As we enjoy a welcome burst of good weather – and business takes a summer holiday before gearing up for what seems, judging from recent economic indicators, to be a welcome return to growth for UK Plc, it seems like a good time to consider what we want from our document management projects.
Let’s start with some objective data about this. I’d like to draw your attention to some recent work EASY Software carried out in terms of asking decision makers about their priorities.
I think some of the answers – which we gleaned from our 2013 EDM Survey – will surprise you, especially if you work in IT.
If asked which function of the business was most likely to have opted for a paper-free life, you might have said IT. Our sample (all EASY customers) didn’t agree. It turns out Finance is most likely to kick-start investment in Electronic Document Management (52%), followed by the Operations/Manufacturing Department (26%) and IT is last at 20%.
What’s the reason for this? Our customers tell us that finance department staff spend a disproportionate amount of time on low value-adding activities, like photocopying, filing and looking for paperwork. Meanwhile too often activities are carried out manually – and in an inconsistent and disjointed way, with information not integrated and vital data having to be re-keyed, with the inherent risk that brings.
We think that’s why Finance recognises that modern electronic document management can be their ideal ally in the battle against the paper chase. Which brings me to what it is that Finance is there to do for the business, whether carried out electronically or manually: procure to pay and order to cash.
If you’re not familiar with the terms, “order to cash” and “procure to pay” are the two complementary finance processes that are about how cash is arriving and being spent in the business (and having complete visibility is critical for compliance and efficiency reasons). Do you know where your cash is at any one time? Are you in control of that cash at any particular point in terms of suppliers you want to pay? These are the kinds of questions the FD and his team worry about. In terms of order to cash, the simplest way to think about this is that it’s how the business works with a customer from initial interest to securing and recording payment properly.
For too many businesses, these two vital processes, procure to pay and order to cash, are not being done in a way that is consistent with global best practice. Invoices are arriving ad hoc – and with inaccurate information on them. As a result, organisations are struggling to support a regimented, copper-bottomed way of managing these processes.
When you get a request for a payment, you need a process of checking that you have the right data, making sure it matches your business rules in your ERP system, ensuring you have the goods, and making sure you can authorise the payment.
Doing that right is what every business in the world is about. And that’s why we need document management – no matter what the weather or time of year!
Enjoy your holidays. When you are back, if you haven’t already done so, you need to think about using technology to help Finance address these issues.
To get an easily downloadable version of the 2013 EDM Survey in handy e-book form, go to www.easysoftware.co.uk
By Howard Frear, EASY Software UK