Paper vs digital documents

Accounting departments in UK businesses have continued to shift towards digital practices, but more than four in 10 (41%) continue to rely on paper-based processes, according to our research into the purchasing and accounts payable process.

The 41% is a slight fall from the 45% of business finance decision makers who admitted to relying on paper-based accounting in 2016.

Despite the trend towards digital, the report revealed a significant number of finance bosses who admitted that their company was struggling to move fully to a digital-based model.

More than half, 56%, said that a paper process was still used at some point within the purchasing process in their business.

Within accounts payable departments in these UK businesses, 16% of finance bosses said their company had not introduced any digital processes at all – relying on totally paper – while nearly a quarter 24% relied on manual scanning and storing of documents.

The need for Digital Transformation

These findings show a welcome trend towards the redundancy of paper-based accounting, but some businesses are still putting themselves at risk by continuing to rely solely on paper.

Businesses are often dealing with dozens, if not hundreds of invoices and payment enquiries on a daily basis and trying to manage and juggle these requests and demands using paper and filing cabinets can easily lead to finance departments being overwhelmed.

Delays commonly arising from manual processing of supplier invoices can result in a business being unaware of its future payment commitments – and then it is only a short step further before they end up in severe financial difficulties.

Given the current focus in the UK on productivity, it is staggering that so many companies won’t let go of their legacy paper-based systems and free their accounting teams up to add value to the business rather than drown in paperwork.

In a rapidly changing world, this report shows a welcome shift towards the use of technology. Concerns remain for the future of the 41% of businesses that appear to be lagging behind.

Click here to view the full findings of the survey, including purchasing trends and pain points for UK businesses in 2018.