Look towards your efficiency in your farm office

With the levels of uncertainty around input and output prices, magnified by sterling depreciation and the beginning of monetary policy tightening, it is not a bad time to look at how to cut costs and / or drive up efficiency in the farm office.

A number of very simple, powerful and low cost invoice scanning solutions have become available over the past couple of years, really cutting back the time it takes to organise invoices for the accountants and/or cutting out completely the need to type in invoice details into your accounts package. The processes involved are summarised below:

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In a typical process, invoices come in via post or email, are printed out, have to be reviewed and then all approved invoices either have to have the key information typed into the accounts package or collated and given to the accountants to enter the information.

A more efficient approach being taken up by small businesses including farms over the past couple of years, is to use a web based scanning package that automatically links to your accounts package (such as Xero, Sage, Quickbooks). In this approach, invoices are automatically emailed to your scanning software account where they are scanned, key information is automatically extracted and they are automatically coded to the relevant cost centre; you then just review them online and either approve or set aside for query with the suppliers; approved invoices are automatically added to your accounts package with an electronic copy of the invoice attached. If you have an accountant, once you approve the invoice it can automatically go to their package for your account. There is no need to retype anything, no need to keep boxes of receipts (all receipts are stored electronically for as many years as you want), and in general there are far fewer errors.

Adam Donaldson has helped implement this invoice processing automation across a range of small businesses and farms, and says "honestly this is a great solution for a business that deals with 50 or more invoices a month; my clients who use scanning solutions range from 50 to 450 invoices per month and certainly as the number of invoices increases the efficiencies from automation become really apparent. These scanning solutions range from £20 to £200/month depending on scale, so it is an easy calculation for farms to make to evaluate whether they will save money compared to traditional ways of processing invoices."

For more information or to discuss, please contact Adam on 07907 581094.