Why cloud-based Accounts Payable Automation is perfect for SMBs

Cloud technology now makes it possible for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to capitalise on the benefits of AP automation with minimal risks or upfront expenses.

Why SMBs suffer from manual processing

Everything Comes at a Higher Cost

SMBs don’t have the high invoice volume of large enterprises but the time and manpower needed for manual data entry, approval and storage take their toll. Big businesses can manage by simply adding staff and easily absorbing the cost. Cash strapped SMBs, on the other hand, are forced to handle invoices with limited personnel even though their volumes may be growing.

There Is Much Less Room for Error

Businesses who process their invoices manually are proven to experience a higher rate of errors (e.g., duplicate payments, late payments and overpayments). Where larger enterprises typically have enough strength to withstand the fallout from a damaged supplier relationship or wait for the repayment of a double paid invoice, the majority of SMBs has no such luxury.

Improving Is Easier Said Than Done

Unlike bigger businesses, a lot of SMBs run small or industry specific ERP systems or home grown legacy solutions. The complexity of such a setup can cause SMBs to think their AP infrastructure is too complex or difficult to change. What’s more, the general lack of visibility due to manual processing makes it difficult to forecast expenses and identify areas of improvement.

Why Cloud-based automation is an ideal solution

No New Hardware or Software Investments

Regardless of format, scanned or electronic invoices are entered into an automated workflow where an intelligent image recognition technology accurately extracts all data. Captured data is checked against ERP master data and dispatched to the appropriate managers for approval. The invoice is automatically archived in a web portal and linked back into the ERP application and available for as long as needed.

Predictable Pricing via Pay-Per-Use Model

Cloud automation operates on a pay-per-use pricing model, meaning users only pay for the amount of service used. This not only gives SMBs some much-needed pricing predictability, it offers a tremendous level of flexibility for variations in invoice volume and users.

Unified AP Workflow Outside the ERP System

A unique feature of cloud-based AP automation solutions is that workflow resides outside of the ERP system. This provides users anytime, anywhere access to invoices, promotes user acceptance, simplifies training, and helps maintain business continuity during IT landscape changes.

To learn more about cloud-based accounts payable automation, download Esker’s eBook.

Direct Energie Automates Its Vendor Invoices with Esker’s Cloud-Based Accounts Payable Solution

Sydney, Australia — October 13, 2014 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions, today announced it has been selected by Direct Energie, a privately owned French provider of electricity and gas, to automate its annual volume of 7,500 vendor invoices. Implemented as a cloud service in less than two months and fully integrated with Direct Energie’s SAP® application, Esker’s Accounts Payable automation solution has provided the company with complete visibility of its vendor invoicing process — from reception to archiving.

Operating in a particularly sensitive industry (electricity supply), Direct Energie was looking to overhaul and streamline its business processes following its merger with Poweo. The increase in business and volume of accounting records brought greater complexity to the management of vendor invoices in terms of tracking and secure exchanges. This led Direct Energie to contact Esker in August 2013 about automating its AP invoice process.

“The wish to automate vendor invoicing arose from the need for more reliable and efficient processes,” said Louis-Mathieu Perrin, Chief Financial Officer at Direct Energie. “Our invoices are particularly sensitive, and poor management of payment terms can have significant consequences on company cash and energy supply, which is at the heart of our business.”

Fast Implementation with Cloud Computing

Previously, Direct Energie’s vendor invoices came in paper format, were processed manually, and then placed in a folder for signatures. Once all signatures were collected, the invoices were returned to the accounting department to be paid and archived.

Now, with Esker, the invoices are digitised and data is automatically captured. The AP manager validates the recognised data which is then integrated into SAP. An electronic approval workflow, based on predefined company rules (e.g., invoice amount, job position, etc.), is activated, requesting approvers to authorise payment. Once the invoice is approved, payment is released in SAP and the invoice, along with the associated validation process, are archived.

“The Accounts Payable solution was installed in less than two months thanks to cloud computing,” said Perrin. “Today, it’s used daily by over 100 employees. We know precisely at what stage of validation our invoices are, and we are also able to quickly retrieve any archived invoice.”

Benefits Achieved

    • Processing time is 50% faster, from invoice reception to document validation.
    • Tracking is enhanced thanks to electronic archiving and Esker’s analytics & audit trail.
    • Productivity is increased by accountants no longer having to enter invoice data, send approval reminders or manage errors related to manual processing.
    • Supplier relationships and cash flow are improved thanks to an increase in on-time payments.

“In addition to solution usability, the reporting capabilities won us over,” said Perrin. “A daily email is sent to accounting, which closely monitors the list of non-approved invoices. One of the big advantages of the solution was the ability to finally set the workflow validation based on cost centres and vendors.”

About Direct Energie

Born from the merger of Poweo and Direct Energie, Direct Energie Group has already gained more than 1.1 million customers in the mass electricity and gas market (863,000 electricity customers and 237,000 gas, residential and business). Direct Energie also works with businesses and local authorities (more than 100,000 points of delivery). Direct Energie operates in the production and supply of electricity, gas and energy services to its customers. In 2013, the group achieved sales revenue of over 760 million euros and delivered 8,8TWh of energy. Direct Energie’s success is based on over 10 years of technical expertise, excellence in customer relations and its ability to innovate.

About Esker

Esker is a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions. Addressing all types of business processes from accounts payable and accounts receivable to order processing and procurement, Esker cloud computing solutions enable companies to automate the reception, processing and sending of any business document with one platform. Esker helps over 80,000 companies across the world to reduce the use of paper and eliminate manual processes while improving their productivity, efficiency and environmental impact.

Esker has global headquarters in Lyon, France, U.S. headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, and ANZ headquarters in Sydney (since 1997). Over 1,800 companies in Australia and New Zealand rely on Esker solutions to run their businesses. For more information, visit www.esker.com.au, follow us at twitter.com/EskerANZ and read our blog on www.blogeskeranz.com.