It could be a question on the TV show Going for Gold: “I only use paper processes and hesitate about technology. I am indifferent to the cost of managing my actions, detached from budget constraints, insensitive to the promises and opportunities offered by digital transformation. I like to do everything myself. Who am I? I am…” probably a manager who has never heard about digitalisation, PDF format, electronic signatures or probative value.
Someone who would be easy to convince, as digitalisation is one of the rare areas where there is significant return on investment that is nearly immediate, and easy to understand and explain to upper management. Digitalising client and supplier documents that are still handled on paper represents savings on the order of 50 to 75% compared to paper processing, while also reducing processing time by about 30%. Whereas a paper invoice costs an average of 9 euros, a digitalised invoice only costs about 3 to 6 euros.
An opportunity like that can be quite convincing. At the forefront of cost optimisation and automation, and seeking ROI with digital solutions, finance departments are not mistaken. According to a study by PWC-DFCG on priorities for French CFOs in 2019, at least 30% of the CFOs surveyed place software solutions for digitalising supplier invoice workflows at the top of their list as a tool to boost productivity, compared to 29% in 2018. “Digitalising client and supplier cycles is also still on the roadmap of 2019 priorities for 60% of the finance departments surveyed, despite efforts in that area over the past few years,” highlights the PWC-DFCG report.
Digitalisation offers the benefit of positive impact across the entire invoice processing cycle:-
- Mail management becomes easier (and faster). Do you know how many documents handled by companies are lost every year? About 7%, according to a study by Kodak Alaris.
- It is no longer necessary to re-enter accounting information or run the risk of cascading errors and future disputes.
- Validating documents is faster with streamlined workflows, adapted portals, electronic signatures and secure access.
- Payment cycles are shorter, to the great satisfaction of both suppliers and liquidity managers.
- Dispute handling is less of a headache for the people in charge, especially since most dysfunctions can be avoided earlier in the process when entering information.
- Storing large volumes of paper is no longer an issue: just multiply the size of the required storage cabinets by the average price per square foot and you might find a cost of several thousand euros, or even tens of thousands of euros for the biggest companies. According to the Kodak Alaris study, the average maintenance cost for an archive cabinet filled with papers can reach 2,500 euros per year. Assuming, of course, that the archived documents are classified correctly!