Bill Lindsey

How Restaurants Can Create a Paperless Back Office with Plate IQ

File folders stuffed with paper.

In my last post, I told you how Plate IQ saves time, increases accuracy, and improves insight into cost of sales. More recently, Plate IQ has laid out the benefits of going paperless. This time around, let's look at how Plate IQ can help you get there.

When deliveries occur in your restaurants, they're usually accompanied by a paper invoice. Often, they include handwritten notes for shortages, damaged goods, or product refused for quality reasons. Plate IQ converts all that information (including those notes) into digital information for inventory purposes (by item) and accounting data (by GL account).

Many restaurants still use the “magic envelope” method. This is where all of the daily invoices are stuffed into an envelope and sent (usually priority delivery) to the accounting office for processing. I use the term “magic envelope” because those envelopes can magically disappear.

This is a slow and expensive workflow. By the time the envelope is delivered (or disappears), Plate IQ would have already processed all of the invoices, updated your dashboard with current and valuable information, and made the approved inventory and accounting entries. Plus, once you’ve scanned an invoice into Plate IQ, you can simply shred or dispose of the paper invoice.

Even invoices that come in via email are easier to manage with Plate IQ. Just forward them to your account or have vendors send them straight there (with or without cc'ing you). Each of your restaurants is assigned a unique email address, which makes staying organized easy. Any invoices sent via email will be processed and ready for approval the following day.

Once they're processed, the originals—whether scanned or emailed—are safely stored in the cloud, backed up automatically, and always at your fingertips. Using Plate IQ, you can find an invoice by searching by date, invoice number, a specific item, GL expense account or drill all the way down to an invoice image. 

But what about EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), a service that most broadline suppliers already offer? Does Plate IQ provide an advantage when paperless tech is already in play? Our answer: an unequivocal yes.

EDI—standardized formatting that allows information to be passed back and forth between yourself and your vendors—is useful for suppliers because it allows customers (you) to enter your own orders and transmit them to the supplier, saving them time and potential errors.

Leaving aside the question of whether manually entering orders is a good use of time, everyone can agree: entering receiving information into inventory and accounting software is time-consuming and often painful...and it's something you absolutely shouldn't have to do twice.

That's the problem with EDI: not only is it limited to the vendors that support it, but because vendors use different EDI protocols, you run the risk of having to set up a custom import into your accounting software for each vendor. Plate IQ centralizes that function by pushing data to your inventory software and accounts payable software, eliminating the need to enter information into multiple systems. 

Plus, with Plate IQ you can access all of your invoices via a single searchable and indexed repository and gain the advantage of automated GL coding (something that no EDI system can manage). Throw in options for statement reconciliation, approval routing, and payment processing, and the value of Plate IQ becomes self-evident.

Going paperless with Plate IQ will save you time and money while doing your part for the environment. You know it’s a great deal when everyone wins!

Bill Lindsey

Bill Lindsey

Bill is a seasoned industry professional with a lifetime of experience in operations and related technologies that help restaurants increase control, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.