Take a look at your desk. What do you see? A stack of invoices, receipts, or other paper? Open your inbox. How many emails have an attached spreadsheet that needs to be edited? For growing businesses, the use of paper and spreadsheets is common, but as you grow, continued reliance on these is going to hold you back.
The Challenges of Paper and Spreadsheet-Based Processes
By getting paper out of your processes, your organization saves not only on the paper itself, but the labor costs associated with scanning documents into a computer, manually tracking pertinent information, and putting it into whichever software you use. By removing spreadsheets, you increase the speed, accuracy, and control with which your company operates. Here are just a few of the common challenges these outdated products create.
For fast-growing businesses, time is of the essence. However, when you’re buried in paper or spreadsheets, processes just take longer.
- Does a technician need to fill out a field service ticket by hand?
- Need to approve travel spend or an invoice?
- Looking to budget for the coming year?
If you are using paper or spreadsheets in any of these processes, you are spending more time than you need, and as we mention later—costing your organization money.
Typos happen—but some typos are more costly than others. While a missed comma might not matter that much in an article, a missed comma in a contract could be devastating. The same goes for spreadsheets. There are some occasions in which a typo doesn’t mean much, but when applied to finance, a slipped decimal point, an 8 instead of a 9, or a formula error could throw your entire business off.
Whether it’s an inconvenience resulting from fixing an invoice exception or something much more costly like an overstated revenue projection, a miscalculated budget, or a missed minus sign in reporting, errors are incredibly common and dangerous. Up to 90% of spreadsheets have errors, and while an error may not cost you millions or in some cases billions, every dollar counts for growing businesses.
Time is money, and when you use spreadsheets or paper for common financial processes, you’re wasting both time and money. Every extra hour spent fixing errors is an hour that could be spent on something more important—and as you know, finance professionals don’t come cheap.
Paired with this, the use of spreadsheets and paper also has a direct cost. Both accounts payable and accounts receivable are among the costliest areas where automation helps—according to APQC, the cost to prepare an invoice for a customer can be as high as $11.50 or more per invoice. Comparatively, those leading the automation charge pay as little as $0.71 per invoice on average.
Conversely, manual processes while paying a supplier might be even more costly. By time this process makes it through to payment, another time consuming process (paper checks and snail mail), the process, on average costs $13.50 (Ardent) and takes up to 14.3 days (Aberdeen). These are the direct costs, of course. However, when paired with a lost discount or even a late payment, the costs edge even higher.
Of course, more of a consideration with paper than spreadsheets, every time you print an invoice, field service ticket, or the like, you are not only costing yourself unnecessary expenses, you are harming the environment. Customers are becoming more and more conscious of the companies they select, and by removing paper, you can generate yourself some good PR.
Control and Auditability
When you use a spreadsheet, it’s hard—if not impossible—to keep track of the latest version of a document or who was the last person to make edits. Paired with this, paper is much easier to duplicate, and often, by the time you catch a forged check or invoice, it’s too late.
Controlling fraud, increasing auditability in processes, and streamlining business decisions is a necessity, and the use of spreadsheets stands in the way of this.
Paper and Spreadsheets: Sadly, a Necessary Part of Entry Level Accounting Software
While far too many organizations use paper and spreadsheets for their financial processes, they are even more common for those companies using entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks. QuickBooks is often a great option when you’re just starting out, but as you grow, it requires a patchwork of quick fixes, integrations using spreadsheets, and manual work to get the job done.
Especially with new accounting standards, more employees working from home, and a faster than ever speed of business, you can’t afford to spend time trying to do everything in a spreadsheet. There is however, a better way—cloud ERP.
Cloud ERP products like Acumatica deliver the visibility, control, and speed you need to thrive in today’s competitive landscape, allowing your employees to do more in less time, relying on fewer (or no) spreadsheets, and facilitating your business growth. As a leading provider of Acumatica and other ERP solutions, Crestwood understands the ongoing challenges that companies outgrowing QuickBooks face and has helped companies just like yours to get exactly what they need from their ERP.
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