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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.

Is an Invoice Management System Right for Your Business?

If you were to ask 100 companies if they would like to reduce their invoice processing costs, there is a high probability that 99 of them would say “yes.” And the one that says no? They’ve probably started their invoice automation journey already — with a full invoice management system implemented and operable. For businesses that are still managing invoices manually, an invoice management system can provide considerable cost savings while bolstering efficiency to help your Accounts Payable department improve cash flow management and visibility.

Let’s face it, manual invoice processing is expensive and time-consuming. It’s a grim reality that other companies have been grappling with for a long time. Here’s what they’re saying:

What Other Companies Are Saying About Invoice Management Systems

The Institute of Financial Operations surveyed companies about their current approach to invoice management. Here’s what they had to say:

90%

of organizations still deal with paper invoices and transaction documents

 

80%

said that their volume of invoices increased or remained roughly the same over the past year

 

60%

reported that the bulk of their increase in invoices was paper-based

 

80%

confirmed that half or more of their invoices arrived in paper format

 

90%

of total invoice volume was paper-based for majority of businesses

 

60%

of companies required between 5 and 25 full-time employees for invoice entry and validation

 

70%

had a steady or increased number of errors during invoice entry and payment in the last 18 months

 

70%

of organizations said that PO-based invoice automation is important to a comprehensive automation project

 

60%

60 percent said that they were focusing on controlling their spend and ensuring that purchases were made with preferred suppliers

 

45%

were focusing on eliminating mismatches and exceptions that lead to blocked invoice payment

 

65%

noted the average time it takes to process an invoice increased over the past year

 

50%+

were able to capture “a significant amount” of early payment discounts with invoice processing automation

 

45%

used front-end document capture software

 

20%

used optical character recognition (OCR) software to replace manual ERP keying

 

10%

had full data extraction and ERP validation capabilities

 

The statistics illustrate an alarming trend. For most companies, invoice processing is still a largely manual process, but they are also spending more time thinking about their AP processes and how they can improve them with an invoice management system.

What You Can Do To Reduce Your Invoice Processing Costs

Reducing your invoice processing costs is easier said than done, which is why we have developed comprehensive solutions, including invoice validation software, to help companies overcome these challenges. Most of our customers achieve a full ROI within one year of implementation with a 75 percent reduction in invoice processing costs. With a robust invoice management system and invoice automation capabilities, you can avoid late payment fees and expedite invoice processing to capture a higher percentage of available discounts.

IntelliChief customers also benefit by:

  • Reducing AP cycle time by 80 percent
  • Preventing time-consuming manual data entry mistakes
  • Improving visibility into the Accounts Payable processes with intuitive, decision-enhancing reports

The best part? You can keep your specific processes in place. Strategic automation is all it takes to achieve these results. with our invoice management system.

To learn more, contact us today. Or, download our AP automation overview to see more of the cost-reduction advantages.

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.

7 Machine Learning Uses for the Back Office

Machine learning is transforming the way that companies do business. But there’s no “standard” approach that’s right for every organization. Some companies are using AI to improve their manufacturing processes, while others are focusing on back-office administration. If you’re trying to decide how – or where – these technologies make the most sense for your business, there’s a wide spectrum of applications to consider. Below, we discuss seven machine learning uses that can enhance various departments across the enterprise.

Real-Time Machine Learning Applications for the Enterprise

At their core, machine learning tools (also called “deep learning” tools) are designed to help you identify patterns, collect data, and create predictive models that become more accurate over time. While humans can do the same work, computers can do it more quickly, for a higher volume of data. This makes real-time machine learning incredibly useful for a variety of projects. Some of the most common business-driven use cases include:

1. Invoice Processing

Machine learning uses algorithms that can identify part numbers, prices, and vendor information, then reconcile that information with the information from the original purchase order. Computers can even cross reference part numbers to help sort out discrepancies. This eliminates the need for a manual two- or three-way match when processing invoices.

2. Managing Tolerances

Instead of a user needing to manually calculate tolerances, machine learning applications can read invoice or sales order values and automatically compare them against information that’s saved in the user’s core ERP. This helps create fewer “touches” for the user and increases the straight-through processing rate for back-office documents.

3. Managing Vendor Discounts

Machine learning applications can read invoice due dates, then determine which invoices to pay (at what times) to take advantage of vendor rebates or discounts. This information can be extracted and presented during the voucher creation process.

4. Collecting and Organizing Unstructured Content

Most business documents are considered “unstructured”. An invoice or sales order that’s received from outside the organization can come in any format. Today’s machine learning applications can recognize data on unstructured documents so users don’t have to manually key it into the ERP.

5. Automating Workflows

When business documents are captured, real-time machine learning applications can trigger automated workflows based on the information it collected from the file. For example, a program that recognizes a vendor’s name could route that document to an appropriate person based on the sender’s email address.

6. Streamlining Financial Audits

Auditors can periodically review sample transactions to make sure they are correct, but machine learning software can regularly check for issues. If a discrepancy is detected, it can be passed along to a user for review. This results in fewer audit-related interruptions and stress-free compliance.

7. Processing Customer Orders

Customer service representatives often spend time on mundane tasks like keying orders into an ERP system or collaborating with other departments like engineering or quality. This increases the company’s lead time and is difficult to track. Machine learning technologies can create sales orders automatically and route order types for review automatically.  This results in faster Sales Order Processing that allows CSRs to focus on better customer service.

Of course, there are many other machine learning uses, too. Siemens notes that the global market for smart machines is growing by almost 20 percent every year, while Dataversity notes that every single industry sector – from manufacturing and healthcare to financial services and law – has the potential to benefit from advances in automation.

What Can’t Machine Learning Do?

Although machine learning can handle a number of redundant tasks, there are certain areas where it’s not applicable – at least, with the technologies that are currently available.

An example: while computers can understand data, they cannot understand context. They can point out an anomaly, but they can’t always determine the underlying cause, and they don’t always know how to solve it. People are still needed to draw conclusions from the insight that predictive analytics provides — providing essential depth to your deep learning initiatives.

Of course, tasks that require in-depth analysis still need to be completed by humans. Computers can only handle processes that they’ve been specifically taught to automate, which means anything that requires critical thinking can’t be solved with an algorithm. That’s why most experts recommend viewing AI as a co-pilot – not an auto-pilot.

Machine Learning Projects Are on the Rise

In 2017, more than a quarter of companies had already set aside funds for machine learning projects – and that number is only projected to rise. If you’re looking to apply AI to your back office, IntelliChief can help.

Our software becomes more advanced the more that you use it. In many cases, it can complete processes that are currently handled by your employees, without any manual effort. For instance, it can help your Accounts Payable department process vendor invoices more effectively and even eliminate the data entry in sales orders. This can make your processes much more efficient – and much less costly.

And, as an enterprise-class solution, our machine learning software has countless potential applications throughout your business. From HR and order processing to accounting and finance, there are a number of ways that we can help you transform your business – and we’re here whenever you’d like to get started.

For more information about IntelliChief’s machine learning functionality, contact us today. Or, to see practical examples of how other companies have streamlined their workflows with our automation software, visit our Resource Library to download one of our peer-to-peer case studies.

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.

Enterprise Data Analytics

Why Enterprise Data Analytics Is the Key to an Insight-Driven Enterprise

Enterprise Data Analytics

With half of all companies worldwide using big data to help them make informed business decisions, the demand for powerful business intelligence tools is at an all-time high. Companies that are already utilizing enterprise analytics are finding ways to set themselves apart from the competition. Those resisting this change are beginning to witness firsthand how the competitive landscape is shifting – and how enterprise analytics is driving those changes.

 

Businesses that rely on intuition alone will never have the same level of insight as their competitors that allow data to drive their most important business-related decisions. Plotting your growth strategy requires vast quantities of relevant data sourced directly from your business. What good are models and predictions when the data being utilized to generate them is inherently flawed?

Enterprise data analytics helps companies gain superior visibility into all of their business processes, the employees involved in those processes, and the various uses of capital that fuel those processes. With real-time enterprise analytics guiding key decision-makers, businesses become more resilient and less susceptible to having their market share usurped by a more tech-savvy competitor. The insight-driven enterprise is looking to establish a cohesive strategy for both present and future operations, and enterprise business intelligence tools like IntelliChief are at the crux of this crucial component of digital transformation.

Business Leaders in North America and Europe Embrace Enterprise Data Analytics

Today, over a quarter of businesses in North America have already started using enterprise data analytics to improve business processes. A roughly equal portion of North American businesses has already launched pilot projects to catch up with their competitors. The other half of businesses aren’t currently using enterprise analytics, but the majority of these businesses plan to use it in the future.

In Europe, slightly fewer businesses are utilizing big data in their business processes right now, but the overall sentiment is largely congruous with that of North America. Soon, half of all businesses will be using big data to improve processes and customer relations, especially in industries like retail, finance, manufacturing, construction, and education.

The Benefits of Enterprise Analytics

For those (roughly) half of North American businesses that are already using enterprise business intelligence platforms to gather valuable data about their processes, the benefits of enterprise analytics are clear:

  • Improved strategic decision-making
  • Superior process control and management
  • Enhanced insight into customer, employee, and partner behavior
  • Significant cost reductions
  • Fewer errors related to manual data entry
  • Increased revenue

According to Dr. Carsten Bange, CEO of the Business Application Research Center (BARC), an industry analyst and consulting firm focusing on Business Intelligence/Analytics, Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), “Big data analytics brings many benefits to the table, but companies shouldn’t underestimate the challenges involved.”

Namely, data privacy and data security are two very important issues that cannot be ignored as companies migrate to one of the available business intelligence platforms. Selecting the right vendor that will walk you through the process of implementing (and integrating) your solution within your existing ERP environment from start to finish is essential for companies who want to improve their technological infrastructure while simultaneously protecting their company against disruptions.

Are You Ready to Experience an Insight-Driven Enterprise?

Once a company has access to enterprise data analytics, they will need to select or hire an employee to manage the insights and their related initiatives (unless a C-level executive plans to oversee big data). For example, if a company wants to reduce invoice processing time in their Accounts Payable department, they will need to have an understanding of their overall processing time, individual processing time per employee, and the cost per invoice. Once this information has been gathered, additional training can be prescribed to the employees that are working slower than their counterparts or to those who are producing more erroneous transactions.

This is only one example of the insights gained with enterprise analytics and barely scratches the surface of what is possible with real-time analytics driving every key decision and mitigating the risk of the unknown. The insight-driven enterprise can capably identify wasteful cost centers, eliminate bottlenecks, and restructure in accordance with facts – not assumptions.

Are you ready to experience the benefits of an insight-driven enterprise? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions backed by robust enterprise data analytics.

How to Keep Your Business Running When America Goes Remote

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.

 

Improving Your Shared Services Strategy With Automation

If your shared services strategy doesn’t include automation, you may be using too many resources on repetitive tasks. After all – the goal of a shared services center is to increase efficiency – so why is your staff spending valuable time on processes that can be easily handled by a computer?

How Strategic Shared Service Centers Use Automation

In 2017, Deloitte surveyed more than 1,100 shared service centers. They found that more than half of the shared service centers were either already using automation or considering it.

Shared Services Strategy - Role of RPA

Automation has the potential to help reduce costs significantly – sometimes as much as 70 percent. Manual workflows, like processing invoices and looking up customer order information, can be done more quickly (and more accurately) by a computer. In turn, this frees up employees to focus on other tasks.

These benefits are especially timely, considering that Deloitte’s study also revealed that:

  • 73 percent of shared service centers reported year-over-year productivity increases of 5 percent or higher. Even for centers that are currently pleased with their performance, it’s important to continue improving – or risk losing their competitive edge.
  • Complex, knowledge-based processes had doubled (or in some cases, tripled) over the past 5 years. Strategic processes still need to be handled by humans – and that will likely be the case for the foreseeable future. Eliminating routine “busy work” gives employees the capacity to focus on these knowledge-based initiatives – and provide more strategic benefit to the company.
  • More than half of the shared service centers had expanded their strategy to include three or more core functions. Scaling up is an excellent way to increase a shared service center’s financial benefits – but it also poses the need to adapt to the increased volume of responsibility. For some companies, that may mean hiring additional staff. However, automation is ideal for handling a high volume of tasks (and ensuring an accurate, predictable output). This allows companies to save on salary expenditures. As a result, automation has a place in almost any organization’s forward-thinking shared service strategy.

What Other Strategies Can Benefit Your Shared Service Centers?

Automation is just one of the emerging trends that shared service centers should be considering for future growth. Organizations also need to focus on:

  • Discovering (and eliminating) duplicated processes across departments. For instance, Accounts Payable may be manually entering GL code information into an ERP from an expense invoice after the approver has written it on the invoice. Why are two people adding the same information? Another example is duplicate invoices. Often an AP user enters an invoice, only to find out that it’s already been paid. By centralizing core activities, shared service centers can help put an end to duplicated tasks.
  • Leveraging core data across multiple processes and information systems. Similarly, many organizations handle the same data several times, often manually moving that data from one program to the next. Streamlining their strategy for handling their data is another way that shared service centers can reduce costs and improve productivity.
  • Increasing their value-add through expanded reporting and analysis. Processes that are completed at shared service centers don’t happen in isolation. Every single one has a wide-reaching impact that decision-makers need to be able to evaluate – and SSCs can expand their strategy to include more real-time reporting and analysis. This can help corporate executives not only see the true impact of their shared service model, but also identify over-arching trends that will impact their business.

Discuss Your Shared Services Strategy With One of IntelliChief’s Process Optimization Experts

If you’re ready to help your shared services center become more productive, contact IntelliChief. Our specialists can help you create a strategy for faster, more cost-efficient back-office practices – all within the framework of the technology you already have in place. With ERP-integrated automation software, we can eliminate repeated manual work from your shared service model, reducing costs, and providing a high return on investment.

To see how other companies have streamlined their procedures with IntelliChief, visit our Resource Library and download one of our peer-to-peer case studies. Alternatively, to speak with one of our experts directly about improving your shared services strategy with automation, contact us today.

 

5 ECM Benefits You Can Achieve Within a Year

If you’re considering an enterprise content management system, you probably have an idea of what it can do for your business. But have you wondered just how quickly you’ll start to see a change? Companies usually see the benefits of ECM starting on day one – and continue to enjoy them well into the future. Keep reading to discover five advantages that you can expect to achieve within a year of implementing an enterprise content management system.

(Note: for the examples below, we’re assuming implementation across Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Order Processing. The more processes you automate, the more benefits you’ll see.)

Benefit #1: Lower Processing Costs

ECM BenefitsProcessing an invoice takes quite a bit of time – and therefore, quite a bit of money. For most organizations, a salaried AP employee has to collect, sort, and distribute paper invoices, bring them to the appropriate individuals for processing or approval, and key them into an ERP. These are all routine, low-value tasks, but they must be completed.

ECM software can handle most – if not all – of this process without an employee’s input. This makes the process much more affordable.

A study from the Aberdeen Group found that the most advanced companies – presumably including those that used software to automate the process – spent just $3.09 to process an invoice. In contrast, companies that had no solutions in place were spending an average of $38.77. Saving around $35 per invoice processed is no small sum – especially when you consider the impact of thousands of invoices per month.

Benefit #2: Increased Accuracy

Here too, we see how manual invoice processing can hold a company back. When AP clerks have to type out all the information on an invoice, it’s easy to key the wrong number (or address, or vendor name…you get the idea.) That invoice will eventually get identified as incorrect, and someone has to take the time to find (and resolve) the error. That’s not just inconvenient; it can prevent you from paying your invoice on time, which can, in turn, prevent you from capitalizing on early payment discounts.

Benefit #3: More Early Payment Discounts

For companies that aren’t quite sold on ECM, this is one of the benefits that stand out the most.

Many vendors offer discounts to customers who pay their invoices within a specific period of time (such as 10 or 15 days). But, companies that don’t have a streamlined process in place often struggle to meet these deadlines. Unfortunately, doing so is leaving money – and lots of it – on the table. At IntelliChief, one company that we worked with saved $5.4 million in early payment discounts in their first year using our ECM software.

Enterprise content management systems make it easy to capture these discounts. They can get invoices to the appropriate processors as soon as they’re received so that they’re not just sitting around waiting to be distributed. IntelliChief’s system can also speed up the process by:

  • Automatically performing the two- or three-way match
  • Sending a manager a notification (as well as a follow-up reminder, if necessary) if the invoice needs approval or GL coding
  • Scheduling prompt payment with your ERP

Learn more about how ECM benefits your bottom line through early payment discounts.

Benefit #4: Lower Employee Turnover

There’s a common misconception that automation will take the place of actual employees. ECM software, though, isn’t designed to replace humans – it’s designed to help them have an easier time with what they already do.

When highly trained employees (like accountants) aren’t burdened with repetitive, low-value tasks (like distributing invoices), they have more time to focus on work that actually reflects their education and experience. In turn, they tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, and less likely to leave for more rewarding opportunities.

Benefit #5: Higher Customer Satisfaction Rates

Your customers expect quick turnaround times, shipment notifications, accurate invoices, and fast responses when they contact you for support. If you’re not able to meet these expectations, you may be missing out on repeat business.

ECM benefits your customer service team by helping them better manage each of these important touchpoints. It helps you start processing orders as soon as they’re received, proactively communicate with customers when their items are on their way, and confirm that your invoices are accurate before you send them out. And, if a customer calls to ask about their order status, you’ll have all the information you need right at your fingertips. This gives your customers a much better experience.

Learn More About the Advantages of IntelliChief’s Enterprise Content Management System

More satisfied customers, more satisfied employees, and an improved bottom line – what’s not to love? At IntelliChief, we can help you discover the benefits of ECM for yourself. Our solutions engineers work hand-in-hand with all of our customers to configure IntelliChief to their particular business processes, giving IntelliChief the unique ability to be mapped to any workflow, no matter how complex or nuanced. It’s one of the major differentiators that sets IntelliChief apart from virtually every other solution on the market.

Contact us today, and we can introduce you to our time- and cost-saving enterprise content management system whenever it’s convenient for you.

 

 

 

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.