AP Automation: Your next step to becoming Paperless
For an organization to become paperless many factors should be taken into consideration. What are some of the factors that should be considered before going paperless? Going paperless saves your company money; you reduce costs, strengthen your disaster recovery planning by not having to worry about the hard-copy data, and you speed up your retrieval time for any given document. Overcoming these factors for your business will make it well worth the time, money, and effort involved.
Let’s look at these three areas that benefit going paperless:
- Reduce Storage Costs, Increase Retrieval Efficiency
The thing about paper: it’s heavy, and it takes up physical space. You can convert your historical invoices to e-invoices through Accounts Payable Automation and reduce a large off-site storage bill down to the cost of a large safe-deposit box. Scanning in your hard-copy documents is time-consuming and fraught with errors. Storing your historical data on digital media as well as your new data going forward allows you to reduce your storage space and costs while retrieving all of your data via the same software.
- Better Disaster-Recovery Planning
Off-site storage is critical to disaster-recovery planning. If your organization is hit by a fire, flood, or storm, your critical data must be stored in at least two off-site storage facilities. Using AP automation reduces the need to ship mountains of paper off-site and pay for the storage. It’s far easier to upload data to the cloud or store digital drives off-site. If you’re concerned about security, put your data on a physical drive; you’ll still realize significant savings while protecting your business from disaster.
- Speeding up Response Time
Electronic invoicing can speed up the payment process from weeks or months down to days. E-invoices can be routed electronically through each step of the approval process, reducing turnaround time from ten days down to five or three days. This is a huge savings in time and money. Also taking advantage of vendor price discounts for prompt payment can bring even more benefit to your organization. This will allow your AP department to concentrate on more strategic projects.
Planning Your AP Automation Process
There are other factors to consider when planning your AP automation conversion. The most critical factors are planning your transition costs, getting your staff trained on the new system and providing a method for vendors to submit invoices electronically (E-invoicing) with document security.
You will require more digital storage as you move from paper to paperless. You still have to store all the data – you’re just changing the media, not eliminating the necessity. The increase in digital storage costs is moderate; price per byte is coming down all the time.
One of the biggest challenges in converting any application is getting buy-in from the end-users. They are often left out of the process until time comes to go live. Avoid the rush – get the end-users involved at the get-go and get user buy-in and training started as you begin the conversion processes.
Just as you kept your paper documents physically secure, you must do the same for the digital ones. Firewalls, antispyware and antivirus software must be implemented. Planning and keeping the work stations current should be a top priority. AP automation is not an easy task, but the benefits outweigh the risks. Your business will receive benefits far beyond being paperless, but being paperless is attainable and you’ll like the end results, especially on your financial statement.