Tag Archives: automation

7 Reasons to Automate Accounts Payable in an Oracle E-Business Suite Environment

 

 

Do you work in the Oracle® E-Business Suite realm? Are you still looking into automation and how it could fit into your organization? Look no further, Esker has laid out 7 Reasons to Automate Accounts Payable in an Oracle E-Business Suite Environment. That’s right, you heard me: in an Oracle E-Business Suite Environment! Not only does Esker offer accounts payable (AP) automation, we now have a seamless connector for those working in the Oracle space.

What’s Your Reason to Automate?

Do you suffer from lack of visibility into your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on a daily basis? Maybe your AP specialists are being stretched thin by manually processing invoices, or you could be looking to take advantage of early payment discounts but don’t have a good way to track them in your current process. Whatever your reason to automate may be, you will want to start putting an action plan in place for automation by laying out how it will benefit your organization. Now, there is no need to rack your brain coming up with reasons to automate, I already did the work for you!

 Reasons to Automate Accounts Payable

  1. Address the Issues
    What pains are you experiencing in AP? I am sure if you have pains, others in your department feel them as well (or additional ones). Take a moment to familiarize yourself with all the procedures, or even give yourself a nice refresher, you might end up pinpointing a few issues automation could fix that you didn’t think of before. You want to make sure you have identified all the pains in your department to make a strong case for automation.
  1. Consider the Big Picture
    What is automation going to bring your organization for years to come? Maybe you are being hit by the lack of visibility, imagine the joy of automation providing total visibility into invoices throughout the process and the ability to track KPIs on a daily basis! Think of all those in your organization that will benefit. Are you looking to improve supplier relations? Automation can give you a vendor portal which gives vendors insight into where their invoice is without needing to pick up the phone! Think of the time that AP specialists could be saving. Can you already imagine a few of your vendor relationships improving? Maybe early payment discounts are a hot topic, think of the money your organization could save by having visibility into the process with real-time tracking. Catch those discounts before they are gone! What does your big picture look like and where do you want automation to take your organization?
  1. Assess Your Situation
    You have pinpointed your issues, taken a look at how automation will benefit your organization, in the long run, now it is time to assess your situation. How well do you rank among your competitors? Do you have easy access to your KPIs and other important data? If you are not happy with where you stand, or you are content with your ranking but know you can improve, it is time to take action with automation!

Get all 7 reasons to automate AP in an Oracle E-Business Suite environment by downloading our guidebook today! You won’t want to miss out — kick start your business case today!

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.

 

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.

When People, Process & Technology Align

Businessman holding in hand a global connection,communications concept

 

Customer service is the heart of any organization; happy customers mean brand loyalty, a healthy bottom line and a wide horizon for growth. Outstanding customer service requires successful alignment of three key components: people, process and technology (PPT).  The next three paragraphs describe each of these components, with some of the common challenges associated with each, and some suggestions about developing a comprehensive customer service program without breaking the budget.

People. Customer service is the ultimate people business. You need smart, articulate, flexible, creative people on your team, with a broad range of conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.  Unfortunately, many aspects of customer service are repetitive, time-consuming and boring. Without ways to utilize their most important talents, skilled customer service representatives (CSRs) often burn out and move on. Minimizing the amount of time spent doing routine tasks and maximizing the time spent helping customers will help you retain your best CSRs and attract the kind of new hires you need. In addition, you can learn a lot from your best CSRs about how to improve their job satisfaction.  Treating them as the experts in their field–which they are–can open new insights into streamlining their workflows and making the best use of their talents.

Process.  If it’s hard to keep your top CSRs because of the high number of routine, repetitive tasks, it’s time to look at your customer service process.  How do your CSRs document their calls? How do they identify problems, take orders, troubleshoot product malfunctions and resolve disputes? Are these procedures fast, efficient and easy to remember? Could they be automated to save time and reduce errors? Are CSRs involved in designing and implementing new procedures? If CSRs are the actors in your customer service theater, the process is the play they’re performing. It needs to highlight their talents, shore up their weaknesses and bring out the best they have to offer.  Pairing top-notch CSRs with effective, service-focused processes will make your customers applaud!

Technology.  Technology, from the pencil to the tablet computer, is the bedrock of your customer service toolkit.  In the theater analogy, technology is the stage, supporting both the actors and the script. You want it to be simple, intuitive and reliable. Your CSRs want it to be efficient and accurate so they can spend their time helping customers instead of struggling with technical glitches.  Your customers want it to be tailored to their needs so that their calls go quickly and smoothly. As technology advances, new tools are available to support every aspect of customer service, from language translation to order entry to quality reporting. With the right array of tools, your CSRs will feel empowered to do what they do best–make your customers happy,

Customer service teams are often underfunded, which makes it difficult to implement large-scale improvements. By breaking down your operation into the three components of PPT, however, you can identify changes that are moderate in cost but have a big impact on your team’s performance.  A third-party vendor may be able to help you prioritize your needs and help you visualize the solutions you need.  Manual processes that your CSRs find tedious or vulnerable to error may be streamlined into automated, paperless versions that in turn yield detailed reports. Decreased time spent in documentation will free up your CSRs to focus on your customers–and significantly reduce your call wait times.

If you are looking for ways to improve your customer service performance, download this detailed white paper to see how a comprehensive PPT approach may fit your needs.

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.

 

Meet James – Supply Chain Leader | Esker Order Processing

 

Most supply chain leaders like James are struggling with ways to improve organizational performance and overall customer experience. James understands the ability to process orders faster and more accurately directly effects supply chain.

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.

Meet Susan – Life Science Industry Customer Service Representative | Esker Order Processing

 

Susan has her MBA and is a customer service representative in the Life Science industry. She faces unique challenges in this industry and recognizes the importance of accuracy in her position. But she is frustrated most of her time is spent manually entering sales orders.

Learn More:

http://www.esker.com.au/solutions/sales_order_processing/

 

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.