SUBMITTED BY Amy Cameron

Paper invoices continue to challenge even the most advanced Accounts Payable teams. In fact, 40% say that “too much paper” is a top AP pressure in 2019, according to a recent Ardent Partners report. In addition, 47% say that their top priority for 2019 is to “eliminate paper and reduce manual tasks.” The report goes on to say, “Paper invoices and checks will always be a problem that needs to be addressed in order for any AP team to realize its true potential, and more importantly, optimize its value.”

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The consensus is that paper needs to go. But when are electronic invoices no better than paper?

When you print every electronic invoice your organization receives anyway.

It sounds silly enough, right? If you’re receiving invoices electronically – which is the preferred way – why would you print them and start the process all over with paper invoices? Because sometimes, that’s the only way your current AP workflows will work. Whether it’s an issue with your accounts payable system or just an approver who can’t (or won’t) approve anything unless there’s a hard copy on his desk, it feels like you’re just stuck with paper.

But you don’t have to be.

Mo’ Paper, Mo’ Problems…Or No Paper, No Problems?

Processing paper invoices can expose the weaknesses in your AP system. When documents are printed from an inbox, or even when mailed paper documents are copied and shuffled around, these documents are easily misrouted, misplaced, or simply overlooked, resulting in missed opportunities for early pay discounts or avoiding late pay penalties – as well as strained vendor relationships. And that doesn’t even account for the headspace it takes to manage multiple processes and remember where a physical invoice is, where it needs to be, and when it’s due.

This is one area of best practices where software alone won’t solve the problem. This is why we created the Digital Mailroom – a single stream solution for handling all your documents, regardless of file type. With specialized software and a wide variety of open standards, it is designed to handle all of your documents so that by the time the documents get to you, they are not only in a standard digital format, but they have been through a rigorous 5-step QA process, exceptions have been tagged, and notifications sent to the proper approver so that they can be resolved quickly and accurately. Payment dates and reminders are set, and the invoice and all related documents are imported into your workflow so that every member of your team has easy access to process invoices and can work in compliance with best practices and in alignment with your business model.

Within the Digital Mailroom process, our automated processing layer makes document indexing, storage, and access seamless on your end. Our inboxes are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – our solutions don’t take vacations! Junk mail and potential viruses are automatically filtered out. Data is captured from each email, including the attachments, and images are converted, staged, and automatically loaded into our Invoice Processing Machine™ (IPM) at regular intervals. Capture details are also loaded into tables for easy tracking and monitoring. And best of all, electronic documents stay electronic – no printing or manual touches necessary.

But Are We Sure the Data is Accurate?

In a word, yes, we’re sure that the data we provide you through our Digital Mailroom is 99%+ clean. But we understand that sometimes a little extra reassurance – and proof – is necessary.

Our Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) and capture services are second to none. We start with document capture: Our optimized, high-speed scanning process scans and indexes documents at our secure facility directly into the workflow process. Then the documents go through the aforementioned 5-step QA process, ensuring accuracy above the industry standard.

We capture the data from the documents using IPM. IPM provides cutting edge data ingestion technology, built on the cloud. It reduces – and in many cases, eliminates entirely! – manual data keying and uses automated learning technologies to train the system to automatically perform OCR validation based on real data. This greatly decreases time-consuming manual indexing and QA tasks.

Accurate data ingestion is essential to a successful accounts payable automation process. There is no need to print every digital invoice you receive when you have the right tools for collecting data from those electronic files. Paper invoices add so many layers of complexity to the process, from physical management to manual data keying. But we know how to help you. In the last 15 years, we’ve gone from processing 85% paper documents to processing nearly 90% electronic documents. The industry has flipped – don’t get left behind with outdated processes.

If your organization is still printing paper invoices, we can help.  Contact us.

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