However the rise of the cloud has seen the launch of various cloud-based accounting programs looking to streamline the process.
Online data extraction mailbox Invitbox has gone one step further, working with different accounting software partners to extract data from bills, removing the time-consuming data entry process.
Founder Roger Gregg said the idea for Invitbox came from his background in management accounting in the manufacturing and hospitality industries.
“I hated data entry but so that we could get good management information, detailed data entry and analysis was essential,” he said.
“I’ve always had a head for process re-engineering, so working in operational roles in hospitality exposed me to the idea that we could change the way we do things – which is the corporate mantra for Invitbox,” Gregg added.
Like most start-ups, Invitbox started small.
“The first month was very low-tech. We had a whiteboard 12ft wide by 8ft tall, 4 coloured markers and a good coffee machine,” Gregg said, adding, “We knew there was a problem that needed to be solved, but we didn’t know how we were going to solve it.”
The team quickly got to work trying to solve that problem.
“If I am being honest, we probably over-engineered the product in the early days. For instance, we created efficiencies that allowed a single server to theoretically process 250,000 bills per day, and we built in features that we could have brought in later in the development cycle,” Gregg said.
They made the decision to create a fully functioning system before showing it to prospective clients.
While Gregg says he had blind faith in what they were doing, he acknowledges there were significant risks involved, and “wouldn’t necessarily recommend that approach to anyone else.”
However, the company grew quickly. Launched in 2011, Invitbox gained over 600 clients in its first year.
Gregg says this is because the service levels the playing field for SMBs, allowing them to access the same kind of technologies as large organisations without the price tag. The 30 day free trial Invitbox offers has also helped clients get on board.
“Because Invitbox is a disruptive technology, some organisations need time to get their head around the concept. Just this week, I had a potential client contact me 10 months after we had initially made contact saying ‘we are now ready,’” Gregg said.