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The Tough Truth About Paper Invoices

October 11, 2017
messy files and cabinets in dark basement storage

Like paper checks, the origin of the vertical filing cabinet is an unsolved mystery. I know, I know, it’s a concerning thought, but apparently, the filing cabinet just showed up one day and we all started using it without questioning its existence. That’s a little weird, right?

According to the “Vertical Filing Cabinet” section of the Early Office Museum website, there’s some controversy as to when the vertical filing cabinet first appeared. However. Research by Author Ester Ellen-Poe, not to be confused with Edgar Allen Poe, suggests that the commercial introduction of vertical filing may have occurred in 1900 when a company named the Library Bureau published a catalog that included a vertical filing cabinet.

Over 100 years later, the filing cabinet isn’t the modern marvel of efficiency and convenience it once was. With the advent of computers and electronic filing, the filing cabinet has become a cobwebbed crypt for lost invoices and forgotten files. Inside, lurking deep within the bowels of the cabinet, is an aging thing lying in wait: the pale and sharp-edged creature we call paper.

The Old Thing In Your Filing Cabinet

We’ve become so accustomed to working with paper that we don’t see how destructive it really is. It feeds off time and money, wreaking havoc on workflows. It costs your company the moment it enters your workplace. You slice open the envelope and let the invoice out, and it immediately sets out on a path to chew up as many resources as possible.

The paper starts by feeding off your employees’ time, requiring some poor soul to receive the invoice, open it, compare it against a PO and then route it on so that it can be coded and approved. Then, you still have to check the budget, enter it into your accounting system, and add it to the general ledger before you can even think about cutting a check and filing the thing away. And, this is to say nothing of the paper envelopes and postage required. Just how much the paper consumes varies by company, depending on how many invoices and payments the business processes and how many AP professionals it employs.

Days, weeks, or months down the road, someone is going to have a question about an invoice that will necessitate you walking over to your filing cabinet with cold beads of sweat forming on your forehead. You’re not scared of what you will find –you’re now scared of what you won’t find. AP automation helps solve this problem and works for you. Invoices are processed electronically and stored in a secure, cloud-based environment so you can enjoy nearly 24/7 access from nearly anytime, anywhere. With real-time visibility, improved accuracy, and fraud detection you will have greater control over every invoice and payment your company makes.

Ending Inefficiency

How do you stop a werewolf? Silver bullets, of course. How does one deal with a vampire? Exposure to sunlight or a stake through the heart will do the trick. But, how do you slay the beast of inefficiency? You don’t need an ancient amulet or a sacred spell, only the power of AP and payment automation!

In an automated system, the AP department’s eInvoicing software receives an electronic version of the vendor’s invoice, either with or without a separate electronic purchase order. The system pulls information from the invoice and uses it to auto-populate electronic documents, checking it against multiple sources. Automated routing and approval workflow capabilities eliminate the long paper trail of manual-based invoice approval processes, shortening approval periods and getting invoices paid much faster than leveraging simple manual tactics.

The system flags exceptions and routes them to an AP associate, who determines whether to call the supplier or research the issue further. As for reporting and analysis, AP professionals can log in to the system to study reports available to them depending on their log in credentials. AP specialists can access reports on transactions handled, while managers can see the performance of the team, and the C-suite can view daily, weekly, or periodic metrics such as DSO and cash flow.

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