ECM and AP: Why ECM will help your accounting staff survive
When I worked in state government, down the hallway from my desk was a locked room containing several fireproof file cabinets. I’m not sure how many more files we could get in that room, especially since the cabinets were bulky and heavy. I often wondered if I would arrive for work and see a pile of rubble where the file cabinets had broken through the floor.
At that time, it seemed impossible to imagine a paperless accounting department. Even if we eliminated paper within our walls, the private sector still sent us documents and we needed to enter data from those documents to update our accounts, issue checks and make changes to vendor information.
Today, we face a changed landscape and it’s time to revisit the accounting department and decide whether modernization and enterprise content management can help. Cuts in government staff at all levels have made it important to identify ways to manage staff workloads. This need is particularly acute in traditionally paper-heavy departments.
Imagine how your accounting department could relieve work overload with an end-to-end ECM solution:
Capture to eliminate data entry
Today, a range of capture tools exist to eliminate indexing documents. They can even read documents and push that data into your accounting systems without manual entry by your staff. And, by capturing documents, no filing is needed, saving precious staff time for other tasks.
Automate routing and approval
Using workflow rules, you can route invoices for review and approval and automate approval for invoices that meet a set of criteria – for example, invoices below a certain amount, or without discrepancy between purchase order and invoice amount. Automation lets your staff focus attention on exceptions. There’s even a mobile option so busy managers and directors can approve invoices from their Outlook mailbox or their smartphone or tablet.
Connect to accounting systems
Using ECM integration tools means that you can finally connect to state mainframe systems safely and efficiently. You’ll avoid paper and minimize data entry by pushing data into those systems at the moment of capture or after a workflow has been completed.
Centralize and secure documents for records management
Captured documents are securely held with an audit trail and backups so there is no need for expensive fireproof cabinets. You can manage destruction or archiving as needed using tools within your ECM solution. With a central repository, it’s easy to meet public records requests and to retrieve documents for research and other needs.
ECM presents many advantages for all government departments, but it is an especially strong ally for your accounting staff. If you have reduced staff and are scrutinizing expenditures, why not use tools that manage manual tasks to allow greater time to review exceptions and act on them? ECM is no longer a fantasy for accounting departments, it’s a key survival tool.