What’s this article about? This article introduces the role of high-performance enterprise content management software in fast, efficient invoice processing. Data capture, storage, processing, reporting, compliance, and integration are discussed.
George Washington would have been exceptional as an architect of efficient remittance processing. A brilliant visionary, we remember him as one of the greatest military masterminds of all time. He had an ability to collect reliable information quickly and devise plans that would maximize and mobilize his meager staff resources to outfox the enemy. He took decisive action based on current information, leading to inconceivable but nonetheless astounding victories.
Managers responsible for remittance processing have similar challenges. They are charged to:
- Gather and secure accurate information;
- Avoid redundancy and maximize existing resources;
- Make informed decisions based on accurate data; and
- Take prompt action to ensure invoices are timely.
A high-performance enterprise content management (ECM) software suite puts the power of information into your hands with effective capture, secure data storage, analytical tools for smart and timely decisions, and the ability to act quickly upon receipt of information. Even George Washington couldn’t have wished for more; with an ECM system in place for his army, he might have won more quickly. ECM lets you surge forward with confidence. All you need is a clear vision, an integrated solution that has the components you need and integrates with your existing systems, and an implementation coupled with careful planning and good communication. Seem improbable? Read on.
Capturing information and locking it down
Effective electronic capture and storage is vital to building a citadel of efficiency. An electronic document management storage repository acts much like a high-security lock-down unit, housing such diverse materials as structured documents, scanned forms, images, video and audio files. It also stores data collected from online forms, emails, faxes and bar codes. Imitating an encyclopedic reference system, and performing with the ease and speed of a Google search, a robust, integrated capture and document management system lets you index information to serve different needs.
Let’s assume you sell a product that can be ordered online, via mail order, or on the telephone. With ECM software, you could:
- Capture information via electronic forms and scan documents received in the mail;
- Store telephone orders via audio files indexed by product name and number, customer name, and zip codes or other criteria for easy delivery and billing;
- Record calls via customer service representatives using online or paper forms;
- Obtain orders and store them in the digital repository, filling and marking them for shipping;
- Automate the invoicing process by a simple check box completed by shipping department staff as orders are filled.
Simply said, automation makes the flow of work smoother and faster. The foundation of that efficiency is effective capture of high-quality images and information in a centralized, secure, and searchable location.
Integrating with multiple data sources to avoid redundancy of information
As with an effective army, frequent and seamless communication of relevant information is a must for any department. A robust ECM solution with open architecture can point to relevant data stored in various software applications. Communicating with systems as diverse as accounting and contract management programs, purchase orders and requisitions, ECM software can also store indexed emails and faxes that are earmarked as relevant.
An integrated suite that includes tools such as Web services ensures the same security in accessing data from other applications as the measures you establish within the ECM system. Integration helps you take full advantage of quick-pay discounts, avoid late penalties, and make other smart decisions that let you generate a stronger cash position. Had ECM been available in General Washington’s time, he might have had an easier time paying his army.
Just as some agents do a poorer job than others of communicating details that could effect a strategic military decision, not all ECM systems integrate equally well. Make sure the one you choose can work with all of your systems. Verify that your vendor has experience and references to affirm claimed success.
Maximizing the use of limited staff resources
Although the quality of his staff improved over time, General Washington had far fewer resources than he needed in his army, and he was the clear loser in the numbers game. Despite doubtful odds of ever getting ahead, clear thinking, judicious planning, and systematic execution enabled him to maximize the talents of the people he had. He enabled them to work together effectively, and eventually to win.
Today, regulations and internal policies demand more from administrative employees than ever, yet the soft economy means many businesses are operating with shoestring staffs. Managers face increasing workloads and overburdened employees. Ensuring accurate and timely service can be challenging, resulting in longer hours and waning patience.
Companies that undergo a critical self-evaluation of their remittance processes with an eye to effective automation have a golden opportunity to maximize and mobilize resources. Detailed critical analysis of current procedures typically reveals opportunities for streamlining processes, improving consistency, making better decisions, and rendering faster service. A top-to-bottom analysis involving and engaging end users empowers staff to embrace change. By introducing a solid strategy and the right tools, you can eliminate mundane tasks that bog down your people and use their minds and talents for initiatives that benefit your company. However unlikely it may seem today, ECM makes it possible to get ahead without an army of human resources.
Marching forward decisively to victory
Digitizing your information not only gives your staff the tools they need to ensure consistent and complete data collection; it lays the foundation for process automation. Mechanizing routine tasks with digital workflow lets you:
- Match purchase requisitions with imaged receipts, expense reports, and invoices, abolishing tedious manual search;
- Gather approvals and signatures for timesensitive invoices, eliminating repeat reminders and trips to the signatory’s office;
- Solicit multiple approvals and signatures simultaneously, requesting notification when requirements are met and invoices can be processed;
- Detect incomplete forms automatically;
- Generate automated requests for missing data;
- Issue automated, customized letters with bar coded return envelopes containing information you already have on file, reducing redundancy and errors upon receipt of completed forms.
Intelligent process automation not only helps you maximize staff efficiency. It also gives managers insight into individual and departmental productivity and helps them make timely decisions when changes are needed. Strong reporting tools help them to spot potential bottlenecks before they occur and reallocate work appropriately. Demonstrating fairness, consistency, and compliance is easier, and detailed auditing of every transaction settles questions quickly. The possibilities are endless.
High-speed remittance processing depends on a high-performance solution coupled with a clear vision, solid planning and good communication. Implemented properly, it ensures efficient, accurate capture of information; optimal use of staff resources; informed decision making; and better service for your customers. While General Washington may have had to wait to ‘bag the fox in the morning,’ process automation with a solid ECM suite means you don’t have to. The power of information is delivered into your hands each day, giving you everything you need to act quickly and appropriately. The possibilities are limited only by the grandeur and clarity of your vision and the technology you choose to support it. With the right tools in your hands, you can crush the enemy of disorganization and stride confidently onward to victory.