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There was a time when even buying paper for a copy machine was an involved process. There had to be a requisition, an invoice, a check and a receipt, all of which required at least one and often two or more people’s time and effort. All of these pieces of paper had to be matched up and reconciled at the end of the day, checked for accuracy, entered into a ledger and ultimately audited.

Ah, the good old days–tedious, costly and wildly inefficient, to say the least. While most companies are light years beyond those bureaucratic nightmares, most would also concede they have a long way to go before they squeeze out all unnecessary costs in managing their payables. Some, however, like BP plc, have been leading the charge.

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