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How to Pummel the Paper out of AP and AR

AP & AR

Paper. It’s a dirty word for us cloud enthusiasts. Paper inherently slows and complicates critical financial processes. It’s the useless side-character in a buddy comedy. Lucky for us, there are numerous options that move vital payment processes online. From ACH payments to online bill pay, paper is becoming obsolete.

Obsolete? That’s pretty harsh. We completely understand, and the reaction is warranted. It’s hard to break up with your bad paper relationship. But we’ve got to face facts - small businesses are slowing down. They’re taking their time to hire, deploy IT projects, and make critical decisions. And paper can be a giant roadblock that impairs their progress. The upside? Businesses can now digitize.

But how do we digitize? You can’t just drop this bomb on us and leave us here with no information.

Of course not! Welcome to “Digitizing Your Business 101.” The first in a series that will give you the steps to reap the benefits of accounts payable and accounts receivable automation. Stick with us and we’ll have you cloud-obsessed in no time.

Step 1: Corral paper and paper users

Corral them. Understand how far their paper insanity goes. Are they codependent? Should we get Dr. Phil on the phone? Understand where all this paper mania is coming from so you can curb it.

First, look at processes. For AP, do vendors mail you invoices and contracts? Do you typically pay with paper checks? Or do you have the option for ACH and other ePayments? For AR, are you physically mailing hard copy invoices to clients? Are you only accepting paper checks for payment?

Once you uncover where the paper madness is rooted - and who is devoting their time to its evil ways -  you can fully eliminate paper out of the process.

Step 2: Identify and adopt the technology you need

Don’t delete paper from AP and AR if you don’t have the proper technology to replace it. And what do you suggest we replace it with? The cloud, obviously. The cloud saves you time and money, and doesn’t call for hardware and software maintenance. Bonus: Many cloud-based AP and AR solutions offer free trials so you can check them out before committing. 

Just accept it. At one point you will need technology that can process bill payments, create/distribute invoices, send automated reminders, and accept and enable ePayments. This eliminates the necessity of paper. No more invoices, checks, stamps, and envelopes in your AP and AR process! It’s a beautiful thing.

Caution: Beware of cloud technologies that don’t integrate with other financial solutions. You want up-to-date information, right? Integrations will keep you automatically synced, help you avoid double data entry, and eliminate paper reliance.

Step 3: Kick back and enjoy the benefits

So, you’ve uncovered those paper-loving culprits and have adopted a cloud-based solution. What do you do now? Celebrate! Share your good fortune and enjoy your results-oriented excellence. 

But wait, hold on. That’s it? 

Not quite. Although we love a good celebration, it’s always important to go back and review the process.

Take a look at step one. Make sure the paper-dependant ones can work in your new technology efficiently. If Carl has to cut checks to bill payment, you can give him permission to work with digitized payments through your cloud solution. If Desi’s role is only to review bills over $500, then you can easily create a workflow for bills that fit that parameter.

Now look at step two. You know it’s working if the cloud is completely replacing your need for paper. Has the transition to digitization been easy for customers and vendors? Can you scan an invoice if it comes in the dreaded paper format? Are vendors being “trained” to submit their invoices electronically? This last step is critical. Vendors being on board will make your life so much easier. And once they see how quickly they get paid they won’t hesitate to jump on the cloud train.

Are you completely cloud-obsessed yet? Is the paperless flow of AP and AR music to your ears?  You’ll soon find that without useless paper standing in the way, you’re working with a transparent, efficient, and productive digital process. Now, that’s something to celebrate.

October 7, 2016
Kate Wilson
Social Media Manager, Bill.com
Kate is in charge of all things social at Bill.com. When she's not writing every type of content imaginable, she's drinking strong coffee and debating the use of the Oxford comma with her coworkers.