5 Steps to Hero Status in Finance

There’s no denying that most of us in business are driven to seek praise, financial gain, power and other rewards. It’s human nature that we like pats on the back. Whether the finance or accounting department is internal or outsourced, there are ways to achieve Hero Status – especially if some or all your processes are done manually when it comes to invoices.

Step 1: Processes

Figure out what manual processes you are doing and what’s the quantity or amount. If you receive paper invoices are you taking the data and keying it in your ERP or other line of business systems? How many invoices do you have to enter manually each month? Do you scan each invoice and electronically file it as well as file the paper invoice? How much time does one invoice take to process? What’s your workflow or approval process and how much time on average does it take?

A report by PayStream Advisors published in October 2017 shows the average processing cost per invoice (combination of paper and electronic) ranges from $2.36 (innovator companies) to $6.70 (mainstream companies) to $15 (novice companies).

Step 2: Crunch the Numbers

Based on your research, crunch numbers on key metrics that you can use to state your business case. For example, many AP departments want to decrease the cost per invoice, decrease cycle times, reduce errors, improve visibility into invoice status and take advantage of supplier discounts. When a process is automated, all the costs are likely to decrease significantly. The easiest calculations are labor costs (salary and time spent on that activity) and cycle times, including audits (days/minutes change). Although you can automate processes with any number of documents, the best ROI comes from generating at least 3,000 documents or invoices per month. More documents mean more savings.

Ideally, your invoice processes should look like this: first, vendors send in electronic invoices. These invoices are ingested into an advanced document capture system. This system classifies, extracts and exports the data. It then automatically stores the data into a repository or workflow system integrated with your accounting system.

Another aspect to consider is whether it would benefit your organization to have automation in the cloud or on-premises. Cloud or Capture-as-a-Service offerings can be more cost-effective.

Step 3: Present the Data

Today, we have so much information available, that you should consider analytics. Create a plan that outlines the current state and what an ideal future state would be. Find out who can help champion your idea and research. Often it is the IT department, a business analyst or even your boss. Sometimes, vendors you are researching will have a tool to help you do this – just ask!

Step 4: Prepare for Change

It’s often true, and no one wants to talk about it but a side effect of automation and efficiency improvement is staff reallocation. But there’s a silver lining. Because the monotonous work of manual data entry work does not usually lead to high job satisfaction, these displaced workers can be freed up trained to do better, more meaningful work. While change can be a real fear among employees, someone who knows and believes their work life will improve with automation can be a change agent. Not only is a positive and convincing attitude the right move, it demonstrates that you are on the leading edge of technology and innovation. You become a hero that solves your department’s “dirty” work.

Step 5: Track the Changes for Recognition

Organizations that implement an advanced document capture platform deserve recognition. That’s why you did the work in Step 1 by figuring out what your previous workload looked like. Bosses want metrics. They want analysis. They want to see results.

You’re probably wondering where you are going to get all this time to plan and track the results. By making the time, this is how you will be rewarded and achieve Hero Status. It could mean having a lousy case study on Ephesoft’s website, in your company newsletter, a pat on the back or it could mean a bonus, promotion, or even an industry publication writing an article about the journey that helps to generate even more revenue.

For more information on how Ephesoft’s platform can help transform your AP department and make you a Hero, please contact us at sales@ephesoft.com or www.ephesoft.com.