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Paperholics Anonymous – Step 2 – Regaining Your Sanity!

Hi.  My name is Drew, and I am a paperholic.

Welcome back to Paperholics Anonymous’ virtual support group.  Since you are back, I’ll assume that you have taken the first step from last time of admitting that your paper invoice process is the problem.  Having admitted that key truth, it’s time to take step #2:

Understand that the power of e-invoicing can bring sanity to your AP department

Tell me if you’ve had this fairly common experience in Accounts Payable:  After a mildly stressful commute to your office, you sit down with your venti no foam pumpkin spice latte (it is autumn after all), grab a muffin that someone has brought in to share, and settle in front of your computer ready for the day.   Now, maybe you have a stack of paper invoices on your desk or maybe your company has taken the first baby step of scanning the paper and so your work folder is PDF images on your computer.  Either way, as we talked about last time, the fact is your invoice began its life on paper and so comes with all the problems of paper.  As a result, the following rapidly becomes the routine:

  • Start processing an invoice, but notice it is missing some key data…Exception #1…
  • …send invoice back to supplier to fix.
  • Check work queue regarding invoice approval workflow for aging invoices…
  • …realize invoice 123 has been sitting on Mr./Ms. Procrastinator’s desk for two weeks!…
  • …start to type up nasty-gram email….realize it’s maybe not a good idea to email angry…so backspace and send 4th follow-up notice in most polite way possible…blood pressure is rising…
  •  Just as you start in on the next item, your phone rings…Vendor ABC wants to know the status of his invoice approval!…
  • …You almost say, “How should I know?! It’s been on the desk of Mr./Ms. Procrastinator for two weeks…why don’t you call them?!”…but, again, professionalism takes over.
  •  Another invoice to approve…this one in good order!  Yay to life’s little victories! J
  • …well, that was short lived…the vendor sending this next invoice in completely screwed up the item coding! Exception #2…and it’s only 9:30 a.m.!
  • You start to send that invoice back when the phone rings again…of course you almost can’t distinguish it from the cacophony of calls and conversations with vendors your co-workers are also having…
  • …This time, the vendor wants to know when he is going to get paid!   He says he sent in the invoice 45 days ago and has to make payroll and needs his money (yada, yada) and starts to get heated with you on the phone….
  • …Great!  Not only can’t you tell him when he’s getting paid (you have no idea where the invoice is right now or how soon someone will approve it), but now you have to be a counselor and try to diffuse a situation that’s not even your fault!
  • A growing pressure behind your eyes signals a headache coming on…again.
  • The phone rings….again…and again….and again.
  • Pretty soon you feel like the Grinch dealing with all the noise, noise, noise, noise!

I think you get the picture! It’s enough to drive someone to drink!  But that’s another group session….

If you are here at Paperholics Anonymous, you probably have gone through this cycle of defeat many times.  But I want you to know, it’s not your fault!  You are not to blame for flirting with insanity…your paper-based process is the culprit!  And even better, there is a cure.

Step 2 in this journey to freedom from paper processes is understanding that e-invoicing can bring sanity to this situation in AP.  Through removing the paper from the process, catching and eliminating exceptions at the source, automating the workflow process (including the nasty-gram reminders for aging approvals), and providing self-service invoice and payment status visibility to suppliers, e-invoicing addresses each of the problems that drive you to the brink when processing paper.

We will review each of these elements in coming meetings as we walk through the steps.  But the point of Step 2 is to realize and understand that there is hope.  E-invoicing is the cure for your paper addiction and the insanity it causes.

Be sure to come back for the next meeting where we will see how you unlock this power with step 3 by  making a decision to turn over paper invoice processes to the power of networked e-invoice technology.

Stay Strong!

About the author
Drew Hofler
Drew Hofler
Manage Cash Solution Marketing Director

Drew manages the product marketing of Ariba’s Working Capital Management and Payment suite of solutions, including Ariba Discount Pro, Ariba Third Party Financing, Ariba Receivables Financing, and Ariba Payment Pro. A more-than-20-year backgroun... Read More >>>

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