Finance News & Insights

Paperless payoff: Where to find savings

At a time when most Finance departments are drowning in even more paperwork than usual, the idea of paperless payables sounds increasingly appealing.

Now may be the time to strike.

You likely won’t get too much pushback from your vendors. Just 26% of your peers said they ran into supplier resistance to e-invoicing in 2012. That’s a huge improvement on the 46% resistance the previous year.

That’s the encouraging news out of the 2012 Global E-Invoicing Study, by The Institute of Financial Operations and Basware.

But go in with your eyes wide open: Not all e-invoice options are created equal, when it comes to savings.

Check out what your peers are experiencing when it comes to e-invoicing so you can maximize the payoff out of your own efforts.

Just how digitized are you?

No matter where you are on the paperless scale, odds are good you still have a fair amount of manual processes in place. What the study found:

  • 58% of your peers receive an emailed pdf of vendor invoices. For 13% of those companies, that’s the only part of the process that’s electronic – it’s all manual from there on out.
  • 53% are capturing and scanning invoices in-house. (And more than a quarter of your peers (26%) aren’t scanning at all.)

Certainly any progress away from paper is a step in the right direction. But depending on how you’re going about it, you might be selling yourself short in terms of savings.

Perhaps 2013 is the year you take your paperless payment efforts to the next level. You know you likely have a more receptive audience in vendors. So you might think about one of these more sophisticated strategies:

  1. receiving XML e-invoices
  2. using point-to-point connections, or
  3. using third-party web service /portals.

The proof the ROI is there? Your peers who are already going this route are saving 56% on each invoice in processing costs.

But if e-mailed pdf invoices are as far as you can commit right now, it’s still worth the effort. Companies going this hybrid route are still shaving 47% off your invoice processing costs.

Just be sure to urge staffers not to print out those pdfs – defeats much of the purpose.

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