Accounts Payable (AP) departments are drowning in paperwork. Manual invoices, the paperwork for sufficient three-way matching, contract documents to verify billing requirements, and more can stack up on your team's desks. In a regular office environment, this is already a liability; work is slower, documents can get lost, and every desk has protected financial information open to any eyes walking by.
But in a partially or fully virtual office environment, these frustrations are multiplied. Your virtual employees can't get any work done without using virtual copies in a series of workflows meant for physical documents, and even that is hamstrung by a bottleneck of trying to scan every document that comes in.
These problems aren't just inconveniences. They effectively halt your AP department's ability to manage spend, procurement, and budget reconciliations on time. So it's time to focus on an overarching solution to the problem: document management.
How Document Management Can Streamline Your Accounts Payable Process
Document management encompasses the processes and systems you put in place to organize, store, and retrieve electronic documents. Developing systems stop individuals from creating ad hoc workarounds, and it ensures your company has a foundation to build its future document management processes on, too. By investing time and effort into building up the right infrastructure for your business, your day-to-day operations become much more streamlined. Here are the top four benefits of digital document management.
Increase Ease of Access
A centralized repository of electronically filed documents is immediately more accessible than a stack of paper files, especially if you don't know who's holding the document you need. Employees can access copies at any time and even attach a hyperlink or connected field from their current project to the source document for complete record transparency.
When your electronic file management system is integrated into your company's virtual system, access is even easier. Employees that are logged on with their primary credentials can freely access the documents they have the permissions to view without logging into a third-party system.
Eliminate On-Site Storage
On-site storage is a liability, even under the best of circumstances. Corporate visitors, cleaning staff, and internal but unauthorized personnel can see paper documents when they're out in the office, and that can lead to data theft. Even the possibility of a data breach requires strict, immediate responses. When utilizing virtual document storage, that's no longer a risk. The virtual services provider is responsible for maintaining adequate security, and documents won't be visible to passersby.
Another advantage of eliminating on-site storage is reducing business's required square footage. File rooms take up a substantial chunk of rented office space — space that can be converted into room for more employees or space that can be forfeited when the lease renews. This physical efficiency can lead to thousands of dollars saved.
Ensure Compliance and Security
Audits are most commonly associated with taxes and publicly traded companies. But with the rise of data privacy and security concerns, even small, private companies are on the hook for proving compliance with regulatory provisions. Any company that touches transactions needs to ensure payment card industry data security standard (PCI DSS) compliance and small companies that handle medical services — no matter how far removed — must ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
The easiest and the best way to prove that your company is following all necessary provisions is to establish an electronic paper trail. Proper document management software records every time an employee accesses, alters, or copies a document. Those records also provide time stamps, the details on the individual who accessed the document, and more. These details provide the transparency you need to prove that the documents are secure and only authorized parties accessed the information.
Document management is about more than building a convenient, secure repository. It's about sharing knowledge and making sure your accounting teams have the information they need, whenever they need it. Smart document management platforms can integrate with how you do business to provide these additional benefits:
- Auto-filling fields based on third-party invoices and shipping records for human verification
- Alerting relevant parties when a document arrives, when intervention is necessary, and when something is overdue
- Generating reports for internal audit projects
- Compiling data files for supplier records
Your platform can even direct employees to the next steps of any standard work process. This can help you onboard new accountants faster, even in a virtual workspace. To-do lists, checklists, and automated prompts also help experienced employees who benefit from occasional reminders.
Choose an Enterprise Content Management Solution That Works for Your Business
Streamline your work processes, reduce liability, and eliminate bottlenecks with a document management solution that works for your Accounts Payable team. When you know it's time to switch from paper invoices to electronic documents, don't just switch to an e-filing system. Choose a content management solution that organizes your information, protects it, and makes it the foundation of your day-to-day business processes.