When you introduce electronic or digital document management, your accounting department has the opportunity to save significant time and money. Once you replace paper-based invoices and purchase orders with electronic documents, it’s possible to streamline each of your accounting processes with a digital workflow.
Let’s take invoice processing, for example. In an old, paper-based system, the process of approving and paying an invoice requires lots of handling and takes days, if not weeks.
First, the invoice arrives in the mail and gets routed to the accounting department. After an employee opens it, he realizes that it can’t be paid until it goes to manufacturing for approval by Steve and the head of the department.
So the invoice goes in an envelope and interoffice mail delivers it to the inbox on Steve’s desk. If Steve’s around and the invoice looks right, he signs off and returns it to the accounting department. The process gets repeated for the department head. Finally, the invoice is ready to be paid and filed away by the accounting department.
That’s the old process — if all goes well. But there are all kinds of opportunities for failure. The invoice could be delivered to the wrong person or get buried on an untidy desk. An approver might be out of the office or forget to sign it.
Let’s contrast that method with what’s available now with digital workflows and document management systems. When the invoice arrives, an employee scans it into the system, starting a digital workflow.
The system automatically recognizes the document as an incoming invoice, and marks it with a “new” status. Now, the electronic invoice shows up on a list for an accounting department employee, who quickly stamps the invoice and routes it to the appropriate department.
The digital workflow then routes it to Steve, who gets a notification email and clicks on the hyperlink to view the invoice. Once he approves it, the invoice goes to the department head’s list for approval, and finally back to accounting for payment.
With digital document management, the entire digital workflow takes less than an hour, and there’s no opportunity for the invoice to be lost or misplaced. If your document management system makes use of cloud computing and mobile capabilities, a person has the option to approve an invoice from anywhere in the world.
Equally important, your accounting department gains visibility into the entire process. When you send a paper invoice to an approver, you no longer know exactly where it is or when you’ll see it again. It could end up sitting in an approver’s inbox for a week while that person is traveling or on vacation.
With an electronic system, your accounting department has the ability to retrieve the information in seconds and follow its progress through the digital workflow. You always know the document’s status and the remaining steps in the process. Now, your accounting staff is able to quickly resolve any problems that arise in the approval process or respond when a vendor calls to ask about the status of a payment.
Thanks to electronic invoice processing and document management, your accounting department is empowered to transform cumbersome, time-consuming processes into efficient digital workflows. What once took days or weeks now takes minutes. These efficiencies save your organization time and money, and also create additional opportunities, such as the option to capture early payment discounts form vendors.
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