A paperless office is high up on the wish list

Putting in overtime to prepare financial statements? We have always done it like that…

Whoever argues in such a way, has just one goal: to maintain the status quo. This works too, but only as long as all involved are predominantly of the same opinion. Otherwise, there can be no further development anywhere in both professional and private life. Those who do not progress are the losers. Many creatures of habit are currently experiencing this with ongoing accounting – whether they work internally in a company or in an external tax office.

A paperless office is high up on the wish list

Contrary to what high frequency buzzwords like digital transformation, industry 4.0, and Internet of things would suggest, digital processes are only reluctantly being introduced to German businesses. For example, a paperless office does indeed belong to the wishful thinking of businesses to save costs and increase efficiency. However, in practice they often fail to implement it. A study published in 2015 by the research institute ibi Research on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) showed that only 26% of businesses directly process incoming electronic invoices digitally. 69% print them out.

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Preparing the monthly and yearly statement over the course of a single night is an absolute waste of time

In small and medium-sized businesses, invoices take the path that they have always taken: they are marked with a date stamp, walked through the office until they find the approval of the colleague responsible, and are settled – ideally within the payment deadline. They then land in files, ready to be dug up again for the monthly statement and sorted in one night. Road maps may not be the method of choice in small businesses and startups – instead inefficient accounting is still often the order of the day.

The problem does not lie in the lack of awareness of the amount of time wasted, intransparency, or the error rate of the previous processes. Many companies want to digitise more. At least 57% now send invoices to clients via e-mail, compared to 44% in 2011. In addition, 35% of those who send invoices and 40% of those who receive them favour digital invoices over paper. However, the problem with most companies is rather that they are reluctant to fundamentally change their processes, in part because they are perplexed about how they should go about this change. Meanwhile, a suitable solution now exists for every size of business.

Electronic invoices make finances transparent

On the one hand, modern technology enables the process of recording current business transactions to be done more efficiently. On the other hand, financial processes that are linked to accounting, such as liquidity planning and preparation for annual statements, could be handled entirely digitally. A higher level of automation is already possible with the use of powerful software, and this trend is continuously on the rise. The added value for businesses: They are able to track invoices, revenue and cost, as well as liquidity with technological and personal support on a daily basis. With this assurance and saved time, they can tick accounting off the to-do list and focus on more important things. There is nothing more to say in the defence of paper invoices compared to this new possibility; besides them having long been a fundamental component of bookkeeping. It is now time for new habits.