Get the Right Formation for your Order Processing

I’m a big fan of football. The ups, downs, highs, lows and the general togetherness it can bring. I suppose the time when everyone comes together is particularly when the World Cup rolls around every four years. It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling that all football fans live for. Being an England fan, it’s then normally met by the usual feeling of disappointment (normally when we get knocked out on penalties) and then you’re left for another four years craving that excitement and togetherness, that you only get at club level once every couple of weeks.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have that buzz where everyone comes together, all year round?

That got me thinking, I suppose it’s like Esker’s Order Processing solution, in that you want to have something that gives you that feeling your orders are handled successfully on every single occasion, rather than only getting the process right once in a blue-moon – then constantly chasing the game to get the winning result you are after. Wouldn’t it be ideal then, to have the right formation and a team you can depend on, week in, week out?

Consider this; the fact that you can have all orders managed within the one solution is like all rival teams setting differences aside for a common goal. The validation, data capture, and auto-learning capabilities are like the players out on the field performing to the best of their ability, showcasing different skills to provide the best results. Then this all culminates in posting the order seamlessly into the ERP, like when a goal is scored. Plus, what football fan can’t relate to the World Cup, where football is always on the TV, meaning you cannot get away from what’s happening (I love it!). It’s much like the dashboard/visibility Esker can provide on the sales order process in real time, whenever needed. The togetherness between what are normally rival fans can be seen as the integration between different systems where, although they have differences, there’s always a way in which integration can be achieved.

So, unlike England over the years, don’t pay the penalty on your customer order process, and look to Esker to make things more in “Lionel” and less “Messi”.

Ready to tackle your process?

Written by Dan Weston – Esker Export Account Manager

Bake your way to a rewarding AP process

I love baking – I find it relaxing, rewarding and of course, the best bit is the outcome! I mean, who doesn’t like cake?!

I’m no baking expert, it’s just something that I enjoy, and really, there’s not much to baking a basic cake once you get the ingredients and techniques right. For me, it’s the decorating that’s the tricky part.

Getting the balance of ingredients right is key through – the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and flavoring need to be carefully balanced in order to achieve a good texture and flavor. This and the mixing and baking techniques are the keys to a successful and delicious cake.

It’s a bit like automating AP processing with Esker; once you get the ingredients and process right, it too can become successful, rewarding and indeed more relaxing for your AP team!

Think of the flour as being the basic process – the electronic invoices and archiving capabilities; the eggs – the controlled and electronic workflow that holds the whole thing together; the sugar – the sweet automatic reminders for effortless approval and automatic invoice matching; and the butter – the binding integration with ERP and other business systems.

And the extra sweet stuff on top?…payment approval from mobile devices and readily available audits, KPIs, and analytics.

Fancy a piece of the Esker cake?

Sweet.

Happy baking.

Written by Amy Rees – Esker Marketing Administrator

Top Tips for a Successful Implementation: Advice from Esker Customers

So you’ve done it. You’ve made your case, convinced the higher-ups, and have finally decided to implement a document process automation system that will help propel your company’s digital transformation journey. Congrats!

Now what?

via GIPHY

Preparing to go-live with any new software solution can often be a stressful period that seems to take far longer than it actually should. We try to make the implementation process for our customers as easy and painless as possible, but it always help to have aligned expectations and goals. So we asked some of our current customers, both new and old, about what they wish they would have known back when they started their implementation. Ready to take notes? Here’s what they said.

Phase One

“Make sure the needs of the company are mapped out.  Know what you want as a final product.” – Dan

“Build your solution for the future – if there are possibly different order types, scenarios or acquisitions that may happen in the future, plan for them.” – John

“Make sure everything is flexible that can be flexible. That way if you change your mind/policy/procedure you don’t have to try to change functionality at a later point.” – Kelli

“Find a company that uses the same software you use and see if there are tips and information that can be shared to help with the implementation.” – Susan (our Esker All Access customer hub is a great place for this!)

Phase Two

“Use a smaller group of SMEs to get Esker implemented. Then have those SMEs translate the process into your business practices and teach everyone else. Too many people trying to get involved from the start can slow the implementation process.” – Eric

“Allow Auto Learn to do its part.  Give it time and try not to rely on Teach.” – Candie

“Test everything! Every possible situation!” – Heather

Phase Three and Beyond

“Customizations aren’t as big of a deal as you would think they are.  A lot of major and minor adjustments were easily implemented by Esker in our early increments!!”- Krystle

“Always keep your options open and go with the Agile approach to implementing a solution. You never know, you may be satisfied with less…” – Chris, Sales Guy

“With Esker Order Entry, we were well prepared by the Esker team to focus on change management and by “seeding” some experts (power users/trainers) in the rollout group.  It was very good advice.  We put a rollout schedule together that, as it turned out, was unnecessarily conservative.  We accelerated the rollout when we realized that the prep work we did was well executed.  We are bringing up our second business now and – being more confident – we will plan for a more rapid deployment with this one.” – Tom

“We would do less teaching up front and inspect early on for consistency in processing with reps. We have since explained to reps that working in Esker is like having a four year old from that Rodney Atkins song; ‘I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool?…I wanna be like you…I wanna do everything you do, so I’ve been watching you.’ Esker wants to do everything we do and be like us. If we do something wrong, Esker will learn wrong. If we are inconsistent, Esker will be inconsistent. In the Rodney Atkins song, the four year old learns a four-letter word from his dad and it shocks him. When Esker does something wrong, we need to examine our actions in Esker and look for improvement in accuracy and consistency.”  – Titia

With the right amount of training, collaboration, and organizational buy-in, a software implementation and the corresponding results can be the best thing that has happened to your business. And of course, having a reason to throw a Go Live party never hurts either.

Thinking about implementing a new software system? Click here to learn more about Esker!

Today’s a Good Day for Automation

Most companies face a wait time receiving customer payments that could range anywhere from 30 to 90 days to even longer. Payment delays not only cause anxiety for the collections management team, but they impact your cash flow. The bottom line is simple — the more quickly you collect your accounts receivable (AR), the better your cash flow situation will be.

You have undoubtedly heard about or have automated certain business processes already. By automating wherever possible, you’re looking where you can leverage technology to compliment your existing ERP or finance solution, and reduce labor-intensive administrative tasks, thus operating much more efficiently in the process. AR automation transfers invoicing to a digital process, sets you up to receive multiple forms of payment, handles what is usually labor-intensive deductions, accurately applies cash, and captures and prioritises collections efforts. In addition, AR automation allows you to:

  • Create customer invoices based on your company’s data or simply upload an ERP created file of invoice PDFs to send and track electronically or via postal mail
  • Send automated reminders for payment

Finally, AR automation also supports numerous types of collections strategies and is set up for internal collectors based on the collections rules and approach unique to your company.

The benefits of AR automation are numerous and impossible to ignore after you have experienced them firsthand. Here are the main reasons to consider implementing this year:

  1. Faster Payments
    If you’re accustomed to dealing with clients who tend to pay your invoices at their leisure, then you’re not alone. This is just one of many reasons to consider automating your AR processes as soon as possible. The enormous benefit of automation is that e-invoices are made available for customers to pay immediately. This eliminates delays in payment that might have previously been common. AR automation can help you speed up your invoicing so you get faster payment.
  1. Improved Customer Experience
    A benefit of AR automation is an enhanced customer experience. Your team is better able to focus on more strategic and detail-oriented tasks. When it comes to AR-related customer data, you know the more you can do to merge things for greater visibility, the better customer service you can provide. When it comes to inaccurate invoices or collections issues, AR automation technology allows you to quickly address any issues that may arise. By implementing technology in your AR processes, you are giving yourself a valuable tool that allows you to provide stronger customer service. Because of this enhanced customer experience, you can expect improved customer retention and a decrease in customer service-related problems.
  1. Cost Savings
    Studies have shown that e-invoicing saves approximately $8 per invoice sent. This cost reduction might come as a surprise. However, the decrease reflects cost savings in several areas, such as postage costs, manual handling of paper invoices, cost of paper, envelopes, and equipment used in the printing and posting process. By implementing invoice delivery automation, your company can cut costs where you never could before. In time, the sizeable cost savings will be worthwhile to leverage technology to your benefit.
  1. More Control & Visibility
    Another benefit of AR automation is the added control and visibility you and your team will gain. Invoicing and international e-invoice compliance, automated payment reminders, online customer payment, automatic cash application, collectors outreach and workflow, and capturing dispute reasons are just a few of the AR automation functions that allow real-time visibility and reporting. Improved visibility provides insight you and your team can act on.

You may still have reservations about making the switch. The manual processes you’ve always known feel comfortable and familiar. Change can sometimes be scary. Look at automation technology as something that can easily be adapted to your business needs. Opt for software that’s simple, intuitive and closely matches how you already do business. Consider automating your AR and collections process — it’s a more predictable and repetitive sequence of activities that provides benefits from end to end.

Automation Software Improves EDI in Electronics

It wasn’t that long ago that moving business documents between a company and its partners or customers was a complex, time-consuming, and cumbersome process. It was a highly manual effort, with documents from purchase orders and invoices to receipts and payments exchanged through such means as emails, faxes, and traditional mail. On each end were humans inputting the data into their computing systems and handling the transmission of the documents. And as with most manual processes, it was slow, inefficient, costly, and error-prone. Mistakes in data entry were common and the pace of processing the documents could not keep up with a modern business environment that was moving at increasingly fast speeds.

Enter electronic data interchange (EDI). EDI began coming onto the scene about three decades ago, promising to move the business of processing documents from a manual to a digital one. It shifted the equation by making the exchanging of business documents a computer-to-computer process rather than a manual one. Accuracy and efficiency improved, processes accelerated, costs were reduced and security increased. In a fast-moving and volatile market like electronics, EDI was a breath of fresh air.

That said, for all the improvements EDI made in the document exchange process, it hasn’t been a cure-all for everything that ails the semiconductor industry and how business is done there. Even with EDI, there are still complexities and challenges that can slow down the system and create inefficiencies. There are multiple EDI formats and standards – EDIFACT, ANSI, XML and UBL, to name a few – and the process involves running data entered in a system by one organisation and running it through a series of translation, mapping and processing steps, where multiple points of error and exceptions lurk that can introduce costs, create inefficiencies and be a drag on the system.

When exceptions occur, customer service representatives (CSRs) often have to call in the IT team to fix the issue, which means the company is paying two people to manage a single problem. Exceptions also can have a domino effect up and down the supply chain and the myriad stakeholders involved and can damage relationships between an organisation and its partners. For a rapidly changing electronics industry that sensitive to pricing and revenue fluctuations, EDI exceptions can make life that much more difficult.

This is where automated order processing software can help alleviate many of the problems stemming from EDI exceptions. Solutions that integrate with an already existing EDI can help reduce the costs that come with EDI exceptions, simplify how formats and systems are managed and complement an existing EDI infrastructure. An order processing automation solution acts as an overlay of the EDI system, translates orders into a human-readable form and ensures that there is full visibility and control over every order.

With such EDI integration solutions, the handling of exceptions also is automated and can be resolved by the CSR, eliminating the need for an expensive IT professional to fix a problem.

Using automated order processing solutions can help with EDI orders and exceptions in multiple ways:

  • EDI orders can be treated and processed like any other order, like fax, email or paper. In addition, invoices can be sent through whatever channel and transport protocol – like AS2 or SFTP – the customer prefers.
  • CSRs have greater control and visibility over not only the orders but also the customer and partner relationships. They can verify and make corrections to orders, start the workflow, better manage SLAs and orders, and spend less time on paperwork and more time working directly with customers and partners.
  • Efficiencies are improved, and costs are reduced. With an order processing automation solution, the time spent processing EDI orders is reduced by an average of four days over when there are manual steps in the process. According to one company, the introduction of order processing software reduced its order processing time by 50% and kept an accuracy rate of 99.5%.
  • By reducing the amount of human intervention in the process and the errors that come with manual intervention, order processing automation improves the security of the data that is passing between an organisation and its customers and partners.

EDI was a significant step forward in streamlining the processing of exchanging business documents and was an improvement in electronics business software. It moved the dial on the digitisation of order processing and management, reducing many of the challenges that come with manual processing. But there were still inefficiencies, complexities and exceptions involved with EDI, many of which can be addressed through the use of order processing automation solutions to improve and complement EDI infrastructure.

 

Source: https://www.ebnonline.com/author.asp?section_id=4097&doc_id=283472&

Accounts Payable Analytics: How Companies Measure & Report on KPIs

 

In the 2011 movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, real-life General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, a small-market Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.

The movie — based on the book of the same name — follows Beane’s revolutionary use of “sabermetrics” to assemble a team that could compete with richer ball clubs, despite operating with a significantly lower payroll.

Call it David’s plan to topple Goliath.

Rather than rely on the handful of archaic statistics used by baseball traditionalists for decades, Beane took a more nuanced and analytical approach to gauging player performance — finding value where no one before him had thought to look.

What does all this have to do with accounts payable (AP), you ask?

Based on recent survey results, it seems that the world of AP invoicing could learn some valuable lessons on analytics from the world of sports.

The Current State of Accounts Payable Analytics

Undoubtedly, a lot of cash-strapped companies already feel as though they’ve done everything in their power to minimize costs and maximize efficiency (e.g., reducing staff, adopting lean practices, implementing e-invoicing tools, etc.).

This may be true to some extent, but results from a study by the Institute of Finance & Management, Visibility Into the Accounts Payable Process, indicate there’s still value being left on the table. The survey, which received 129 respondents, found that most AP departments continue to use antiquated tools and techniques to track their key performance indicators (KPIs).

Some of the more eyebrow-raising results of the study include:

  • Out of the AP professionals who responded, a whopping 66% said they track KPIs using Excel spreadsheets, while more than one-quarter rely on whiteboards, checklists and email trails.
  • Over 41% of respondents have no plans to implement a dashboard tool at this time.
  • Nearly 18% of respondents cited resistance to changing established processes as one of the main barriers to deploying new software solutions, while 14% cited cultural unwillingness to test new software.

Outdated strategies. Lack of forward thinking. Resistance to change. Sound familiar?

Much like the pre-Billy Bean era of MLB, a lot of AP decision-makers are clinging to intuition and old-school ways of thinking. In other words, they simply don’t know what they don’t know — and it’s dulling their competitive edge.

Why AP Dashboards Are a Game-Changer

Just like the use of statistics in baseball, the use of KPIs in AP is an effective way to measure performance and take “gut feeling” out of important decision-making processes. But doing it right means using the right tools.

Increasingly, it’s becoming clear that AP dashboards might just be the ideal, complementary tool to make every action smarter and more strategic.

Dashboards allow users to view, organize and manage actionable metrics directly from an easy-to-use interface. Not only do they provide visibility into what’s happening, they also answer the ever-important question, “What’s going to happen?”

Here are just a few examples of the valuable insight each user has access to:

  • accounts-payable-analytics-dashboardCFO
    • Organization spend overview
    • AP cash flow
    • AP process metrics
    • DPO
  • AP Managers
    • Visibility over spend
    • Spend by category, volume and supplier
    • Accrual reporting
    • Payment KPIs
    • Process efficiency
  • Cost center owner/LOB manager
    • Requests pending approval
    • Budget control and forecasts
    • Spend analysis and trend

Let’s face it. Your AP department isn’t as exciting as a MLB team, and no one is ever going to make a movie about AP analytics. But if Billy Beane’s story teaches us anything, it’s that it pays challenge the status quo and re-examine established practices. After all, gaining a competitive edge has never been a spectator sport.

Want to learn more about measuring and reporting on accounts payable analytics? Download the eBook, 5 Accounts Payable KPIs Worth Tracking, and discover how to maximize results with real-time analytics and dashboards.