European companies with more than 5,000 employees take longer and spend more to process a single invoice than companies with between 250 and 499 staff, according to findings released today by information management firm Iron Mountain.
The study, undertaken on behalf of Iron Mountain by leading research company YouGov, interviewed 200 finance executives in the UK, France, Spain and Germany. The results suggest that many companies are struggling with out-dated processes and inadequate controls in invoice management. Figures provided by respondents indicate that while firms with between 250 and 500 employees take on average 8.60 days and spend £9.60 to process each inbound invoice, these figures increase to nearly 10 days and £12.80 for businesses with more than 5,000 staff.
These figures imply a lack of efficiency that is supported by other findings.
Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of respondents from companies with more than 5,000 employees feel they have too many people tied up doing manual invoice processing, a concern expressed by just one in 10 (9 per cent) of respondents from firms with between 250 and 500 employees. Similarly, a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents from companies with more than 5,000 employees believe that the overall cost of finance is too high, compared to just over one in 10 (13 per cent) of those from businesses with between 250 and 500 employees.
Respondents from the smaller firms were, however, more likely to express concern about their financial processing systems and document management processes being out of date: 13 per cent compared to just five per cent of respondents from businesses with more than 5,000 employees.
Iron Mountain, a global business that already handles the document and electronic information management needs of many organisations across Europe, launched its Business Process Management division in March this year to help companies save costs and improve efficiency in invoice management.
“Effective invoice management is a business critical process, regardless of company size,” said Bettina Wonsag, General Manager of the BPM division at Iron Mountain. “The larger the business, the more invoices it has to handle – and the more likely it is that these invoices will arrive in multiple formats, languages and currencies. As the volume and complexity of invoices grows, many finance systems reach their limits. Our study found that one in five (19 per cent) of respondents from the largest firms feel they lack control over their accounts payable process. Tackling this requires a company to invest heavily in new hardware and software and to train staff accordingly – using up valuable resources and expertise that could be redeployed elsewhere in the business. We enable companies to address this important issue, giving them greater control, compliance and cost savings.”
Iron Mountain’s BPM services take paper and manual handling out of the invoice management process; offering secure, transparent and structured document management from processing and automation to storage and retrieval, and including accounts payable specific services.
The company’s services– from taking over individual process steps to a fully managed service – can handle invoice data across multiple countries and legal entities, in any format or language.
The survey, run by research agency YouGovStone, was conducted with 200 senior business people who work in large commercial companies (over 250 employees) and have responsibility for invoice payment. 50 respondents were interviewed in each of UK, Germany, Spain and France in their native language. A combination of online and telephone interviewing was used. Respondents were drawn randomly from YouGovStone's existing research panels and also from external pan-European data sources. The survey was conducted between 4 and 21 February 2011.
About Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain helps companies take care of their physical and digital information assets, enabling them to keep storage costs under control, access records quickly and remain compliant.
It works with enterprises in financial services, public sector, healthcare, legal, retail, film & sound, energy & sound; and also with small and medium-sized businesses – no matter what their information management challenges are.
Iron Mountain employs 21,000 people worldwide and runs over 1,000 facilities, 10 data centres and 3,400 vehicles. It safeguards and provides access to over 425m cubic feet of paper records, 10bn emails, 65m backup tapes, 2.5m PCs and 20,000 servers.
For further information about Iron Mountain, please also visit www.ironmountain.co.uk.