I used to think I was so clever. When I was in college the teacher asked me to explain to the class what a paradox was… I told the group that it was where you put two boats. Now I have passed these skills onto my oldest child (now 15) and his teachers are loving it (not).
What is it?
A paradox is a statement that may contradict itself and might be true. With Accounts Payable Automation the contradictions is that paper equals control.
It is true that the paper invoices can be touched and it has details that you need to make a good decisions on its approval or match to a purchase order/packing slip but is it fully secure. The data on the invoice is secure because it is difficult to change, and is available when it filled and retrieved in its same form.
The contradiction that maybe true is the process in which the invoices take to become approve is not secure and is therefore not easy to control. That is the automation paradox that the paper is more secure than the electronic document.
As an automator, one of the most frustrating things is having to combat the idea that the paper has more control. When I interact with people who are new to Accounts Payable Automation (like a partner or sales person) they are indignant and dismiss the notion that a prospective client would ever think that paper is better than electronic. The council I give them is directly related to the notion that they are battling a perception and not a reality. Understand this, however, the perception is extremely powerful and is rooted in the fact that they only know paper. This is a difficult thing to break.
My Point (You are welcome)
If Accounts Payable Automation is done right (that’s another article at another time) then you will know where everything is. There is no greater control than knowing where everything is. Here is what I mean by everything. You will know
- When the invoice came in
- Who hands or desk it has passed through
- Whose hands or desk it is currently sitting on
- What changes have been made
- How long the invoice has been sitting
- Where the invoices needs to go next
- Any notes or conversations
- When it was approved by how many people
Just to name a few things. There is no greater control than knowing the things that are listed above. Now you are able to do those types of things with paper but the amount of people, time and effort it would take to police such a process would probably not be worth it.
Information is a wonderful things, however it is only as good as it is accessible. To make the control even better make sure that you are able to wrap a reporting layer around all of the information that I listed above.
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