A paper invoice is like the wind. Just as it’s hard to gauge the strength and direction of the wind, it’s difficult for a Supplier to track the path of a paper invoice without contacting the Buyer. Which means that the Supplier doesn’t know the status of an outstanding paper invoice at any given time—whether it’s been approved, or if there’s a problem with the invoice that needs to be addressed.
Likewise, a Buyer doesn’t know whether the payment has reached a Supplier until the funds have changed hands. Like unexpected turbulence, paper invoices can create an annoyingly bumpy flight for businesses trying to soar above the competition.
While the wind itself is hard to track, we can certainly feel its effects. Likewise, a hard-to-track paper invoice can weave a path of distressing effects felt by both Suppliers and Buyers. For Suppliers, waiting for months at a time for payment can interrupt cash flows and jeopardise productivity. For Buyers, responding to Supplier inquiries or adjusting multiple invoices with exceptions costs the AP staff precious time. Just as a strong, unexpected gust of wind can knock us off of our feet, repeated issues with paper invoices can cause an organisation to falter.
The friction caused by paper invoicing can make a business’s forward motion nearly impossible. Whether you’re a Buyer or Supplier, if this friction is present in your procure-to-pay system, everyone gets caught in the draft.
Then again, technology can help. Weathervanes are an ancient technology designed to make the wind more visible to passersby, and windsocks help pilots detect the strength and direction of wind. Today an e-invoicing solution like Tungsten Network flags potential invoice errors before they steer an AR or AP department off-course. A digital invoicing solution not only streamlines the approval process, but also provides both Buyers and Suppliers the information they need to make decisions contingent on their cash flows.
The wind metaphor is imperfect, of course, but we can all agree that the friction caused by paper invoices is a drag for all involved.