We have been scanning A/P documents for a couple of years now. The process is extremely efficient and our auditors love it. We retain the “paper originals” for the current year under audit only. We set the auditors up in our conference room and give them on line access to review our PDF copies with the understanding that they can get up and come into the Finance Department to look at the paper originals if they so desire. We also do this with our cash receipts, our journal entries, our budget entries, etc. We store all of our payroll reports on a CD rom for each of the bi-weekly payrolls. We have become an almost entirely paperless office. It has freed up much needed space. We do not save the original A/P documents after the audit is complete with one exception. Any expenditures paid for with federal grant dollars are required to have the paper original invoice saved per the standard retention requirements. It was a Department of Justice auditor that advised us of this requirement when we were in the process of implementing procedures to scan our A/P documents. Now, we just have the A/P staff file these invoices separately (staff has a list of the accounts federal grants are charged to).
Good luck. It is highly efficient, although I have to admit I don’t get the exercise I used to for looking things up… now I do it from my desk top :-> Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.
Robin Bertagna, CPA
City of Yuba City
Vista has been scanning AP checks and related invoices into Laserfiche for a couple of years now to reduce the amount of paper we have both in office and at IronMountain. We have reduced the amount of boxes kept in storage by about 175 – 200 boxes a year as a result which takes up a lot of room and has decreased our storage costs significantly. We setup a procedure for scanning checks and labeling them by Check #, Check Date, and Vendor so it is very easy to go into laserfiche and quickly find the check you are searching for and printing a copy of it if need be. Last year, our audit went very smoothly as we were able to quickly locate the check(s) that the auditors wanted backup on. The auditors did comment on how efficient it was that we were now scanning them and we do make sure that we monitor the scanning to ensure that all scanned copies look OK and that there are no missing checks.
We do not scan invoices at the time the invoice is entered into Munis because we weren’t sure how to link multiple invoices up to a single check. As soon as the checkrun is completed, we start scanning in all the checks and the related invoices which seems to work better for us. As far as destroying the originals, we wait until the completion of the annual audit and then the hard copy is destroyed as with all other records on December 31st of each year.
Good luck in your endeavor. ☺
City of Vista
Direct: (760) 726-1340 Ext. 1027
Fax: (760) 639-6171
We scan all of our documents and its been great! It is readily accessible whenever we need it and we don't have to hunt through years of boxes in storage to find something. We have also trained our Auditors how to use our scanning system so that they can look up whatever they'd like.
We do keep hard copies of the payables for the mandatory amount of time required by law. Our legal counsel is in agreement with our procedures.
Nancy Desai, MBA
Moulton Niguel Water District
27500 La Paz Road
Laguna Niguel, CA. 92677
In Thousand Oaks, we have an outside provider scan our AP documents which are uploaded to Laserfiche, a City Clerk maintained imaging system already in use by the City for all other documents. We email an Excel file with the check data to Laserfiche to be uploaded to the scanned check file.
Our accounting system (SunghardNaviline) has the capability of direct access to scanned documents, but since that meant that we would have to purchase separate imaging software, the decision was made to use existing resources, at that time.
Since we do not quality control the images, all originals are sent directly to storage when the boxes are returned to City Clerk from scanning. If we were to have AP staff scan documents themselves to insure copy integrity, it would have been highly labor intensive. Although this has not reduced our offsite storage costs, this has significantly reduced on-site storage, staff time required to file, and staff time required to support auditor requests (auditors get access to files). We maintain at least two AP runs in house, since most requests for copies, voids, and reissues occur within two weeks of the processing dates (checks are released the week following processing). If documents are pending scanning at the contractor, we have a process to have the contractor email copies to us.
Although it would be much more convenient to have images attached to the accounting transactions through the accounting software, this has worked quite well for us. Just a word or caution - please analyze all your AP documentation for confidential items. We found HR Worker's Comp and health related invoices with employees names, reserve deputy payments with SSNs & addresses, and employee payments with home addresses.
Good luck on your plans.
We have been scanning A/P documents since 1998 with great results and accessing them with Laser fiche. We currently use Sungard IFAS software and drill down to the source documents from reports which are Auditors utilize during audit. Departments also utilize this feature and can access the document copies on their own. We no longer pull documents for the Auditors and have to refile them. We destroy the original invoices each year after audit. No regrets it is a great process.
Chief Financial Operations Officer
City of Brentwood
Barbara - answers to your questions are as follows:
The City of Mission Viejo has been scanning and attachingAP documents for almost two years. We also scan and attach the back up to all journal entries and all cash receipts.
The result has been great. The scanning and attaching does not take too much time to do and it allows for everyone with access to our financial software (IFAS) to access the original documentation for almost every recorded transaction. Other departments can now look up invoices online without having to come to our department and look in the old AP files.
We do not destroy the original documentation. We file the AP documents by week by batch and then retire them as we did before.
Scanning and attaching documentationhas also been a big help at audit time. We provide our auditors with a laptop and access to our financial software. We then show them how to drill down to the original documentation so we no longer have to pull any back up for the auditors. This is a great time saver for the auditors and for us.
My only regret was that we didn't start scanning and attaching documents sooner.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions
City of Mission Viejo
200 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Hello, Barbara -
We have been scanning our AP documents for about a year now. We first developed a retention policy (attached) that had extensive legal review and ultimate agreement and then was approved by our Board. We have about five years of documents scanned in to the system then destroyed the oldest four years of documents. Retrieval is easy and we have provided the auditors with scanned documents and they had no problem with it. Our legal folks tell us that even for Board items if we have two copies (one in the document storage system here and one in the off-site backup of the system) we do not need to keep hard copies in the office.
All that to say, we have been pleased with our document scanning system and are scanning in payroll/HR records, Board agendas and minutes, resolutions, etc. I tell folks here that it is my goal to never buy another fire-proof locking file cabinet!
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Karen L. Wilcox
Director of Finance
Sacramento Area Council of Governments
Phone: 916-340-6210 (direct)
Last September, the City of Walnut Creek began scanning in its AP documents. At this point we have two fiscal years worth of data in the system. We use SIRE Document Imaging which has a web-based application that employees can sign into for accessing documents. This has worked exceedingly well for us as now employees can look up paid checks from their own desks and Finance staff are free to work on other tasks. We have recently begun scanning in Journal Vouchers, Cash Receipts, and Budget Transfers as well.
I believe that our new policy is that as we get more information in the system we will only be keeping the most recent three years in hard copy and the rest will be destroyed. We keep most items for seven years at this point, so this change will reduce our storage needs by more than half. In addition, we are no longer allowing access to our hard copies to people outside of Finance so we are finding that we have better controls over our documentation now.
Our auditors love the new system. Their office strives to work with electronic files and not paper so they appreciate the changes that we have made. When they were here recently for the internal control review, I set up an account in SIRE for them so that they could go into the system and access the checks that they needed to review.
I supervise this project for the Finance division and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
City of Walnut Creek
We have made this change with our business license system. We scanned all of the data in and attached the pdf images to the electronic BL accounts. It makes researching an item much easier and significantly helped with our filing storage issue. We still save the originals, but now they are stored in archives. We had to make sure the drive we are storing the items on is secure and has limited access since the data contains some confidential information.
We would like to do the same with our AP back up someday. The problem is we are short staffed right now, so going forward with a new project is not feasible.
Good morning Barbara,
This has been a topic of discussion for quite awhile. It just seems to get put on the back burner. We have consulted with our attorney regarding what is a legal document, is a copy of a signed document as good as the original, etc. We were advised that a scanned copy is a legal document as long as it is as legible as the original and it cannot be altered. We also want to e-store our timecards, business license applications and utility applications…lots of paper taking up space!
We have laserfiche which the city clerk’s office has been using for some time. We will probably use that resource for saving not only those I listed above but also journal entries and accounts payable.
We scan every document – A/P documents, purchase orders, invoices, billings, payroll, etc. Call our Finance Officer, Dan Matusiewicz (Dan M.), on Monday. He’s off this week on vacation. His number is 949-644-3126. He can answer all of your questions.
We’re in the process.Auditor’s have been fine with it. We use electronic signatures on PDFs for approving payment.
Fyi: all AR invoicing is electronic and has been for over three years.
Richard H. Averett, Executive Director/CFO
Local and Regional Government Services Authorities
We scan A/P (along with dozens of other items citywide) with a product called SIRE from a vendor named LR Hines. We are pleased with the result and retrieval is a snap. In fact, all the departments have access to the documents to perform their own “retrieval” without the hassle of re-filing or mis-filing. We file A/P vouchers entirely by check number. We keep the vouchers and the backup for one month after scanning with the exception of the vouchers associated with any purchases with federal funds. Our auditors love it because we log them into the system to pull their own samples and answer their own questions. Our two account clerks could/would not go back to paper storage.
Our only regret is the project manager did not purchase a maintenance contract. These machines have way too many moving parts and need maintenance like your copiers and printers. We are working on resolving this issue.
City of Yuba City
Danville started scanning A/P documents and attaching them to our electronic P.O. screen 4 years ago. We file the paper by check run date, and keep it five years. (Put a rubber band around that batch and stuff it in a box in chronological order.) It has been very successful. Anyone can see what an expenditure was for. Scanning and attaching the documents probably takes slightly more time than the old system of filing paper by vendor. However, we no longer have to ask the AP clerk to pull files for us. My sense is that havinginformation on everyone's desktop leads to more consistent charges to accounts, fewer duplicate payments requested, quicker answers for inquiring vendors, and some other advantages that come with real time access to complete information.
If you decide to scan I highly recommendinvesting in a high speed scanner and having a policy that scanning must be kept current.
Town of Danville
510 La Gonda Way
Danville, CA 94526-1740
(925) 314-3371 (phone)
(925) 838-0797 (fax)
The City of Lincoln uses SIRE for scanning most all our documents including AP. It works well, and the auditors have no problem using it. Our records manager has the legal time limits for keeping the originals.
City of Lincoln
600 Sixth Street
We haven’t done this but my first concern would be whether the scanned documents would be retrievable via a search. This would mean that your scanned documents would likely need to be digital or you could end up spending a LOT of time trying to retrieve documents especially for public records requests. Of course, digitized scanning can be quite expensive.
Hope this helps.
Administrative Services Director
Town of Moraga