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Why Accounting Should Get First Dibs On Enterprise Content Management

digital_accountingWhen you’re implementing major business technology solutions, such as enterprise content management, it’s usually advisable to roll out the new solution in stages.

For some of these technologies, the place to start is fairly obvious. But how do you establish the priority of different departments when the benefits of enterprise content management (ECM) apply to your entire organization?

After all, one of the main reasons to adopt ECM or digital document management is to eliminate paper-based processes. Paper is a costly, inefficient burden for every organization, and that burden falls on everyone in them, from the CEO to the newest intern, from the sales department to human resources to manufacturing and production.

But when you’re rolling out an ECM solution, the place to start is by using it to improve your accounting and finance. Here are three reasons why accounting and finance should take top priority:

  1. It offers the greatest impact: While everyone struggles with shuffling papers, accounting is the most paper-centric, paper-heavy part of an organization. Vendor invoices often still arrive in paper form, and most accounting departments still create their own paper invoices and mail them to customers. In addition, accounting and finance teams have heavy reporting requirements that remain paper-based in most situations. While ECM and document management are also great tools for increasing productivity when working with email, Office documents, PDFs and other digital formats, reducing paper shuffling is the most important in terms of increasing efficiency. And accounting is the place to start. 

  2. ECM meets the unique needs of accounting departments: The requirements to structure and store documents in specific ways are especially stringent in accounting and finance departments. Taxation and revenue agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service in the United States, have a variety of requirements in terms of how accounting documents are filed, stored and maintained. To ensure compliance, accounting departments must also restrict access to certain documents, protecting them from theft, damage and alteration.

  3. Applying ECM to accounting has an immediate impact on cash flow: If you want to use ECM to improve profits or cash flow for your organization, accounting is again the clear choice. To enhance profits, you need a good way to handle all the incoming invoices in order to avoid overpayment while – at the same time – taking advantage of early payment discounts. By facilitating this process with ECM, it enables you to optimize the cost structure of your organization, driving profitability.

In addition, your effectiveness in sending out invoices and collecting on them plays a big role in what income your organization receives. Improving these accounting processes with ECM improves cash flow by speeding up the process of turning revenue into cash. When you handle that accounts receivable process with a document management system, your entire organization is better off.

Any time you’re implementing technology solutions such as digital document management or enterprise content management, you’re going to have to set priorities and roll out the new solution in stages. The clear place to start is with accounting and finance: They have the most to gain from eliminating paper, the unique requirements that ECM provides and the immediate impact on your organization’s bottom line.

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