Surviving Without the Stamp: Making the Move to Paperless

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Although our society is moving rapidly to the Internet for communication and connections, one area in which we are lagging is our continued dependence on direct mail. In 2012, the United States Postal Service processed 160 billion pieces of mail and was responsible for 40 percent of the world’s mail volume. Of all the mail processed, just imagine how many billions of pieces of financial data, bills, and transactions are processed per year. However, the Postal Service’s recent consideration of stopping mail delivery on Saturdays could greatly impact many businesses that are still dependent on mailing paper invoices. Although that legislation has come to a halt for now, businesses should begin to prepare themselves now for probable changes in the future.

For years, accounts payable and accounts receivable departments have relied upon paper for invoices. Entering all of the invoice data manually is a time-consuming and detailed process, with much room for error. Paper processes can generate uncertainty and blind spots in a business. Accounting has no way to know on which desk, in which office, or where in the mail system a paper invoice resides after it is sent around nor how long it will take to process. Business decision makers are unable to make accurate financial predictions because they see only completed transactions—not those in process, floating somewhere in the company’s structure or in the mail system. Paper is the natural enemy of efficient digital technology, sapping time, accuracy, and efficiency from the organization. When businesses store their data on voluminous quantities of paper, that information cannot be shared, managed or acted upon efficiently.

However, by implementing a paperless solution into your organization, the uncertainty and blind spots caused by snail mail and your internal paper processes can disappear. For example, Metafile’s MetaViewer document management system is designed to easily integrate and support all levels of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions by eliminating the manual processes that have been required to introduce data from outside the company and by enabling insight for managers. MetaViewer’s document management system reads paper invoices and automatically extracts from them all the key data—such as vendor name, invoice number, amounts, payment dates and terms —moving that data to the proper locations in the Paperless ERP accounting solution. It validates all the data and checks for duplicate invoices, all before updating the ERP accounting system. Prior to the ERP solution knowing when an invoice will be paid, MetaViewer can send the invoice internally for approval and general ledger distribution.

Those who have eliminated paper throughout the accounting process have rapidly discovered the immense improvements in accuracy, speed, and productivity that Paperless ERP solutions provide when integrated with existing Microsoft Dynamics ERP software. Paperless ERP is a spectacular solution for managing data generated within the organization and can help to decrease the amount of mail sent between various office locations. However, processes like accounts payable inherently involve external suppliers and those vendors may still be using paper. As a result, the company must find an effective way to transform the data on invoices and related documents into digital form.

Traditionally, companies have not been equipped with an extensive array of external tools to support this work, and in many instances they have not been able to persuade their vendors to send their invoices digitally. Therefore, invoices arrive in the format that the vendor prefers, and it’s left to the company to standardize the information in a way that it can be managed and manipulated by ERP.

If yours is a major global company with hundreds of vendors and clients, the paper invoices can be limitless. With a Paperless ERP solution, however, all that’s required is for the vendor to send the invoice in a PDF format as an attachment to an email. Once the solution receives the PDF, the document’s information is easily and precisely read, routed and approved digitally. By encouraging vendors to send their invoices by email, your AP/AR department will have even less mail to manage.

Surviving without the stamp and decreasing your company’s reliance on paper can be a reality with all of the great solutions available to help streamline your AP/AR department. If your business is still processing all of your invoices by mail, take some time to consider how a switch to paperless can not only allow you to stay ahead of government changes but also help your business become more efficient, impacting the bottom line.

Nick Sprau,
Vice President of Marketing
Metafile Information Systems

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