Tracking the health of your Accounts Payable process

Accounts Payable healthHealth, and more precisely, measuring your health, is the new craze. With Microsoft recently launching its new tracking wearable device Band, people can track and measure dozens of parameters related to their activities and their health. Already most runners and cyclists use applications such as RunKeeper and Strava to track, measure, map and analyse their runs and rides. And then there is the social aspect of sharing your data with your friends as these applications also come with a Facebook style website where you can follow other people, share your data, compare your activities and performance against yourself and others, and even share pictures.

So how does this trend impact the traditional Accounts Payable (AP) process? Clearly paper-based AP processes do not allow for much tracking and measurement. Of course, one could manually and painfully record the date of reception of a paper invoice and the date when the invoice data was entered into the company’s ERP and by whom. Similarly one could record the time it takes for each invoice to complete the coding and approval workflow. Although some tracking and measurement are possible, barely any company invests time and resources to do so with their paper-based AP processes.

Since the Global Financial Crisis companies have focussed on cost reduction as growth has significantly slowed down in many industries. Those companies reviewed many of their internal processes and targeted their back office operations that involved plenty of manual and paper-based processes.

Accounts payable automation solutions help reduce operational costs via improved productivity of AP officers, the elimination of manual processes, the introduction of digital workflow and electronic archiving.

Digitalised business processes provide the perfect conditions for on-going tracking and measurement of the ‘health’ of the processes. Since each step, each activity is automatically recorded by the software solution then this data can be made available through dashboards and reports.

No need to equip all AP officers with a Microsoft Band though. An AP automation solution constantly tracks and measures all AP key performance indicators (KPIs) and provides the data via dashboards for real time monitoring of the AP process and reports for in-depth analysis.

Moving from a manual and paper-based AP process to a digitalised and automated AP process creates the opportunity for management to implement clear KPIs for AP officers and for the overall AP process. And since it is well known that ‘you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it’, then the new capabilities of tracking and measuring KPIs allow management to drive further productivity and business process efficiency. It’s no coincidence that the highest performing AP departments are exceptional in the very areas that automation is known to improve.

Here are some KPIs typically used to track the health of your AP processes and the benefits you can achieve. These KPIs are time consuming to measure in a manual paper-based AP process and readily available with an automated AP solution:

  1. Measure the number of invoices processed by each AP officer. This metric can change significantly after automating your process. It also helps identify any further training need.
  2. Measure the processing cost of each invoice. Start to add up such costs for just one invoice, and you have yourself one expensive AP process.
  3. Measure the timeliness of your payments. You want to have a good relationship with your vendors so that you can be in a good position to negotiate, get discounts and avoid penalties.
  4. Are you entitled to any discounts for early payments? Then measure your captured discounts.
  5. Measure your level of automation already implemented. Sorry, email doesn’t count as automation…
  6. How many invoices do you pay twice or multiple times? With automation, this figure will be down to zero.
  7. Calculate the percentage of duplicate invoices received (and hence not processed twice and, more importantly, not paid twice).

After assessing the health of your current AP process with these 7 KPIs, you might want to improve them by automating your AP process. As you follow the way to automation, you will be able to use this first assessment to measure your progress. Indeed, you can compare your KPIs before automation and with automation. Dashboards and reports integrated in your AP automation solution will help you do so.

DashboardsDashboards provide every user (AP officer, AP Manager, Finance Director, CFO) with readily available information needed to perform their daily tasks, monitor performances, and spot problems or opportunities as soon as they arise, making every action smarter and more effective.

Users can effortlessly access the right information when they need it. Packaged KPIs and dashboards remove headaches for IT. Based on best practices and industry standards, these metrics perfectly meet the needs of AP workflow users.

Looking for additional, more specific indicators? Choose a solution with an easy-to-use interface that allows you to choose what you want to display and to which user or profile. And, you are free to remove, edit or add other indicators to your dashboards. Reports can be run or scheduled to see how many pending invoices are waiting to be processed and how much cash they account for. Vendor invoices reports (e.g., invoices pending approval, invoices by status, number of invoices processed by full-time employees, etc.) can be run from the interface, along with the option to build your own reports.

You can also automatically provide regular reporting to managers. You only need to define when, at what frequency, and to whom a report needs to be automatically emailed. Remember, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

These 7 essential KPIs, combined with dashboards and reports, will help you effectively manage your Accounts Payable processes.

www.apinthecloud.com.au

Esker’s Accounts Receivable Solution Helps Companies Meet Requirements of the European Directive on E-Invoicing in Public Procurement

Sydney, Australia — January 12, 2015 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions, is pleased to announce the launch of an enhanced service which will help companies comply with mandates for e-invoicing when working with public authorities throughout Europe. Following the April 2014 directive on e-invoicing and public procurement (2014/55/EU), vendors will be obligated to send e-invoices to public administrations in all European countries by 2020. This directive will deliver significant savings for the country governments and advance the e-invoicing market.

Esker’s Accounts Receivable automation solution is capable of processing the different e-invoice formats used throughout Europe (e.g., Facturae in Spain, Fattura-PA in Italy and EDI UBL in France), as well as communicating with the platforms of each public administration to send e-invoices and receive error notifications.

Since January 1, 2012, suppliers have had the option of sending e-invoices to French government ministries. The new directive eliminates this choice for the public sector (including local authorities and public institutions), making e-invoicing mandatory by 2017 for large accounts and 2020 for small to mid-sized businesses. Similarly, in Spain and Italy, all invoices sent to public sector must be e-invoices — by January 2015 in Spain and March 2015 in Italy.

“Esker is a key player in the document process automation market, sending 25 million invoices annually for 11,000 customers worldwide,” said Eric Bussy, Director of Marketing and Product Management at Esker. “Our Accounts Receivable automation solution has been developed to meet the specific e-invoicing needs of companies working with the public sector, and we are well prepared to accompany them in their move to e-invoicing.”

Esker Acquires CalvaEDI and Strengthens Its Position in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Sydney, Australia — January 8, 2015 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announces the acquisition of CalvaEDI, the leading French company specialising in computer-based communications in the EDI Transport and Logistics sector.

A Strategic Acquisition

Since its creation in 1997, CalvaEDI has been one of the leading companies to popularise EDI technology in France. By choosing to build its development entirely on recurring revenue related to the use of its platform, CalvaEDI inaugurated a new economic model, very similar to that of cloud-based computing. Similar to Esker, CalvaEDI was able to focus on customer needs rather than technical aspects. Over the years, the company has developed a suite of services specialised for the transportation and logistics market, and has since become the leader in this sector in France.

Based in Paris, CalvaEDI grew sales revenue by more than 5% in 2014. The acquisition represents immediate growth to Esker’s financial performance, given the strong recurring revenue, sound cost structure and high profitability of CalvaEDI. Integration synergies will further strengthen the financial benefits of the merger.

To demonstrate their confidence in the success of the CalvaEDI and Esker alliance, the selling shareholders have committed to a two-year lockup plan for the Esker shares they will receive as compensation for the deal.

EDI at the Core of Intercompany Communications

For over 30 years, EDI has allowed businesses to automatically transmit business information (e.g., orders, invoices, shipping orders, etc.), significantly reducing costs, while increasing the reliability of the data exchanges.

Until now, for reasons related to implementation challenges, EDI has primarily benefited very large companies operating in industries with very high volumes and integration levels (e.g., retail, automotive, chemistry, etc.). The Internet, together with legislative and regulatory changes on the exchange of invoices in the public and private sectors in Europe, makes EDI an essential component of any businesses’ document process automation strategy.

Esker believes that EDI will increasingly complement technologies typically implemented by customers in their automation projects. The company plans to open up the use of these technologies to smaller businesses and to companies in other industries, both through targeted acquisitions and agreements with technology partners.

Light Integration

Given its strong leadership position in its market, CalvaEDI will continue to operate under its own name as a separate entity from Esker. New services will gradually be jointly developed in order to accelerate CalvaEDI’s growth and to offer Esker customers, particularly those who have automated the order-to-cash cycle, the benefit of EDI technology integration.

The transaction is subject to usual audit procedures and is expected to be finalised by April 2015.

About CalvaEDI

CalvaEDI is the leading French company specialising in computer-based communications in the EDI Transport and Logistics sector. Since its creation in 1997, the company has pursued a strategy of developing gateways between the different computer systems of its customers and those of their partners in order to facilitate the transmission, security and traceability of data. CalvaEDI is based in Paris, France and services over 300 customers.

United Pacific Industries Goes Live with Esker’s Order Processing Automation Solution

Sydney, Australia — January 7, 2015 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced that United Pacific Industries, an American manufacturer of heavy-duty truck accessories and classic car and truck parts, has gone live with the automation of its order entry process. United Pacific is leveraging Esker’s Order Processing automation solution to help process orders faster, handle growing order volumes without adding headcount and free up time for its staff of Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to call customers. The solution was implemented via Esker’s cloud platform to help reduce overall costs and IT complexities.

Esker was selected based on its robust experience in the order processing arena as well as its solution’s ability to seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP software. United Pacific currently processes over 200 orders per day (6,000+ orders per month) from its California distribution centre. Due to the company’s increasing amount of drop shipment requests, approximately one-fourth of those orders used to be typed into the ERP system. As a result, United Pacific had to hire additional CSRs to perform these manual tasks — something they’re hoping to alleviate with Esker.

Paul Lin, Chief Financial Officer at United Pacific is excited about the impact Esker will have on the company’s order management process, saying: “Orders will now get to the warehouse quicker and be shipped and received by customers in a shorter amount of time. Esker has the capability to read, extract and automatically input the order data into our Microsoft Dynamics NAV system, allowing us to reduce the amount of resources needed to process orders and free up CSRs to call customers versus typing orders.”

About United Pacific Industries

United Pacific Industries is an American manufacturer of heavy-duty truck accessories and classic car and truck parts. With over 30 years of industry experience, United Pacific understands the rigors and stresses that its products are subjected to on the road, and is dedicated to providing today’s drivers with innovative and exciting products that deliver exceptional performance and value. United Pacific carries over 20,000 items in its California distribution centre.

Esker Receives 2014 Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award

Sydney, Australia — January 6, 2015 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, announced today that TMC, a global, integrated media company, has named Esker on Demand as a 2014 Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award winner.

The Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award, presented by Cloud Computing magazine, honours solution providers with the most innovative, useful, and beneficial cloud solutions and services that have been brought to market during 2014.

“When it comes to document process automation, cloud technology offers key competitive advantages in terms of IT simplification, scalability and ROI, and accomplishing more with less,” said Steve Smith, U.S. Chief Operating Officer at Esker Americas. “Receiving the Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award from TMC is a great honour, and a testament to the success of Esker on Demand in helping organisations of any size easily achieve these benefits.”

Esker on Demand is a cloud-based document process and information exchange service that enables companies to automate the processing and exchange of critical business documents, such as customer invoices, supplier invoices, customer orders, etc. Ten years after its launch, Esker on Demand’s global network of production facilities now serves over 5,000 customers worldwide, recently achieving the impressive milestone of over one billion pages processed.

“Recognising leaders in the advancement of cloud computing, TMC is proud to announce Esker on Demand as a recipient of the Cloud Computing Product of the Year Award,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO at TMC. “Esker is being honoured for its achievement in bringing innovation and excellence to the market, while leveraging the latest technology trends.”

About TMC

TMC is a global, integrated media company that supports clients’ goals by building communities in print, online and face to face. TMC publishes multiple magazines including Cloud Computing, M2M Evolution, Customer and Internet Telephony. TMCnet is the leading source of news and articles for the communications and technology industries, and is read by as many as 1.5 million unique visitors
monthly. TMC produces a variety of trade events, including ITEXPO, the world’s leading business technology event, as well as industry events: Asterisk World; AstriCon; ChannelVision (CVx) Expo; Cloud4SMB Expo; Customer Experience (CX) Hot Trends Symposium; DevCon5 – HTML5 & Mobile App Developer Conference; LatinComm Conference and Expo; M2M Evolution Conference & Expo; Mobile Payment Conference; Software Telco Congress, StartupCamp; Super Wi-Fi & Shared Spectrum Summit; SIP Trunking-Unified Communications Seminars; Wearable Tech Conference & Expo; WebRTC Conference & Expo III; and more. For more information about TMC, visit www.tmcnet.com.

Esker Signs Order Processing Deal Worth $250,000+ with American-Based Multinational Corporation

Sydney, Australia — December 10, 2014 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and SAP® software solution and technology partner, today announced that a high-tech, multinational manufacturing corporation headquartered in Silicon Valley has signed on to automate the processing of purchase orders (POs). The company will integrate Esker’s on-premises Order Processing automation solution within its existing SAP environment.

Esker was selected after demonstrating how the solution used OCR to electronically and intelligently capture PO data and push the corresponding sales order into SAP for further processing. Esker met virtually all of the company’s solution requirements, which included: OCR capability, straight-through processing, automated return material authorisation (RMA), direct lookups in SAP, and exception handling and validation.

The company anticipates significant benefits in two areas of order management. First, by eliminating manual data entry of sales orders, staff will be freed up to devote more time to customers. Secondly, orders will get into the supply chain faster with fewer errors, increasing customer satisfaction and offering greater transparency to orders shipping overseas. The company is also considering the use of Esker’s Accounts Receivable solution after recently acquiring another technology company for over $1 billion.

Armtec Delivers Greater Efficiency & Visibility to AP Processing with Esker’s Cloud Solution

Sydney, Australia — December 4, 2014 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and SAP® software solution and technology partner, announced today it has reached an agreement with Armtec, a leading Canadian infrastructure and construction company. Armtec has selected Esker’s on-demand Accounts Payable automation solution to integrate with its SAP application in order to create a more efficient, transparent and responsive vendor invoicing process.

Armtec receives between 110,000-120,000 vendor invoices annually, which are currently processed manually and cause a number of challenges for the business. Ultimately, Armtec performed a comprehensive “value stream mapping process” to identify its AP department’s biggest pain points and determine a course of action. The main challenges included:

  • Hiring and training temps to accommodate seasonal invoice volume increases
  • Issues with high costs, duplication and exception handling with large volumes of invoices
  • Limited visibility and reporting into the process
  • Too much time spent servicing internal/external customers with decentralised offices

In order to overcome these challenges, Armtec will be integrating Esker’s Accounts Payable automation solution with its SAP application. Scanned invoices will now automatically go through Esker, with data being intelligently extracted via OCR and a corresponding document entering into an electronic workflow in SAP for easy archival, tracking and reporting. By removing the manual steps of keying in, reviewing, coding and approving, Armtec will soon be able to manage the higher volumes of invoices more efficiently, allowing AP staff to focus on higher value tasks.

One of the primary reasons Armtec selected Esker was because of its cloud-based service option. Esker offers a true software as a service (SaaS) solution with lower upfront costs and total cost of ownership. Since operations are external and there is no software to maintain, much less strain is placed on IT resources.

“Our current process of scanning invoices directly into SAP is not optimal — it is very dependent on human intervention with no real workflow and limited ability to develop metrics,” said Joan Carter, Business Process Improvement Manager at Armtec. “With Esker, as soon as an invoice is scanned and received it’s on its way and fully reportable. The level of OCR, electronic workflow and SAP integration has us really excited about the level of efficiency and visibility we’re bringing to the process.”

About Armtec

Armtec is a manufacturer and marketer of a comprehensive range of infrastructure products and engineered construction solutions for customers in a diverse cross-section of industries that are located in every region of Canada, as well as in selected markets globally. These markets include Canada’s national and regional public infrastructure markets and private sector markets in agricultural drainage, commercial building, residential construction and natural resources. Armtec operates through a network of offices and production facilities across the country.

Armtec operates in two business units: Drainage Solutions and Precast Concrete Solutions. Drainage manufactures and markets corrugated high-density polyethylene pipe, corrugated steel pipe and other drainage related products including small bridge structures. Precast manufactures and markets highly engineered precast systems such as parking garages, bridges, sport venues and building envelopes as well as standard precast products such as steps, paving stones and utility vault.

Celebrate summer with the perfect Accounts Payable cocktail!

Summer is coming… Let’s celebrate with a refreshing Accounts Payable (AP) cocktail!

Our perfect AP process recipe contains:

  • Automatic invoice matching
  • Electronic workflow
  • Dashboards, analytics and KPIs
  • Archiving

Discover the full recipe in our infographic below:

Bag Makers Automates Sales Order Processing and Achieves ROI in just Three Months

Sydney, Australia — November 6, 2014 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and SAP® software solution and technology partner, announced today it was selected by Bag Makers, Inc., a leading imprinted bag supplier, to virtualise the company’s order entry and order archiving processes through the implementation of Esker’s Sales Order Processing solution. The successful installation and integration of Bag Makers’ SAP Business One system with the Esker DeliveryWare platform is the first in the US.

A recent implementation of SAP Business One prompted Bag Makers to improve its internal processes even more. Previously, customer orders would arrive via fax or email and be manually keyed into the SAP system, then printed and distributed to different departments throughout the building. Frequently, art files would arrive independently of their respective purchase order (PO), which posed challenges for matching orders with associated documentation. On the back-end side of the process, Bag Makers was scanning POs and internal documents and storing them on a server.

End-to-End Automation

Today, Bag Makers is using Esker to fully automate and streamline every phase of its workflow. Incoming orders, regardless of format, are automatically imaged into the Esker solution where data is extracted to be pushed into SAP and electronically stored for easy retrieval. After initially considering a basic archiving solution as replacement to its manual system, Bag Makers was introduced to Esker at an Americas’ SAP Users’ Group’s SAP Business One Summit, and, shortly thereafter, selected the industry leader to automate both the back- and front-end of fax and email order processing.

“Esker allows us to digitally archive our orders and eliminates our need to manually enter data,” said Jeremy Bayness, Director of Computer Operations at Bag Makers. “When you add up the cost savings, the integration capabilities with SAP, and the improved processing times and accuracy rates, it’s easy to see why Esker was our top choice.”

Benefits by the Numbers

  • Reduced receipt-to-entry time from 4-5 hours to 1 hour
  • Improved order-entry accuracy rate to 99.8 percent
  • Reallocated two employees previously dedicated to scanning orders for archival to other value-added tasks
  • Reallocated six employees previously dedicated to order entry, increasing overall productivity
  • Enhanced customer response time thanks to instant order notifications and confirmations

In addition to the performance of the solution, Bag Makers was equally impressed by the level of support Esker provided throughout the solution delivery process. “I can’t say enough about the Professional Services team — we achieved ROI in only three months,” Bayness said. “The Esker team seemed to know the pitfalls before we even got to them and helped us avoid a lot of issues.”

About Bag Makers, Inc.

Bag Makers, Inc. is a leading imprinted bag supplier, specialising in non-woven polypropylene, paper, plastic and polyester bags. Exclusively serving the promotional products marketplace, Bag Makers prints more than 75 million bags each year through flexographic, hot stamping and screen printing services. Bag Makers was founded in 1980 to provide quality printing, fast service and lower minimum orders for imprinted bags. More than 30 years later, the company has earned a host of industry awards for outstanding service and quality that has solidified its position as a market leader.

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.