The paperless workplace is an ideal that has never actually been achieved. It doesn’t matter how many of your people use email and computer documents for everything they can, reducing paperwork within your company to a minimum: the fact remains that paper is a way of life, and if your customers haven’t caught on, then you still need to take this into account. What this means in practice is that businesses have to cope with two systems: the modern IT-led filing protocols, in which everything is filed in its rightful place online for anyone to find when they need it, and the old, 20th century filing cabinets and paper-based setup, where letters, post-its, invoices and other documents take their chances in an environment that sees them as something of an inconvenience. This is where document management systems come in, helping you to combine your computer-based filing systems with the old paper ones – thereby achieving a measure of homogeneity. document processing applications convert physical documents to a file, which can then be used like any other online document. Invoice processing achieves this in the accounts field, meaning that you don’t have to worry that invoices sent by fax or postal mail will be lost in the works, when emails will be answered and paid more quickly.
Document processing can involve some fairly advanced software, but at its core it just creates a computer-ready version of the document. This might be little more than a scan – a pdf ‘photocopy’, perhaps – but the better versions use optical character recognition to convert even handwritten documents to files that can be used with word processing software: very neat. This effectively means that your online system can be combined with the paper one, so there’s no worrying about who has put which invoice where. It’s a way of bridging two systems, neither of which is really supposed to work with the other.
document processing is really useful when it comes to the accounts department, since any firm of any size will very likely have a range of customers and clients who don’t share your systems and setup. Invoice processing means that all invoices are treated the same, and can all be filed on the same document management systems used by that department. When it comes to efficiency – and therefore often reputation – this kind of facility can be worthwhile, since it doesn’t take long for clients to lose patience if things go wrong with the financial side of things.
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