If you’re in the transportation business, the idea of a paperless office probably sounds like a joke.
The reason is that paperless is just a feature. If going paperless doesn’t result in bigger profits, who cares?
But these days, more and more transportation companies are finally going paperless because the technology that goes along with it has gotten more powerful. Here at Microdea, we’ve helped hundreds of transportation companies make the move and get rid of trailers and trailers of paper. We’ve digitized entire warehouses that were filled to the brim with boxes of old records.
Going paperless is happening at a faster and faster rate because there’s a real return on investment. Of course most transportation back offices still have some paper, whether it’s from old habits dying hard or from the odd customer who’s still demanding paper copies, but the trend is definitely toward less paper.
The rest of this article explains the technology trends that makes going paperless lead to lower costs and wider margins.
1. Easier to store and search for information
Digital documents are now cheaper to store and easier to find than ever before.
Think about how much easier it is to find a book on Amazon than it is in a bookstore. Or how much easier it is to find a fact on Wikipedia than it is in an encyclopedia.
Documents stored digitally can be found in seconds. Whether it’s customer service, auditing, compliance requests, or any other reason you might need to find a document, it’s way easier to have your own company-wide Google where you can search for a document from anywhere, rather than sifting through boxes in a trailer or warehouse.
Going paperless saves your team time every day, helps coordinate activities between multiple office locations, and eliminates the hard costs associated with paper (ink/toner, storage, courier costs, etc.).
2. More powerful automation eliminates bottlenecks
The next big benefit of dealing with digital documents is that you can eliminate the bottlenecks in your process.
PODs and accessorials can be sent to the office in seconds from the road. With OCR, barcodes and/or inbox monitoring, most of your indexing can be done automatically regardless of where the documents are being sent in from, and documents can be sent directly to where they need to go for checking information and invoicing.
When all of your billing documents are stored digitally, you can set up your system to create invoice packages automatically with all the right backup documentation attached. With the bottlenecks removed, time-to-bill goes from days or weeks to minutes.
On the Accounts Payable side of things, you can put an inbox monitoring setup in place and get all incoming invoices sent to the right person for validation and approval. Posting to your general ledger can also be automated.
The efficiency gains here are huge. Billing clerks can handle documents in less than half the time and add more and more volume with no issues. AP Clerks can handle twice or three times as many invoices a day.
3. Deeper integrations with Transport Management Systems
A lot of this automation is possible because paperless systems can be integrated with your TMS.
OCR can be made more powerful and accurate by pulling information that’s already stored in your dispatch system.
On the billing side, with the right integrations, from within your TMS you can view documents, see which loads have PODs and accessorials ready, and then send out all those invoices with one click of a button.
From there, the collections process can also be automated, with regular reminders sent out to customers letting them know about their outstanding payments.
If you’re in the logistics business, load statuses can be automatically updated and rate confirmations can be stored and then used to validate information on incoming invoices from carriers to accelerate the approval and payment process.
Again, this helps supercharge the efficiency of your staff, allowing them to handle greater volume and focus on other value-added activities instead of manual data entry.
4. Everyone has a smartphone
A fourth and final trend has been the rise of smartphones. Now that most people walk around with computers in their pockets, the benefits of going paperless are even greater.
On the driver side of things, drivers can send in proof of delivery documents right when they’re signed by scanning them using an app like LoadPal. Combined with automation and TMS integrations, the indexing can then happen automatically and rendition billing can take place in a matter of minutes.
On the AP side of things, approvals can now be done from anywhere with a simple smartphone app.
The Returns on Paperless
For decades moving to a paperless system didn’t make sense. But these days with the amount of work that can be automated and the TMS integrations and smartphone extensions that are available, many transportation companies see a positive return on investment in six months or less.
Over time, we help transportation companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, allowing them to continue to grow volume without hiring more staff, keeping their time-to-bill and therefore DSO as low as possible, and preventing problems like unbilled revenue and missing documents from piling up.
If you still have an office that’s overflowing with paper, there’s never been a better time to make the move to a paperless system.
These days, less paper really does mean more profit.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of going paperless and how automating your back-office processes can lead to a return on investment in six months or less, check out the ebook below.
Steele Roddick is a Content Specialist at Microdea where he creates content that helps transportation companies drive their business forward. He’s endlessly fascinated by technology trends, chess, and discovering new places to travel with his wife.