Tag Archives: accounts payable automation

Pelican Products, Inc. Improves Sales Order and Invoice Processing with Esker’s SaaS Solutions

Sydney, Australia — March 21, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Pelican Products, Inc., a leader in the design and manufacturing of protective cases, temperature-controlled packaging solutions, portable lighting systems and rugged gear, to automate its order management and accounts payable (AP) processes. 

Pelican chose Esker’s Order Processing and Accounts Payable automation solutions to streamline its processes, fill gaps in productivity, provide higher levels of visibility and allow for scalability within its business. Thanks to SAP-certified integration, orders and invoices are now electronically processed with machine-learning technology and automatically entered into the system.

Optimised order processing

Prior to using Esker, it took Pelican’s Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) up to thirty minutes to enter large, complex sales orders into the company’s SAP® system. Today, Pelican is processing fax, email and electronic data interchange (EDI) orders significantly faster, with order entry cycle times below 5 minutes which is a reduction of more than 80 percent.

“Esker gave us the most bang for the buck,” said Paul Sohn, director of business Applications at Pelican. “It provides a greater level of visibility over both the number of orders in the queue, as well as those entered into SAP. Our goal is same-day order entry, which Esker helps us achieve on a consistent basis.”

EDI order integration

With Esker’s solution, CSRs are now able to process EDI orders in the same workflow as fax and email orders — even those containing exceptions — without needing the IT department to correct issues. Delays due to EDI exceptions previously resulted in financial penalties for late shipments and reduced productivity for IT staff being pulled away to help fix errors. Pelican now benefits from streamlined processing of EDI orders, reducing processing time from what used to be days to just minutes.

Since implementing Esker, Pelican has been able to:

  • Reduce order entry time by more than 80 percent; from 30 minutes for complex orders to about five minutes
  • Maintain headcount; managing growing order volumes without adding staff
  • Accelerate delivery time; getting orders entered up to one day sooner to avoid late delivery fees
  • Improve visibility; custom dashboards and reports allow for 100 percent visibility on every order
  • Streamline order processing; all orders, even EDI, are routed through one shared workflow

Streamlined accounts payable

Like order management, Pelican’s previous AP invoicing process was also hampered by manual touch points. Slow processing times and lack of accountability over authorisations were two of the primary issues the company aimed to resolve. With Esker’s Accounts Payable solution, Pelican now has a more structured and transparent process for the accounting staff and management. This centralisation has allowed Pelican to respond to vendors more quickly and reduce the occurrence of late payments. Instead of searching through email or paper copies for invoices, they are now easily found in Esker’s solution.

“We can accrue invoices entered into Esker and see what’s been approved and what’s still pending,” explained Sohn. “The visibility it has brought to AP has made approvals easier and payments faster. It’s expedited the entire process — a major time-savings tool.”

About Pelican Products, Inc.

Pelican Products, Inc. is the global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance protective cases, temperature controlled packaging solutions, advanced portable lighting systems and rugged gear for professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Its products are used by professionals in the most demanding markets including fire/safety, law enforcement, defense/military, aerospace, entertainment, industrial and consumer. The company operates in 21 countries, with 22 international sales offices and six manufacturing facilities around the globe. In Europe, the company does business under the name Peli Products, S.L.U.


Center of Gravity

Recently, I came across an excellent blog from one of our partners, Intelestream. The post was about  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some things to consider when implementing a CRM solution. Something that really jumped out to me was what Intelestream referred to as the “Center of Gravity.” By this, they mean that in every business environment the workflow will revolve around two or three key pieces of software that have a huge impact on the business.

Where this can become a problem for a company is if the software being used is the wrong tool for the job. What can make it worse is that the longer employees have been using any software, the more resistant they are trying something new. This is true even if the new software solution is specifically designed for their business process and has obvious advantages. Changing the Center of Gravity within a department is not easy but it is an important consideration when looking to implement any new software application and ultimately improve how a department does business.

Here is an example. Many companies use Outlook for their email. This is a very effective tool for communicating, however, it is not always the right tool for the job. I have seen a number of companies that use a shared inbox to receive and manage orders that their customers send to them via email. Outlook is great but it was never designed to be a queue for processing incoming orders. There are limitations when you have the wrong tool as your department’s center of gravity. In this example, the critical information is on an attachment. It is not easy to search of a specific attachment or priorities orders. You may see hundreds of emails but how many are orders? How many customers asking for express shipping? Besides the limitations with any tool that is not designed for this specific business process, you also have limitations and the communication with other applications or interoperability. To learn more, check out the blog: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Business Process via Email.

If you are looking to improve operations within your company ask a department what is their Center of Gravity. Then ask yourself is that the right tool for the job? Consider what this department could accomplish if they had the proper tools for the job.

How to Start Building a Successful Customer Experience Program

By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and quality as the key brand differentiator. In other words, brands that don’t work on improving their customer experience will be left behind.

Customer experience is more than a trend or buzzword — it will play a pivotal role in the future of marketing and has an insightful ability to predict where a company will be 5-10 years down the line. What should you be doing, if anything to prepare for this change?

First, what is customer experience?

On a basic level, customer experience (CX) refers to how a customer perceives their interactions with your company. How does your customer feel at every touchpoint they have with you, from marketing to sales to support? CX is ultimately defined by the consumer, which means businesses need to actively adapt and set themselves up to exceed expectations.

Should you be investing in this?

Joe Hanousek, Esker’s Customer Experience Manager, believes that every company needs to be tracking their customer touchpoints and working towards continually improving that process. He often says that: “Seventy percent of senior executives in companies believe that CX is important. In my opinion, the other 30 percent shouldn’t be executives.” So much of the B2B focus is on lead generation instead of improving customer experience, although most people are well aware that it is less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. Companies mistakenly start looking into customer experience as a last resort once they’re suffering, but customer experience is best as a proactive approach, taken when business is growing versus lagging behind. The graph below shows just how valuable an investment in improving customer experience could be.

How do you begin?

If you’re just getting ready to work on improving customer experience, aim for C-level sponsorship. It won’t go very far unless there are people at the top behind it, so do the research you need to convince someone to back you up. Most executives are aware of the importance of CX, but still aren’t taking active steps to improve upon it. If you haven’t already started in a few years, it’ll be too late.

Next, be sure you’re ready to invest a significant amount of time and human resources into building a solid customer experience program. At Esker, the process took a full year to go from conception to having a Customer Experience manager and a team in place. It’s a good idea to have at least one person fully devoted to customer experience and multiple people from different departments committed to being a part of the CX improvement process; otherwise, CX can easily become a task that is swept away on an already busy to-do list. This will also depend on executive buy-in, as far as whether the need to have a customer experience manager or team is understood.

Finally, it is important to communicate the goals of the customer experience program throughout the organizationEveryone should be on board and kept up to date. As Joe puts it: “It’s not C-Level people or managers that make customer experience better — it’s the staff working directly with them.” Educate, train and update all those who interact with customers at any level on what needs to be done to improve those important touchpoints.

The beginning stages of our customer experience journey.

Joe’s biggest recommendation for those starting to work in CX? Change your perspective. “It is not an area for problem customers to go to, but rather a way to prevent customers from ever having the problem in the first place,” he explained. As staff focus on offering solutions to immediate problems, the CX team should be looking into why those problems happened in the first place, and if there is anything that could be done to fix that.

Customer experience goes beyond customer satisfaction or happiness. A successful customer experience program will work to prevent problems before they arise, delighting your clients past the point of mere satisfaction. CX has become more of a trend in the past two years, but it is definitely here to stay for the long haul. If you have any questions about the process we went through to build our customer experience program at Esker, or about customer experience in general, leave a comment below and we will respond to you!

ADEO Services Automates Its Supplier Invoice Process with Esker’s Accounts Payable Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 6, 2018Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with ADEO Services, a holding company for ADEO, a leader in the do-it-yourself (DIY) market, to automate an annual volume of 25,000 supplier invoices in France. Seamlessly integrated with the company’s Oracle® ERP system, Esker’s cloud-based Accounts Payable solution has enabled ADEO Services to streamline its non-purchase order (non-PO) invoicing process. 

As the company grew, it became increasingly complex for ADEO to continue to manually process its non-PO invoices. ADEO Services, responsible for internal services at the company, decided an automation solution was necessary to facilitate the company’s accounts payable (AP) process.

“Over the years our AP process had become increasingly chaotic,” said Hervé Bigot, head of financial projects at ADEO Services. “We had no visibility into our invoices once they arrived and payment deadlines were rarely upheld. Esker has allowed us to structure our service by putting in place good accounting practices that can be shared with the other entities within the network.”

Prior to Esker, it often took several weeks and many different employees to manage the non-PO invoice process; this included, data entry, verification, booking and payment authorisation. The process resulted in lost invoices and late payments.

Benefits of AP Automation

Esker’s solution was selected for its ease of use, quick implementation and ability to integrate new stores with ADEO’s network. Implemented in just a few months, Esker quickly offered ADEO Services and its 2,000 suppliers numerous benefits, including:

  • Faster invoice processing by eliminating manual handing
  • Increased traceability throughout the entire AP process
  • Enhanced visibility thanks to customisable dashboards and real-time metrics (e.g., number of invoices processed, invoices awaiting validation, average processing time per supplier, etc.)
  • Improved cash flow forecasting as invoices are posted and tracked as soon as they are received
  • Improved supplier relationships thanks to timely payment of invoices and rapid dispute resolution

“Thanks to Esker, paper has been largely eliminated,” added Bigot. “Additionally, invoices are now tracked and accounted for as soon as they are received, as opposed to several weeks, or even months later, as was the case before Esker.”

By the end of the year, ADEO Services is hoping to permanently eliminate paper from its process and eventually integrate invoices from other companies within its group, bringing the total number of yearly invoices automated to 40,000.

About ADEO

ADEO is the leading French player in the international DIY market and the third largest worldwide. ADEO’s network of stores and franchisees in the DIY, home improvement, decoration, tools and appliances sectors include: Leroy Merlin, Bricoman, Weldom, decoclico, delaMaison, Alice Délice, etc. Present in 12 countries, ADEO employs 100,000 people across its network of 14 chains, 34 autonomous companies, 485 franchise stores and 707 integrated stores. The company achieved 19.1 billion euros in sales revenue in 2016 and a growth rate of 8.5 percent.

How Listening to Bob Dylan Might Just Make Your Business More Agile

As you may have heard, Bob Dylan recently received a Nobel Prize in Literature for, as the Nobel Committee put it, “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

He is the first musician to ever receive the prestigious honor.

Predictably, the news ignited a firestorm of response. Dylan enthusiasts, who have long maintained that his lyrics have transcendent artistic value, were tickled by the recognition. Many literary purists, on the other hand, were borderline outraged that a songwriter had infringed on the hallowed territory of poets and novelists.

As a diehard Dylan-ite since my early 20s, I have my own thoughts on the matter … but that’s a discussion for another time.

What the announcement of the Nobel Prize really got me thinking about was the enduring nature of Dylan the artist; specifically, something he once said about being successful, and how, in my opinion, a lot of today’s businesses would be better off if they took the old troubadour’s advice.

Embracing a “State of Becoming”

Those who get Dylan never really give him up. I can personally attest to this. And one of the biggest reasons he has such a devoted fan base is his seemingly endless capacity to recreate himself. From protest singer and electric bard to Nashville crooner and ethereal love lyricist — every version of Dylan is the same yet, somehow, entirely original.

And so it goes with Bob … always one step ahead, demanding that his audiences catch up with him and not the other way around. It’s no wonder he’s still going strong — gravelly voice and all — after all these years.

This brings me back to the quote I mentioned previously. In the 2005 Martin Scorsese-directed documentary No Direction Home, Dylan laid out the philosophy behind his elusive nature (emphasis mine):

“An artist has to be careful never to really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming, and as long as you’re in that realm, you’ll sort of be alright.”

It could be argued he said essentially the same thing 40 years earlier, albeit more succinctly and inauspiciously, in his song “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” when he sang, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Ok, so maybe success in the business world isn’t quite equitable to success as an artist. Still, it raises an important question: How many of today’s businesses, because of their past or present successes, feel as though they arrived somewhere — to a kind of real or imagined destination that they merely work to sustain rather push beyond?

It’s the Way We’ve Always Done Things

In Esker’s realm of document process automation, over and over again we encounter businesses that are reluctant to adopt new technology because they see their current processes — despite their obvious flaws — as being somehow tied to their identity. It’s the way we’ve always done things.

That’s not to say resistance to change is necessarily a bad thing. Changing solely for the sake of change is not in anyone’s best interest, and there are certainly legitimate variables that prevent change from occurring (e.g., bad timing, limited budget, etc.).

But where Dylan’s advice can really work its magic is within components of document processes that normally are considered inconsequential or too essential to a company’s identity to change in any way.

For example, a lot of companies take great pride in the personal touch of their customer service. A recent TermSync study found that over 80 percent of distributors believed their quality of customer service differentiated them from the competition; yet, only 30% of them offer their customers a self-service online portal (something 3 in 4 customers actually prefer).

Just think of all the value and opportunities within customer service that companies have lost due to not embracing a “state of becoming.”

Another example of this is in order processing, where many companies have EDI systems as part of their infrastructure. The problem is, exceptions — which can affect up to 35% of incoming EDI orders — can cause a lot of serious workflow issues. Still, a lot of business professionals feel as though EDI is the end-all-be-all and wind up missing out on the benefits that automation can bring, such as reducing EDI processing time by an average of four days versus when manual intervention exists in an EDI environment.

Fostering an efficient, agile business has never been more important than it is today. Yes, change can be a scary thing, but it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. As Dylan once sang, “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.” Indeed, Bob.

Document process automation has been that foundation for thousands of companies — not only as a solution to address short-term problems, but as a driving force behind long-term business improvement strategies.

Esker Announces Partnership with Optima ECM Consulting to Expand Revenue Opportunities and Accelerate Delivery of Cloud Solutions

Alliance is designed to accommodate Esker’s growth while enhancing solutions offered by Optima

Sydney, Australia — January 9, 2018Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, announced today its partnership with Optima, a global implementation organisation. The relationship is aimed to benefit the customers of both companies by providing a more holistic set of offerings that complement the evolving nature of digital transformation. 

Esker’s exponential revenue growth and increased consumer demand for cloud-based solutions is predicted to continue into 2018. In order to accommodate such rapid growth while maintaining excellent customer service, Esker entered into a partnership with Optima to help create efficiencies and better implement its solutions.

“As the demand for our solutions grows, we continue to look toward trusted partners to help us scale while identifying new revenue opportunities,” said Steve Smith, U.S. chief operating officer at Esker. “Because Optima has a reputation for unparalleled expertise in purchase-to-pay (P2P) and order-to-cash (O2C), it was a natural fit for us.”

Optima turned to Esker to help capture the mid-size market and to expand its business service capabilities to include a cloud solution.
“Esker is a known entity in the cloud space with a superb reputation for integrity and excellent customer service,” said Alex Nadesan, founding partner and chief operations officer of Optima. “Our customers are looking to the cloud and, in Esker, we know we have found the technological and cultural fit we were searching for.”

Now that the two brands have forged a synergistic partnership, they will begin offering integrated solutions to current and future customers in 2018.

About Optima EDM Consulting

Optima ECM Consulting is a global implementation organisation that specialises in the strategy, design and implementation of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions for Compliance, Optimisation, Revenue Enhancement and Collaboration. Optima’s unparalleled experience in strategy, design, implementation and management of EIM solutions such as Purchase to Pay, Sales Order Management, and Enterprise Content Management solutions enables companies to achieve both their strategic and business objectives as they look to execute their digital transformation. With more than 60 consultants and offices in USA, Mexico and Spain, Optima is uniquely suited to ensure businesses rapidly recognise expected ROI and drive immediate value across their organisation. For more information on Optima and its solutions, visit www.optimaecm.com.

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:

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.

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.