Need to increase efficiency in accounting? Don’t stop at AP!

chaosWhen it comes to automation, accounts payable (AP) gets a lot of attention. But why increase efficiency in only half the department?

The same concepts you apply to AP can be applied to accounts receivable (AR), too. How do you start applying the lessons you learned in AP to your problems in AR? Here are 3 easy steps to kickstart the process.

1. Digitize

Physical documents take up space on desks. File cabinets take up space in storage rooms and units. Paper documents are easy to lose and hard to track.

So get rid of the paper.

Your customers are still sending in paper-based orders and payments. And you’re not alone. According to a 2012 study by the Remittance Coalition, 67 percent of businesses mainly receive payments by paper check. So it is time to start using that handy-dandy scanner to get those physical documents into an easier-to-manage electronic format.

Furthermore, it’s critical to digitize documents associated with AR the moment they come into your organization, not just at the end of the process. Do it before you process them further.

Not only does this reduce the risk of losing information if the paper document goes missing, it also makes it easier – and quicker — to relay that information around the organization. Take it one step further by capturing those documents not just whenever, but wherever they are received: in a remote office, local warehouse or central mailroom –even on the road, with a mobile device.

Think about all the postage cost you are saving by eliminating the need to transport documents from one location to another!

2. Centralize

Your documents are electronic. You have reduced risk and made it even easier to instantly send information around the office.

Now you have a new challenge: electronic documents sitting on computer desktops, in messy file shares and lost in someone’s email inbox.

Next step? Centralize for easy, instant access across the company.

When a customer calls in to dispute an invoice, for example, there are a lot of documents you want right in front of you during the call to address the issue. But how often do you actually have those documents right in front of you?

This is where technology like an enterprise content management system can play a huge role.

As documents are captured in the ECM system, staff members have instant access to all related documents in the system: past customer invoices and payments, proof of delivery documents or original order forms and so on. Everything is accessible in one place.

Additionally, staff can access individual documents simultaneously, when needed, so staff aren’t waiting for others to finish reviewing information.

3. Revolutionize

Now the fun part! Once you have given yourself, your staff, and your entire organization central, electronic access to all of your business-critical AR documents, it’s time to automate the related processes, increasing productivity even further.

Look at how your AR department functions. Search for manual processes and determine if you can automate those processes by taking your ECM solution to the next level.

Need some place to start? Here are a couple manual processes to look for:

  • Manual data entry: Do you have staff manually entering data into your accounting systems? A true end-to-end ECM solution should be able to offer you automated data capture as part of the document capture process – automatically pulling the information off the document and passing it along to your other systems.
  • Manual invoicing: Even if your accounting system automates the creation of customer invoices, are you manually sending invoices to customers, by mail or email? Do you have to manually send related documents to your customers when they request them? Part of your content management strategy should include all of the documents relevant to that customer’s invoice. The content management system should then connect the documents in the system to the invoice it inherits from the accounting system, automatically making those documents available to customers. When customers have access to all that information, it can lead to reduced or completely eliminated disputes.
  • Manual document routing: When management needs to see an invoice, or staff must deal with a customer dispute, are related documents manually sent via email or even walked from desk to desk? Your content management solution should automate this! Known as “automated workflow,” the system should automatically send the document and supporting information to staff. Staff, with the click of a button, can quickly make decisions on the documents they receive, all within the ECM system.

Digitize. Centralize. Revolutionize. Then sit back and watch as costs fall and customer satisfaction and employee productivity climb.

Jaclyn Inglis

Jaclyn Inglis

Over the last few years working at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Jaclyn has definitely started to drink the Kool Aid – day and night enthusiastically discussing the wonderful benefits of OnBase and ShareBase with fellow Hylanders, family, friends, and even complete strangers. Her graduation from the University of Rochester with a major in economics, minor in film studies and concentration in neurological science only goes to show how vast her interests are. With that in mind, it is no surprise she truly enjoys working to market Hyland's products across an equally vast number of industries – some even mirroring her academic interests (financial services, arts and entertainment and healthcare/sciences) – as a member of the Product Marketing team at Hyland.

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