Tag Archives: accounts payable

Invoice Processing Automation. How to automate your invoice processing!

Achieving accuracy and efficiency in your finance department through invoice automation! 

Cost reductions, improved efficiency and better allocation of resources are just some of the savings that can be gained by implementing automated invoice processing.

Accounts Payable if done manually can be time consuming, complex, prone to error and provide any number of challenges for an organisation particularly the finance department. Manual processing includes receiving invoices by post, fax or email which are then categorised.

Invoices will be then forwarded to the person responsible for the invoice for checking and then matched to a purchase order number assuming the person has created one; the invoice may then require further authorisation from senior management.

Finance departments are challenged with needing to cut operational costs whilst at the same time ensuring invoices are paid on time so as not to upset the supplier-company relationship.

Efficient invoice processing can be achieved by implementing an automated invoice processing solution.

Accounts Payable Issues

Typically the following problems hinder the accounts payable process:-

  • Collating invoices that come from different suppliers or cost centres, in many different layouts and delivery formats – post, fax, email
  • Labour-intensive processes required to input data can be complicated further if linked to different cost centres and/or involve currency conversion
  • Errors associated with manual data entry
  • Longer lead times due to manual routing, processing and sign-off procedures involving individuals in different departments and possibly different countries
  • Inefficiencies due to time spent gathering physical documents in order to match invoices with purchase orders, delivery notes, contracts and accounting system records
  • Inability to maximise financial benefits associated with payment schedules such as discounts for early payments or fees for late payments
  • Risk of document loss or damage as documents are received at multiple input points and may be routed or classified incorrectly
  • Costs associated with manual document routing, shipping, couriers, storage, archiving and auditing
  • Inability to easily audit invoice processing and payments to match up document flow with the accounting system

Automating the invoice process will lead to more efficient working practices. With the added benefits of cost reduction in paper handling, time savings and increased security in proper invoice management will ensure your accounts payable process is streamlined.

Why automate Accounts Payable?  

The current economic and competitive business climate makes it crucial to running your operations efficiently. When looking at efficiency, most organisations have already solved the issues surrounding their structured operational data by implementing CRM, ERP and Accounts business systems.

According to Gartner, up to 80% of business data transactions and records are in an unstructured format made up of paper, fax, email and office documents. Nowhere is this more prominent than within the Accounts Payable department. If a business wants to significantly reduce costs and at the same time become highly efficient then the AP process is a good place to start.

Benefits of automating your invoice processing:

  • Can reduce the cost of the process by up to 75%
  • Ensures control and compliance
  • Timely and accurate reporting within the accounting system
  • Ability to access prompting payment discounts and avoid late payment penalties
  • Eliminates ‘lost’ invoices during approval process
  • Improved staff morale and ability to focus on core business tasks

What are the stages of automated invoice processing?

  • Capturing purchase orders and/or delivery notes
  • ICR of invoices, Invoice Scanning
  • Document matching, Invoice Processing
  • Exception handling
  • Approval process
  • Updating Accounts systems
  • Document archive

Month end closing processes are more often than not time consuming and complex. Removing omissions, improving speed and identifying redundant processes is possible through a financial reporting solution.

Want to find out more?

Digital Print Management work in conjunction with AP ProcessFlows as a recognised channel partner. Our AP Automation suite includes invoice scanning; invoice processing automation; invoice management; fully automated payment allocation using our AR ProcessFlows.

Our solutions are not substitutes for your current systems as they work in conjunction with your existing infrastructure. To find out more about how automating your AP and AR process will save you money fill in the form below and one of our advisors will call you.

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E-Billing. A 10 point checklist to help you implement e-billing in your organisation!

This is the third article in our series that discusses how to reduce the paper flow through your office and speed up the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable function!

With escalating postage and mailing costs any company that sends out bulk mail such as customer letters, invoices and statements requires the flexibility to adopt a combination of either electronic and paper or solely electronic mailings.

How do you implement e-billing?

Firstly it helps to understand what the definition of e-billing is.

e-billing, e-invoicing. Which is it?

e-billing, e-invoicing. Which is it?

E-billing is often referred  to as e-invoicing and customers often say “we are sending out invoices” so what is the difference?

The use of the two terms depends on your perspective as a buyer or a seller.

If you are buying in services managing incoming invoices within the accounts payable department the electronic invoicing process is part of the order to pay process and is e-invoicing.

E-invoicing is a buyer centric model where the buyer actively encourages its suppliers to send them electronic invoices.

If you are selling services and you are sending bills out to your customers via the accounts receivable department the electronic invoicing process is part of the order to cash process and is called e-billing.

E-billing is a supplier centric model where the supplier encourages its customers to receive electronic invoices instead of paper based ones and is less complex to implement than e-invoicing.

In both cases, invoices are processed but the difference is that those invoices that are inbound are referred to as e-invoices and those invoices that are outbound are e-bills. In each case invoices are processed but whether you are a seller or buyer determines whether the process is B2B e-invoicing or B2B e-billing.

Many companies and organisations alike will operate a combination of both the above processes but the functions may not be electronic or automated and likely to be manually intensive.

How do I get my customers to accept e-billing?

How do you adopt paperless billing?

How do you adopt paperless billing?

One of the first challenges presented by the customer is: ” it just won’t work our customers like paper too much!” to which my response “have you asked them?

If you want to achieve significant customer adoption then you don’t ask you have a strategic, planned, well thought out campaign to turn off paper and get your customers accepting e-bills.

For more information call us now

Here are 10 top tips to achieving ebilling uptake!

  1. Have a clearly defined idea and strategy as to how you intend to implement e-billing
  2. Do not think that by having a customer portal on your website where customers login and download their bill will drive your customers in droves to click and register so they can collect their bill. It wont work! Its a bit like asking your customers to drive to your reception and collect their invoices. In reality, they’ll do nothing because a customer portal requires registration, password and a download
  3. Think PDF, not a PDF attachment to an email but a PDF that is emailed to your customer, think engaging, personalised and interactive information that incorporates facts, figures andpersonalised marketing messages, are secure and has embedded data which can be extracted out of the PDF
  4. Have a clear strategy for collecting email addresses
  5. Use your website to drive paperless billing and to advise customers how easy it will be for them to switch off paper
  6. Use messages on all your printed invoices, statements, remittances and envelopes to turn off paper
  7. Have a sign up process on your website, on your paper invoices and statements
  8. Use an email pre-registration campaign for opt in and opt out to encourage the take up of paperless bills
  9. Use any marketing collateral sent out to advise customers you are moving to paperless billing to drive the message home
  10. Use the process to demonstrate your company’s on-going commitment to being green
When all is said and done you can’t hold a gun to your customers head and make them adopt e-bills there will always be customers that, for whatever reason want/need a paper bill or, who simply don’t want to change.
You can educate them as to how the process can streamline the billing process to ensure they see also reap the benefits of going paperless.
If you want to reduce the paper flow call us for an independent and impartial chat.
Have you adopted a paperless strategy?

How successful was it?

Can e-billing work for the SME or is it the sole preserve of the bigger corporations and Utility companies?

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Accounts Receivable Automation. How to automate your AR Process?

This article is the second in a series that talks about the benefits of automating your accounts receivable process.

In my last article I discussed the Accounts Payable process. You can read more about that here! from invoice management to the merits of automating the process.

How to automate your accounts receivable process?

How to automate your accounts receivable process?

I like to start with the END in mind which I guess is where Accounts Receivable fits into the accounting function because it is the process whereby a company allocates received payments to the relevant customer accounts hopefully with minimal manual interaction in effect it is the management of the Sales Ledger. It is also one of the more cumbersome accounting tasks that is often very manual intensive prone to errors resulting in the slow down of customer invoices being paid on time.

It is a key component to the effective running of any organisation or company ensuring that bills are paid on time. Traditional methods can be labour intensive, slow and prone to error.

Accounts Receivable Automation.

How does automating the Accounts Receivable process work?

Capture

By caputuring information using an intelligent capture tool which can extract data automatically learning and storing information as it goes.

Managing the information

By managing the information in your system enabling faster retrieval for processing and eliminating the need for paper storage at the same time ensuring compliance.

Cash Allocation

Incoming payments can be allocated swiftly right down to the invoice level this information is remembered by the system so that subsequent payments can be matched.

What are the benefits of automating your accounts receivable process?

  1. Real time view of your sales ledger
  2. Clean sales ledger with no unallocated balances
  3. Accurate management information and easier cash flow forecasting
  4. Efficient credit management with accurate debtor days information available at all times
  5. Increased credit control efficiency – no wasted time chasing invoices already paid
  6. Reconciliation is done on a day to day basis making the month end process efficient
  7. All banking and remittance documents are stored electronically making the audit process less arduous and reducing the amount of storage required
Finally automating the accounts receivable function will ultimately improve cash flow and reduce DSO, reduce printing, postage and paper storage handling costs enabling the company to adopt a Paperless electronic billing strategy!

Are you struggling to manage your accounts processes? Are you deluged with paper? Do you wish you could get your invoices out faster? Do you wish there was more month at month end?

Get in touch for more information 

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Invoice Processing. 5 Great Ways to Reduce Your Paper-Flow

How to cut the cost of your invoice processing?

Many organisations are challenged by wanting to break free from invoice processing which can be a slow and costly paper based system.

Accounts Payable departments are constantly being challenged to cut operating costs whilst ensuring invoices are paid promptly. Manual AP processes are costing companies on average £2-£4 per invoice that’s a staggering on-going cost for a company who may be thinking they are managing the invoice paper flow!

A typical manual process includes:-

  • Invoices come into the company from different suppliers or cost centres in different layouts and delivery formats – post, fax, email, EDI
  • They are forwarded to the relevant person responsible for that invoice
  • There is a longer lead time due to manual routing, processing and sign off procedures
  • Inefficiencies due to time spent matching the invoice to the Purchase order, verifying, approving and signing off for payment
  • Inability to maximise discount benefits associated with early payments
  • If it exceeds the company’s limited amount it may well have to go to senior management for verification
  • If approved the invoice is then input into the accounting system ready for payment
  • Archive costs for compliance and accounts audits
Typically, there may well be invoice queries, is the vendor valid, is the invoice correct and does it match the PO or is it a duplicate invoice?

Why automate?

  1. By automating the process you gain a complete overview of the AP function using an end-to-end invoice management system of all processes and any financial implications.
  2. By capturing the invoice information using an intelligent capture tool allows extraction of invoice data whilst at the same time updating your ERP accounts system with no manual entry
  3. Consolidation and reconciliation of purchase orders, invoices and payments are automated which helps manage allocations, cashflow and payments
  4. Invoice processing automatically matches and verifies scanned invoices with PO’s
  5. The invoice process is improved because it is centralised so up to date live information is made available to the accounts team at every stage of the AP process

How does adopting an AP strategy reduce my paper flow?

It is the start toward adopting an ebilling strategy for your organisation.

Automating the processing of invoices and choosing to integrate a straight-forward workflow and document management software with your existing systems will remove manual and repetitive workloads.

Using a centralised accounts payable process integrated into your current systems provides:-

  • Automatic allocation of the right invoice to the relevant transaction
  • Automatically post invoices for payment
  • Automatically queue exceptions for handling
  • Deliver information on exceptions to the AP desktop
  • Make payment status available to everyone instantly
  • Adopt a push ebilling strategy where your customers don’t have to come to your Portal or website (Pull ebilling)

What are the major benefits?

  1. Reduce invoice processing costs
  2. Time savings
  3. Exceptions resolved quickly
  4. Supplier conflict resolution
  5. Early payment discounts
  6. Reduced supplier inquiries
  7. No double handling

Do you have a complete view of your AP process?

  • Do you wish your accounts payable function was a streamlined automated function giving you total control?
  • Do you know how many invoices you have outstanding?
  • Do you know how much money you owe?
  • Where in the system are the exceptions and and how many?
  • Who are the problematic suppliers?

Digital Print Management provide open solutions and our systems can be extended to include the automation of any business process.

If you want to discover how easy the transformation to an automated Accounts Payable system can be then get in touch.

COMING NEXT IN OUR SERIES OF ARTICLES FEATURING INVOICE PROCESSING WILL BE ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLES AND WE WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS OF ALLOCATING YOUR PAYMENTS.

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5 Reasons to outsource your e billing.

An e-billing solution can be quick and effective if managed and implemented correctly.

e-billing is not sending a PDF bill as an attachment to an email.

The importance of optimising both a paperless and an e-billing process shouldn’t be underestimated! Both processes can co-exist in harmony.

E-billing provides a number of great features such as the option to retrieve documents in PDF, Excel, EDI, XML or CSV formats allowing you to view and interact with your online invoice/statement, query invoices and download copy invoices if required.

5 reasons why e-billing should be implemented alongside your current print and mailing process:

1. Get payments faster

Emailing your bills for payment can reduce your DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) cycle by as much as 70% by reducing the physical time taken to send out invoices to your customers.

Many companies emphasis the importance of sales, sales, sales yet are inefficient managing debtors often complying with payment terms that are in excess of their own terms.

Why supply a company that takes that long to pay after you’ve supplied the goods or services?

Here’s the real conundrum what is the point of telling your sales force to be proactive in generating sales if the company is not managing the payment terms with your customers?

Accounts payable solutions are designed to speed up the process and distribution of statements and invoices. By reducing the turnaround for example from 4 to 1 day for posting/emailing out your invoices, but enforcing company payment terms are ineffective then the benefit for e-billing is largely negated!

2. Current financial climate

The current climate requires effective payment strategies and reducing the time taken for a customer to pay has a positive effect on your bottom-line. Helping the company to grow and remain competitive.

Having a robust credit management system designed solely to get the cash in for the business supports the billing effort!

Has e-billing replaced paper based billing?

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process and e-billing is a part of that process.

3. The easier you make the process the easier it is for your customer to pay

An effective e-billing solutions allows bills to be delivered as secure electronic documents directly into the customers inboxes without any link to a site to register and collect invoices.

Incorporated in to the body of the bill should be a payment option using a form within the invoice or a link to the company’s payment website, this in turn facilitates quicker payment because if the customer has opened the email, viewed the invoice, the psychology is simply “I’m there now so I may as well pay it!”

4. Transpromo marketing

An effective eBilling solution provides the opportunity to cross sell or up sell services and products by utilising messages displayed in the bill?

Marketing messages can be added to each bill both within the email and on the e-bill attachment. By taking advantage of the process you are driving qualified traffic to your website to potentially re-order or view more of your goods and services.

5. Keeping up with technology

There is an assumption that moving to e-billing will be costly and difficult to implement internally which is a valid argument. But by outsourcing the process, there is no need for big spending on software as the e-billing provider takes care of that keeping the cost of implementation to a minimum improving efficiency, reducing costs from the generation of the e-bill to the pay process.

After all is said and done the take up of e-billing is slow in the UK particularly when compared to the rest of Europe. According to Deutsche Bank research only 10% of companies in the UK undertook a strategic move to e-invoicing in 2010! Many companies have adopted an e-billing process but are quick to point out that the take up has been slow and almost two-s third of their customers prefer a paper bill.

What do you think?

Have you implemented an e-bill solution? Is it working effectively? Do you use paper and e-bills as well? What strategy have you employed to encourage your customers to take up e-billing?

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Invoice Processing. How to automate the process

Invoice processing and printing.

There are many companies still choosing to print these time critical documents in-house.

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process.

Choosing an end to end invoice processing and scanning solution will speed up the accounts payable process.

Why?

Here are some well documented reasons…

Because its too expensive to outsource.
Because we don’t want to give up control.
I want our envelopes post marked with our address details.
Because the Directors want to retain control of the print and despatch of our statements/invoices

If it’s taking you and your company too much time to process and generate your invoices and statements then you really should think about automating the processing by opting for a print services provider.

A printing mailing service provider specialises in the process, printing and inserting of invoices and statements.

Let’s look at the above points in more detail.

Twenty years ago outsourcing this onerous task would have been cost effective for the for high volume generators of statements and invoices.

Today, technology has changed and improved to such a degree that any company generating a few hundred invoices will benefit from tangible cost savings in postage and processing especially when this is weighted against the costs of doing it in-house factor in over ordering of stationery, consumables, maintenance fees, inserting machines and employees who are involved in the process too.

Retaining control – The question that needs to be addressed is do you trust your billing software to output the correct data? Are you painstakingly checking certain customer invoices for errors or omissions prior to actually sending them out?

Even if you have specific customers that require you to check prior to sending most, if not all mailing services will have a medium with which you can isolate those documents view and approve prior to print or sending electronically.

Envelope details – this is given as most print companies will suggest that the outer envelopes will be pre-printed with a return address, company logo and postage indicia in the corporate colours.

Company Directors are insistent in keeping the process in house – Next time the accounts department process the monthly, weekly invoice or statement run ask the Directors to spend time in the department just to see what’s involved in the process.

Present them with a time V cost analysis report that you’ve done in advance, costs both visible and invisible should be shown then see what response you get? I’d be very surprised if they didn’t exhale sharply and respond with “really it costs that much!”

What are the benefits of automating the process?

e-billing...If your company regularly sends out invoices and statements in a paper format as well as providing electronic billing then you will benefit from having this process automated.

The outsourcing of invoice and statement printing is not as complicated as you think.

By understanding a company’s billing cycle, how the information (data) is extracted out of the accounts system and how to send the data are taken care of by the mailing partner.

If managed correctly by the printing services company the cost savings will be evident.

For example by speeding up the processing time i.e reducing the time taken to despatch bills or statements, receipt of a datafile on day 1 can result in despatch the same day, which can have a dramatic impact on the DSO (days outstanding).

There is minimal time spent by the company once the data file has been emailed because the mail service provider does all the work.

Pre-sorting your bills and statements specifically for Royal Mail or DSA (downstream access) will offer huge savings on postage.

Outsourcing this non core business activity enables you to have the option of sending paper based items and an electronic version as well – multi channel distribution.

The data file can be pre-sorted for bills and statements that are required to be printed and posted or to be electronically sent.

In effect, your only concern is ensuring the upload of the information file. This is the only part of the process that your business truly gets involved in.

The biggest advantage of outsource bill and statement printing is that your outsource provider does all the work associated with printing and prepping of your invoices and statements for mailing.

You also have the flexibility to change the layout and format of your documents because most outsource printers can print in colour at the same time as printing the statement or invoice information therefore implementing a form change becomes effortless!

Most customers have come to expect paperless billing and it is cheaper than sending a paper version.

There is also a compelling argument to outsource the processing of your electronic bills and statements.

Of course there is always the option of implementing a complete end to end invoice processing scanning solution.

For more information about how invoice processing and scanning solutions can streamline your company process then click here for more information.

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 What do you do, how do you manage the process of billing your clients? Let us know your thoughts so we can share it.