Document management automation software opening new doors for finance efficiency

Housing association Coastline Housing has rebuilt its Accounts Payable process, digitising the processing of over 24,000 invoices each year.

The distributed, complex management of paper-based invoice processing is a burden that weighs down many businesses, leading to large time delays and huge risks of error. This was proven to be the case in a recently commissioned independent research project that showed 23% of businesses took more than 10 working days to process invoices, and 29% of these were unable to process them in less than 20 days.

Coastline Housing rectified this issue by implementing Invu Document Management and Workflow, which has now streamlined their entire process and freed up staff time to do more productive and valuable work.

Zoe Field, Head of Finance at Coastline Housing, noted that, “The feel-good factor we get from the Invu system is amazing. You would not believe the messages I have had from users saying how much easier the system has made their job.”

Invu Document Management brings increased visibility, control and efficiency to business documents. Combined with Workflow, which automates business processes, Invu Document Management enables businesses to process, share and store documents, like supplier invoices.

Ian Smith, GM and Finance Director at Invu, said: “Businesses of a certain scale frequently find that those responsible for the approval of invoices are spread across a wide range of different locations. Such distributed approval slows down supplier invoice processing. This puts pressure on finance teams who are often criticised for making late supplier payments and failing to respond to supplier queries promptly. Digitising the process can enable swift approval across many locations and ease the pressure on finance teams.”

Before implementing Invu Document Management, Coastline Housing’s invoice processing was a manual, paper-based and time-consuming process, susceptible to human error. It also created frequent stress for the finance team who were overrun with paper. With invoice volumes reaching 24,000 invoices each year, the move to remote working, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, created many challenges. In this new environment, the Coastline Housing finance team recognised that their paper-driven invoice approval process was no longer fit for purpose. Invoices could no longer be passed around the office to staff in-trays.

Field continues, “Moving away from our Excel-based system was a massive driver for the project. Regardless of what you can do, human error always kicks in and it only takes one person to type something wrong and we have an issue.”

Finance departments are coiled like springs waiting for this digital transition, and 44% of finance workers think that automating processes would make them more productive, with one in five (22%) claiming they would welcome automation in their business.

Smith concludes, “With Invu Document Management, those responsible for approving invoices can be certain they are being fed invoices they should be approving, see the related documents, and take ownership of the coding. They no longer have to manage the documents in their in-tray or work out whether they should be the one to approve it. Nor do they have to feel they do not truly own the budgets for the departments or projects they are responsible for because Finance allocates everything.”