Tag Archives: accounts payable automation

Success! Awe-inspiring Customer Results with Accounts Payable Automation

Are you sitting at your desk thinking of all the ways to improve your business? Ok, maybe you’re not at this exact moment but at some point, we all try to come up with ways to improve our businesses. After all, we want to impress the boss and see organizations succeed! One big step you can take to do so is through Accounts Payable Automation. AP Automation is an essential business process you don’t want to be without, and we have the results to prove it!

What can AP Automation do for you?

Many organizations are trying to improve their KPIs to keep up with best-in-class competitors by using benchmarks to improve supplier and employee satisfaction or track how their day-to-day operations are running. The big question to ask yourself before embarking on a major project is “Are we going to see the results we hope for and expect?” We know how important it is to be able to see how automation can truly affect your business, which is why we compiled four customers who are currently reaping the benefits of AP Automation. What are you waiting for? See the results for yourself and find out just how attainable the goals can be!

AP Automation Customers

If you are:

  • In the process of working on a business case for AP automation
  • Contemplating if automation is the right way to go
  • Wanting to see if the results align with your business goals
  • Interested in seeing what all the hype is about automation and simply what other companies are doing

this piece is for you! You can download your own copy today and see some awe-inspiring results of AP Automation.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see firsthand how impactful automation has been for our customer’s Farmland, Albemarle, San Benedetto and Austin Powder, and how it can do the same for you! Click on the download below to take off on the journey towards an easier and more efficient business process through AP Automation!

 

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Business Process via Email

 

This weekend I was hiking the Beaver Brook trail near Denver, CO, an 8.5-mile trail that many families and dog walkers will hike. Every now and then, we like to set up a car shuttle and hike one end to another. Much of the trail faces east and catches plenty of sun. The vegetation on either side of the trail has really built up — in some places the trail was overgrown and it was tough to see the trail and what lay ahead. Three hours into the hike, I heard my partner freak out behind me as he was backing away from me. He explained we had missed a rattlesnake that had crossed the trail between us, meaning that I may have just stepped over it. I was so busy working my way uphill that I failed to see or hear it. We were both very wary and enjoyed the hike out a little less for the rest of the afternoon.

Maybe that’s an extreme example of what a lack of visibility can mean in business. But it is very easy to get lost in what we are doing, like working hard to keep up with order processing to meet customer SLAs or routing AP invoices to be coded and approved in order to pay suppliers and not miss early payment discounts. However, a lack of visibility due to our focus can derail the entire process. Customers have explained to me that when an invoice sits too long, a senior leader may burst into the shared services center in need of an urgent payment as to not get cut off by the supplier, and any early payment discount opportunity on the invoice to that supplier already flew out the window.

In an earlier blog post, Mark gave some examples of how a group email inbox, also known as a “hotbox,” can hurt business processes like AP, order management and AR. IT staff have also shared that they do not care to use an Outlook hotbox as the company archive as it’s inefficient and inconsistent, and they get pulled away to try and find emails or fix issues plenty.

Last week, one of my customers shed more light on this and shared the following problems regarding managing a business process hotbox:

  • Hard to take ownership. It’s confusing who actually owns the next step. There are multiple people in a department; is the action on you or someone else?
  • Visibility issues. This often gets limited to one person, meaning emails may be stuck in one person’s inbox without anyone else ever knowing about it.
  • Schedule conflicts. This ties into visibility again. Someone being out of the office is a problem and urgent emails can be stuck or won’t get auto-forwarded to the team, especially if the employee is out of the office sick unexpectedly.
  • Inaccurate sorting. Emails can be dropped in the wrong folder and get lost forever. Then, customers get mad and suppliers don’t get paid and they are confused by our poor process, or our DSO gets dragged out.
  • Coding system. It’s easy to assume an issue is resolved because the email was color coded differently, but that’s not always the case. There isn’t really any accurate tracking on exceptions.

Before we talk about automation of these processes using tools like machine learning, what many are seeking is a set of clear dashboards that help sum up the current volume of orders, invoices, etc. in the process, ranked by stage (e.g., new, in process, under review, approved).

The ability to monitor these documents for key words/key SKUs helps ensure rush or priority orders actually get priority. For example, distribution centers may have regional cut off times that need to be met and east coast orders may need to be weighted higher to ensure on-time delivery and a positive customer experience. Layering on dashboards for extra visibility helps AP departments see which invoices are stuck in the approval cycle, how much money needs to be accrued, and the potential amount of pre-negotiated early payment discounts at risk if the business owners do not code and approve their AP invoices.

Esker provides visibility and automation across business processes to help avoid nasty surprises and stressful disruptions. I think I’ll take my hiking higher up to Snowline for a clearer path.

[Infographic] Sit Back and Relax with the Perfect AP Process

If you’re looking for a way to improve productivity, financial management, and overall AP performance, kick back and sip on this perfect AP cocktail.  Afterwards, have a look at our AP Buyer’s Guide and discover the 15 key questions to ask when scoping out an automation solution for vendor invoice processing.

Algoma Chooses Esker’s Cloud-Based Solution to Streamline Its Accounts Payable Processes in an SAP® Environment

Sydney, Australia — June 5, 2017 Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Algoma, a North American steel manufacturer, to automate its accounts payable (AP) processes. Esker’s cloud-based accounts payable automation solution will integrate with Algoma’s SAP® system to bring more speed, accuracy and visibility to the 12,000 incoming documents it processes monthly.

Algoma selected Esker after implementing an SAP system in 2012. One of Algoma’s top priorities was to gain greater real-time visibility into important invoice details. The ability to integrate with SAP applications and sophisticated analytical capabilities of Esker’s solution were exactly what Algoma was looking for. Additionally, Esker will enable Algoma’s team of AP specialists to transition from clerical work to analytical roles, setting the stage for greater productivity and professional growth opportunities.

“Our goal was to not only transact vendor invoices more efficiently, but to also gain rapid insight into the potential bottlenecks and problems in our processes,” said Piper Lee Frech, senior manager – financial accounting, taxation and pensions at Algoma. “Esker’s machine learning technology and real-time dashboards that can be tailored to individual needs of each AP Specialist, gives us the flexibility and user-friendly interface we need to achieve our goal.”

This project signifies a positive step for the organisation, as it is the company’s first venture with a cloud-based solution. Algoma believes they will see real benefits from Esker’s cloud capabilities when it comes to communication with its vendors.

About Algoma

Algoma has been a mainstay of the North American steel industry for more than 100 years. A fully integrated steel producer with a raw steel production capacity of approximately 2.8 million tons per year, Algoma’s size and diverse capabilities enables it to deliver responsive, customer driven product solutions straight from the ladle to direct applications in the automotive, construction, energy, manufacturing and defense industries. Algoma’s operations are based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with sales offices in Burlington, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta.

 

[Infographic] A Brief History of Payment Methods

We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.

Using a Mobile App to Maximize Accessibility & Boost Efficiency in Accounts Payable

If there’s one thing that all accounts payable (AP) departments stand to benefit from, its greater accessibility to invoices and purchase requisitions. We can all agree that work isn’t confined to the office, so why should your AP processes be?

As the integration of business processes and technology grows and strengthens, so do customer expectations when it comes to speed and accuracy. One way AP departments can meet and exceed those expectations is by way of a mobile application. With one, managers are provided on-the-go, always-on access to: invoices, purchase requisitions, invoice approval or hold, document lists, key data, line items, original documents, and the sending of documents back to the AP department or previous approver.

The best part of using a mobile app for purchase requisition and invoice approval? The benefits of one span the entire P2P cycle.

Advantages of a Mobile Requisition & Invoice Approval App

  • 24/7/365 availability
    A mobile app allows managers to access invoices and purchase requisitions at any time and any place. Whether it’s a holiday or during travel, invoice and purchase requisition approval is always just a click away.
  • Work while on the go
    Managers have on-the-go accessibility to invoices and purchase requisitions with a mobile app, enabling continuity and speed in AP processes. During travel, there’s no need to wait for managers to be back in the office for approval — they can approve on their time, from wherever they are.
  • Easy approval
    Approving invoices and purchase requisitions is as simple as hitting a button thanks to mobile applications like Esker Anywhere™, available for both Apple® and Android™ devices.
  • Quickly resolve exceptions
    Rapidly resolve any exceptions and move forward with approvals from a single app. Doing so fosters positive relationships with suppliers and speeds up the invoicing process.
  • Increase efficiency
    With fewer bottlenecks along the way and less effort needed for approval, efficiency in the P2P process is improved.

Learn more about how a mobile requisition and invoice approval app can help your business by watching the video below!

Picking the Winning Bracket (and Automation Solution)!

basketball floor

It’s bracket time! Millions of people fill out brackets every year with the hopes of getting it right and winning big. Whether it’s for your local office or a national pool, the chance to win big money is too enticing to pass up. As I have been filling out brackets since the age of 6 years old,  I thought I would share the three factors that help me decide on who has the best chance of winning it all — and how to do the same when it comes to picking a winning automation solution for your business.

To start, here’s a little history. The first NCAA tournament was in 1939 and the Oregon Ducks ended up winning the championship. In those days, only eight teams made the big dance. Today, that number has ballooned to over 72 teams in 2017. That’s a lot of unknown factors to account for, leaving the chance of you perfectly predicting the bracket as 1 in 9.2 quintillions. Yup, that’s a real number.

So what factors do I follow to increase my chance of winning (and that companies can follow in their hunt for an automation solution)?

  1. The Point Guard: The most important position come tournament time. Why? Because point guards are the extension of your coach on the floor. They communicate what offense to run, control game tempo and are usually responsible for defended the other team’s point guard.Think of your customer service representatives (CSRs) as your organizational point people. Not only are they responsible for entering orders, CSRs answer customer questions, handle disputes and make sure customers are taken care of. They are an extension of your company’s values, philosophies, and strategies. According to Forrester Research, great work by CSRs (aka point guard play) can translate to over $80 million in additional revenue.
  1. The Coach: One of the most underrated aspects of picking a potential candidate for winning March Madness. Look for a coach with a history of creating a culture of winning. That kind of coach excels at recruiting talent and utilizing that talent to maximize the potential of not only each individual player but of the team as a whole.Organizations that are constantly looking at ways to improve business processes are creating a culture of winning — always improving and never content with last year’s successes. In order to achieve success, they must be willing to invest in their talent by giving them the coaching and tools to meet customer needs in a timely matter.
  1. Defense, Defense and More Defense. In today’s data-driven world, you can look at statistical splits (+/-) to try and predict how far they will go. Field goal percentages at the rim and the three-point line can all be used to forecast a team’s performance come tourney time. Taking a peek at advanced statistics can also reveal underlying issues that wouldn’t otherwise be noticeable.Visibility into how efficiently your company is processing orders and invoices allows organizations to take advantage of things like early payment discounts, and help the supply chain with demand planning and inventory thanks to the ability to monitor orders before they even hit the ERP system!

Having a winning bracket usually isn’t based on luck … I mean, there are some folks who guess correctly based on uniform color, mascot, or even who sponsors their shoes. Luck isn’t sustainable,  but your organization’s success is — especially once you’ve carefully evaluated your people, process, and technology. Esker can help your organization optimize its business functions with automation, just give us a shout here.

Meet Michael – Controller | Esker Accounts Payable

 

Michael oversee’s the accounts payable department – him and his team have a lot to do with little time to do it. Michael faces challenges such as poor cash flow visibility, delayed approvals & late payments, missed discounts, and lack of tracking & reporting.

 

Mobile Requisition & Invoice Approval App | Esker Anywhere

 

Financial professionals are expected to perform with speed, accuracy, and accessibility. In a workplace where everything was needed yesterday and instant 24/7 availability and access is becoming the norm – mobile adoption in any solution is a necessity.

Digging for Data: Four Essential Accounts Payable KPIs

Only 15% of businesses track their metrics using technology like dashboards that display key data, a 2015 IOFM study found. What gives?

Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are the bread and butter of process improvement initiatives — revealing important data about core activities in accounts payable (AP) and propelling your project from concept to reality. The nature of this information is essential, as it pinpoints problem areas and can help guide companies looking to transform their AP department into a best-in-class performer.

Four Essential Accounts Payable KPIs to Follow

  • Number of invoices processed per employee per day
    There’s no definitive market average for this KPI due to the many factors that play a part in this calculation, but you can bet your bottom dollar that this is one metric you should be following. Once you are, make sure to communicate your expectations with employees and allow them to provide input to ensure you’ve set attainable goals.
  • Average number of invoices received containing exceptions
    According to a 2015 Ardent Partners study, more than 1 in 6 invoices received by the average business result in an exception. This represents a significant portion of AP staff time spent solving exceptions and clearing the invoice for re-entry into the workflow. In a manual environment, exceptions are yet another obstacle that AP departments must overcome.
  • Average cost per invoice
    A lot is involved in the total cost to process an invoice (e.g., copying and follow-up, IT support, staff salaries, etc.). A 2015 PayStream Advisors study found that the average all-inclusive cost for an organization to process a single invoice manually is $40.70. If you don’t know how much you’re paying to process an invoice, you’re most likely paying too much.
  • Average invoice processing speed
    A 2015 study by Ardent Partners found that the market average for processing a single invoice was 11.4 days. Meanwhile, the very same study found that best-in-class companies (i.e., ones who use automated workflow tools to drive their AP process) took an average of only 3.6 days to process an invoice. Why’s it matter? The longer it takes to process an invoice, the more likely you’re losing money on late payment fees, missed discounts and low staff productivity.

What to Do When the Digging’s Done

  1. Analyze
    Take a close look at the metrics you have gathered and analyze why the numbers are what they are and the consequences it may have on other parts of the process (even beyond AP). If you spot a continuous problem, dig deeper into surrounding metrics to find out what may be causing it.
  2. Make a plan
    What’s the plan, Stan?! Having the data at hand is all well and good, but now you need to create an action plan. After analyzing everything, you should have a better idea of what’s causing problems and possible remedies. Ask the team for their thoughts on how to better the process, they can provide insight in areas you aren’t as familiar with.
  3. Evaluate effectiveness
    A few months after implementing your plan, make sure to go back and review the latest numbers to see if you’re headed in the right direction. Like any project, you may have to do some fine-tuning before experiencing the results you’re looking for — don’t let it discourage you.

Numbers don’t lie. Solid metrics can be leveraged in business cases for process improvement initiatives such as AP automation. With the ultimate goal of running an efficient, well-oiled AP department, KPIs are the transformative tool that can you get your process to that point.

Want more information on important accounts payable KPIs to track? Read our eBook on it here.