Streamlining manual processes – what next on the to do list?

Bank feeds changed the accounting world when introduced – taking out huge swathes of manual data entry. Not only that, the potential for error is much reduced; transposition errors, wrong payees etc. Whilst it is not perfect, in that there is a very occasional problem with a transaction missing or duplicated entries, these are few and far between. With the transactions in the accounting records, the allocation was also able to be considerably automated with the use of rules and auto-matching to invoices etc.

Purchase invoices were the next major area and there are several providers now offering data extraction from invoices and publishing to the accounting software – along with a scanned image of the invoice which is hugely beneficial and time saving. No more searching through drawers or cabinets for them!

Around the edges, expense processing products have appeared, along with prepaid debit cards as a means of removing those manual processes associated with getting expenses and petty cash into the accounts.

Sales invoices – regular recurring automated invoices can be scheduled and sent automatically, and the payment for those invoices can also be automated to be collected on the due date – through the use of direct debit software.

So, what is left? Probably the biggest area left to address is the payments. Whether this be the payment of purchase invoices, payroll or simple one-off payments, this can still be quite a laborious process. Some businesses (including many accounting firms) still make extensive use of cheques to pay suppliers! Someone has to write these out, pass them for signing, stuff them in envelopes, possibly with a remittance advice, put through the franking machine (or stick actual stamps on the envelopes) and take to the post box.

Paying direct through the bank can also be quite laborious- scrolling up and down through a list of potential payees and selecting the one to pay, then entering the amount to be paid…. also prone to error.

Producing a file from within accounting software and then uploading it to the bank is a possible alternative. However, this does need to be in the correct format for the bank systems and staff need access to the bank accounts to do this. This is yet another manual process though.

How can this payment process be taken to another level to remove these manual processes and make it as seamless as possible?

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