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Charlotte, NC, United States, 2006/07/13 - The latest issue of the ‘National Association of Purchasing & Payables’, News & Notes, features an in-depth article on ‘Imaging and Workflow Automation in Accounts Payable’, excerpted from a March 2006 Research Report developed by PayStream Advisors.
A paradigm shift is clearly underfoot as organizations strive to not only contain costs but also compress working capital requirements and process cycle times. The emphasis on cost containment and productivity enhancement during the past few years has inspired organizations to seek out new ways to automate traditionally paper-based and labor-intensive processes. Given the impetus toward automation and electronification, accounts payable departments have come under renewed scrutiny for their reliance on costly and inefficient paper-based processes.
The Case for Accounts Payable Automation
People have dreamed of a paperless workplace for decades. In the 1960s, for example, futurists predicted that organizations in the new millennium would exchange information in a fully electronic manner. This sounds quaint from our current vantage point, but who knew that getting rid of paper would be more difficult than putting men on the moon? The unfortunate reality is that corporate processes remain mired in paper, and no one knows that better than accounts payable professionals.
The results of PayStream Advisors’ Financial Automation Survey illustrate that accounts payable departments continue to experience problems at all stages of the invoice receipt- to-pay cycle. For example, the process of receiving and preparing invoices for processing – invoice receipt, matching, and imaging/data capture – causes significant pain to roughly one quarter of respondents. Pain increases as a transaction unfolds, building with approval processing and peaking at discrepancy resolution and exception processing. Access to invoice information and payment cause relatively little pain, reflecting the widespread availability of reliable, inexpensive payment options, as well as the persistent view that it is optimal to pay slowly.
Case Study: Lee County, Florida – Accounts Payable by Remote Control
Lee County accommodates the addition of over 20,000 new residents each year to its growing population of half a million. The growth in the number of invoices, handled by the Clerk of Court’s Accounts Payable office, paralleled the population growth of the county and threatened to eventually overwhelm the office. To deal with the looming threat on the horizon, the Clerk’s Office came up with a unique solution – send the Accounts Payable (AP) employees home, to work from their home offices – courtesy of Hyland Software, the Clerk’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a high speed Internet connection.
In the final analysis, Lee County has gotten all it asked for and more in a new state-of-the-art AP system. The 50 or more departments responsible for AP invoice approvals have invoices sent to them electronically, along with error checking to ensure a mistake doesn’t hold up an invoice’s progress to eventual payment. The vendors are paid more promptly, and provided more accurate information regarding the status of their accounts. As Robert Blaine, Senior Systems Engineer for the Lee County Clerk of Courts commented, “Hyland software took what was a complex, lengthy process and made it paperless, incredibly faster, and easier for the AP Clerks and the Invoice Approvers.” He couldn’t resist adding “the software is fantastic, we love it.” What better testimonial of success can there be?
The Future of IWA
PayStream Advisors estimates that the market for IWA solutions will grow rapidly over the next five years We expect the market to grow to $848 million over the next five years translating to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent. Accounts payable departments’ share of the IWA pie, while small today, will expand as organizations adopt IWA solutions to achieve their payables automation objectives and adapt to changes in the regulatory environment (i.e. Sarbanes-Oxley and Check 21).
About PayStream Advisors
PayStream Advisors is a technology research and consulting firm that offers services to improve the way companies plan, evaluate, and select emerging technologies to achieve their business objectives.
About National Association of Purchasing & Payables
The National Association of Purchasing & Payables is an organization dedicated to providing Purchasing and Payables Professionals and their technical colleagues with new and innovative ideas for improving both the PO and AP functions. The NAPP seeks to improve the critical interaction between the Purchasing and Payables disciplines and is the only national organization that focuses on the entire requisition to payment and reconciliation process.
About Hyland Software and OnBase
Hyland Software has been offering applications specifically targeted toward Accounts Payable since 1997. Hyland Software’s AP solutions range from departmental deployments to shared services implementations at both large and mid-tier enterprises. OnBase is a solution offered by Hyland that encompasses document imaging, electronic document management, COLD/ERM, workflow, and records management. OnBase allows organizations to manage digital content, including scanned paper documents, faxes, print streams, application files, electronic forms, Web content, multimedia files and e-mails.