Save Paper at Your Startup, Part 2: Invoices

by Ahmed Gabr, January 8, 2013

In the first part of the series, I wrote about digitizing your business cards. This article, the second in our series on saving paper (and cost) at your startup, offers tips on  digitizing invoices, which makes it easy to manage your workplace budget and prevent the loss of important records. 

receipt scnner

Invoice Scanners    

The fastest way to digitize your invoices is to use an invoice scanner. Several are available on the local market, like IRIScan Anywhere and NeatReceipts. The cost for these portable photoscanners ranges between US $200 and US $400.

To facilitate complete digitalization, the scanners come with an application that reads the text on scanned sheets and transforms it into a digital document.

The accuracy of the extracted data varies from one scanner to another, but most are able to recognize and process all essential data present on any invoice.

These processing programs also offer the option to save a soft copy of the invoice or export the recognized data to databases, itemized by quantities, prices, dates and total spending. 

This last function makes it easy to also parse invoices that are sent by email into databases, to electronically manage your spending.

Digital Invoices

Of course, you can bypass the step of purchasing a scanner by simply requesting only digital copies of invoices from clients and suppliers. Most companies today now provide a digital copy of their invoices as an alternative or in addition to a hard copy.

Using soft copies is convenient not just for your startup, but also for clients who manage their finances digitally; it makes sense to offer all clients a digital copy alternative when sending invoices out.

Quicken

Digital Money Management Services

In the era of smart phones and tablets, many entrepreneurs are also running their business through digital gadgets. 

Here, there are many options for digital money management programs. Some of the most renowned are Manilla, Billster and Buxfer, all of which offer free trial periods. 

Mint is the most famous in the field, and also the most specialized and comprehensive. It also provides applications for mobile and tablet platforms like iOS and Android. The only major flaw in the service for startups in the Middle East is that it can only be used with U.S. and Canadian banks.    

Another famous alternative is Quicken, from Intuit, which is widely used in this region. The application is available both for personal use and for small businesses, or can be used to manage large investments. Prices range from US $40 to US $110, and the application is available for mobile devices.

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Ahmad is a writer and a tech analyst, passionate about technology and electronics. He is the founder of GadgetsArabia, the first tech blog in Arabic and the Editor-in-Chief of Swalif.Net. You can follow him on Twitter @ahmdgabr or by email at ahmedgabr[at]swalif[dot]net

 
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