Majority Return to Manually Process Invoices, Sansan Survey Reveals

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Home > Articles > Majority Return to Manually Process Invoices, Sansan Survey Reveals

 Majority Return to Manually Process Invoices, Sansan Survey Reveals

July 29, 2021
Potential spread of the virus is happening needlessly due to lack of solution that spans both online and offline invoice processing. 


As of 12 July 2021, a majority of employees (80 per cent) in Singapore still have to go to their workplace during lockdown to perform tasks related to invoice processing, according to the latest market research by Asia’s leading contact management solution provider Sansan. That’s despite an overwhelming majority reporting that their workplaces are currently promoting paperless initiatives (77.8 per cent) and remote working (66.8 per cent). The survey commissioned by Sansan and undertaken by Rakuten sampled 400 employees with an average age of 38 years old and an approximate even split between male and female. All of those surveyed said their responsibilities included handling invoices from external parties, with the most common departments being operations/business planning (21.5 per cent), accounting (17 per cent), and finance (10.8 per cent).

As businesses move towards paperless operations as part of wider digital transformation (DX) efforts, one of the key challenges for employees tas
ked with processing invoices is around converting from physical to digital formats, and vice versa. A majority (52.8 per cent) said invoices received in electronic file format (i.e. PDF) had to then be manually printed out, while an even larger number (66.3 per cent) also had to regularly scan paper invoices into electronic files. On average, 436.27 invoices are requested from suppliers each month, with 80 per cent requesting suppliers submit invoices in a specific format. After invoices (79.8 per cent), receipts (59.5 per cent), and contracts (48 per cent) are viewed as priorities for going paperless.

Edward Senju, Regional CEO of Sansan, said: “Our research points to a clear need in the market for a single cloud solution that allows businesses—whether they are sending or receiving invoices online or offline—to submit both paper and digital formats to a single address, at which the invoices are automatically processed and stored in the cloud. A physical postal address for paper invoices, as well as an E-mail address for digital PDFs, would be the most comprehensive solution to address this nation-wide challenge. Such a solution would save companies substantial time and costs, while also reducing the need for employees to go to their workplace during COVID-19 lockdowns, potentially exposing themselves and others to infection. All of this would further serve to support the efforts of the Singapore government’s paperless initiatives on e-invoicing, as
spearheaded by the IMDA.”

Over half of those surveyed (52.5 per cent) said they process invoices the moment they are received, with the remaining 47.5 per cent taking longer. From this group, 65.2 per cent spend over 10 minutes on average searching for a specific invoice and receive an average of 300 invoices each month. This suggests 50 hours per month (about 600 hours per year) spent searching for invoices, before even starting to process them. 

Finally, the survey found that while almost all (92.8 per cent) invoices are processed within 30 minutes, approximately three-quarters (74.4 per cent) still include paper formats. When you consider the average volume of monthly invoices that are processed by each employee, you quickly surpass 218 hours per month that are spent on invoice processing (including converting formats). This can lead to invoice processing being an inadvertent avoidable but cause of workplace stress among those surveys (36.5 per cent), with over half (52.5 per cent) saying they typically have to action them ‘as soon as they come in’ and that this need to process them quickly is a source of stress (60 per cent).

The full survey and a media kit are available

About Sansan

Launched in 2007, Sansan is a fully featured, cloud-based contact management solution for corporations. Centred on business cards and using a proprietary system of digitisation harnessing the power of both AI and humans, it seamlessly organises contacts into a secure online database, accessible at any time from either the Web or mobile app. The database is optimised and integrated with external information by an advanced AI system and is fully shareable within organisations. As of 2019, Sansan is used by almost 6,000 companies, ranging from small businesses to international corporations.


About Edward Senju, Regional CEO, Sansan

Edward Senju is the Regional Chief Executive Officer at Sansan Inc., a Japanese provider of cloud-based contact management solutions for corporations. Using Singapore as a springboard, he is responsible for driving Sansan’s growth in the region, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Senju aims to establish the business platform in Asia by strengthening the deployment of corporate business card management. He is focussed on driving strategic partnerships and service acceptance amongst corporate users and organisations. Since joining Sansan in 2009, Senju has been a key contributor in the company’s growth and expansion from Japan to other parts of Asia. He was initially responsible for overseeing the management, operations, HR, legal, and finance teams. In 2011, he was tasked with helping launch and develop Sansan’s consumer-oriented contact management app, Eight. He subsequently helped build it into Japan’s largest business social network. He was also responsible for strengthening Eight’s market dominance in India by innovating to meet local customer needs and requirements. Senju then was appointed as Regional CEO, to scale up across Asia-Pacific, guided by the company mission of “Turning Encounters into Innovation” to transform businesses. With extensive time living in the United States and Mexico, Senju graduated from Chuo University (Tokyo) in 2003 and worked with global tech giant Oracle as an Account Manager, in charge of enterprise sales, before joining Sansan.


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