If you've thought about Digital Transformation and want to gain control of wasted time spent on manual processes, please continue to read.
Paperless office. Digital Transformation. Process Automation. Many catchphrases and buzzy words related to technology have piled up over the years. In some ways, a lot has changed, and in many ways, not much has. From my perspective, communications have become much simpler, yet the volume of information has more than compensated. The start of my career predates email, so how I do my work today is slightly different than it used to be.
At Continia, we talk to finance teams daily about transforming their processes. It is surprising to me how many teams are now evaluating the transformation away from manual processes. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and workflow automation are well-established technologies. Still, I believe many teams are so busy with keeping the business running it’s been difficult to take the time to make the change. If I’m talking to them, they’re embracing the opportunity – I can’t imagine how many companies still maintain their manual processes.
Just put one foot in front of the other.
Let’s focus on just one business process: your accounts payable and, in particular, invoices (though we can automate several processes in every business – processing incoming purchase orders, new vendor setup, reviewing contracts, employee expenses, processing Purchase Contract payments, sending order confirmations, etc.). For companies still processing their invoices manually, the cost of this ongoing pursuit is neither secret nor difficult to calculate. Then, why are companies still not automating? I think a formal survey would provide fascinating insights; until then, from my countless discussions and demos, I believe there are two key reasons.
First, companies have just not taken the time to do the actual calculation. It’s easy to understand an OCR engine can read an invoice, capture pre-determined data, and create a record in Business Central in a second or two. To manually read an invoice and key the invoice data into BC takes several minutes. You’re saving with just your first invoice. But the ROI becomes shocking when you add up this time savings over weeks and months!
Industry research shows the total time spent on an invoice to be between 15 and 20 minutes. That includes the whole process: receipt, routing, entry, approval management, follow-up, archiving, and research. To be conservative, reduce that to 12 minutes. Now ask your finance team how many monthly invoices they process and do the math – you’re in for an eye-opener. At 300 invoices a month (our average customer volume), you’ll spend 60 hours processing invoices every month. What value do you realize for that investment, not to mention the lack of visibility and controls?
The ROI is clear
If you think 12 minutes is excessive, we held our “Continia Invoice Drag Race” at a conference last year, in which contestants were timed entering a (fairly simple) invoice into Business Central. The average entry time was 3:48. These were very tenured BC users, and truly, it would have been closer to five minutes as most did not finish entering all the detail. This was just the entry portion, so it doesn’t account for the handling, routing, etc., we itemized before. As you might guess, our Document Capture solution won hands down (it takes 2-3 seconds to scan the invoice, create the Purchase Invoice in BC, send it for approval, and archive it).
Need another example? Our ROI calculator accounts for time saved on specific steps (invoice entry, review and approval, archiving, and research). At 300 invoices monthly, the ROI in year 1, when compared to the software cost, is 870%. That’s pretty good.
The second key reason companies are not pursuing Digital Transformation more forcefully? We hinted at it already: hidden costs. The cost of inefficiency with moving paper around, chasing down teammates for information and approvals, trying to read hand-written notes, performing research on previous purchases, and so much more – these are all hidden costs to your business that are never accounted for. Just ask your finance team – this happens far more than you realize. Worse, your staff is underutilized with all this manual effort, and their true output is never realized. The opportunity cost of time not spent on more value-added activities is enormous and immeasurable. Not to mention the impact on your team’s engagement level and growth. The Status quo is costing you much more than just time inefficiency. I learned a long time ago in MBA school to focus on your highest and best use of your assets – and your team certainly is one of your critical assets!
The time is now
So, you’ve done some calculations, talked to your team, and realized it is time to invest in your organization’s Digital Transformation. Is this a multi-year, six-figure project? Absolutely not! Talk to any company with a successful Digital Transformation approach, and they’ll tell you the key is to start small but to get started. Of course, suppose you don’t have a good direction. In that case, any path will get you there, so invite your Innovia Customer Engagement Specialist to a meeting with a group of your forward thinkers from your team and map out how you’d like to transform your organization and your team.
If you’d like to transform your Accounts Payable process, our Document Capture solution enables you to start small yet begin realizing true transformative progress. It’s an incredibly flexible system with configuration options to support various business models and processes, which will grow and adapt with you as you do. Even if you only capture one invoice on day one (again – that “start small” idea), you’ll immediately save time while improving your processes and controls.
If you’d like to learn more, watch our On-Demand webinar on “Wipe Out 90% of Your Manual Tasks and Paper Use With Business Central.”