Tearing Through the Paper Barrier to Integrate Data

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Paper processes are restraining the real value of Paperless ERP for midszied companies, so the need for a way to automate the transformation of paper documents into digital data and to manage the resulting documents has prompted technology developers to innovate a new generation of devices and services.

However, history shows that managers are often averse to change. Accounting departments, for instance, felt a high level of comfort with ledgers before finally being convinced to move to Excel spreadsheets and eventually QuickBooks-type integrated accounting methods. Now managers are being asked to digitize and integrate all their data into an ERP system that eliminates most manual operations—that step is understandably a leap for many organizations.

On the other hand, those who have eliminated paper have seen the improvements in accuracy, speed, and productivity that ERP systems can produce. While Paperless ERP is an effective strategic solution for managing data generated within an organization, processes like accounts payable inherently involve external suppliers, and those vendors may still be using paper. As a result, companies must find an effective way to transform the data on invoices and related documents into digital form.

Until recently, this transformation included AP department employees spending countless hours thumbing through written information and keying it into the ERP system. This resulted in high-value team members performing low-value work of manually entering invoices. Since midsized companies haven't had the tools to support this work, and sometimes, haven’t been able to persuade their vendors to send their invoices digitally, it’s left to the company to standardize the information in a way that it can be managed and manipulated by ERP.

Metafile’s MetaViewer is a solution that is helping mid-sized companies manage their AP process by reading paper invoices and automatically extracting all the key data—such as vendor name, invoice number, amount, payment date, and terms —then moving that data to the proper locations in the Paperless ERP accounting module. It validates all the data and checks for duplicate invoices, all before entering the ERP accounting system.

In our next installment we will take a deeper dive into the benefits of Paperless ERP solutions and examples of how they are transforming the ways mid-sized companies are doing business.

- Nick Sprau, Metafile Information Systems

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