The Client is an industry-leading global media giant known for its premier print, digital and video brands.
Client’s Accounts Payable processors were not able to handle the large amount of invoices they receive. Client’s continued expansion and growth resulted in an increase of several tens of thousands additional invoices per year, which overwhelmed the small team of invoice processors. The Client had already streamlined and optimized its manual processes as much as possible.
Other related issues included these:
- Existing ERP and CRM systems and related technology infrastructure were somewhat rigid and did not provide the flexibility to make aggressive changes in processes and technology to implement a rapid solution.
- Internal IT teams were focused on keeping the business running and constantly troubleshooting existing integrations.
- Invoices were received through a variety of channels and routed to various destinations around the globe within the Client’s company. Vendors sent their invoices through fax, mail or email directly to the department that originated the purchase. Department managers received the invoices and manually added the required signatures and respective codification on the paper invoice before they were sent to AP for processing. Many times the vendors sent the invoices directly to AP, which required personnel to forward the invoices to the appropriate areas for manual signatures and coding before entering invoices into the ERP system for validation and eventual payment.
- If the vendors were not already in the ERP system or if changes needed to be made to their profile, the invoices were delayed and other teams such as Customer Service or Vendor Management had to get involved.
The situation was only getting worse as the number of invoices and vendors grew.
The Client was looking to implement a solution to automate and optimize the end-to-end invoice reception and approval process, while at the same time provide a vendor self-service capabilities improving customer service (internal and external) and providing more robust controls for compliance. The goal was to develop those capabilities without adding additional staff to support growth.
Because of the rapid growth in the volume of invoices it was receiving, the Client was facing multiple challenges with its current systems and processes:
- The current company growth resulted in more manual invoices for the same amount of AP processors becoming a bottleneck in the process
- Frequent errors in invoice routing and coding that resulted in more calls to Customer Service
- The limitations in the existing process and technology and lack of resources made it difficult to implement new improvement initiatives
- Poor invoice processing and payment controls and lack of trail/audit capabilities through the process
- Labor intensive coding and data entry without upfront validation of over 650,000 invoices per year
- Manual signature approval of invoices from multiple sources to authorize payment to vendors
- Delays in the process and cost associated with late payments
Costs associated with storing the digital version of the invoices with an external provider were growing with the business.
Auxis was engaged to work with the Client’s technology department to develop a self-service vendor Internet portal that will automate the vendor registration, invoice submittal and approval process and to interface the approved invoices into the ERP Accounts Payable module for payment to vendors.
The web application features a service oriented architecture (SOA) with a responsive and user-friendly web interface that requires minimal to no training for external users. Additional functionality includes: Business logic validation and controls, interactive workflows for document routing and approval, attachment and document management, integration with internal and external systems for vendor and invoice validation, and compatibility with mobile devices such smartphones and tablets where the vendors are able to take photos of documents and upload to the portal directly from their mobile device.
Technologies utilized in building the solution include:
- C# & ASP .Net as core development languages
- SQL 2014: Database
- Twitter Bootstrap for responsive UI and device portability
- WCF Restful Web Services
Auxis successfully designed and implemented a web portal for vendor self-service and automated invoice processing with the following benefits to the Client:
- The entering of invoices is performed by the vendor via uploading of digital documents or inputting of data input into portal
- AP resources are freed to focus on higher level value-added processes
- Reduced the number of data entry errors by AP staff
- Reduced paper handling and storage throughout the organization
- An electronic log record of the process is maintained in the system for audit purposes
- Invoice routing rules that support business rules are built into the system
- Duplicate invoice check issues are brought forward prior to ERP payment processing
- Vendors have the ability to preview the status of their invoices without having to interact with internal resources
- The system speeds up invoice and payment approvals, cutting the processing time through electronic routing
- The new system was built with invoice Processing Checkpoints and Controls to support compliance with regulatory requirements
- New system is a user-friendly, intuitive, easy to use, streamlined interface for vendors and internal users that requires no training