Eliminating paper in accounts payable

Accounts payable departments that are attempting to eliminate the use of paper in their operations have an intimidating task to accomplish.

The benefits of reducing paper use are widely acknowledged, as the practice is good for the environment, saves money, and helps decrease errors. Yet, many departments continue to rely on paper out of the misconception that automation is too challenging to achieve.

"The barriers to paper-free AP may seem to be high," Jon Casher, president of Casher Associates, said at an Institute of Management & Administration conference. "Do not try to tackle all of them at once, as you are likely to fail."

Casher advises trying to become paper-free in a select few of the accounts payable key processes, including the ordering process, invoicing and expense reports. For the ordering process, AP departments can use the websites of their most frequently used vendors to order services.

In order to eliminate paper invoices, AP departments can use electronic data interchange or purchasing cards. If some invoices cannot be eliminated, they can be scanned using optical character recognition technology.

As AP processes become more automated, errors such as duplicate payments will decrease.

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