Singapore companies still struggling to go paperless in invoicing

Singapore companies still struggling to go paperless in invoicing
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The need to process invoices ‘as soon as they come in’ by employers is causing undue stress, says Sansan survey.

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Four out of five employees in Singapore still have to go to their workplace during lockdown to perform tasks related to invoice processing, according to the latest market research by contact management solution provider Sansan.

This is in spite of a majority reporting that their workplaces are currently promoting paperless initiatives (77.8%) and remote working (66.8%). The survey commissioned by Sansan and undertaken by Rakuten sampled 400 employees with an average age of 38 years old and an approximate even split between male and female.

Respondents said their responsibilities included handling invoices from external parties, with the most common departments being operations/business planning (21.5%), accounting (17%), and finance (10.8%).

As businesses move towards paperless operations as part of wider digital transformation efforts, Sansan said one of the key challenges for employees tasked with processing invoices is around converting from physical to digital formats, and vice versa.

A majority (52.8%) said invoices received in electronic file format (i.e. PDF) had to then be manually printed out, while an even larger number (66.3%) also had to regularly scan paper invoices into electronic files.

Can a cloud solution alleviate the stress?

Edward Senju, Regional CEO of Sansan, said: “Our research points to a clear need in the market for a single cloud solution that allows businesses — whether they are sending or receiving invoices online or offline — to submit both paper and digital formats to a single address, at which the invoices are automatically processed and stored in the cloud.

“A physical postal address for paper invoices, as well as an email address for digital PDFs, would be the most comprehensive solution to address this nation-wide challenge. Such a solution would save companies substantial time and costs, while also reducing the need for employees to go to their workplace during COVID lockdowns, potentially exposing themselves and others to infection.

The survey found that while that although almost all (92.8%) invoices are processed within 30 minutes, approximately three quarters (74.4%) still include paper formats. The average volume of monthly invoices that are processed by each employee now surpasses 218 hours per month.

This can lead to invoice processing being an inadvertent avoidable but cause of workplace stress among those surveys (36.5%), with over half (52.5%) saying they typically have to action them ‘as soon as they come in’ and that this need to process them quickly is a source of stress (60%).

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