Accounts Payable: Latin America is Electronic, the Rest of the World is Paper

December 12, 2014

A recent poll suggests that many businesses' accounts payable departments are bogged down with excessive amounts of paper, reducing overall productivity and efficiency.

According to a new survey report from Canon Business Process Services, a substantial number of AP departments are awash in paper records and manual invoices. The "Accounts Payable Optimization Study" revealed that roughly 66 percent of survey respondents predominantly used paper documents, fax documents and hard-copy email attachments for use as invoices, despite the fact that electronic invoicing can serve as an alternative.

"Two-thirds of respondents also indicated that less than 10 percent of their suppliers submit invoices electronically so that no manual handling is required for input into the organization's ERP system," the report stated.

This isn't a problem in Latin America. For the past several years, governments in the region have encouraged businesses to use e-invoicing for business services, both to cut down on paper products and to place tighter controls on the potential for fraud. However, what was once a suggestion is now a mandate. Brazil was the first to make e-invoicing obligatory, with countries like Mexico and Chile following suit.

There are lessons to be learned from Latin America:

  • Standardization is possible
  • Companies can adopt the standardization
  • There are benefits to businesses, not just the government

So as you embark on your Account Payable strategies, make sure you understand what you have to do in Latin America, as many global processes cannot be applied to the local countries because they don't operate with paper.

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