Invoices, Purchase Orders and delivery notes are all dealt with every day, with a strict comprehensive process which needs to be followed carefully for everything.
Quite often, accounts team members are needed to continually type in the same details repeatedly throughout the process, check up with colleagues who dealt with a document before them, or refer back to files long after they’ve been dealt with. These processes require a lot of time and careful attention to work through properly, but eventually errors do happen, or things become delayed. If something needs to be located which is within a process it can take a long time for it to be located. This delay can be lengthened if a member of staff is absent.
PLR Legal, legal print management and digital workflow specialists in the North West and Birmingham, help law firms automate their paper workflows, making everything as secure, fast, easy-to-use and accountable as possible. For accounts teams, this means that they are able to automate 90% of the work, leading to a more efficient and happier team – here’s how.
Virtually every document which passes through an accounts team contains confidential information which usually always shows sensitive financial information. Invoices, purchase orders and reports all need to be stored securely in order to be compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR.
For many businesses, something like a file cabinet, store room or even storage provided by a third party are often the best options for storage, however with each of these there is a concern that documents can be seen by unauthorized parties.
To overcome this, digitally storing them (automatically) to a cloud or local based location. Doing this guarantees that all documents are stored forever, can be looked up quickly and easily, and through the use of permission settings, seen only by those who are authorized to do so.
To comply with GDPR, all information required for each document is also logged permanently, so data controllers can look at all the necessary information such as the source or date received in the event of an audit, for instance.
Most processes in an accounts team take a certain amount of time, as due to the sensitive nature of every document the proper attention must be given.
In a typical accounts process, documents will pass through several people’s desks, all the information on every document is seen by everyone, and details need to be carefully checked to ensure that they are given to the correct person.
What normally happens is that files are completed in batches – with one stack of papers being completed before the next. With digital workflow automation, documents are worked on individually, so that they can be started and completed in moments before being moved onto the next person immediately.
If a key member of staff who is critical to a documents progression through a workflow is absent, work can get held up, but with automation substitution rules can be put in place to automatically redirect documents to alternative users in the even that someone is absent, saving even more time.
Physically sifting through dusty file cabinets can be a very time-consuming task. Documents can often get misplaced or damaged, and if the cabinet is unlocked everything in there is visible by anyone who chooses to go looking.
Scanning in files to a folder structure is a more secure solution, but there are certain drawbacks. If the process isn’t automated, it relies on human intervention to choose the names of files and their location. Often people in an organization will all have their own way of naming and storing a file, and what might seem obvious to one person will seem confusing to another.
To illustrate – Jane, Accounts Manager, will save an invoice as the customer’s name and the date, whereas John, Accounts Assistant, will save the same file as the invoice number. When Jill, the MD, comes to search for a file later, she may have trouble finding it.
By automating the digital conversion and storing of documents, you can ensure that files are saved in the same manner every time.
Key words such as invoice number, date or the company name can be automatically picked and used to archive the document, which can be used to search for them later on. When Jill, John or Jane come to search for their invoice – they can type in one of several possible key phrases to find and lookup the correct document in seconds, without leaving their desk.
What happens at the end of the accounts process when a document needs to be entered into a ERP system such as Sage or Xero? Quite often, a member of the accounts team will need to manually enter in the information found on the document in by hand. Whilst this is accepted as the ‘norm’, there are a few drawbacks with this method. Human error can occur, and information can be mis-entered. The person could get called away from their desk, leaving delicate financial information exposed for the world to see. The person entering the information can of course be interrupted with phone calls or other tasks which require urgent attention, all of which will delay the inputting process further.
By having the documents already in a digital workflow, you can have them automatically entered into your CRM when they reach a certain stage in the process. For example, once an invoice has been approved, the user needs to click the ‘approved’ button on their system. This will mark the invoice as approved, store it securely, and enter all of the required details into the ERP in less than 5 seconds. This resolves any human error, alleviates any security concerns and allows the accounts team to be more productive, working through more documents daily.
Get in touch with one of our print experts for more advice on how we help with speeding up paperwork, lowering costs and achieving a more productive office. Reach us on 0330 058 3895, or email oninfo@plr=legal.com.