Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2018!

To all of our colleagues, peers, and friends, it’s time to say thank you to another awesome year of support and success! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, festive season, and of course, a fantastic New Year 2018!

What a Year – 2017 Was a Huge Success!

What a year! 2017 has been a huge success, and it’s all due to Esker customers like you. Here’s how we’re wrapping up the year:

Esker Named to Food Logistics’ 2017 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers List

Sydney, Australia — December 12, 2017 — Food Logistics, the only publication exclusively dedicated to covering the movement of products through the global food supply chain, has named Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, to its 2017 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list.

The annual FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list serves as a resource guide for software and technology suppliers whose products and services are critical to companies in the global food and beverage supply chain.

“New developments and innovations in the software and technology sector are making sizeable impacts on the global food supply chain,” says Lara L. Sowinski, editorial director for Food Logistics and its sister publication, Supply & Demand Chain Executive. “The result is a greater visibility, improved regulatory compliance, enhanced shelf life for perishables, and the emergence of a more proactive and nimble food supply chain that benefits both the food industry and its logistics partners, as well as the end consumer.”

Food and beverage is among the few industries experiencing consistent growth. When companies encounter larger volumes of incoming orders, processing documents both quickly and accurately becomes more challenging. These challenges can be exacerbated by problems that warehouse distributors and manufacturers experience every day. Problems range from errors that result in incorrect shipments, inefficiencies in getting data into back-office systems and delays in processing orders for perishable items. Esker’s cloud-based solutions address these issues and allow food and beverage companies to trim costs, ensure timely delivery of goods and increase order processing efficiency.

“Esker is honored to be recognised once again as a top technology provider in the food and beverage industry,” said Steve Smith, U.S. chief operating officer at Esker. “We aim to provide our clients the most value by giving organisations the tools to improve supplier relationships, cut costs and streamline complicated business processes that can arise throughout the supply chain.”

Companies on this year’s 2017 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list will be profiled in the November/December 2017 issue of Food Logistics, as well as online at www.foodlogistics.com.

About Food Logistics

Food Logistics is published by AC Business Media, a business-to-business media company that provides targeted content and comprehensive, integrated advertising and promotion opportunities for some of the world’s most recognised B2B brands. Its diverse portfolio serves the construction, logistics, supply chain and other industries with print, digital and custom products, events and social media.

Is a Collections Forecasting Tool on Your Holiday Wish List?

 

Year end is right around the corner — do you have the ability to estimate the collectability of accounts receivable for the remainder of 2017? If not, you may want to put a collections forecasting tool on the holiday wish list from your CFO.

Accurate collections forecasting is more important than ever in understanding where your company is financially. Businesses are investing thousands of dollars in forecasting tools that help grasp sales pipeline, expense management and budget. Yet, despite such investments in technology, the forecasting of collections often gets put on the backburner with a claim that it’s just too difficult to capture.

Sure, there’s no crystal ball that can predict which customers will pay or won’t, but there are definitely things you can do to make sure your collections forecast is as accurate and helpful as possible, as well as have tools to capture and report on it. Improving the measurement of collections can make a huge difference, including:

  • Increased accuracy of budgeting and profitability predictions
  • Actionable data for credit and collections managers for collector evaluations
  • Greater call prioritization efficiency for collectors

The traditional method of estimating collections has been to look at a group of large accounts and estimate collection percentages by aging groups of receivables. That’s a lot of time and a lot of data! These are two essential data points that need to be automatically captured for the most accurate collections forecast:

  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) — The average time that receivables are outstanding. Using this measure, you might find that your average days to collect is 70. Thus, you could use this average to project receivables collections:

Ending Total Receivables x Number of Days in Period Analyzed
Credit Sales for Period Analyzed

  • Promise to Pay — Transparency with what was communicated during collection communication in regards to Promise to Pay (e.g. what invoices, how much, when, etc.) is crucial. Details such as reason for lateness, dispute specifics, partial pay plan, and amount of promised payment are all crucial reporting elements of any collections strategy, but companies often have difficulty capturing this data, which impacts collections results and customer service.

If you don’t have an easy way to capture DSO and Promise to Pay details, collections forecasting becomes too challenging and, ultimately, you can’t get a handle on cash flow. By staying on top of your cash projections with tools like automated collections management, you can better understand where your business is headed financially. Having data that is automatically aggregated and displayed, giving businesses the ability to uncover late payment trends, Promise to Pays, recurring issues, and spotting underlying problems is crucial to providing an accurate collections forecast.

Interesting Automation Facts

As more millennials hit the workforce, businesses are forced to adapt their antiquated processes to accommodate for this tech-savvy, educated group of individuals. As a result, businesses now more than ever are investing in automation technology to streamline manual, cumbersome tasks — allowing their staff more time to focus on strategic operations.

But automation technology is nothing new. As it turns out, many people don’t know a lot about the history of automation. From when it started and why, to who has leveraged it — there are many surprising facts spanning the topic.

Whether you are reading this for fun or to find a fact to help enforce a business initiative, here are five interesting facts about automation technology that you may not know.

5 Interesting Facts About Automation Technology

  1. The Greeks used it.
    Although it may seem like a new technology, automation dates back to ancient Greece. The Latinization of the Greek automaton, or “acting of one’s own will”, was first used by Homer. In fact, complex mechanical devices are known to have existed in Hellenistic Greece, including the only surviving example of the earliest known analog computer — the Antikythera mechanism.
  2. There was a Golden Age.
    The period from 1860 to 1910 is known as “The Golden Age of Automata”. In Paris, many small family-based companies of automata makers flourished. These rare and expensive French automata continue to attract collectors from around the world.
  3. There are lots, and I mean lots, of technologies to choose from.
    From 2016 to 2017, marketing automation alone saw a 36% rise in vendors (source: MarTech). Automation has been adopted in every industry, each using it to solve problems unique to their sector. Information Technology (IT), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Numerically Controlled (NC) equipment, robots, and Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) are just a fraction of the different technologies currently available.
  4. There’s a type of automation named after Detroit.
    “Detroit automation” consists of moving parts from one machine to another while automatic adjustments are made to the positioning of the tools that shape them. For example, when a block of wood goes into the end of one machine, and a finished wooden doll comes out of another machine.
  5. Esker on Demand, a document process automation technology, has automated the amount of pages equivalent to the weight of nearly 10,000 sumo wrestlers.
    The amount of paper we use today is excessive — it’s been estimated that in the U.S. we use 65,395,000,000 sheets of paper each day. Document process automation lends a helping hand by reducing unnecessary paper consumption while optimizing business processes.

Know of any other interesting facts that should be included? Let us know below in the comments!

Building a Successful Business Case for AP Automation

Accounts payable (AP) and finance managers are aware of the advantages that AP automation has to offer. But it’s never as easy as simply selecting a vendor and implementing a solution. Before an automated AP invoicing project can hit the ground running, one critical hurdle must be cleared — getting buy-in from upper management and other key stakeholders.

The good news is, despite upper management consistently being cited as the biggest obstacle to AP automation, they understand the general benefits. According to survey results compiled by the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM), the c-suite believes AP would benefit from automation more than any other finance/administrative function.

Check out this SlideShare to learn how to enable AP and finance managers to embrace their responsibility and equip themselves with the knowledge and strategies needed to make AP automation a reality. By better understanding how automated AP invoicing works, AP and finance managers can cite key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics to more effectively persuade their organization’s top decision makers.

Is Your Sales Order Entry Process Affecting Your Days Sales Outstanding?

 

 

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is one of those key indicators that ultimately indicates how streamlined your order management process is — how quickly your product or service gets to your customer and how efficiently they pay you. There are many areas within an organization’s process that can affect this.

I’ve seen companies shave 3-5 days of DSO just by switching from paper/mailed invoices to electronic invoice delivery. However, recently, I’ve been learning just how much DSO can improve even more. One notable area of focus is the sales order entry process — a process that, if not working efficiently, can negatively affect customer service and DSO.

I had the privilege of sitting in on a presentation by Adrian Posteraro titled:  “Overcoming the Negative Business Impacts of a Manual CS Work Environment”. Adrian’s background is quite impressive with 27 years at MEDRAD and heading up Global Customer Support and Global Customer Satisfaction, as well as being responsible for maintaining Business Excellence and Regional Field Service. It’s safe to say that Adrian is more than qualified to speak on behalf of his experiences.

MEDRAD Sales Order Environment Before Esker

MEDRAD previously had a 100% manual sales order entry process, with orders taking anywhere from 7-10 minutes to be fully entered into the ERP system. Aside from the burnout of customer service agents, there were some particular manual sales order entry processes that affected customer service, and, most notably, DSO.

MEDRAD was dealing with backlogged order processing, and missing same-day shipping requests. Order entry errors were creating issues with getting invoices paid, resulting in rebills/re-invoicing. Additionally, the collection department was spending excess time chasing down payments. MEDRAD needed to improve the sales order entry process to mitigate these issues to improve customer satisfaction and DSO.

Sales Order Processing Automation with Esker

What happens when you automate your sales order entry process with Esker? You achieve world-class results! Esker customers consistently see their order entry error rates decline, (i.e., less rebilling/re-invoicing) and backlogged order entry disappear since orders are getting out the door faster and more accurately (i.e., invoices get paid faster).

Which brings us back to square one — improved DSO — which I started out by describing it as one of the key indicators that helps determine how healthy and efficient your order management process is. Now that your gears are turning, what benefits would automating your sales order entry process help your company realize? Leave your comments below!

The 7 Essential KPIs of Accounts Payable [SlideShare]

Even in the digital age, many accounts payable (AP) departments remain inundated with paper and manual-based processes … which seems crazy when a recent study by Aberdeen Group found that 60% of organizations identified eliminating complex and/or risky processes as a top priority for digital transformation.

Process metrics are the key to improvement

Managing all of the paper in your AP department isn’t an easy job, and it doesn’t leave much time to assess your process and find where issues are. But to make improvements, you’ve got to start somewhere — and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a great place.

The 7 essential KPIs of accounts payable

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. This SlideShare will give you a head start in exploring the effectiveness of your process with the 7 fundamental KPIs of AP. Let’s jump right in!

How can you identify problem areas in your process?

  1. Measure the number of invoices processed per employee (or per month). You’ll notice an impressive boost in productivity after automating your invoice processing.
  2. Calculate the cost of processing each invoice. They quickly add up to an expensive AP process. According to a 2015 PayStream Advisors study, the average all-inclusive cost to manually process an invoice is $40.70. Yikes!
  3. Gauge the timeliness of your payments. Chances are you’re missing out on early payment discounts if you’re having to manually process invoices. That’s more money down the drain.
  4. Measure your captured discounts. Don’t have any? That’s a red flag for bigger problems within your AP department.
  5. Check the level of automation already implemented … if you have any. Sorry, email doesn’t count as automation!
  6. Determine the percentage of duplicated invoices paid. Your supplier may enjoy the extra payment, but we promise your boss doesn’t.
  7. Calculate the percentage of erroneous payments. Payment errors put a large strain on the AP department.

Digital Transformation – More Than a Simple Challenge, it is a Perspective Shift for Companies!

 

We are excited to share a guest blog post from SlimPay today. This post focuses on how digital transformation is creating change for companies a crossed several industries. Companies have to adjust how they develop and market their product in order to leverage opportunities through digital trends. This blog post is a two-part series when you’re done reading this post make sure you check out part 2!

GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple & Microsoft) have transformed consumers’ habits, propelling them in a 100% digital world. Many other digital companies since then appeared in several sectors, from transportation to energy or leisure, generating an expansion of digital offers and making it sometimes difficult for traditional companies to follow the trend. Perceived as a threat by some companies, the digital transformation may also be an opportunity to re-invent, invest in new projects and take advantage of the new trends.

A recent Harvard Business Review ’s survey stated that companies are convinced of the importance to start a transformation by 2020. In its 2017-2020 plan, BNP Paribas announced the acceleration of its digital transformation.

How to face this challenge? What are the main steps and what to expect exactly?

PART 1 –  Digital transformation as a marketing and sales lever

The digital transformation quickly changed the competitive landscape in many industries. All the companies had to adjust their product development as well as marketing strategies in order to leverage opportunities offered by the digital trend.

Enlarge the scope: new audiences, new products

The digital age transformed our relationship to time, freedom, leisure as well as our consumption habits (unlimited access to music or movies, SaaS solutions, online banks, new transportation services, mobile applications). Whether it is to win back lost market shares or target a new audience, to enlarge an existing offer or improve a service level, the digital trend is an opportunity to innovate and remain competitive.

Those innovations are possible thanks to the analysis of usages, new habits of each audience segment and through the observation of other sectors to get inspired. Key elements are crucial to consider when creating or adapting an offer: think mobile, be customer focused (in terms of added value and features), do not forget the basics of marketing mix that are product, price, promotion, packaging, as well as payment that is taking on a more important role in the customer journey.

Accelerate profitability: how to launch an offer efficiently

The digital is also a good way to launch new offers and projects quickly for a limited cost. Beyond online promotion that allows high visibility for a minimum of budget, each step of the launch can now be managed online: customer acquisition, subscription step, sales channels, etc. Thanks to the cloud technology and SaaS solutions, it is now possible to create a 100% digital customer journey. Traditional process is now replaced by more efficient methods which is a clear opportunity for all types of companies.

Subscription: a viable business model

Already well known in the press sector, subscription and pay-as-you-go models developed a lot over the past few years, especially in the digital services industry. Benefits for consumers are obvious (freedom, budget management…), but also are benefits for companies (predictability of recurring revenue, revenue growth) : this reinforces viability of this model that attracts a lot of start-ups. Thus, many sectors are entering subscription commerce to sell their offer.

Maximize customer relationship

Big data is a revolution in terms of customer knowledge. Thanks to data collection, it is now possible to understand customer habits, journey and preferences. This customer-centric approach allows to customize offers and generates new types of interactions between brands and consumers. Social networks are also a new communication channel, in which consumers express themselves freely and this can be used as a source of inspiration for companies.

Digitalization opens up new paths for a customer experience that can be improved. But it is also creating new challenges such as subscribers’ management, customers’ app experiences, payment management … It must be handled cleverly!

Read the 2nd part An agile answer for a successful transformation

Transitioning from Transactional Order Entry to Relational Customer Experience

 

Gartner predicted that by 2016, 89% of companies planned to compete primarily based on customer experience. In the past three weeks I’ve been on the road meeting customers across all different industries and they all have taken this to heart.

It is no longer sufficient to compete on price and product alone. So there is a lot of emphasis on transitioning customer service from transactional order entry to an informed experience that generates new revenue streams. Oracle has noted that 74% of executives believe great customer experience impacts loyalty, and American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay for a better experience.

What’s impressive is the simple steps that our customers have taken and their results. They can cut order entry from 9 minutes to 2 minutes, which frees up their customer service representatives (CSRs) allowing them to spend more time talking to their customers.

Typically, sales teams are expected to build relationships and drive sales, but a chemical company I visited explained that CSRs are their secret salesperson. CSRs are not seen as sales, yet the customer trusts them as a seller since they work with them on a regular basis. The chemical company explained that freeing up CSRs to build relationships and allowing them to travel to meet customers has generated additional revenue. In some cases, their customers even noted on their order that they’re buying more because of the phenomenal service they received.

I’ve met CSRs that hold Master’s degrees and even a Ph.D. There are smart folks in customer service who are unable to put their analytical problem-solving skills to work because they have to hit their line entry quota. When given more time and the right technology they can do things like:

  • Always call the customer when there is an issue with ship date, quantity etc.
  • Educate customers who continue to issue wrong part codes, descriptions, obsolete products
  • Track all field changes and determine if an issue is related to the customer or internal master data
  • Move into coaching and supervising new hires and CSRs creating errors
  • Transition into other departments such as IT, logistics and inside sales

Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Empire, is famous for saying “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”  Happy, engaged employees will always go the extra mile to serve and delight the customer. What I saw over the last three weeks was our customers giving their CSRs the ability to that.

What would it be worth to your company if you could unleash the full potential of your CSRs?