However despite the controls that we implement within the relatively safe, controlled environment of the finance office once the invoices are off site we lose that control.
As part of our process all the invoices are logged and coded. However before payment, all the invoices need to be signed off.
There are currently 14 individuals that are involved is signing off invoices in some capacity or another. What happens next is the accounting version of a pigeon race. All of our invoices are wrapped in the relative safety of a pink sheet of card with the signatories name on it and then transported around the business. The invoices are released into the wild and we wait for their return. Sometimes those pigeons get stuck and need to be shooed off someone’s desk, and sometimes those pigeons never make it back at all but regardless a race occurs. We wait and wait hoping that all the invoices come back to be logged safely back into finance before the payment needs to be made. Late pigeons mean late payments and unhappy suppliers but yet each month we merrily bundle them up and set them free into the business hoping that they make their way back to our accounting loft in a timely manner.
As much as the idea about homing pigeons is a romantic one this idea has never sat well in our finance function. We like controls and letting our invoices fly around the buildings out of our control was an uneasy step in maintaining our process. What we needed was a flight simulator.
We began the next step by talking to a number of our partners about the products that they offer and to find the best solution for us. After evaluating the options available the solution that seemed to fit best was Therefore, the offering from Canon
The website is here, which discusses document management
and a video showing how it can be used for your company is here.
Immediately the advantages became obvious. Firstly by employing the correct document management we would be able to control the invoices by never letting them out of our sight. Secondly we would be able to eliminate some of the duplicated processes that were put in place to establish control around an uncontrolled situation, such as logging the location of each invoice on a spreadsheet. Finally by ensuring that all of the invoices remained controlled in a document management system the sign off process would be speeded up.
The next stage was to identify how best we could utilise the new solution and for that we needed to engage the services of Therefore and obtain the buy in from the stakeholders in the finance team.