There are several key questions every CFO should ask themselves as they review their company’s financial accounting function’s performance. The threshold question is whether the department has the resources it needs to function well. However, in this question, “resources” refers to more than just staff. To become and stay competitive, organizations need technology solutions designed to simplify the way accounting teams work.

Your accounting department’s effectiveness and efficiency (or lack thereof) can have a marked impact on your company’s overall performance. Research by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) found that companies with fewer Full-Time Employees (FTEs) in the accounting and reporting function tended to outperform those organizations with more staff in those roles.

Achieving such efficiencies is only possible by implementing and leveraging technologies and best practices, and to the extent possible, standardizing the way your accounting team members do their jobs.

Leverage the Power of Technology for Invoice Management
If you are struggling with process efficiency, it’s time to evaluate your financial accounting function and ask yourself some probing questions about the technology your accounting team relies on.

How flexible is your platform when it comes to working with invoices? Can staff capture, review, approve, and archive invoices you received initially in paper form or via email? Can they do so from their mobile devices, or does work have to wait until they’re back in the office, tethered to your network? You should also evaluate what types of things your accounting team can do with invoices under your current structure. If they’re not able to leverage technology to automatically match up invoices and purchase orders, your accounting system may be causing you more inefficiencies.

Your accounting technology should also allow users to retrieve stored invoices quickly and easily. If your records aren’t set up in a way that enables quick retrieval, you’re likely wasting time – potentially a lot of it – digging through manual files or painstakingly searching network or personal drives looking for invoices. This is also important when it comes to preparing for upcoming audits and budgeting, saving time, money and frustration in the process.

Create Efficiencies by Standardizing Processes
You should also evaluate how well your accounting team stays on top of managing cash flow, handling accounts receivable and managing an ever-changing schedule of due dates for invoices received. If you are relying on manual processes, these ongoing accounting and financial management tasks can increase your risk that something won’t go according to plan. Leveraging automation and workflows can significantly reduce that risk, while creating efficiencies.

When you implement electronic document management and workflows, you’re taking a powerful step that can help accelerate the time spent on tasks such as invoice approval. If your current platform doesn’t allow your accounting team to automatically route invoice requests from one stage to the next and automatically post approved invoices, you could be holding up processing unnecessarily.

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