Enterprise Software Selection Process?

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:

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?

CEO

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.

CFO

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.

CIO

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.

President/Vice President

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.

Operations Manager

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.

Production Manager

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.

Warehouse/Shipping Manager

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

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.

Outside Consultants

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.

 

How to Conduct a Remote Audit

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 SMEs and large 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.

To learn more about how remote audits can help your business save money, preserve time, and maintain compliance, contact IntelliChief today.

3 Tips for Dealing With an Increasing Accounts Payable Invoice Volume

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.

To learn more about how IntelliChief helps organizations deal with increasing Accounts Payable invoice volume, contact us today.

Is Automating Accounts Payable Processes Worth the Effort?

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. SMEs and large 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 by More Than 70 Percent

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.

Do want to see more examples of the benefits of automating Accounts Payable? Contact us today to speak to an expert.

Is a Paperless Accounts Payable System Right For Your Business?

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.

Smooth Scaling

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.

To learn more about the benefits of a paperless Accounts Payable system, contact IntelliChief today.

10 Questions To Ask To Ensure A Successful Accounts Payable Automation Partnership

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:

  1. What Are Some Unexpected Invoice Processing Issues Our Organization Has Faced?
  2. What Do You Know About Our Business and Industry?
  3. Does the Accounts Payable Automation Solution Integrate With Our Current Technology?
  4. How Do Plan to Address Our Specific Needs and Communicate Results?
  5. Will We Have to Change the Way We Process Invoices?
  6. Does Your Solution Put Style Over Substance?
  7. How Does Your Strategic Approach Align With Our ROI Goals?
  8. Will We Be Included in the Implementation Process?
  9. Can We Speak to One of Your Customers About Their Results?
  10. 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 15 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 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.

Another thing worth your consideration is how you plan to utilize your solution in other departments. When you purchase AP Automation, you’re really purchasing automation software and the implementation know-how to automate AP-related processes. Why is this important? Well, for example, by reverse engineering automation in Accounts Payable, you can apply a similar solution to Accounts Receivable. By further tweaking your automation rules, you can automate other departments, too. And don’t forget, all of this can be achieved with a single vendor and solution to keep your tech stack clean, integrated, and free of errors.

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 leaders from Accounting, IT, and the C-Level 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. The software industry is rife with snake oil salesmen. 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.

To learn more about IntelliChief and our successful Accounts Payable Automation projects over the last 10+ years, contact us today.

How to Achieve a 50 Percent Reduction in Invoice Processing Costs

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:

  1. Capturing invoices and indexing them in your ERP system faster and more efficiently
  2. 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.

Ready to achieve these benefits for yourself? Contact IntelliChief to get started.

Improving Your Accounts Payable Audit Procedures With Automation

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!

For more information on automating your AP audits, contact IntelliChief today. We’ll show you how to save your valuable resources for other, more important projects.

How an IntelliChief Customer Leveraged AP Automation to Grow Their Enterprise

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.

Want to see how you can do the same? Contact IntelliChief today to speak to an expert.

 

Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

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

Large Enterprises Require Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching

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

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

All of these benefits can be realized with the right ECM solution for your organization; however, 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.

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

Accounts Payable Straight-Through Processing Cost Savings

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.

Are you ready to learn more about Capture Enterprise, including the five stages required to automatically process documents as well as departmental application highlights? Click here to learn more.

Landoll

Automating the Purchase-to-Pay Process

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 SMEs and large 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.

Do you want to learn more about automating your company’s Purchase-to-Pay Process? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our P2P Automation solutions.

Streamlining Purchase-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash

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
  • FastFax

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:

  • Labor
  • Faxing
  • Postage
  • Check Stock
  • Paper
  • Storage

“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:

Streamlining Purchase-to-Pay

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.”

Are you ready to eliminate paper and experience the benefits of Purchase-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash automation? Contact IntelliChief today.

Reduce Your Operating Costs With Process Automation

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:

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. At IntelliChief, we’ve seen companies cut their costs by as much as 70 percent.

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 their 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.

 

AI in Accounting: How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology Has Changed the Industry

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

For corporate accountants who oversee outgoing payments, AI can help streamline invoice approvals, exception handling, audits, and GL coding.

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 or sends a check that doesn’t seem to correspond with an existing transaction, AI can search for similarities to help sort out the issue. As a result, accountants can correct problems much more quickly, without having to reach out to the customer for clarification.

Artificial Intelligence in Corporate Auditing

Every accounting department has to invest resources into audit preparation, whether they’re paying a third-party or employing an auditor in house. This helps companies demonstrate proper accounting practices and regulatory compliance.

What’s typically a long, drawn-out process (and an expensive one at that) can be almost fully automated. Computer programs can be used to locate sample transactional documents, and in some cases, even deliver those documents right to the auditor. And because AI helps errors from occurring in the first place, reconciling financial records becomes much less of a burden.

In the future, audits themselves may even become fully automated. As AI continues to develop, accountants may be able to rely on computer-driven risk models and the immediate detection of fraudulent behavior patterns. But until the accuracy of those processes becomes much more reliable, human auditors will still be responsible for manual reviews.

Will AI Replace Accountants?

For all the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence, there’s also an undercurrent of uncertainty. Corporate accountants – and the companies that employ them – tend to wonder how AI is going to change the workforce.

One thing that most experts agree on: automation is not going to make accountants obsolete. It will, however, have an impact on their day-to-day responsibilities.

With artificial intelligence systems, routine tasks that used to take hours can instead be completed in seconds. Behind-the-scenes preparation (like locating transaction records) can also be automated, allowing accountants to focus on higher-value initiatives.

According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (one of the Big Four audit firms), one of the top reasons that financial service organizations are turning to AI is their ability to help them innovate. With machines handling the “grunt work”, accountants can take on more of a forward-thinking advisory role. By studying trends to help companies make more strategic business decisions, accountants are able to create a new (and more valuable) niche that’s unlikely to be taken over by robotic accounting automation.

AI Tools for Today’s Corporate Accounting Industry

To increase the chances of long-term success, companies need to find solutions that are simple enough – but also functional enough – for their employees to adopt right away. (It’s also ideal for companies to ask their employees what features would be most important before selecting a system.)

At IntelliChief, we provide simple, intuitive automation software for routine accounting processes. Our solutions use artificial intelligence to eliminate manual data entry, automatically create and record transactions, and make audit preparation easier than ever. And, our AI tools integrate with the most popular accounting systems, like Oracle and SAP. This makes it simple to improve upon your corporate accounting workflows, without having to completely overhaul your approach.

To learn more about how companies have transformed their accounting departments with AI – and more importantly, how you can do the same – contact us today.

How to Organize Your Accounts Payable Files

Switch to Electronic File Storage

For most companies, managing the immense amount of paperwork required to keep a business running is a daily challenge. If your Accounts Payable department has grown accustomed to missed deadlines, lost early payment discounts, and unnecessary stress, it might be time to look for a solution that helps your team work smarter, not harder. However, in order to do so, you will first need to figure out how to organize your Accounts Payable files in a way that works for you.

On-Site, Off-Site, and Electronic File Storage

In most cases, businesses have three main options to organize Accounts Payable files:

On-Site File Storage

This is the most straightforward approach. You can designate a single storage area for all your accounts payable files, or you can have each employee maintain the files that they’re responsible for at their own workstation. Of course, you have to take security into account, making sure that unauthorized employees can’t access your company’s financial information. You also need to keep track of who is viewing your files and when.

The upside is that you can organize your files in any way that makes sense for you. Some companies match each invoice with the corresponding purchase order, receipt, and payment. This is typically the best approach when it comes to two- and three-way matching. Other companies organize their documents by vendor, date of payment, or date of receipt. But, whichever option you choose, know that it may still take quite a while to locate specific documents when you need to process them.

Off-Site File Storage

With off-site storage, you don’t have to find the space in your office for file after file – and you don’t have to create an organizational structure from scratch. But, you do have to budget for the (often significant) expense of storage.

You also have to trust that your vendor can quickly find the documents you need, right when you need them. It’s not uncommon for documents to get lost in the shuffle – and few things are more frustrating than having to hit pause on your workflows while you request a replacement.

Electronic File Storage

Electronic file management allows you to access your documents at a moment’s notice, without having to deal with the physical clutter. It does represent a significant up-front investment, but it lets you keep your documents organized without any effort. In fact, you can search by almost any criteria (for instance, if you don’t remember the account number or customer name, you can perform a lookup by date) – and you don’t even have to leave your desk. And when you need to collaborate, you can instantly send a document to another member of your team – even if they’re in a different office or working remotely.

Another important thing to keep in mind: no matter which option you choose, you’ll need to put a process in place for getting rid of files once they’re no longer needed. (This is especially important in public companies needing to maintain compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations.) With on- and off-site storage, you can create a calendar and have an employee actively monitor it, although this method can be error-prone. Electronic archives, on the other hand, can be configured to permanently delete sensitive data once it’s no longer needed, making lifecycle management a snap.

Discover IntelliChief’s Enterprise Content Management System

Still not sure how to organize your accounts payable files? IntelliChief can help. Our accounts payable software has helped countless companies say goodbye to paperwork once and for all. You can set custom user permissions, create audit logs, and collaborate across multiple departments with the click of a button. Our software is designed to integrate seamlessly with any ERP system or line of business application, allowing your business to benefit from immediate improvements to processing speed and accuracy.

To learn more about how to organize your Accounts Payable files with IntelliChief, contact us today.

 

What to Expect When You Transition to a Paperless Accounts Payable Process

Paperless Accounts Payable Process

If you’re thinking about adopting a paperless accounts payable process, you probably have questions. How much is it going to cost you? What’s is it going to mean for your day-to-day workflows? When will you see a return on your investment?

At IntelliChief, we’ve helped hundreds of companies automate their Accounts Payable workflows. If you’re considering a paperless transition, we can help – and in the meantime, we can tell you exactly what to expect from the process.

What Does the Paperless Accounts Payable Process Look Like?

Your accounts payable department has a number of responsibilities – but let’s use invoice processing as an example.

When you process an invoice the traditional way, your employees have to manually:

Traditional Accounts Payable Process

With so many different touch-points – and so many places where documents change hands –this approach is delay-prone and inefficient.

With automation, however, you can significantly speed up the process. IntelliChief’s automated invoice handling process is simple and intuitive. Scan your invoice in, or let IntelliChief automatically import it from your email or fax system. From there, our program:

Paperless Accounts Payable Process

By handling the most time-consuming aspects of the process, our paperless invoice software frees up your team to deal with other responsibilities, like exception handling and analyzing expense reports.

How Long Does Paperless Invoice Processing Take?

Automated invoice processing is much faster than traditional invoice processing. (It’s significantly less costly as well).

Even for companies at the top of their industry, it takes upwards of four days to manage a paper invoice. (It can take significantly longer for companies with less efficient processes in place.)

With invoice automation software, however, this number can be instantly reduced. In some cases, invoices can even be processed automatically, without any input from an employee. This is sometimes referred to as “straight-through processing” – and it’s the gold standard for AP efficiency.

In situations where an employee needs to manually check an invoice (e.g., our software detects a duplicate change), IntelliChief puts all the information they need right at their fingertips. They can access purchase orders and receipts with a single click, and IntelliChief clearly highlights the fields that require attention. This makes exception handling a breeze.

What Other Accounts Payable Functions Can Be Automated?

Invoice processing is just one of the Accounts Payable workflows that IntelliChief can help with. Our paperless accounting software can also be used for:

  • Remote GL coding
  • Submitting purchase requisitions
  • AP audit preparation

Before you go paperless, you’ll want to look at your current Accounts Payable process and figure out where your trouble points are. Is it getting approvals for non-PO invoices? Is it keeping the approvals process moving smoothly when your managers are out of the office? Evaluating your workflows before you make any major changes can help you figure out where to focus your efforts.

Another thing to keep in mind: many companies use automation software in Accounts Receivable, Order Processing, Customer Service, and other departments. If you’re looking to automate more than just Accounts Payable, you’ll need to find an enterprise-level solution that you can easily scale.

How Long Does it Take to Implement an Accounts Payable Automation Solution?

In most cases, you can expect it to take about a year to transition to a paperless accounts payable process – but that includes time spent researching vendors, getting quotes, and working the cost into your budget. If you need more time to get everything in order, that’s normal too – it’s crucial to think everything through before making a commitment. But, once you’ve chosen a solution and signed a contract, you’re in the home stretch. It’ll take just a few months to have your software set up, and a few weeks of training to get your employees up to speed.

At IntelliChief, we’ve designed our paperless accounts payable solutions to be as simple as possible. Because they look just like your enterprise resource planning screens, your employees won’t have to get used to an entirely new program. And, our team can schedule on-site training to show you how to make the most of all your new features.

Take the First Step Toward a Paperless Accounts Payable Process

We get it: change is never easy. But when time- and cost-saving measures are eventually implemented, most companies wonder why they waited so long. That’s something we hear from our customers all the time.

If you’re ready to learn more about AP automation, just reach out and let us know. IntelliChief’s document management experts can help you implement a paperless Accounts Payable process that’s customized for your specific business.

 

Best Practices for Paperless Accounting

Paperless Accounting

In recent years, more and more companies have transitioned to paperless accounting departments. You’ve probably heard plenty about the benefits – and the promise of improved cash flow has you intrigued. But what about the potential downfalls?

It’s much more likely that you’ll experience significant – and immediate – benefits when you move away from paper invoices and purchase orders. (Even 7/11 is in on the trend, with their Japanese convenience stores saving about 220 million pieces of paper per year!) But, as with any major organizational change, proper planning is crucial. Before you go all-in, make sure you’re following the best practices for paperless accounting:

Best Practice #1: Decide Which Accounting Functions You Want to Automate

Do you want to start small, with just one thing that has been giving you trouble? (i.e., approving non-PO invoices within Accounts Payable, or managing collections within Accounts Receivable)? Or, do you plan to overhaul your entire accounting department?

It’s important to keep in mind that if you plan to use your paperless accounting software for several purposes – either now or in the future – you’ll need a system that can accommodate that. If you choose a challenge-specific solution now but eventually decide to expand, you run the risk of having to scrap everything and start over. That’s why it’s widely considered a best practice to map how your entire process works today (and what sort of exceptions you face) so that you can solve all of your problems with one investment.

Best Practice #2: Brainstorm a List of Requirements For Your Paperless Accounting Software

Once you’ve decided the “why”, it’s time to decide on “how”. You’ll want to figure out:

  • What types of documents do your accountants currently use? Which ones (if not all of them) will you want to store electronically?
  • How long do you need to keep those documents (both for auditing purposes and for regulatory reasons)?
  • Will you want to have different approval permissions so that certain documents can only be accessed by certain employees?
  • Do you want your team to have the ability to access and approve your accounting documents on their mobile devices?
  • How are you going to get your documents into your paperless archive? Do your employees have the time to manually collect them and scan them in, or would you get more value from a software solution that can automatically do that for you?

As you define your requirements, you’ll need to look out for “tribal knowledge” – information that isn’t documented as part of an official procedure, but that’s common knowledge for the employees who are involved in the day-to-day work.

Best Practice #3: Get Feedback From More Than Just Your Accounting Department

While your accountants will be using the ones actually using your paperless accounting software (and it’s crucial to ask them what features would make the most difference in their day-to-day productivity), you’ll want to get input from your IT team as well. Some accounting automation programs integrate with ERPs and line-of-business systems right out of the box. Others require custom coding – and your IT team might end up being responsible for it. Let them evaluate each potential solution’s technical specifications so that you find the right one for your organization’s needs.

Best Practice #4: Speaking of ERPs…Choose a Paperless Accounting Solution That Can Make the Most of Yours

JD Edwards’ accounting modules are significantly different than SAP’s – and little quirks can make a big difference.  When you choose a paperless accounting solution, it’s a good idea to find a vendor who has specific experience with your ERP.

Think of it this way: if you drive a Mercedes, you wouldn’t get it serviced at a Toyota shop. Sure, a car is a car – but you’re going to get the best service from a mechanic who understands the unique parts. The same concept holds true for accounting automation. You’re likely to have the best experience if you choose a vendor that knows your software inside and out.

Best Practice #5: Know Your Timeline

Once you realize how much a paperless accounting department can transform your organization, it’s normal to want to get started right away. But, a truly thorough implementation process –  one in which your new solution is custom-configured and extensively tested before it goes live – can take time. After you officially choose a vendor, plan on four to six months to get everything properly set up. But, once you’re up and running, your accounting department won’t look back.

Interested in learning more about paperless accounting? Contact IntelliChief’s team of experts and let us know where you’re having trouble. We can help you customize an AP automation solution for your company’s specific needs.