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The Paperless Office Myth, Part 2

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Last week, I shared part one of “The Paperless Office” from the Financial Ops magazine (print edition) Special Reports: Technology feature.  Part one focused on the past, an office hampered with mounds of paper, disorganization, and bottle-necks in the AP/AR process.

Below, are the present solutions available to businesses interested in eliminating those common pain points I discussed last week.

The Present
The need to transform documents into digital information has prompted developers to innovate a new generation of solutions.

These new solutions provide greater insight for management into important company information, while supporting ERP platforms by eliminating legacy manual processes. For example, document management solutions such as MetaViewer, read paper and electronic documents then automatically extract the key data—such as vendor name, invoice number, amounts, payment dates and terms. Once the information is captured, the solution validates the data, checks for duplicates and updates the existing ERP system. This reduces errors, improves efficiency and visibility.

Remote stakeholders can be allowed secure internet access to workflow approvals without needing to access the actual ERP system.  Multiple phone calls, searching for lost invoices and shipping costs to and from these locations are immediately curtailed. This sort of integration between ERP, specialized document management, and workflow represents the birth of a more efficient paperless business process for midsized and larger companies.

A few benefits of achieving a paperless solution include:

  • Seamless Workflow Routing. Leveraging a permission-based interface, financial leaders can immediately establish and modify routing and approval rules among team members. Specific rules can also be adjusted according to unique customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
  • Immediate Approvals. With a paperless office, financial administrators eliminate several days of pre-processing time using automated workflow. The same document-management technology can automate workflow to distribute invoices electronically direct to those who must approve them.
  • Keyword Recognition. Today, technology offers a solution to the paper obstacles in the form of Paperless ERP that employs optical character recognition (OCR), to scan paper documents to digital form.  This technology automatically identifies mismatches between invoices and purchase orders for appropriate updating by approved users.  The end result is full-text indexed, Google-like search capability, making short work compared to searching through filing cabinets.
  • Automated Alerts. Once modified, newly designated approvers can be regularly reminded about invoices awaiting their action. The best solutions also allow alternate approvers to be designated and notified should primary approvers be absent eliminating bottlenecks.

Be sure to return next week for the third and final part of “The Paperless Office” where I will discuss the future of paperless ERP and the exciting technology developments being designed that will greatly improve the way businesses manage the back office.

Topics: Paperless ERP