Paper invoices continue to challenge even the most advanced AP 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 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 we need to eliminate paper invoices. But when do electronic invoices become counterintuitive? Are they no better than paper?
When you print every electronic invoice your organization receives.
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. For example, documents are easily misrouted, misplaced, or overlooked when printed from an inbox. Mailed paper documents are often copied and shuffled around. This mishandling results in missed opportunities for early-pay discounts or avoiding late payment penalties. It can even strain 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 this specialized software and a wide variety of open standards, all your documents are available in a standard digital format. The Digital Mailroom sends every document through a rigorous 5-step QA process, flags exceptions, and notifies the proper approver to be resolved quickly and accurately. Payment dates and reminders are set, and the invoice and all related documents are imported into your workflow so every member of your team has easy access to process invoices, can work in compliance with best practices, and can align with your business model.
Our automated processing layer within the Digital Mailroom process 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 are 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 directly into the workflow process at our secure facility. Then the documents go through the 5-step QA process mentioned above, ensuring accuracy above the industry standard.
We capture the data from the documents using IPM. IPM provides cutting-edge data intake technology built on the cloud. In many cases, it reduces and eliminates all manual data keying and uses automated learning technologies to train the system to automatically perform OCR validation based on actual data. This technology greatly decreases time-consuming manual indexing and QA tasks.
Accurate data intake 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. From physical management to manual data keying, paper invoices add many layers of unnecessary complexity to the process. 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 and eliminate paper invoices today.