Driving finance process efficiency

All organizations are looking to improve efficiency and drive out waste in the forms of time and money. Here are three key elements for driving finance efficiency using accounts payable invoice processing as the example.

Eliminate paper as close to the source as possible

  • Eliminate sending paper-based purchase orders and checks to your suppliers;
  • Work with suppliers to eliminate paper-based invoices in return; if suppliers continue to send paper, scan it as soon as it enters the door.

Automate processes for consistent performance

  • Just documenting processes won’t ensure they are performed as written; automating processes with a workflow tool which ensures the process is followed 100% of the time is necessary to ensure consistent performance;
  • Eliminate manual processes with strong workflow software; in the case of accounts payable invoice processing, allow the workflow software to automatically:
    • Match PO-based invoices with purchase orders and receipts;
    • GL code non-PO invoices, where possible;
    • Create invoices/vouchers in the ERP system for payment;
    • Monitor workflow cycle time parameters for activities against defined time parameter to automatically escalate work items, when necessary.

Measure performance for continuous improvement

  • Establish and track key metrics for ongoing performance and trending;
  • Establish targets for key metrics;
  • Perform process analysis to find and document areas for further process efficiency improvement with anticipated improvements in key metrics;
  • Institute process change and measure outcomes; a key aspect here is to have a workflow tool in which process change management can be done easily by process-oriented resources (functional super users or business analysts) not requiring scarce IT technical resources to have to be involved either from within the organization or from outside services providers.

While the automation example above focuses on accounts payable automation, these same methods can be used to drive additional finance process efficiencies across the board.

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