Productivity vs. Productive Effort: What’s the Difference?

I was reading a blog recently about the virtues and vices of productivity tools. The post took on the numerous apps and platforms available to make you more productive. To-do lists, date organizers, daily reminders, for example. It seems custom spreadsheets exist for everything these days, so you no longer have to make them up from scratch. There are templates for business letters, so you don’t have to actually learn how to write an effective business letter. Spell checkers, grammar checkers. You name it.

The point of the article was one I’ve often wondered myself: just how productive are these wonderful cyber age tools? Are we really getting the job done that much better than, say, forty or fifty years ago when most business functions were still done on paper? When files belonged in steel cabinets, and most people still did math in their head? When fast typists were highly coveted because word processing meant red pen marks and a second paper draft?

It’s hard to say. Apps are handy things, and it’s nice to know we can take our files with us wherever we go via electronic devices. Yet, productivity is still a very human thing. No electronic device in the world will do its job without a person at the keyboard somewhere along the way.

I know businesspeople – successful ones – who don’t own a cell phone. Yet somehow, they still get things done. My point is that when choosing productivity tools, we sometimes forget to ask ourselves whether this tool really will make us more productive. It’s the difference between handing a task off to a computer which does it in the same amount of time as the user, or handing it off to a computer that can do it in half the time or less. It’s the difference between doing it more easily and doing it more efficiently.

Efficiency is what Accounts Payable Automation strives for, and the best automation, like InvoiceWorks® by iPayables, can raise productivity within your AP department manifold.

This isn’t just a claim, by the way. It’s backed with hard data. A recent “best in class” study sought to quantify the difference in productivity between accounts payable departments at the top of their game, and all the rest. Here are some of the stunning results:

  1. Cost to process a single invoice. The best in class averaged $2.74 for each invoice, while the rest averaged a whopping $15.02.
  2. Time to process a single invoice. The best in class averaged 3.5 days. The rest averaged 12 days.
  3. Percentage of invoices processed “straight through.” The best in class averaged 58.4%, the rest averaged 18.1%.
  4. Percentage of suppliers that submit invoices electronically. For best in class recipients, the average percentage of suppliers who submitted their invoices electronically was 58.1%. The rest averaged only 18.9% of suppliers.

Source:  © Ardent Partners – 2019

That fourth statistic is what struck me most. It proves that electronic invoicing really does raise productivity substantially.

Which means AP automation is a true productivity tool – one that doesn’t just make life a little easier but can save valuable time and money. Lots of it. So, to all you AP managers and directors out there, I say stop wasting time on apps that really don’t affect your company’s bottom line. Go to a leader in the AP automation field and get a no-obligation demo today.

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