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REMOTE INVOICE CAPTURE: ADAPTING TO THE NEW WAY OF WORKING

Author: James Adie, Vice President EMEA Sales at Ephesoft

 

When the government announced a country-wide lockdown on March 23, companies were forced to quickly adapt their business processes to enable employees to work from the safety of their own home. This created extensive challenges, especially because it was unknown whether staff could perform all their daily tasks remotely. Did they have hardware devices and software apps required to operate effectively? Could they be productive?

Finance teams and office managers, who are required to handle sensitive and mission-critical processes, faced their own set of challenges. One of these was the need to capture invoices remotely.

While invoice processing is not the most glamorous function in a business, it is one of the most critical. Delays in payment can result in lost discounts and any lapse in scrutiny can result in costly errors. Moreover, invoices can arrive in many formats – paper, email, web transfer – so processing them manually takes time.

When three-quarters of the UK’s workforce is in no hurry to get back to the office, and the future of work is expected to become a hybrid of in-person and remote working, these new circumstances will be a challenge that’s not going away any time soon. So how can companies ensure that the accounts payable team can continue to run smoothly when teams are operating remotely?

 

Work with established habits and existing tools

Part of the solution lies in a device that stays next to most of us almost every second of the day – the smartphone. It may be a world of social media and cute cat videos, but with the right apps, it can also be a powerful business tool.

According to Crowd Research, 84 per cent of employees now use their personal mobile devices to manage emails, appointments and contacts in a professional context – and around half of all employees also access corporate intranet services via smartphones or tablets. Business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has found that productivity increases by 34 per cent when employees save 58 minutes a day by using their mobile devices to perform everyday work tasks.

When there is such a willingness to use smartphones and tablets in a work context, it makes sense to take advantage of their ubiquity to simplify invoice processes. The deployment of mobile-capable capture solutions on these devices will mean all relevant data can be transferred immediately to the company’s internal invoice system.

The adoption of this approach will also mean the person responsible for dealing with invoices can efficiently capture invoice information with ease in the office, at home or wherever the paperwork might be.

Regardless of the format of the information or how it reaches the organisation, this approach can be used for all types of input – whether it is order confirmations in purchasing, ID cards and applications in HR or collection slips and receipts in production.

 

Gaining a competitive advantage

Mobile invoice capture solutions offer secure https connections to ensure the necessary data protection standards are met. But, this is just the beginning of the business benefits this tool offers.

Features such as automatic cropping of document margins, and the intelligent alignment of the respective page, create enhanced usability. This will help ensure they are gladly accepted and used by employees – and no disruptive change management programme is required. The most innovative mobile capture tools can also integrate into your ERP or accounting platform, eliminating tedious data entry into multiple systems.

The digitisation of the process will also decrease the potential for human error and reduce the costly impact this can have. Time-sensitive information will then reach the company’s information system directly and without delay, improving the productivity of the teams relying on that data.

When less paper pushing is required, teams are able to use their time more effectively, on tasks that can add value to the business – and, thus, help provide the business with a competitive advantage.

With remote working here to stay, companies will increasingly need to deploy flexible tools, such as mobile invoice capture. It will be solutions like this that keep employees productive and help them to adapt quickly and easily to the new normal. How does your AP team compare?

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Finance

HOW LONG DOES IT REALLY TAKE TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE?

Every time you borrow money in the form of a loan, credit card, hire purchase agreement, mobile phone contract or anything else, your credit rating will be impacted. In much the same way, your credit score is also affected each time you make a repayment to your debt, or miss a payment. The type of impact that each action has on your credit score will determine whether you have a low, average or high rating. Somebody who borrows a small amount of debt and makes all payments on time is likely to have a high credit rating, while on the other hand, if you have a lot of different debts and have struggled to make repayments and been late with a few in the past, your credit score may suffer.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get a bad credit score than it is to get a good one, and one missed payment can have a huge impact. So, how long does it really take to improve your credit score and what can you do to improve it quickly?

 

Don’t Expect Overnight Improvements

Thinking that your credit rating will immediately jump up once you have a paid a debt off is a common misconception that can leave you feeling disheartened if you work hard to repay debts only to find that nothing has changed. But, don’t worry, as long as you keep going, your credit score will definitely improve over time. Negative impacts on your credit score such as missed or late payments can stay there for six years and hold you back, but after that amount of time, your credit rating should get much better as long as you are still in control of your debt.

 

Paying Off Debt without Missing Repayments

If you have a lot of debt, this can negatively impact your credit rating even if you are making the minimum payment each month. Lenders are less likely to consider you as a low-risk candidate to lend money to if you are already paying off a lot of debt, and this in itself can cause your credit score to drop even if you haven’t missed any payments. As a result, the best thing to do is find a way to pay off your debts faster without it having a negative impact on any of them. Thankfully, there are several options that you might want to consider.

 

Debt Consolidation

Consolidating your debts is one of the best ways to get them cleared off and leave you with less to worry about. If you have a lot of smaller debts that you are dealing with, this can become hard to handle as you try to keep up with which payments are due at what times. In addition, having a lot of smaller debts also means that you are paying interest on all of them, meaning that over the long term, you’re paying back a huge amount more than you actually borrowed.

Consolidating your debts means taking out one loan or credit card that you will use to repay each debt. Clearing all your debts with the new loan means that you will only have one debt to worry about replying and one lot of interest to pay. If you have a bad credit score, you can find loans for bad credit scores at New Horizons. New Horizons is a regulated broker that works with a certified UK panel of trusted lenders to help you find the best loan for your situation.

 

Snowball Method

Another option that you may want to consider if you are averse to borrowing any more money is the debt snowball method. Using this method, you will repay the smallest debt first, then use the money that you would normally pay towards this debt to pay more towards the next debt up, which will get that one paid off faster. As you work through your debts, you will free up more and more money as each one is paid off, so that when you finally get to the largest debt, you are able to pay everything that you would have normally been paying towards all your debts combined straight to that debt to get it cleared quickly. Continue paying the minimum payment to all your debts as normal throughout the process so that you do not cause any damage to your credit score.

 

Debt Help

If you are struggling to make repayments to any of your debts, the above methods might not be ideal for you right now. Thankfully, there is help available. You can work with a company to get a debt management plan where the company will negotiate with creditors on your behalf in order to reduce your payments. Although this might mean that it takes longer to improve your credit score, it can prevent serious damage as the debts are still being paid off.

How long it will take to improve your credit score will depend on your situation and the method that you choose to clear your debts.

 

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Finance

SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR KIDS HOW MUCH YOU EARN?

By Kerry Sutherland, certified financial planner at Alexander Forbes

 

Many parents are reluctant to talk to their children about money, but these are important lessons to help them achieve financial independence when they are older – even if you aren’t a financial genius yourself.

 

As children get older, they notice their friends’ houses and cars of different sizes and have discussions on the school playground about their different holiday destinations. “In the senior phase of junior school, they work out very quickly that different incomes yield different lifestyles and this is usually when the question about income gets posed to parents,” said Kerry Sutherland.

 

Kerry Sutherland

“You can tell them that you understand they have questions about money and how much you earn, but answer it by saying let’s rather talk about what food, toys, stationery, extramural sporting activities cost, and if we can afford them and how, and about saving for things like holidays.”

 

Often the exact number is not meaningful to children, they rather want to use it for comparison purposes. “You need not tell your kids how much you earn, but you can use it as a motivator to encourage them to work harder at school if they wish to achieve a certain lifestyle as an adult,” said Sutherland.

 

When your children start with this line of questioning, Sutherland advises using it as an opportunity to discuss basic financial planning. “Explain to your kids that a lifestyle is not always about what you earn, but that it is also about how you manage your money. You can discuss budgeting, keeping debts as low as possible and of course the compounding benefits of long term savings. It is important to emphasise that it’s not wise to spend all you earn every month as when you reach retirement age, you must have saved enough to see you through your retirement years.”

 

“Telling your child how much you earn so that they can brag to their friends is unhelpful. If it’s to explain why you can’t afford a fancy holiday, then just explaining this will suffice. It’s also not necessary to treat it like a secret. If your adolescent asks, it’s important to be honest, open and authentic in your answer.”

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