September 27, 2016 by Mitch Taube Categories: Office Automation

In today’s digital workplace, companies receive invoices by email at a higher rate than ever before. Even so, many still insist on printing out electronic invoices prior to processing them. Doing this defeats the purpose of email invoices in the first place, as bringing electronically-received invoices into the physical realm opens up firms to the same problems they face with paper: lost invoices, late payments, duplicate payments and a comprehensive lack of transparency and visibility into the accounts payable process.

Instead of printing these invoices out, forward-thinking companies have realized that digital conversion by a third-party mailroom scanning partner prior to AP automation is a better way forward. Processing moves much faster and human error is minimized, both of which can give businesses a leg up on their competition.

A Big Help in Preparing Invoices for Automated AP Processing

Whether a firm receives their invoices via snail mail or electronic mail, digital formatting must take place before workflow automation can begin.

With paper invoices, one simply has to open the document, scan it onto the computer, load the invoice information to their system and begin automated processing from there.

With electronic invoices, things are a little more complicated; electronic documents can arrive in any number of file types (PDF, JPG, HTML, Word document, TIFF or pasted into the body of an email), but TIFF images work best with workflow automation software. Because of this, any invoice arriving in a different file type must be converted to a TIFF image prior to automation.

That might not sound like much, but the electronic document conversion process can be tedious for those organizations that don’t specialize in it. A third-party digital mailroom partner is crucial here, as they can set up a dedicated inbox for handling a business’ email invoices and monitor it daily. It’s from this inbox that they’ll then import converted invoices to automation software for processing.

After the emails are stripped of their attachments and the necessary invoice data has been captured, the emails themselves will be housed on a database in case they’re needed in the future. Also, if multiple files are included on an email, the scanning partner can separate them manually prior to loading the individual data to ensure that nothing is missed. In these ways, a trustworthy third-party provider frees up businesses to focus on their own AP routing and approval process without having to handle other, more tiresome administrative details that can slow it down.

The Main Benefit of Mailroom Scanning of Electronic Invoices

The major improvement companies will see right away from electronic invoice scanning is faster processing. Much faster, at that: one PayStream Advisor’s study reports that 40% of invoices handled by third-party scanning providers are processed within 5-10 business days, as opposed to 10% of those handled in-house with on-site data entry. Think about that: that’s four times the invoices being processed over the same amount of time. These improvements in processing speed can be a big help when it’s time for businesses to talk to suppliers or manage finances and cashflow.

But the electronic invoice extraction and conversion process isn’t simple enough for just anybody to handle. Companies who handle a high volume of electronic invoices would do well to invest in a third-party electronic mailroom scanning partner. Doing so makes invoice processing move more efficiently from start to finish, which can yield major wins for businesses of every size.

For more information on how to improve your AP Automation process, read our blog post “8 Signs You Can Trust Your AP Automation Partner.”