There has been a long held belief that computers and technology would eliminate the need for paper in the office. Ironically the opposite has actually occurred, over the past 20 years the volume of paper used in businesses has more than doubled, with the average office worker consuming more than 10,000 sheets of paper per year, 45% of which is discarded and much of the remainder is locked up in filing cabinets never to be viewed again.
Whilst we have been long dreaming of a total Paperless Nirvana perhaps now is the time we should awake from our slumber and focus on chipping away at using Less Paper, by scrutinising one business process at a time. So where do we start?
One area that can be completely automated and paper eliminated, is the process of Employee Expense Management.
For those of you that travel and the office is your mobile phone or laptop, one of the first jobs when you return home from a business trip is to empty your pockets of a myriad of travel receipts that need to be unravelled, coded, annotated and entered into the accounting system for claiming and reimbursing. Not to mention that you probably will also need to photocopy most of the receipts that will fade beyond recognition due to the fact they were printed on thermal paper and the originals will fail to satisfy the substantiation rules for a future GST audit by the ATO. In many cases you will also need to match these receipts against the corporate credit card statement when it arrives or fill out a tedious, time consuming, Expense Claim Re-imbursement Form (in Word or Excel) in order to recover those out of pocket expenses that you paid for with your own cash.
Now imagine a scenario where you simply take a photo of the receipt on an App on your mobile phone and you throw away the receipt (or don’t even take it from the supplier in the first place). The system automatically scans and interprets the document identifying key information such as, Supplier Name, ABN, Address, GST, Total and even the General Ledger Code to allocate the transaction to. This information is then automatically “matched” against the credit card transaction and is fed directly into your accounting system (all with the ability to enable customisation of an optional approval process that suits the way you do business). This entire process can occur “Automagically” without any paper being retained and with low H.I. (Human Interference).
This technology is available now and being used by savvy small business owners and operators to drive efficiencies in their business and just another example of how the use of carefully selected applications can enable you to Buy Time from your business.