Digital Invoice and The Modern Trends in Digitization

October 28, 2021

While technology tends to change quickly, there has been little change to the way most AP departments operate. For too long, the questions has been asked: How do we achieve higher efficiency while we still have so much paper? It’s been a challenge for decades and until lately, the approach has largely been unchanged. The traditional approaches of adding staff, off-shoring or using legacy OCR have never fully solved the problem. 

Business networks and supplier enablement efforts across CXML and other electronic methodologies have seen vast success. However, the paper problem still remains.

To tackle this problem, software providers have largely focused on the digital approach. The benefits such as faster processing time, less FTE, and higher match rates are obvious. The business cases by companies investing in Source To Pay are predicated on a high adoption rate. However, after a decade of this approach, one fact remains: The supplier gets a vote on how they will transact.

A new approach is needed. Instead of hyper focus on the unrealistic expectation that 100% of your suppliers will adopt your digital strategy immediately, experienced companies are focusing on the long game. The key to success in P2P or AP automation is data quality, validation, and interpretation and that means ingesting the data in any way that achieves that result. 

Often, this means meeting the suppliers where they need to meet when it comes to submitting an invoice. This is especially critical in these times of supply chain constraints. Is it rational to force a strict digital compliance approach on a supplier at this point? What happens if they are a mission critical supplier and due to staff shortages, lack of investment, or other issues they simply can’t enable the way you want? What happens to the small businesses who represent hundreds if not thousands of suppliers? 

In times of crisis like this, companies must be realistic and focus on the fastest possible results, with the lowest effort and the highest benefits. In a crisis, all your suppliers become mission-critical because events change quickly. You must be accommodating with how they can and need to transact with your company. You must meet them where they need to be met. There may simply be no other option to get the goods and services you need. 

Shelby’s Digital Invoice was built precisely for times like these. In a supply chain crisis, companies that have invested in Procure to Pay or AP automation need to quickly get visibility on spend, immediately connected to their suppliers, and get stay focused on the mission. The traditional approach of supplier enablement, while yielding high benefit, can take years to hit full maturity and does not realistically accommodate all types of suppliers. Simply trusting that wave plan after wave plan of supplier enablement will happen on your timeline while your suppliers are equally scrambling during a crisis isn’t feasible. 

The best run companies today are instead focusing on a holistic and realistic approach. They are combining traditional supplier enablement with the reality of meeting suppliers where they need until the wave plans catch up.

By leveraging advanced OCR type capabilities like Digital Invoice that have features that include Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent workflow and machine learning, they more quickly achieve near digital results and achieve their desired outcomes.

To learn more about Shelby’s Digital Invoice, click here.

Jeff Clark, VP of Sales