In most organizations, back office operations are typically seen as a cost center, which often translates into accepting inefficiencies as the cost of doing business. In reality, while there are certainly costs associated with operations like accounts payable and accounts receivable, there are also opportunities to refine and improve those processes to minimize costs and focus on their contribution to business goals.
For companies content with the status quo, there is not only a clear financial cost related to the inefficiencies of manual processes, but also a hidden opportunity cost—one that might be impacting competitiveness, customer satisfaction and talent acquisition and retention.
From a talent acquisition and retention standpoint, automating processes like accounts payable allows team members to focus more on the knowledge and experience they bring to the table, rather than on the time they log behind a keyboard performing tedious, routine tasks. At the same time, their value as contributors is elevated when they hone their skills as process owners who get involved in budgeting, forecasting and process improvement.
Interestingly, it is often the talent acquisition scenario that finally leads growing companies to decide to evaluate and invest in process automation for things like AP vendor invoice management or AR customer order management. The most common case for change occurs when companies reach the tipping point and need to add another staff member just to sort, file and key in data from vendor invoices or customer orders to keep business flowing.
Rather than invest in another order entry/order admin person, companies realize that they can solve their process scalability problems more easily and cost effectively by automating. This has a positive cascading effect on the process, the department, and the organization.
But outside of this business case, all too often companies muddle through with manual processes that put the burden on their staff to handle large volumes of transactions with high velocity, putting them under pressure to perform tedious work that requires attention to detail.
The key for these companies is to dig deeper into the costs of doing business the way the always have and to think about these processes as more than just cost centers. Because in reality, these departments and their operations are also storehouses for valuable business data that remains trapped in business documents that are being processed too inefficiently to deliver tangible, timely business insights.
Accounts payable is a great example, where visibility to G/L accruals may be masked by volumes of yet-to-be-processes invoices, creating ambiguity when it comes to cash management. An even better example is customer sales order processing, where data related to customer buying trends that could impact sales, marketing and fulfillment is trapped by an inefficient, manual process.
To dig deeper and arrive at the real cost of manual AP vendor invoice and AR customer sales order processes, companies need to more closely examine the costs associated with:
By achieving a better grasp of these hidden costs, companies can anticipate growth, scale their business before their processes are stressed (or broken), begin to tap into a wealth of business insights by achieving more timely data visibility and empower their current staff to focus more on process improvement and less on keeping up with their day-to-day workload.
To learn more about how docAlpha can deliver a complete, end-to-end solution for digitizing critical documents and streamlined processes, visit the Artsyl Technologies Resource Page at