Invoice with the Vampire: How to speed up invoice processing

Invoice Processing is an old topic – some say it's unknown exactly how old as the tales of dealing with paper invoices stretch back to times of legend. But how do you become an invoice processing vampire?

Supplier invoice processing, burdened by paper, is a slow dark and dreary topic - yet some say it can become light and exciting after just one bite from what is known as an Invoice Processing Vampire! There are those who walk amongst us that have skills and knowledge of mythical proportions to help modern day businesses drive their supplier invoice processing effectively. They can help transform your business using software solutions that give you supernatural powers and create an unquenchable thirst for insight, control and efficiency.

The management of paper based supplier invoice processing in business is getting harder and harder. Delivery methods like email are challenging processes that are built on shaky, paper-based foundations, raising the bar for visibility and speed of response and increasing awareness that the need for better management and control of invoice processing is growing. Shining any light on paper based supplier invoice processing is proving painful and unmanageable and many people do not like it – yet they still resist electronic solutions and processes. The image below is likely to make any invoice processing vampire snarl in disbelief...

Mere humans printing emails (with a special rubber stamp) just to get them approved!

Transforming digital documents back into paper retains the humdrum status quo and returns the information to the dreary human world. This limits visibility, inhibits control and limits processing efficiency. Has the invoice been received? What stage of the process is it at? Why do we spend so much time searching for invoices?

Invoice processing vampires 'infect' your business with technological solutions (some side effects may occur) and in turn create an unquenchable thirst for insight, control and efficiency. The process of inputting (capturing) paper based documents into your business system's transforms them to become automated, whether these documents are received traditionally in the post or by email. The process of coding and authorising invoices can be managed in a lightning fast workflow that gives you the power to know where all or any invoice is in the process at any time. It can be found and viewed using a simple and fast Google-style search and with a single click, invoices can be batch posted into your ledgers to complete the process.

However, perhaps unlike the Vampire transformation's seen in the movies, where someone is bitten unawares, a businesses should plan its transformation carefully, considering what will make the change successful and asking how success can be measured.

Consider your existing paper based processes in particular and how you deal with transactions – exceptions need to be well thought out, as they require special handling, which you can certainly replicate and probably improve on. Like all software implementation projects, employees will experience, highs and lows, shivers and hungers during "the change".

In your role as "Vampire Lord" you will need to help them through the period of change and manage grief and loss amongst your followers ("What?! No more reliance on paper and my favorite spreadsheet?"), mistrust and suffering ("What have you done to me?! We always did it this way, it's so hard to change!"), blindness ("I can't see my usual excel based report – it's changed forever!") and finally navigate them through the valley of despair (this project is a lot more involved than just pressing the enter key – we'll never make it!) until they emerge into the twilight and become enlightened.

The transformation phase after being bitten is no panacea but once you come out the other side the benefits are worth it. You too will have become an invoice processing vampire and feel like you have new supernatural powers. Processing speed will be remarkably quicker, you will have better insight into your business, improved control, and greater levels of information about your business processes that will stimulate corrective actions and reports and the ability to achieve much more, while consuming less resource.

Whether you believe in vampires or not you will feel the 'need to feed' and automate processes even faster.

Stuart Evans is CTO of Invu