My son just finished up a week at summer camp. At the end of the week, the parents were invited to a family day to see what their kids worked on, play games, and most importantly, to take their kids home. But, as usual, the clear favorite game of the day was tug-of-war. You know, the classic matchup of one team pulling for supremacy over the other. Brute strength is often the deciding factor.

It’s funny how so many things in life are a proverbial camp registration software tug-of-war. At home, it might be struggling between purchasing that new entertainment system versus the roof on your house. At dinner, it might be the healthy choice versus the hearty choice. And at work, it might be in the accounting and finance department, specifically accounts payable (AP) versus accounts receivable (AR).

If you’re not in AP or AR, let me explain why this is such a battle. AP often interacts with a vendor’s accounts receivable department. Conversely, in AR, a customer’s accounts payable department is your regular contact. And I bet those conversations aren’t about the latest summer blockbuster or the weather for the weekend. Much too often it’s a tug-of-war over money. Did you receive an invoice from your vendor that you don’t think is correct? Or did you send an invoice to your customer, only to receive back a portion of the payment you originally requested?

So who wins? Just like at summer camp, the winner is the one with the most strength. But in this case, strength isn’t about muscles. Rather, it’s information that is the source of power. And in the AP versus AR tug-of-war, the winner is the one with the best information. Whoever’s records are best, whoever’s proof is better, and whoever has the confidence that all of the information they need is right at their finger tips will come out on top.

But there are plenty of obstacles along the way preventing a victorious finish. Too often the information is very decentralized. Think about it sitting in a file folder, manufacturing specs on the production floor, shipping documents and photographs in the warehouse, and invoicing information stuck in the accounting system. And what about all of the e-mails and phone calls that took place in between?

To prevent these obstacles, centralizing the information is key. To do so, you must be able to capture content from any number of sources and interrelate it to each other. Using software like enterprise content management (ECM), this can be done. When a purchase order is issued, it’s tagged with a number. Then, all of the subsequent documents, e-mails, photos, specifications, etc. are tagged with that same number. Now, you have all the information you need. More importantly, you have all the information you need in one place. ECM is like a one-stop-shop for information that touches all the areas of an organization’s finance operations.


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