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How To Eliminate Paperwork With Document Management Software

eliminate paperwork

A routine purchase shouldn’t generate a lot of paperwork and require much back-and-forth over email. But in organizations without enterprise document management software software, that’s often the case today.

Consider the manual steps an organization without document management software must go through just to place an order for office supplies:

  1. A purchase order for the vendor is created.
  2. A copy is printed for the accounting department.
  3. The accounting department takes the purchase order and puts it in a manila folder.
  4. Once an invoice comes in from the office supply company, the purchase order is pulled from the file and is compared with the invoice for accuracy.
  5. Accounting then photocopies the invoice and sends the original back to the office manager for approval.
  6. Eventually, a check gets printed and mailed, and the check stub goes in the folder with the other documents. 

And this is all just in the accounting department!  According to the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), 58% of invoices are manually keyed in the financial system and 61% of the cost to process accounts payable is in people.  Depending on the approval process, people in other departments might also make copies of the documents, multiplying the problem of handling and storing all this paperwork. 

Fortunately, the right document management system allows you to eliminate this paperwork. Instead of printing a paper copy of the purchase order, your office manager hits a button to “print” an electronic document and route it to a central document repository. Rather than launching a manual paper-based process, this electronic document starts a digital workflow that’s far more efficient and cost-effective than a paper process. 

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Ideally, vendors and shipping companies also send you electronic invoices and documentation that you then can bring this information right into your digital workflow. In the real word, of course, there is no guarantee that the vendor will send an electronic invoice.  With the right enterprise document management software, you’re also able to quickly scan the paper invoice into your system and throw the paper away. Scanning takes only seconds, and it eliminates tedious data entry and the need for multiple photocopies, since people in other departments are also able to access the electronic document at any time.

Once your invoice is in electronic form, it’s easy to route it for approval in a digital workflow, in which approvers are able to quickly review and mark up the invoice, automatically creating and saving a new version alongside the original document. And instead of printing a check as your internal copy, you just “print” an electronic check that attaches itself to the purchase order and invoice already sitting in the electronic document management system. The entire paper-based process has been replaced with a streamlined electronic process.


Manual accounting processes increase costs and create a competitive disadvantage for companies of all sizes. Consider this data from APQC comparing bottom performing and world class organizations:


 Bottom performers

 Top performers

Cost per invoice processed



Cycle time to correct an invoice error

 7.0 days

 3.0 days

Number of invoice line items processed per FTE



Complexity – Number of accounts in chart of accounts



Cost of financial reporting per $1,000 in revenues



Document management software can automate these processes, and an enterprise document management software solution can often pay for itself in a matter of months.  In addition, it also reduces errors and improves supplier and customer relationships.

And most importantly, once your core financial processes are automated, the same document management software solution can be used to automate other document-intensive processes.

Ready to increase efficiency within your business process? Learn how to go paperless in 90 days.


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Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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