While accounts payable and accounts receivable processes seem to be progressing into a new age, the origin of invoicing dates back all the way to the stone age. I have always been interested to learn where and how this process began and how much it differs from processes today.
It is not surprising that the earliest records of transactions and their details comes from the first clay tablets of the ancient Sumerians. The earliest records of sale on these tablets were discovered with references to the most important daily needs, beer and bread. The physical act of transcribing and recording sales records remained relatively unchanged until the time of the Romans. In steps the abacus. Often referred to as the first calculator, this device allowed for simple calculations using beads and provided a visual confirmation of calculations and pricing for both parties involved.
The middle ages brought us the next generation of financial and transactional record keeping, the invoice book. The use of books for record keeping by merchants gave birth to the double entry bookkeeping system. What does this mean? This was the first time that a transaction was recorded twice, once as a debit and once as a credit. Transactional details started emerging around this time as well such as pricing, dates, names of customers, and product descriptions. Once the specifics and details of transactions started becoming the standard, the path was set for modern invoicing and accounting basics.
The method of simply manually recording transaction details soon became a thing of the past with the rise of modern mechanics and industrialism. Increasing complexity of transactions as well as the sheer number of them rendered this process useless. This gave birth to the first “mechanical” solution to invoicing and record keeping, “loose leaf accounting.” This technique allowed for records to be added and removed at will from an organizational “binder” type device. As innovative as this new system was, many believe it gave birth to the first instances of fraud.
As some say the birth of modern invoicing and accounting came from loose leaf processes, others say modern techniques share a birthday with the first computer developed in 1941. However, early computing software involved a lot of manual processes that left room for errors and miscalculations. The evolution of floppy and compact disks allowed for more advanced programs to be installed directly onto computers.
1982 witnessed the birth of the internet and with it, opportunities to advance invoicing technologies. The ultimate goal of advancement of these programs is to do more in less time. There have been an abundance of workflow tools developed, many of which are still used today. While workflow tools are useful, they still allow for errors that true automation systems eliminate.
NetChain Squared offers a fully automated invoice-to-pay and order-to-cash platform that utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase productivity and efficiencies, reduce fraud and errors, and pave the way for the newest generation of AP/AR software platforms. If you would like to learn more about what sets NetChain Squared apart and how we can help you evolve your invoicing processes, please fill out the brief form below and we will reach out to help you out of the old and into the new!