Author Archives: NE Docs

The Expanded Need for a Digital Mail Room

The Expanded Need For A Digital Mailroom

It used to be that, once a company reached a certain size, it became necessary to internally create more efficient ways to manage business processes. One major development in the world of operations is Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) – employing vendors who specialize in automated processing of backend services such as Accounts Payable. This type of solution replaces the inefficient and error-prone manual processes, saving space, paper and labor.

BPO solutions have continued to expand into other parts of organizations as inefficiencies of other functional departments are self-evident. Much of this has occurred with employee and customer communication needs rapidly changing as smartphone, tablet, and laptop technologies outpace the ability of company departments to keep pace.

For example, a multibillion-dollar global company could be on the cutting edge of its industry, but still stuck in decades-old processes of manually gathering, sorting, and distributing thousands of pieces of physical mail in its mail room. Its response time to handling critical mail becomes was a roadblock to meeting user communication demand. This needs to change and a BPO-automated mail room solution makes sense.

While BPO solutions may appear most appropriate for large corporations, this has changed with COVID-19. Now an automated solution has suddenly become necessary for most businesses, no matter the size. The pandemic leveled the playing field. With reduced staffs (whether onsite or remote) and empty facilities, every business is scrambling to reduce costs and find efficient ways to retain customers and revenue.

Your Digital Mail Room

You may have already heard of the “Digital Mail Center”, “Digital Mailroom” or “Intelligent Mailroom” mentioned in industry publications. This concept matches the need during this pandemic environment of closed facilities and furloughed employees for a workflow where a vendor automatically routes digital communication documents to recipients who could be anywhere, such as traveling executives, remote workers, or other stakeholders who need to be informed without delay. Implementing a digital mailroom solution accomplishes the following:

  • Reduces operating costs
  • Opens more facility space
  • Improves efficiency
  • Improves quality
  • Increases information security
  • Provides greater visibility and control

Work with a Digital Document Specialist

The best practice in any new operation is to work with an experienced professional. This holds true for finding a digital mailroom solution. NEdocs has extensive experience with automated management and conversion of paper documents including all kinds of mail. Its Digital Mail Room solution automatically manages your in/out-bound mail process. It works like this:

  • Step 1: Receive — Receive paper mail onsite or offsite
  • Step 2: Scan and extract — Open, scan and digitize all paper mail immediately
  • Step 3: Route — Use advanced capture software to identify and prioritize key documents, such as invoices and contracts. Quickly deliver in digital or physical format the associated information to the intended recipient.

The Digital Mail Room collects mail data and autogenerates detailed reports for your analysis and planning. It can also be integrated with ERP and ECM systems for processing searchable and indexed data.

For further information about implementing your Digital Mail Room strategy, contact us online or call (603) 625-1171.

 

Embrace Digital Transformation or Risk Falling Behind

Embrace Digital Transformation

“Digital design, not strategy, is what separates winners from losers in the digital economy.” -MIT Press.

In an era where major personal and business life changes are occurring rapidly, companies are discovering that they must either adapt or fall behind and eventually disappear. Driving that change is the tsunami of digital transformation (DT), which is quickly approaching every business, in every industry.

But change is hard. Few companies are early adopters to changes in technology and innovative processes. DT requires a strategic, organization-wide effort to change or replace entire systems or processes. Myriad benefits include enhanced data collection, greater resource management, data-driven customer insights, better customer experience, improved collaboration, increased profits, increased agility, improved productivity, and more efficient management of resources.

Different Industries Adapt at Different Paces

Because there are differences between industry cultures, systems and processes, each organization will accept this inevitable change at their own pace. For example, health and pharma have traditionally been slow to adapt to trends. With the internet, however, their customers and patients are behaving differently than a decade ago with increased expectations for accessing services, from setting appointments and ordering prescriptions to self-analysis with data from wearable devices and remote appointments with telemedicine. To keep up with consumer demand, these organizations must adapt by putting in place a digital transformation strategy that more efficiently maps their resources with the demands of their patients/customers.

Banking and finance companies are adapting to DT by actively adding mobile apps to capture deposits, provide funds transfer, and exchange documents and signatures through secure channels. Everything is more efficient. Customers don’t need to visit a branch. They can do everything from their computers and phones. Fewer and fewer customers want paper statements and notices.

Insurance companies could be out of business if they didn’t provide online purchasing and updating of policies. Similarly, mortgage companies have realized that people want to refinance as soon as possible and can process “paperwork” much faster online. All of these scenarios mean working with digital documents and processes.

Manufacturers have been quick to adopt new technologies to improve productivity and maximize output but they have been slow to collect, analyze, and utilize all of the associated data. As manufacturers buy into digital transformation, their organizations operate more efficiently and develop more complex and customizable products and services that have better margins. DT replaces manual, error-prone processes with faster, more automated workflows that offer better analysis of the customer needs, easier implementation of custom product/services, and simpler management of suppliers and distributors.

The construction industry has also been slow to adopt DT. Respondents to a recent survey indicate their organizations have not done nearly enough to tap technology to transform the way they work. Without a data/technology strategy or roadmap, there is no vision to how to implement and benefit from what DT can provide.

DT is More than Worth the Effort

If you are unsure how to approach digital transformation in your organization, you should work with a professional who has experience with moving from legacy resources, such as physical documents and manual processes, to the digital world. When planned and implemented as defined, a digital transformation can revolutionize your company to enable higher productivity through managed connectivity, automation and fluid information flow.

NEdocs has always been front and center of the digital transformation revolution here in New England. Document scanning, data capture and digital document management have comprised the core of our business for over 30 years as we continually help advance these technologies. Our goal is to help you embrace the paperless concept and digital world with improved visibility and engagement of mobile workforces, faster client transactions, improved customer service, improved data security and regulatory compliance as well as many other benefits.

If you would like to discuss your company’s digital transformation strategy, feel free to call us at (603) 625-1171 and speak with experienced specialists.

Post Pandemic HR Trends: Digitized Documents, More Automated Processes

Post Pandemic HR Trends

Work as we knew it before COVID-19 has changed abruptly with a future that is largely unknown. As with many industries, Human Resource conferences were scheduled and ready to share the latest trends by experts in the field this summer, but we know what happened.

The reason we go to conferences is to hear and learn about changes affecting the workplace. Now, even these trends are uncertain. However, you can still prepare for what lies ahead by considering how you can reduce risk, improve performance and ensure that your workforce can quickly adapt to your organization’s needs.

Before the Pandemic

Even before the novel coronavirus that would dramatically change how we work, disruptive forces were already in motion making it important for enterprises to rapidly adapt, according to the article, “Why Your Organization’s Future Demands a New Kind of HR,” shared by Deloitte in Harvard Business Review, February 2019. These fundamental changes meant that HR departments would be encountering new business models, technologies and workforce expectations. HR professionals would be faced with managing existing legacy organizations while planning for future needs.

It was already becoming apparent that HR could be at the forefront of reshaping organizational behavior to compete and succeed. These changes were requiring HR to address these key futures: the enterprise, the workforce and processes for getting work done.

For example, enterprises were encountering huge increases in the amount of available data. Consumers were beginning to trust businesses even more than their governments. Companies recognized that they should consider expanding their social connections and partnerships and even strategically collaborate with competitors.

Significant workforce changes were also occurring. The average career length was expanding to as much as 50 years with the need to refresh employee skillsets at least every 2-5 years. The concept of an open talent economy was beginning to create competitive opportunities for companies to quickly adapt to market requirements by transforming teamwork and improving productivity.

The most significant trend dealt with how work would be performed. Instead of applying the same legacy procedures to create products and services, it was becoming obvious that digitalization and automation were fundamentally going to change performance with significant improvements at a fraction of the cost.

Post Pandemic

We do not know how long it will take for this pandemic to be over and how companies will react to the improving economy. But as with any other major disaster, anticipated trends will be modified and new trends will emerge. All we can do is assess the expectations, goals, and objectives of workers and the companies needing their skills.

It might be worthwhile to heed the comments of a recent survey of experts at Harvard Business School about how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to change business practices. These were some of the predictions:

  • Remote work will become strategic with better tools and digital connections
  • Leaders will need to break out of silos and improve workplace culture by thinking outside of traditional structures
  • Supply chain managers will need to track more deeply into the chain
  • Physical structure will need to be a healthier environment
  • In-person meetings will be less prevalent and more productive
  • Employees will expect greater flexibility and the ability to manage their own work schedules and personal responsibilities

Getting from Here to There

Staying healthy and surviving the downturn in the economy are both important. How you achieve these will depend on your own ability to adapt to the changing landscape and work with experts who can help. This may require implementing a good plan and continuously measuring and adjusting for improved results.

Manual operations using printed documents impede success when facing changes to business models, technologies, and workforce needs. By utilizing digital content and automated processes, you can improve outcome predictability, communicate more efficiently and quickly respond to changing workforce needs.

NEdocs offers solutions that help. We provide secure facilities, on-premise document management (Papervision), and cloud-based document management (ImageSilo). These resources offer greater flexibility and better time management for HR professionals. You can maintain document confidentiality and ensure regulatory compliance as well as manage digital file storage, search and retrieval. This applies to managing your legal documents  and procedures as well.

To plan for the future, give us a call today at (603) 625-1171 to discuss how NEdocs can help your organization through change.

 

HR Leadership in Business Processes During a Crisis

HR Leadership in Business Processes During a Crisis

When there is a crisis affecting your company, such as the current Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, Human Resources leadership stands at the edge of the precipice struggling with the answer to this question: how can we ensure both the continued success of the company and the well-being of our employees? With the real possibility of issuing furloughs and terminations to comply with government-dictated “social/physical distancing,” now is not the time to get bogged down with legacy policies and procedures, which can greatly delay your ability to respond.

HR Professionals’ Call to Action

The Economist recently reported, “The instinct is to cut costs through mass redundancies, as some hotel chains, airlines and others have begun doing. ‘Rather than slash payrolls indiscriminately,’ says Bill Schaninger of McKinsey, another consultancy, ‘good HR heads can use the crisis to reconfigure company workflow: what needs to be done now and by whom, what can be automated and what requires people to share the same space. Some workers who at first appear redundant may be redeployed or reskilled’.”

As an HR professional, you are looked to by company leadership, employees and contractors to know what needs to be done to keep not only their professional life safe and secure. You can also be helpful to their personal lives. Having information that is current, proactive, and at your fingertips is crucial to what happens for them next.

With this pandemic, many businesses have closed their facilities, and their employees are either stranded because of lockdown on travel, or now working from home. The key elements for both your company and employees surviving this crisis include:

  • Keeping the company operating
  • Providing effective communications
  • Making available the appropriate tools

Being able to manage and deploy the associated and available resources is crucial and HR departments have much experience to offer here.

Automation and Digital Resources to the Rescue

The solution to responding to an upheaval like we’re experiencing with COVID-19 entails utilizing digital platforms and documents as well as automated processes. By eliminating the inefficiencies of manual operations and keeping people working remotely to stay safe, you have the opportunity to greatly improve your company’s ability to adapt and create new efficiencies.

NEdocs offers extensive assistance with digital document management and automated process solutions. Our cloud-based document management and client portals are essential tools for employees who work remotely.

We believe that HR departments must be accessible and responsive during this crisis and they need to be at the forefront of the latest workflow technology to help their companies compete, grow and develop in our increasingly digitally-connected world. Looking at risk versus reward, a fully digital (paperless) HR department makes complete sense. Having all important documents in one easy-to-search database will significantly reduce the stress of everyone in the department as well as improve employee engagement.

Surviving the Current Crisis

Here are a few resources NEdocs recommends for responding effectively and efficiently during the crisis.

  • Digital Personnel Files: simplify your ability to manage and react to change. Essentially, everything related to hiring, the employment relationship and termination are found in those files. Our software and cloud solutions make managing all employee information easy.
  • AP Automation: helps your accounting and supply chain management team be more efficient, predictable and responsive. This translates improved product flow, and better supplier relations.
  • E-forms and Electronic Signatures: makes you more responsive to change. Any organization with the need to complete and update paperwork – such as medical or HR records, can dramatically improve their efficiency with a well-developed e-forms solution. Think of all the forms you may need to manage during this time of remote work, layoffs and furloughs. Using e-forms simplifies your ability to gather and manage the data, including I-9s, W-4s, tax forms, policy acknowledgements, agreements, contracts and benefits.

For further information about enabling your Human Resource team to manage resources and processes more effectively during the uncertainty of this pandemic, please contact us at (603) 625-1171.

Want to Run Leaner? Consider a BPO Strategy.

Consider a BPO Strategy

Do you want your company to be more competitive, more cost-efficient, and more focused on its core functions? Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) could be exactly what you need to achieve these goals.

What Exactly is BPO?

BPO is the practice of hiring an outside vendor to perform business functions that support your company’s core products/services but are outside of actually delivering them. These services can include payroll, accounting, telemarketing, data processing and customer support call centers.

Hiring BPO vendor-partners has been trending as new and innovative services continue to be introduced and businesses, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, seek advantages to get ahead of the competition.

How Services are Categorized

If you do an Internet search for BPO services, you will notice they are typically differentiated as back office and front office services. Back office services are for internal business processes, such as billing or purchasing. Front-office services correspond to customer-facing services, such as marketing and technical support.

BPO services are also described as being “offshore,” “nearshore” or “onshore.” Onshore vendors are in the same country as you. Vendors located outside of your company’s location are nearshore if in the neighboring country and offshore if otherwise.

Why Consider BPO?

There are many reasons your company might want to hire a BPO service partner:

  • Save money to improve cash flow – reduce taxation, administration and labor costs.
  • Concentrate on managing core functions – stick with your expertise.
  • Improve non-core performance – work with a vendor who has greater economies of scale and expertise in your non-core services.
  • Expand your global footprint – utilize services in other countries without managing operations in different time zones and languages.
  • Be nimbler and more efficient – when you are efficient in non-core services, you can more easily make competitive changes in your core products and services.

BPO Illustration: Outsourcing your Accounts Payable

Many organizations realize the benefits of BPO by outsourcing their Accounts Payable processes. Here’s a common-type example.

Joe Biggs, CFO of his corporation, reviews the annual projections and realizes that to remain competitive, they need to find a way to streamline their labor-intensive AP processes for better efficiencies and performance. His objective is to reduce manual operations and costs to improve cash flow. He and his CEO have been talking about the benefits of BPO, so he starts looking for vendors offering outsourced AP services.

Through his network, Joe is referred to a company with specialized expertise and long term experience in automated Accounts Payable solutions and contacts one of their reps. He quickly learns that a number of familiar companies including a competitor is outsourcing their AP processing to this firm.

Further discussions and additional references convince Joe that transitioning his company’s manual payment processing to outsourced AP Automation would be easy and save his firm a boatload in labor, equipment and paper supplies.

For over 35 years, NEdocs has helped pioneer advances in the document management industry. For more than 10 of those years, we’ve fine-tuned the practice of providing automated AP invoice processing services to leading US and International organizations. By partnering with us, you replace the inefficient manual processes of sorting mail, opening envelopes, printing and emailing invoices for approval, tracking approvals and keying data. Our clients rely on an AP Automation solution which improves core business performance by:

  • Eliminating manual operations
  • Reducing approval times
  • Avoiding duplicate payments
  • Gaining visibility into invoices from time of receipt
  • Managing invoices from anywhere
  • Improving cash flow
  • Reducing AP processing costs up to 80%
  • Auto-matching invoices to POs
  • Benefiting from vendor discounts
  • Eliminating error-prone processes
  • Enforcing security, fraud prevention and compliance
  • Integrating with any ERP System

Like “Joe the CFO” and his happy CEO, your company can discover the benefits of applying a BPO strategy for your Accounts Payable processes by speaking with one of our specialists at (603) 625-1171.

If you would like to learn more about how AP Automation works, click for our Complete Guide to Accounts Payable Automation.

Keep Your Documents Available and Your Data Safe!

Keep Your Documents Available and Your Data Safe

What would you do if one of your staff walked into your office and said, “We cannot find all of the documents needed to make the required filing deadline…” or worse, “We can no longer access our data. There are no backups. The files are gone!”

The success of today’s business depends on its ability to keep pace with the demand for data and ensure the security and accessibility of its documents. How can you ensure your data remains secure? How can you maintain access to your data and ensure that your business operations run without interruption?

Perhaps the best answer to both questions is to securely store and access your data in the cloud.

System Failure Causes Data Loss

Companies that are still operating with legacy computer systems and out-of-date business processes are ill-equipped to respond to communication interruptions. Data storage devices can fail because of various  and unpredictable mechanical, natural or man-made disasters. These situations can wreak havoc on a business.

You might be surprised how many outmoded technologies are still commonly used; floppy disks, tapes, CDs, and local hard drives. Think about costs of losing critical data when disaster strikes. How much time and expense will it take to remedy the situation? Is your company prepared with a Disaster Recovery Plan? Do you have all the essential resources for keeping your business running in the face of a data loss threat? Consider these real scenarios that have happened to businesses:

  • The bookkeeper for an automotive business was doing end-of-month processing on her computer and the hard drive crashed. She asked the owner where the backups were and he replied, “What backups?” All that data was lost.
  • An audit of an insurance company discovered that there were errors in claim processing for the quarter. The IT staff went to restore the backup from the tape system for the previous days and then weeks, only to discover that the tapes were completely blank. The scheduled nightly task had not been running for 6 weeks. It took several weeks to hunt down and recapture the missing data.
  • A fire broke out in a real estate office. The fire department was able to put out the fire after dousing the building with thousands of gallons of water. The real estate office was completely gutted by the fire. Another business on the other side the building was saved from the fire, but everything, including all paper files, was destroyed by the water and smoke. The real estate business had no recoverable data files. The other business was able to salvage important legal documents but only after 3 months of expensive remediation services.
  • Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to a hacker who seized control of the hospital’s computer systems and would give back access only when the money was paid. This doesn’t even account for the loss of time, services, and risk to the care of patients during that delay.

The best practice for eliminating similar data losses to your business is to embrace automated processes that digitize and store documents using cloud technology.

Your Digital Documents in the Cloud

If you are still using legacy or local data storage, it’s probably time to move your organization’s systems and files to the cloud. Leave behind manual processes that are prone to errors, delays and data loss to  an automated solution in the cloud that offers predictability and efficiency.

Secure Cloud
Your best bet is to work with a specialist like NEdocs that has extensive experience in document management data security, and cloud technology. We offer a proven solution that includes ImageSilo and PaperVision.

ImageSilo is recognized as the world’s most-trusted cloud Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. PaperVision utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to convert paper documents to digital format more efficiently and with greater accuracy. It also provides faster storage and retrieval of  documents from the cloud using keyword search. Because sensitive data is stored securely and employees can work efficiently, you can recover previously wasted time and costs. Western Guaranty Fund Services was quoted as having, “Improved efficiency by more than 500 hours annually, saving $64,000.”

The NEdocs solution offers you these crucial document and data safeguards and benefits:

  • Control – maintain what is stored, who has access, and how it is stored/retrieved – all in one place.
  • Efficiency – find what you need and when you need it without delay.
  • Money – recover processing time and expenses.

This solution can be implemented in only a few hours, often without IT support, and it has been proven to be a model of reliability with a 99.95% up-time record.

For further information about moving your business data safely to the cloud, feel free to speak with a document management specialist at NEdocs by calling (603) 625-1171.

When You are Scanning More than a Document

When You are Scanning More Than A Document

Ask anybody what document scanning is, and they will probably say it involves using the scanner function built into the company copier. They might add that it is a laborious task processing one page at a time by either placing the document on the flatbed of the machine or using the auto-feed tray. This is not a very exciting job for the user but usually satisfies day-to-day office requirements.

What if you need to scan a book, preserve a historical document, or scan very delicate archival documents? That makes the task more complicated. Finding the right solution for these purposes may require a specialized process and technology.

Which Scanning Technology is Right for the Job?

If you are looking for something more sophisticated and capable than the office copier/scanner, your search will probably uncover a variety of “scanning” services, such as:

  • Bulk document processing – Scanning multiple documents using high speed scanners and feeder systems. It’s really all about productivity.
  • Large format – Scanning documents bigger than your standard paper sizes (e.g., engineering drawings, archival drawings, artwork and artifacts). High production capacity combined with large format scanning can be a big plus!
  • OCR – Scans, recognizes and converts printed text to digital text or documents for editing and search purposes. This breakthrough legacy technology has transformed how we manage data and helps enable the “paperless” office.
  • Microfilm and microfiche – These are older technologies that produce images on film for miniaturizing and preserving documents. Now microfilm and microfiche can be scanned and digitized with excellent resolution quality.
  • Offsite scanning – For some organizations, allowing documents to leave the premises is a sensitive issue but keep in mind the rigorous safeguards that certified vendors like NEdocs must maintain when handling client documents. In some cases, the documents are even safer. Plus it frees up closets, file cabinets and storage space.

Each of these services offers a benefit to users who need to perform common scans of most kinds of business documents. But general document scanning services (and scanners that consumers buy) will not provide the technology, support, and expertise necessary for more complex projects, such as scanning books or archiving and preserving historical documents or even fine art. For these situations, you will need an expert in scanning technologies, processes, software, and camera equipment.

Tackling Complex Scanning Projects

Let’s take the example of a museum curator who discovers a treasure trove of historical books and artifacts that need to be preserved and archived. The administrators realize that this is not a project for a clerk standing over a copier machine, scanning rare books page by page. What should they do?

The best practice would be to consult with an expert who can provide advice on the right technology to manage this type of project. NEdocs has decades of experience in high quality scanning of archival material. For example, we use technology and equipment from world-renowned Zeutschel, which has developed technology to archive not only “bound originals such as books or large-format documents like magazines, but the focus has now widened to include other original material such as films, slides and coins.”

Zeutschel has commented that other camera systems used for archiving typically have limitations affecting productivity such as user-friendliness and the ability to reproduce high-quality, fine detail results. Professional overhead scanners may offer improved features but often cannot handle different types of original materials such as transparencies.

By utilizing Zeutschel equipment, NEdocs provides customers a premium scanner and photographic studio under one roof. Plus the machine is designed to handle volume production. Simply stated, not only is our Zeutschel system like a museum-quality camera, it’s a workhorse!

Jörg Vogler, CEO of Zeutschel GmbH, has said, “The new system bridges the gap between scanning and photo studio applications and therefore combines the best of both worlds. This means we can digitize almost anything – stamps and coins, films and glass negatives, as well as books and large-format originals.”

The system is controlled by the OmniScan software, which has been proven in numerous digitization projects and which, combined with the user-friendly design, ensures optimized process control.

NEdocs now has considerable production experience using the Zeutschel system and our technicians are impressed by its quality and ease of use. Our team now performs book and archival scanning operations much faster with the highest quality images thanks to leading edge software integration and premium optical hardware.

For further information about how to optimize all of your scanning needs, or to set up a demo, call NEdocs today at (603) 625-1171.

Digitizing Documents: 5 Advantages to Your Construction Business

5 Advantages toDigitizing Documents For Your Construction Business

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the construction industry is among the least digitized in the world, second only to the agriculture sector. Many construction firms still rely on traditional paperwork on their projects. This includes large-format paper drawings, plans, contracts, invoices, and other documents that take valuable office and construction site space. There’s also the inefficiency in copying and sharing physical documents as well as their vulnerability to damage.

For these reasons, many construction firms are recognizing the benefits of digitizing documents. The digital transition may require significant investment and changes in the fundamental structure of a business but the competitive advantages it provides are undeniable. Here are some of the benefits of digitizing documents for your construction business.

1. Access to documents on the field

A huge part of construction work is done on the field. Project managers frequently travel from the office to multiple construction sites. Construction employees who will need access to these documents are also scattered across different locations. With physical paper, employees will need to carry around a lot of documents, of which some may be lost or forgotten, delaying the work or resulting in costly mistakes. 

Digitizing paper documents gives construction employees the flexibility of accessing documents wherever they may be. As long as they have an internet connection, employees will only need a mobile device to access plans, drawings, and other documents that they need, even if they are far away from the office. 

2. Minimized job errors

One of the biggest challenges in project management is dealing with unexpected changes in delivering a project. Over the course of a project, there will be revisions and updates from the initial plan. Consequently, all paper documents will need to reflect these changes before they can be used. 

With paper documents, updating can be difficult to perform. A dedicated employee will need to check if contractors are using the updated plan. It will also be challenging to make changes on the fly to account for unforeseen variables. Sensitive information and success critical details for documents like preliminary notices, liens, contracts, and invoices also are better protected by going digital. By digitizing documents, it will be easy to update documents and ensure that a project’s participants are using the latest version. 

3. Saved site and office space

Rows of filing cabinets filled with folders and documents just have no place in the office and on the construction site if there is a better alternative. Electronic storage is an inexpensive alternative and exponentially scalable compared to physical space. Digitizing construction documents will save much-needed office and construction site space that you can use for other equipment or even in expanding your team.  In other words, transitioning your physical paperwork to digital documents will not only save you money and space but also provide opportunities for you to grow your business.

4.  Improved work efficiency

Working with paper folders and unlabeled documents is inefficient. Searching for the right bit of information can take a long time if done manually. And in an industry like construction, this lost time can add up and cost a project thousands, even millions, of dollars. With document digitization, this search time can be reduced to just a few seconds. Even document sharing can be accomplished in just a short time, providing a huge boost to the productivity of your business. 

5. Cost reduction

Aside from the associated costs of lost productivity, printing can also be costly. From the printing equipment and maintenance to the paper and ink used to print and copy documents, the cost of printing can make a significant dent in a construction firm’s budget. By digitizing documents, you will be able to minimize expenses by printing only what is necessary. This lets you focus on the core parts of your business and use your resources to expand your operations and fund growth opportunities. 

The construction industry is on the brink of digital disruption. If you want your construction business to stay competitive, then you need to transition to digitization and automation. By digitizing your documents, you will be able to experience increased efficiency, improved productivity, and reduced costs, all of which can give you a huge advantage over your competitors. 

About the Author: 

Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.

The Complete Guide To Accounts Payable Automation

The Complete Guide to Accounts Payable Automation

DO WE NEED ACCOUNTS PAYABLE (AP) AUTOMATION?

We don’t know if you NEED Accounts Payable (AP) Automation. That will be up to you to recognize and decide.

HOWEVER, there are probably some very good business reasons for considering or even implementing an AP Automation system or process in your organizations finance department. We’ll discuss those towards the end of this document.

Keep in mind, what we have found is that many corporate executives have either never been in an accounts payable role or have limited experience and have a very different view of what their AP Staff actually deals with on a daily basis OR some finance executives have been far away from the day-to-day activities that they forget about all of the challenges that consumes the AP Staffs time each day.

First let’s set the stage for what we’re about to discuss.

WHAT EXACTLY IS ACCOUNTS PAYABLE?

Accounts Payable (AP) are the amounts of financial obligations you, or your business owes a supplier because you purchased goods or services on credit from the supplier. For these goods and or services you’ve agreed to pay for them within a specific period of time, this is called the “Terms”.

Think about this for a moment. Think of your household monthly bills – utilities, rent, mortgage, cell phones, Netflix subscriptions, digital cable and internet – these all represent your personal “accounts payable” at home. At home you probably keep track and pay for these services each month, most likely by receiving electronic bills (invoices) via email or electronic notifications and using electronic payment methods such as credit cards.

In business, Accounts Payable represents a company’s obligation to pay off a short-term debt to its suppliers. Businesses, Accountants and Finance Teams use accounting software to track when they receive invoices and when they make payments to manage cash flow and to pay their suppliers on time. For many businesses, however, the accounts payable process is a manual, paper-based process that costs the company time and money. While many professionals pay their personal bills quickly and conveniently online, their company’s finances are often very antiquated with paper invoices, manual tasks, filing cabinets, and paper checks with no visibility to any information.

So why is it acceptable to use electronic processes for managing home expenses, but not at your company?

WHAT IS ACCOUNTS PAYABLE AUTOMATION?
accounts payable automation

Over the last decade, forward-thinking companies have adopted AP Automation to automate the paper and manual elements of processing invoices and making payments. These software solutions integrate with their accounting software and enable the accounts payable department to streamline workflows and reduce processing costs.

AP Automation adds significant value to Accounts Payable, including real-time visibility into performance and financial status, increased accuracy, and better compliance with tax laws and industry regulations. Simply put, if a company is still receiving paper invoices or paying bills, they’re not capitalizing on today’s best practices. They’re also missing out on the unlimited potential for savings after relieving their AP team of time-consuming tasks such as opening the mail, data entry and filing mountains of paper. These manual tasks can lead to lost invoices, human error during data entry, and duplicate invoices.

DOES YOUR COMPANY NEED AP AUTOMATION?

You most likely have a person or two or three on your AP Staff that are more than capable of doing more added value tasks than opening mail, printing out the invoices your suppliers email to your company, scanning those paper invoices and printed email invoices (which by the way you received electronically), emailing the invoices around to people for approvals, then chasing those same people down who don’t approve their invoices on time (or at all). When the vendors call to inquire about the status of the payment of their invoice, your AP Staff is burdened with questions from the vendor about where the invoices are at and when you’ll pay them.

Now let’s think about two types of invoices from suppliers, “Non-PO Invoices” (needs approval) and “PO-Invoices” (needs to be matched). When it comes to Non-PO Invoices your AP Staff chases down the approvals, lots of back and forth AND now you have to assign the charges to the “chart-of-accounts” via general ledger (GL) coding. In your company who is responsible for making sure Non-PO invoices are GL coded properly? This seems like a simple step, unfortunately this step is riddled with errors mainly because no one understands the chart of accounts very well.

Purchase Order Invoices on the other hand are much more complex. The price for goods are negotiated and agreed to in advance and the terms are set. The Purchase Order acts as the pre-approval to spend money on behalf of the company. When the invoice arrives your AP Staff will most likely confirm that the invoice price is consistent or matches the purchase order price. Purchase order matching usually falls into one or two categories, a 2-way match (invoice & PO) or a 3-way match (invoice, PO & goods receipt). In any case the matching process is  a very tedious process that usually involves dealing with things like taxes and freight charges which are not typically on a purchase order.

Assuming that the matching process goes well and there are no discrepancies it may take a few minutes to an hour or so to match a PO invoice, HOWEVER it is not often that a PO invoice matches exactly. Because of discrepancies in costs and pricing, companies have developed internal allowable tolerances. What this means is that as long as the invoice due amount falls within an acceptable tolerance range of a few dollars or a percent or two, then the AP Staff should just pay it. Now let’s think about what it takes to figure out if an invoice is within your allowable tolerance. Your AP staff has to calculate and validate the numbers on every PO to make sure that the invoice due amount is within your allowable tolerance.

So your AP Staff just spent an enormous amount of time matching the PO invoices item by item and calculating whether or not the invoice due amount is within your allowable tolerance and some invoices EXCEED your tolerance, so now what? Now the back and forth begins, your AP Staff scans the PO invoice, emails a copy of the invoice to the buyer—and waits. Maybe your AP Staff emails a copy of the invoice to your purchasing department—and waits. The back and forth continues, the chasing game is played, the vendors are waiting for payment and invoice piles are growing, invoices are falling behind, and your AP Staff are being blamed for the slow process.

After all of the tedious manual back and forth to get approvals and the back and forth to deal with invoice exceptions, your AP Staff can finally key the invoice data into your financial system for payment processing. Your AP Staff can file away all of the paper invoices into file drawers and bankers boxes and when a tax audit happens your AP Staff will roll up their sleeves on a weekend to rifle through all the boxes of paper invoices over the last few years to try and find the invoices.

 

WE SPENT A SMALL FORTUNE ON OUR ERP SYSTEM. CAN’T WE JUST USE THAT SYSTEM TO PROCESS AP INVOICES?

The vast majority of companies run some sort of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. ERP systems are very expensive and are touted as all-inclusive business solutions, and we all want one system to handle everything.

The fact is, ERP systems, while extremely valuable business tools that work well for collecting, storing, managing and interpreting data from various business activities, fall woefully short when it comes to AP invoice capture via optical character recognition (OCR), data-validation, invoice approval routing, and PO matching and exception-handling. This is because ERP’s don’t have the ability to support the multiple processes (receipt, review, approval, etc.) that are prevalent with each invoice transaction. ERP’s are simply not specialized enough in any one area to provide the best AP automation solution you can get.

While the ERP seems like a good idea on the surface, a company’s AP staff is still burdened by all of the manual aspects of processing the supplier invoices BEFORE an AP invoice even makes it to the ERP system. The AP Staff would be consumed with opening envelopes and mail, managing an email inbox where some suppliers send PDF invoices, printing out the PDF invoices to paper and then eventually scanning all of the invoices one-by-one into the ERP system (if that is even possible to do).

After the invoices are scanned your AP Staff would be responsible for OCR’ing the data from each and every invoice AND making sure all of the invoice detail data is correct. This includes the vendors names, the invoice date, the purchase order number, any taxes that might be on an invoice, any freight charges or extra fees that your company might be responsible for as well as the full amount due of the invoice.

Now keep in mind that OCR Software is not part of or included with any ERP package, so this would require your IT Director or IT Manager to investigate OCR tools, purchase the software, get trained on the software, train your AP Staff how to use the software and how to troubleshoot issues of misreads, incorrectly interpreted data and bad transactional data that may make it into your payables process and ultimately into your ERP system.

It’s important to understand that the design of most modern ERP systems is based upon the premise that a person (the AP Staff) is going to manually handle all data entry and, as such, the developers of these ERP systems do not focus on a technology which replaces that data entry. This fundamental design assumption also leads to poor exception handling, because the assumption is that humans (the AP Staff) have already corrected the data as they entered it. In reality, error rates through manual human intervention are fairly high while visibility and productivity remain low and expensive.

Let’s assume that the ERP system is a potential option for AP Automation, what should you consider?

  • Do I have the technical resources and skills on staff to handle the implementation, support the technology and the day-to-day problems that arise out of OCR’ing, bad data, scanner technology issues and ERP challenges?
  • Will we need to purchase additional ERP software and or licensing to accomplish this?
  • Do I need to give every employee in the company access to the ERP system in order to review and approve invoices?
  • Will my AP Staff accept the additional responsibility of scanning, OCR’ing, validating and managing the process?
  • What happens when we have turnover on the AP Staff and training and re-training is required?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the overall process, misreads and the errors caused by ERP process?
  • What are your on-going costs for support? Equipment? IT resources? Annual maintenance? Employee turnover?

It’s worth pointing out that, while upgrading an ERP to continue to handle ever-changing exceptions and business rules is difficult (lots of time required, expertise needed, and expenses incurred). It’s made even more difficult when you consider some companies, because of acquisitions and mergers, have multiple ERP systems in use across a global enterprise, a situation that makes streamlined workflow in an AP process almost impossible to achieve. These are just some of the pitfalls that can be avoided by going outside your ERP for AP automation.

WHAT’S IN AP AUTOMATION FOR OUR COMPANY AND STAFF?

CFO’s & Finance Executives: By leveraging AP Automation, finance execs are able to reduce overall costs while taking advantage of freed up staff and resources that can affect the bottom-line and assist in strategic and corporate growth.

Corporate Controllers: Will gain better visibility and control to the payables process that they otherwise would not have. Controllers can also leverage real-time KPI’s and analytics via AP Dashboards to measure AP performance and monitor cash flow.

Accounts Payable Teams: AP is able to eliminate paper invoices and the manual back and forth caused by printing and emailing invoices between the parties involved in obtaining approvals. The AP department will now have “ultimate control” over the processing of supplier invoices. The AP process is streamlined by electronically routing, coding, and matching supplier invoices through a pre-defined set of accounting rules. Because we connect payables with your ERP there is no more manual data entry or keying of invoices. This will allow AP Staff to spend time on more important Strategic financial functions rather than chasing approvals on invoices and being consumed by data entry.

Accountants & Research Staff: Instant access to view and research supplier invoices from any computer by authorized staff helps to streamline monthly, quarterly closes as well as year-end. Internal, external and tax audits are much more efficient, taking less time and reducing headaches for finance executives.

WHAT CAN YOUR COMPANY ACHIEVE WITH AP AUTOMATION?

  • Lower than average costs to process supplier invoices. The average cost to manually process a supplier invoice ranges between $10.00 and $15.00 per invoices. Source: Aberdeen Group
  • Both hard-dollar and soft-dollar savings across the entire corporation.
  • Grow your company without adding additional AP Staff or FTE’s to manually process invoices to accommodate growth.
  • Eliminate manual time consuming processes of routing, coding, matching, approving and keying of supplier invoices.
  • Vendor relations are improved by implementing an AP Automation process.
  • All levels of corporate finance are able to make better business decision based on real-time KPI’s and financial data.
  • Your corporate business rules, accounting practices and policies are detailed and enforced.
  • Vendor discounts which impact the bottom-line are never missed and accounted for and taken consistently
  • Gain complete visibility and control to corporate spending, financial condition and liabilities.
  • Gain a competitive advantage over your competitors.
  • The above is a very short list—look around your organization. Where are the bottlenecks, where are the inefficiencies, where are the problems and day-to-day challenges your payables staff is faced with?

A FEW DIFFERENT WAYS TO APPROACH AP AUTOMATION

Accounts Payable Automation can take on several looks and depending on a company’s goals and objectives each approach has varying degrees of results. The end result however is improved efficiencies and lower overall costs to process supplier invoices.

  • Front-End Invoice Capture: this involves capturing the invoices at the time they arrive. Front-End Invoice Capture generally requires paper invoices to be converted to digital images and emailed invoices to converted to images or saved as electronic files. The end result is that paper is eliminated.
  • Front-End Invoice Capture with Workflow Routing: By coupling the Front-End Invoice Capture with a Workflow tool companies can benefit by faster, more efficient invoice routing and approvals.
  • Front-End Invoice Capture with Workflow Routing and ERP Integration: By taking the process to the next level and integrating the routing and invoice approvals with your ERP system will further enhance your efficiencies by eliminating manual data entry of invoices.
  • Front-End Invoice Capture with Workflow Routing, Purchase Order Matching and ERP Integration: This is the ultimate solution for process efficiencies at every level. Just imagine a payables process where supplier invoices are received electronically, automatically matched to purchase orders, routed to approvers based on your approval matrix, and auto-entered into your ERP system without the need for a single keystroke, knowing that your company’s business rules were enforced and that strict controls were put in place to ensure security, privacy and compliance.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOR FULL AP AUTOMATION

  • Invoice Capture: Your suppliers can submit invoices for payment directly into the AP Automation system or hard copy invoices can be converted to digital by scanning them using your existing equipment and/or mailed to one of our shared service centers where incoming invoices are converted to secure digital invoices each day. By utilizing Vision360’s best-in-breed data capture technology and cross checking invoice data against your existing databases all captured data is verified for accuracy ensuring the highest level of data accuracy possible.
  • Invoice Approvals: Based on your specific invoice processing rules in Vision360 Enterprise, supplier invoices are automatically routed for review and approval by the appropriate staff member. If an invoice exceeds a users approval limit that invoice is then escalated up to the next authorized approver. To simplify the G\L coding, invoices pass through a set of validation rules to ensure coding is correct the first time and auto-coding templates further enhance this process by eliminating the need for anyone to manually code an invoice.
  • Purchase Order Matching: While Non-PO invoices might require someone on your staff to review and approve those invoices, the same is not necessarily true for PO invoices. Using Accounts Payable Automation, Purchase Order invoices are automatically checked against your PO database and receiving data (for 3-way matching) when the invoice arrives. Utilizing a series of cascading matching rules the Vision360 Enterprise AP Automation system will auto-match Purchase Order invoices systematically. Invoices that mismatch are flagged and set aside for the appropriate personnel for review.
  • ERP Integration: Vendor and invoice data is synchronized with your ERP system (SAP, Oracle, Great Plains, JDE, Lawson, Infor, Paragon, NetSuite, Dynamics, Epicor, Workday, QAD, Sage and more) providing full end-to-end process automation. Connecting the accounts payable process with your ERP system eliminates the need for AP Staff to manually enter invoices into the accounting system maximizing the return of your ERP investment.
  • Archive, KPI’s & Reporting: Supplier invoices are instantly available at any computer for immediate access and review by authorized users. Vision360’s archive means paper is no longer needed to be filed or stored because invoices are only a mouse click away! Vision360’s dashboard and reporting provides instant visibility to every single invoice. This enables users to access the information they need to analyze key performance indicators and invoice progress allowing them to identify problems before they occur.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO GETTING STARTED WITH AP AUTOMATION?

  • Step 1 Discovery: This is where we need to understand your current payables processes, we need to learn where the bottlenecks are in the process. We need to understand your matching rules and how you deal with problems. We basically need to blueprint your process and then make recommendations and suggest “best practices” about ways to simplify, streamline, eliminate bottlenecks and help you meet your goals and objectives.
  • Step 2 Configuration & Testing: You will use about 80% of the system as is, however there will be business rules and processes specific to your industry and how your individual company manages its business. We add those rules into the AP Automation system for you and thoroughly test your processes and rules with you and your teams.
  • Step 3 Go Live: We are with you every step of the way to ensure a smooth transition. By the time we go live your staff will be AP Automation Experts! We will make sure of that.
  • Step 4 Training & Support: Even after you go live we are with you from here on out. We are proactive and in constant contact with you to ensure there are no problems and to make sure you’re getting the most out of AP Automation and reaching your goals. We are always here to help.

Business woman
CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT VISION360 AP AUTOMATION?

  • Yes, you can. Feel free to visit our website (www.NEdocs.com) at any time. Here you will find additional information about our AP Automation systems and services.
  • For access to an informational webinar contact us here.
  • Lastly, we love to talk with people. Please give us a call at 603-625-1171 anytime of the day.

 

AFTER ALL OF THIS—DO YOU NEED AP AUTOMATION?

We don’t know if you NEED AP Automation—that’s up to you to recognize and decide. What we DO know is that your payables process will be more efficient than you ever thought possible.

Vision360 Enterprise, by BlueCreek Software is one of the fastest growing AP Automation solution providers on the market. NEdocs’ services and solutions are trusted by iconic brands like Welch’s and Yankee Candle and across all types of industries from manufacturing and retail to healthcare and high-tech. For more information about Vision360 Enterprise or any of our services and solutions please visit our website at www.NEdocs.com or contact us directly 603-625-1171.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AP Automation Fosters Supply Chain Success

AP Automation Fosters Supply Chain Success

What makes a supply chain successful?

Is it efficiency through every step of the product/service development and delivery process from your company to your customer? Is it effectiveness and consistency in deliveries for your customers and improving your financial position with positive cash flow? What about maintaining good relationships with your suppliers who provide your company with the raw materials and components you need for your products & services by paying your bills on time?

Of course, the answer is all of these. The condition of your Accounts Payable (AP) processes has a direct impact on achieving these objectives. By automating your Accounts Payable, you will improve the opportunities for success for your company, customers, and suppliers.

Common AP Problems

AP processes and practices  impact your day-to-day business operations and eventually impact your organization’s financial success. For example, errors introduced through manual processes increase unnecessary costs. Bad data requires further manual intervention to correct.

Spend Matters notes, “Labor costs typically consume 62% of total AP costs, according to APQC research, and data errors are the main culprit. What’s more, bad data can, and often does, lead to bad decision-making. When supplier or contract data is incorrectly entered into master data files, AP teams can accidentally issue overpayments, duplicate payments, or even undue payments, unnecessarily straining working capital.”

Bad data and delays in invoicing further impact associated receivables. This causes a cascading effect, eventually threatening the lifeblood of your company and supply chain – your cashflow. Reduced cashflow can create problems with procurement teams who need to purchase components and raw materials for production. Manual, paper-based processes for handling invoices, issuing payments and entering supplier data frequently lead to unnecessary errors and delays.

Improving Supply Chain Efficiency and Performance

A poorly performing supply chain creates unnecessary delays and costs in delivering products and services to customers. This not only affects the company but also its customers and suppliers. Harvard Business Review notes, “Only supply chains that are agile, adaptable, and aligned provide companies with sustainable competitive advantage.”

AP Automation can make your supply chain management more efficient and predictable, resulting in lowers costs, improved cash flow, and better supplier relations. When your company is in a better financial position, its management of the supply chain can more quickly respond to changes in the marketplace.

Improving Effectiveness with Customers

The health of your supply chain depends on the accuracy and availability of its data and can directly impact the customer experience. Inaccurate information and purchasing delays cause frustration and jeopardize trust in the company’s ability to meet orders. Customers will always go where they can get good prices and great service. Sudden changes in your operations and ability to deliver on customer expectations can quickly send them away to other providers.

When your AP processes are automated, your managers have the current status of every point in the workflow at their fingertips and can make immediate changes as needed. Using the latest technology is important for being able to provide premium service to your customers.

Improving Supplier Relations

Supplier relations is at the heart of your supply chain’s success. Without suppliers you are without parts and raw materials to keep the “line” running. By over-relying on legacy manual and paper-based AP processes, procurement teams often face extending payment terms for their suppliers beyond the normal net 30 days they expect of their own customers. Extending terms out to 90 or even 120 days may become an immediate fix for the company’s cashflow shortfall but seriously harms the success of its suppliers.

Suppliers who do not get paid on time are not happy and for good reasons. Losing your best suppliers can break your supply chain, creating all sorts of havoc for your customers and employees.

Work with an AP Automation Specialist

To ensure the health and success of your supply chain and ultimately the success of your company, you need an expert in AP automation who has knowledge and experience integrating AP automation with supplier networks, and who can maintain the systems needed to fuel that workflow.

NEdocs ​Vision360 Enterprise Accounts Payable automation (AP Automation) solutions optimize the process of receiving, processing, approving, matching and integrating the payables process with supply-chain systems. Vision360 Enterprise creates a touchless, paper-free environment that eliminates error-prone processes, enforcing business rules and reducing costs.

Feel free to contact us today at (603) 625-1171 for further information about how NEdocs can improve the AP side of your supply chain management.