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New approach: efficient invoice processing as an intangible asset

New approach: efficient invoice processing as an intangible asset

In this article on CFO.com William Heitman explains that in the last 40 years, tangible assets have declined to 15% of business value, while intangible assets now generate 85% of value. This means that most intangible assets (and there value) are no longer comprised of trademarks and patents, but rather of “tasks”, “processes” and “competences”.

One of these ‘compentences’ or better ‘incompetences’ is the processing of invoices. William Heitman explains: “…the world’s largest lightbulb maker manufactures products in automated plants that are nearly labor-free. But when the bulbs are sold through the world’s largest retailer, the invoices are manually reconciled by knowledge workers, resembling a modern-day Dickensian counting house. A group of 2,000 employees who process invoices is supported by a team of 600 lower-cost reconcilers. They correct inconsistencies, contact store managers and vendors, and return goods. Vendors complain of their high costs, delays, and the inconvenience related to invoice processing.

Nobody at the retailer notices the wasteful rework, however, because the invoice-processing organization routinely meets its operating budget.”

When we relate invoice processing to intangible assets, it is clear to see that e-invoicing and AP automation increases the value of this as an intangible asset dramatically. An interesting new approach to the value of e-invoicing, interoperability and AP automation.


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