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Higher education invoicing check-up: Are your processes optimized?

by ​Ben Ruch
When it comes to processing invoices, everyone involved wants it to go faster. Identifying how to streamline, though, requires expertise.

Many colleges and universities have not automated key financial processes, and as a result many don’t understand just how much these processes are costing them. Often overlooked in technological upgrades, higher education invoicing processes are often outdated, causing slow turnaround time, costing money and, at times, introducing inaccuracies.

A recent study1, for example, found that 35 percent of higher education food invoices carry at least one overcharge. At the same time, according to American Productivity and Quality Center research2, labor comprises 62 percent of total Accounts Payable costs. Because labor costs play such a huge role in how much an invoice costs to process, some organizations’ outdated processes are causing them to spend nearly twice as much on invoicing processes as they would with more efficient processes.

All of that adds up to a lot of room for — and a lot of avenues to — improvement. However, so many moving parts can make finding inefficiencies difficult.

How slow is too slow?

And how much is too much to spend processing an invoice? Those can be tough questions to answer when all you have to compare against is your own performance. Fortunately, you’re not alone in having these questions or in getting these answers.
In my years of experience, I’ve streamlined and cut costs in many higher education invoicing processes. As a result, I’ve seen a variety of approaches and their results, as well as working with teams to design and implement improvements. By partnering with a third-party expert, you no longer have to wonder how your processes stack up against your colleagues’, because your expert partner has seen how your colleagues’ processes work.

With that in mind, we’ve developed a self-assessment tool aimed at helping you see how advanced your approach to higher education invoicing processes is — and identifying areas for potential improvement. Of course, such a tool can never replace an in-depth conversation with someone who knows the higher education space across many colleges and universities, but it can help you decide where to start that conversation, or where to start your own deeper self-analysis.

The higher education invoicing assessment

See how advanced your approach to invoicing processes is, and identify areas for potential improvement.
Ben Ruch
Ben Ruch, Senior Region Manager, Higher Education for Ricoh USA, Inc., works with colleges and universities to provide Professional Services, Managed Services and Business Process Outsourcing Solutions that simplify processes, automate paper-based workflow and improve speed of information. Ruch has over 23 years of experience in the industry and expertise in production printing systems solutions and professional services solution.
1 Mike Buzalka. "Analysis: 35% of college food invoices have overcharges." Food Management, February 22, 2016. http://www.food-management.com/news-trends/analysis-35-college-food-invoices-have-overcharges
2 Mary Driscoll. "Metric of the Month: Accounts Payable Process Cost." CFO Magazine, June 14, 2015. http://ww2.cfo.com/expense-management/2015/06/metric-month-accounts-payable-process-cost/