Nobody’s job description says that their duties include “sorting through stacks of paper to find the information you need to do your job.” But such unproductive tasks often take up a large part of an employee’s day. And that’s especially true in many accounting departments, where the flow of paper invoices and purchase orders is constant.
Moving to an electronic document management system opens the door to increased efficiency for a variety of different accounting processes. Here are two common scenarios in accounts receivable that illustrate how document management improves workflow:
- Scenario 1: A customer asks for a copy of an invoice
When a customer calls and asks for a copy of an invoice you’ve sent them, it starts a lengthy process.An accounts receivable employee might tell the customer, “OK, I can help you with that; let me go find your file.” Then they hang up the phone, go to the file cabinet and retrieve the invoice (if it was filed correctly). The employee would then copy the invoice, return the original document to the file cabinet and walk to the fax machine to send it back to the customer.An electronic document management system greatly simplifies this common process. Instead of spending 1o or 15 minutes to pull up an invoice, an employee is able to access and email that file with a click while still on the phone with the customer.Another way to make this even easier for your customers is to provide a digital file cabinet that the customer can access online. The customer is able to go directly to this digital file cabinet, access their account and view every invoice you’ve sent (obviously they can only view their own files and nobody else’s). It’s a simple, effective way to give your customer the information they need at a moment’s notice. And since the information is always available, it may reduce the number of incoming questions for the accounts recei
- Scenario 2: Collecting on an outstanding invoice
In a paper-based accounts receivable process, following up on unpaid invoices is like trying to navigate a tortuous maze. Make a little progress, hit a dead end. Retrace steps, make a little progress, hit a dead end.When an employee calls to collect on an invoice, the customer often has a reason for why they haven’t paid, such as a disputed charge on the invoice. This requires the employee to hang up the phone and search through emails or a file cabinet to verify that the invoice matches the purchase order or the proposal. This process can be tiring and very time-consuming.Electronic document management streamlines this process. While you’re on the phone with the customer, you just click a button and will immediately see all the documents which belong to the disputed invoice. You can then quickly resolve any questions and start the conversation about scheduling their payment.
A variety of accounting solutions offer some sort of document management capabilities that could help to streamline your accounts receivable process. But while these accounting applications may be able to manage a handful of specific processes and accounting documents, they come up short when you need to access anything else, such as emails, faxes, Word documents and PDFs.
A comprehensive enterprise content management system brings together all of your company’s documents in a central document repository and indexes them in a way that makes all of your information readily accessible, regardless of document type, department or date. Such a platform not only streamlines your accounts receivable process — it increases efficiency and productivity throughout the organization.
Learn more about overhauling your document management processes by downloading our FREE whitepaper, “7.5 Signs Your Document Management Needs An Overhaul”.