By Chris de Zeeuw, founding partner and Managing Director of Capisol Software
Approximately 25-30% of accountants’ time is taken up searching for documents.
As a result, many companies are spending unnecessary time searching for invoicing information and documents, correcting errors, or ensuring document compliance when all of these processes can be safely automated. Finance and administration departments have become so used to outdated, manual-based methods – which are also very time-consuming – that companies do not realise the true cost of such inefficient systems.
However, the old saying that ‘time is money’ is more relevant today than ever before. One area where most companies can quickly lower operational and financial cost, risk and optimise efficiency is by switching to an integrated, cloud-native, document management platform which automates data storage, distribution and document management.
What is a cloud-native document management platform?
- Being fully and truly cloud-native means that the software platform is built from the ground up specifically to leverage the cloud. This results in a system that is always on, always available, easily scalable, and robust enough to suit an extremely broad range of businesses and able to respond with agility to technology developments.
- It is however also very important to distinguish between cloud-native and cloud-hosted. Cloud-hosted implies the platform still lives on a third-party’s servers at an off-premise site. The daily operations take place at the off-premise site, but all data is effectively still stored in on-premises servers.
- A cloud-native system is much more advantageous because you only ever access the internet, not an entire server. Operating via a cloud-native system makes more financial sense for modern businesses: instead of an upfront project fee, a cloud-native document management system works on a month-to-month subscription basis.
- In addition, any improvements or updates made to the system will benefit all companies who use the system, at no additional cost.
- You can picture a cloud-native system this way: it is the same as parking your car in someone else’s garage – the car is not on your premises, but it is still yours, you still have to pay for it and make sure it is maintained. You are just not responsible for the ‘garage’ (infrastructure). Conversely you could compare a cloud-native system with a service such as Uber: you only interact with it when needed and do not need to worry about any of the maintenance or upkeep.
How does a cloud-native document management platform actually work?
It provides easy, efficient digitisation, via an integrated cloud-based document management solution which:
- Integrates securely and easily into your accounting system
- Synchronises or scans all relevant accounting documents instantly for secure archiving (for example, purchase orders / invoices / credit notes)
- Encrypts, links related documents, and securely distributes them quickly and efficiently to the correct recipients
- Recipients have access to all linked / supporting documents directly off the email (for example signed delivery notes)
- Tax, data protection and legally compliant
- Automates business processes through web and mobile forms with work flow
- Digitally signs documents on any device legally
This makes business processes easier and more efficient, resulting in improved cash flow, staff efficiency and reduced communication costs.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your invoices sent manually via mail, email or in person?
- How many times is your accounts department requested for copy documents or supporting documents?
- Does your business – and cash flow – suffer if your administrative staff members are not in the office?
- If there is a small mistake – such as a typo – do entire invoices need to be redone and a credit note issued?
- If those who need to sign off the credit note are not in the office, are there further delays in the process?
- Would automating and tracking the contracting signing process shorten the sales cycle, save valuable time and ensure that you can start invoicing new clients much faster?
- And the ultimate question – do these delays result in companies not signing up with you or delaying payment to you, which negatively affects your cash flow?
Note: These small mistakes, that we all make, eventually add up and cost companies valuable cash flow due to delayed payments from customers.
Benefits of implementing cloud-native, automated document management
- By centralising your ‘master data’ (names and email addresses) and automating the distribution of documents, you avoid documents being sent to the incorrect recipients and time-consuming email bounce-backs due to capture error. Automating this simple step allows you to collect your cash much faster.
- By maintaining your master data in one system and ensuring all systems ‘sync’ with this one single system, companies reduce the risk of sensitive information being erroneously sent to a wrong email address.
- This will also allow you to further streamline your entire financial document management process from purchase orders to customer invoices and payment receipts, and all information will be consistent – thereby eliminating any delays due to the human error element.
- With a cloud-native automated document management system, all documents are instantly accessible and there is no need for time-consuming searches through various folders.
- With a platform already geared for local and international financial and tax compliance, companies can also reduce their invoice payment turnaround times and lower their invoice rejection rates too.
Please note: once you have a streamlined process, you also need to make your invoices as easy to pay as possible: clear and concise information and a transparent document trail will put you first in the queue for payment each month, as there will not be any reason for queries on your invoices.
A single, consistent documentation process which eliminates human error is one of the quickest and easiest ways to avoid cash flow backlog.
In today’s economic climate, every business needs to be quick and accurate, no matter their core industry. From automotive to retail or construction, companies simply cannot afford administrative or invoicing delays and the risks – and costs – associated with this. Opting for an integrated, cloud-native, document management platform which automates data storage, distribution, document management and signing is one of the most astute business decisions you can make in this fast-paced digital age.