Thursday, June 3, 2010

Priceless gem or fool's gold?

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Priceless gem or fool’s gold? Laurel B. Sanders ( of Optical Image Technology (OIT) offers 10 strategies for cost justifying an automated invoice processing solution:

Remember the stuff we called fool’s gold as kids? Our first discovery led plenty of us to think we were striking it rich as we ran home with sample treasure in hand. Reminiscent smiles and chuckles quickly told us we had been fooled by something that held more apparent than intrinsic value. Similarly, some technology improvements are priceless. Others seem like a great idea, but deliver only moderate value.

Automated invoice processing is no fool’s gold. Implemented well, it’s a priceless gem that boosts profitability, service reputations, and employee morale. If you understand the ROI, it’s easy to defend making the investment. Integrating electronic document management (EDM) and business process management (BPM) software with your line-of-business (LOB) applications saves time, money, and aggravation by letting you:

1. Access payment-related documents instantly

• Integrating a digital repository with your LOB apps gives you instant access to images of invoices, purchase requisitions/orders, packing and delivery slips, checks, GL info, and more within your preferred invoicing system. No more cumbersome search. No lost documents. No re-creating missing files.

2. Match documentation automatically

• Rules-driven BPM searches for identical customer data, invoice numbers, product codes, descriptions, payment terms, and more, validating invoicing readiness. Automated matching gives you more time for meaningful work.

3. Identify discrepancies and errors quickly

• BPM easily identifies missing or inconsistent information so you can take appropriate action. Email alerts notify workers of tasks requiring human intervention. Everything else keeps moving.

4. Expedite invoice routing and approval

• ECM and BPM gather, package, and flow documentation to the right people for timely review. Automated routing with links to files requiring approval, and task assignment based on hierarchies and attendance rules ensure each invoice is handled promptly and appropriately. Turnaround: typically 50-90 % faster (with less effort).

5. Eliminate errors by re-using data intelligently

• As new documents are created (purchase orders following approved requisition orders; invoices after shipping), meaningful data is extracted and re-used, improving content integrity and transactional accuracy. No more $10 invoices for $100 goods or multiple bills to Mr. Smyth/Smithe/Smith. Say goodbye to costly errors.

6. Collect receivables quickly and cost efficiently

• Automated document review, instant file access, and automated routing/approval for documents that meet billing criteria minimize human involvement while ensuring quick, accurate processing.

7. Take advantage of more early-payment discounts

• Automated invoicing based on business rules and real-time data such as invoicing terms lets you keep pace with 2/10 net 30 and other discounts, saving $$.

8. Eliminate late payment penalties

• Don’t (ever!) miss an important date. Automated invoice processing relies on stored information rather than human accuracy and reliability to ensure timely decisions. Stored data (such as due dates and discount opportunities) keeps work prioritized, removing the potential for errors and missed opportunities.

9. Help staff to be more productive

• Work is most satisfying when employees’ skills and talents are used well. Automation lets workers focus handle routine work quickly, giving them time to focus on problematic cases and accomplish typically 30-60% more each day than they would without it.

10. Create a better work environment

• Creating a balance between work’s challenges and rewards isn’t easy. Automation lets employees apply the skills they have worked to develop, be more productive, and accomplish what needs to be done so they can have a life beyond the workplace.

Still wondering if it’s worth it? Consider your own work environment. Are you extracting full value from your people, systems, and business information? If there’s room for improvement, there’s no better time to start than right now.

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