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Document Management 101

A Guide to Optimizing Your Invoice Lifecycle

Follow your invoice's effortless journey through your company using DocuXplorer, from automated data entry to various workflows, filing, and storage.

March 12, 2024

Colleagues reviewing paperwork

Is your invoice workflow the best it can be?

If processing invoices is a big part of your day-to-day, you likely have a system for capturing the data, getting approvals, filing, storing, and running audits. You might be so accustomed to this system that you don’t think about how it falls short of your needs.

Let's audit your Accounts Payable process. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do invoices back up if you or someone else is out of office? 
  • Can you pinpoint where an invoice is at any given time during the approval process?
  • Do you know how many invoices are due or overdue this week? 
  • Do you spend time on repetitive tasks, such as cross-checking invoices with purchase orders or sending invoices to the same people for approval?

Let’s take a look at your invoice’s lifecycle and explore how you can map your manual processes into a digital automated system that is entirely adaptable to you.

Receive an invoice

Invoices come in various formats and from multiple sources: email, mail, fax, etc. In a typical process, you enter the relevant data into your system - an invoice number, amount, vendor or customer information, services rendered, etc.

All that data entry takes time. But automated invoice processing does the work for you. Go from email or scanner directly to filed and tagged, without any intervention. With a DMS, you can capture everything from anywhere, and your documents are added and stored in a centralized digital repository. By creating index data sets, you’ll map the relevant areas of the documents and tag the information that needs recording. Built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) even converts scanned images of text to electronic text that can be searched and indexed.

Once set up, your DMS will run automatically, capturing and entering the data and filing your invoices like a perfect AP assistant. And you’ll be free to tackle other important tasks.

File and search

Do you currently find files by looking through cabinets, piles on your colleagues’ desks, or digital folders?

Organizing documents into a myriad of folders and subfolders or being able to perform highly pinpointed and accurate searches can be a struggle, regardless of whether your files are paper or digital.

Imagine never having to think about how or where your documents are filed. Type in one piece of information, like a vendor name, invoice number, or associated project or service, and immediately locate the file you need. 

Digitization doesn’t always guarantee order. But with an effective DMS, you’ll manage your data sets, search more reliably, and quickly run repeat searches. Need to see all invoices over $5,000 from last month? Or invoices that still need approval from Mary? No problem.

Verify and approve

Today, verifying your invoices and getting approvals might involve looking through file cabinets for contracts or purchase orders, tracking down project managers, and passing around stacks of paper from person to person. Sound familiar?

In a document management system, quickly search for associated files, and poof! You have what you need to validate the invoice. 

When you create an automated workflow, the system routes the document to the appropriate team member(s) to complete the next step. Create the specific process you need and track each stage as your document moves from person to person.

Here are some of the invoice workflows your DMS can jump-start:

  • Approvals: 

A notification goes to a supervisor who can approve the invoice amount. When the supervisor approves, the workflow will notify the designated staff member that this action has taken place. Create simple or multi-tiered approval workflows, set them, and forget them.

  • Reminder of invoices due or past due:

No need to worry about falling behind on invoice processing. Leverage a DMS for task management and ensure your invoices get approved and paid on time.

Integrate with other apps

Data entry into Quickbooks or your industry-specific applications can be fraught with errors and redundancy. Plus, your different apps probably don’t communicate with one another, putting the burden of accuracy on you. 

Connect your accounting software and digital document repository, and easily secure and share everything from one system. An integrated system gives you speedy access to your invoices and cross-functionality to support all your business processes.

Track and report

Keeping track of every invoice can be tricky when working with paper files in cabinets that anyone can access or when papers are shuffled around the office. 

An automated system gives you a high-level overview of your active workflows. This means knowing how many invoices are in progress, whether they’re delayed at any point in the workflow, and where the issue is. Are approvals taking too long? Or is there a bottleneck happening between approval and moving to the ERP? You’ll also get notified if invoices are nearing their due dates.

A DMS gives you control over your process and keeps you on target. You’ll enjoy a streamlined, worry-free workflow and maintain strong customer and vendor relationships.

A DMS also brings added benefits of security and reporting. Set user and group permissions to control who can view, edit, move, delete, or clone any document. The system keeps detailed logs of all actions made within a document, keeping everyone accountable and preserving the integrity of your processes.

Time and money spent

Now, let’s look at what it costs your organization to process invoices from start to finish. Your invoice approval process may look something like this. Estimating that each invoice passes through the hands of five people as it goes from data capture to verification to approval, we can figure the total processing time at 42 minutes per invoice.

Suppose your company processes 30 invoices monthly—that adds up to 700 hours. Considering the salaries of those five people and the time required for verification and approval, your company spends just shy of $50K a month on invoices—that’s nearly $600,000 a year!

By investing just 10% of your costs into a document management system, you’ll automate 70% of your tasks. This means you can redirect thousands of saved hours toward other tasks and reinvest hundreds of thousands of dollars back into your company year after year.

Setting a new standard in invoice processing

Navigating the lifecycle of invoices within your organization can be complex and time-consuming. But using a customized document management system can dramatically transform this process. 

From receiving invoices to the final stages of storage and security, a DMS streamlines your day and reduces redundancy. Free up valuable time and resources by digitizing your invoices and automating your workflows. 

Are you ready to capture, file, secure, access, approve, and integrate your invoices faster?