The Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) recently presented a survey to several thousand accounts payable (AP) finance professionals. We found several highlights amongst the results, and we will explore them in this space in the weeks ahead.

We’ll begin by probing into why so many organizations are still stuck in manual AP processes. 

As IOFM states:

“Paper invoice processing remains a fact of life for AP departments. And that reality includes a lot of manual keying of invoice data, burdensome physical routing of invoices, and lost and misplaced invoices.”

The data derived from a key question in the survey (“What percentage of your annual invoice volume is in the form of paper documents, fax documents, or e-mail attachments that require manual handling?”) was quite interesting. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that at least 76 percent of their annual invoice volume arrives in one of these aforementioned formats, which will ultimately require manual processing. Below is a look at a graphical breakdown of the responses to the above question.

Survey results graph

As you can see, only 17.1 percent of respondents have reduced manual invoices to half of their volume or less, and a mere 1.2 percent stated that their organization receives less than 10 percent of their invoices in these formats.

What this means to us is that achieving AP automation is hard. It could be a resource limitation – everyone is too busy.  It can definitely be intimidating because there are so many options!

Our advice is to look for a complete solution that can be incrementally implemented. Avoid so-called “100 percent” solutions that rely on supplier portals, which generally force all your vendors to change the way they do business. Choose the provider with the most real-world experience – not just selling software but making it work for clients over the long haul. You must also be sure to align with a partner you can count on.

DataServ has been helping companies automate these manual AP processes for over 20 years, so we invite you to contact us at and let us know your own challenges. We bet they can be solved!

As we mentioned, we will probe into the other interesting insights that this report produced over the next few weeks, so please check back often for more educational content. 

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