The administrative processes within a corporation's finance function are key application areas for suppliers of document management. But manufacturers and resellers must stand out from the crowd.
The pressure to boost margins and revenue from customers is driving the evolution of cost models, joint marketing initiatives, manufacturer-reseller training and a more rounded, integrated and customer-orientated portfolio.
Everyone wants to improve efficiency, cut costs and get greater management transparency.
Of course, harnessing technology to streamline the finance department is all the more relevant today. So the right sales pitch should demonstrate a compelling return on investment to prospective customers.
Customers want to deal with fewer providers in a bid to consolidate contracts, control their costs and get a more 'joined up' service. This heightens the importance of strong technology and reseller partnerships.
Companies that win hard-fought contracts often offer a mixture of technologies, services and support – matching technical expertise with adept account management to ensure a flexible, problem-solving approach to implementation.
Equally, large integrators in our sector now often partner with specialist third parties to provide a more complete service, from document scanning and data capture to an outsourced, hosted business process, archive and retrieval service.
Customers under financial pressure often want applications that are easily extended. In document management, for example, resellers could extend an automated accounts payable solution across accounts receivable or collections.
After all, cash management means balancing prompt collection of outstanding invoices via accounts receivable with payment of supplier invoices in accounts payable.
Companies wanting to streamline their invoice processing often focus on the latter. The underlying technology support is essentially the same, combining workflow, data management and document management.
This argument may win favour, because late payment is increasingly breaking businesses. We think a systematic and automated approach to accounts receivable may ease that pain.
Businesses must also calculate their costs accurately and see a clear return on their investment.
I recently helped put accounts payable online at housing charity Harvest Housing Group and we had to calculate a cost model based on the number of invoices processed per year, to help them match costs closely to the funding available.
Strong technology partnerships were crucial. We were able to offer an appealing combination of scanning, data capture and workflow technologies via our strategic relationships with Basware, AnyDoc and Kodak.
The solution improved productivity in the payments process, reducing manual data entry and saving on postage, as well as enabling tighter control and visibility of cashflow.
Simon Stammers is sales and marketing director at Formscan
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