Why Self Scan Is Always a Bad Idea

I have been known for creating headlines so it gets attention.  This may be one of those moments, because there are times where scanning an invoice to Automate AP is a good idea.


I guess by putting “always” in the title can get me into trouble, so let me explain. Self scanning an invoice is always a bad idea when your goals don’t support it.

Self Scan?

For those of you that are not familiar with the idea, self scanning is when you automate Accounts Payable the service provider’s only mode of entering invoices is if your company does the scanning. I know I not breaking great ground with this, but the reason I bring up the definition of self scan is to tell you that it’s not your only option.


There are Accounts Payable automation  service providers out there that will scan the invoices for you as a service. There are also organizations that scan for a living. These are other AP Automation service providers that will use a third-party scanning company to scan.

Here is the Point

(You are welcome) Where “always” comes in is based on your goals as an organization. The 8 Pitfalls book, which I wrote almost three years ago, is a 200 page book where 50% (100 pages) of the book is dedicated to some level of goal setting… or better written planning. Planning is where most people and companies go wrong. It’s a difficult spot to plan for something you have never done.

Scanning invoices yourself is aways a bad idea if your goals include some of the following.

  • Wanting to get rid of the paper. The best way to get rid of paper is to send it somewhere else.
  • Speeding up the approval process. Make sure you have the right scanning partner to insure that their scanning process is quick and organized.
  • Creating more controls in the approval process. If you want to stop invoices from going into the “old desk drawer” have them sent directly from the vendor to the your scanning partner. By the way, this is the one piece of advice that is difficult for old school paper people. The belief (that if done right is not true) is once the paper is gone the controls are gone… it’s just not true… once the paper is gone the paper is gone (you can quote me on that).
  • Gaining more time in the accounting department. If you are doing the scanning there will be more people, time and effort devoted to the process. If you have a goal to free up time, send the paper somewhere else.
  • Using accounting staff in a better way. Similar to the last one, I have found that when you automate Accounts Payable and choose to scan the invoices the accounting team “pitches” in. While this is good for leadership and getting thing done, it is a bad use of your professional staff.

Final Thought

You can put all of this me scan vs. you scan talk to rest by getting as many invoices electronic as possible 🙂

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