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paper-invoicesAccording to a survey recently released by Canon Business Process Services, a majority of account payable (AP) departments are overwhelmed by the volume of paper and investment of time necessitated by conventional billing practices. The survey also revealed that both elements decrease efficiency while increasing the likelihood for errors and late payments. 

The overall goal of Canon’s 2014 Accounts Payable Optimization Study was to investigate the steps AP departments are taking to eliminate the inefficiency of paper invoices while determining the biggest obstacles to converting to an electronic invoicing system. A key finding of the survey is that despite the growth of e-invoicing and document imaging, nearly two-third of respondents indicated they continue to manually handle the vast majority of invoices that arrive by mail, fax or as email attachments.

Moreover, a majority of survey respondents also revealed that less than ten percent of their suppliers submitted their invoices electronically.  Because the vast majority of both AP departments and suppliers remain loyal to the creation and submission of paper versus electronic invoices, the survey begged the question: how can AP departments transform themselves into more efficient, paperless entities?

One solution to ending the paper billing system, which not only saddles accounting offices with paper invoices and the envelopes in which they are sent and received, but also the need for the manual handling of such tangibles, is to outsource the project. 

The Canon survey also revealed two other solutions for eliminating paper from the invoicing process. Those include collaborating with a service provider to:

• Automate invoice pre-approval validation activities; and
• Ease the approval and exception processing phases of AP workflow.

According to the Canon report, outsourcing all three phases of invoice creation and processing can create an efficient, cost-conscious accounting department. 

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer who may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @girlwithapen.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 November 2014
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