Tag Archives: business process

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.

eCommerce and the Digital Journey

With spending 15 years of my career in the eCommerce space, I’ve learned a lot along the way. One thing that has stuck with me is no matter how much a company believes the business case that this is going to be the only solution they need, you can’t force it.

You see, there is another entity involved that the company doesn’t control — its customers. For example, one of my chemical industry clients created a whole eCommerce site to sell its low-margin products. If a customer wanted that product they would have to buy through that portal. Other companies create significant campaigns to transition their customers to eCommerce, highlighting the benefits to the customer and offering discounts if they buy from their site. All of these are legitimate strategies, because, in today’s world, an eCommerce channel is a must.

The problem is an eCommerce channel is not going to work for all customers. Some of them are large, drive a majority of revenue, and want to buy through EDI so that the systems can talk to each other with no human intervention. Other customers have ERP systems that are spitting out their POs and they don’t want to re-key orders, or upload a spreadsheet to a website. Some industries have customers that don’t have the capabilities, nor do they want to deviate from what’s been working during the course of their relationship with you: sending their orders via email or fax (yes, there is still a lot of faxing going on).

Digital transformation usually begins with EDI and eCommerce sites, but it doesn’t end there. If neither of those channels work, email and fax orders can be placed into your ERP after validation checks for accuracy — all without manual intervention. This gives companies cross-departmental visibility to everything in the order pipeline, the ability to easily measure KPIs, and the actionable intelligence necessary to address priorities or concerns in real-time before they become big issues.

In today’s world, the customer experience is king. Figuring out how to efficiently cater to them is every companies’ challenge. Sometimes the easiest paths are overlooked for those more glamorous. It reminds me of a song I learned in Girl Scouts that says “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Every channel is important in its own way and can co-exist to provide a truly exceptional approach to business.

Promega France Enters the E-Commerce Era with Esker’s Accounts Receivable Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 27, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Promega France, a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry, to automate its accounts receivable (AR) process in anticipation for the e-invoicing to public administration requirements scheduled to take affect in 2019. Thanks to Esker’s cloud-based Accounts Receivable solution, Promega France has been able to modernize its invoice processing process and improve customer service efficiency.

“By automating our AR process, we have taken an essential step into the era of e-commerce,” said Annick Dahlem, customer service manager at Promega France. “Esker has not only enabled us to improve and simplify our accounting process, but has also allowed us to prepare for upcoming changes. We particularly appreciate the collaboration with Esker France which facilitates our relationship with the support team.”

Benefits of AR automation

The solution was implemented in just six weeks and has enabled Promega France to send customer invoices as soon as they are prepared by email (in PDF format) or postal mail from Esker’s production facility. Fully integrated with Promega France’s SAP® ERP system, Esker’s solution also facilitates invoice tracking and archiving via an intuitive web interface available to all company stakeholders.

Since implementing Esker’s solution, Promega France has achieved numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved customer service representative (CSR) performance, freeing them up to spend more time on higher-value tasks
  • Increased efficiency when searching for invoices thanks to electronic archiving
  • Better information sharing — everyone involved in the process can collaborate on the same invoice
  • Improved activity tracking through customizable dashboards
  • Implemented sustainable development in the invoice routing process

“Over a quarter of our private sector customers now receive their invoices in PDF format, a welcomed approach that will most certainly continue to increase,” said Dahlem. “Esker’s customizable dashboards have helped in my day-to-day work, giving me access to indicators that greatly facilitate my daily monitoring.”

Thanks to Esker’s solution interoperability with Chorus Pro, the French public administration platform, Promega France can confidently anticipate mandatory e-invoicing to public administrations in January 2019. The public sector represents close to 70 percent of Promega France’s order volume.

About Promega

Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. The company’s 3,500 products enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics, proteomics, cellular analysis, drug discovery and human identification. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA, with branches in 16 countries and over 50 global distributors. Promega France has been present in the Lyon region since 1992 with 45 employees, and many distributors in overseas France, Maghreb, Egypt, Greece and sub-Saharan Africa.


IPC Global Solutions Processes Orders Faster and More Accurately with Esker’s Cloud-Based Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 20, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced that IPC Global Solutions, a manufacturer and distributor of automotive aftermarket filters and wiper blades, has automated its order management functions using Esker’s Order Processing solution. Implemented in the cloud, the solution is integrated with the company’s SYSPRO ERP system. 

Receiving more than 350 monthly orders in a variety of formats (e.g., EDI, fax, email, etc.), IPC’s process of entering orders by hand was costly and inefficient — particularly the duplicate data entry it took to create an internal purchase order for the company’s own manufacturing and distribution sites overseas. Some orders were up to 300 lines and took over 30 minutes to process, placing a burden on the company’s Customer Support Representatives (CSRs).

To help IPC handle the significant increase in business it was experiencing, it sought a solution that would accelerate order processing, reduce administrative spend and scale with the company. Esker’s solution met IPC’s needs and more, offering a superior easy-to-use interface, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and a broad range of functionality at a better price than the competition.

Benefits from automated order management

Since implementing Esker’s Order Processing solution, IPC has achieved substantial benefits, such as:

  • Faster order processing: what previously took five to 30 minutes now takes two minutes or fewer.
  • Increased accuracy: OCR, combined with machine learning technology, has boosted order entry accuracy.
  • Improved customer relationships: orders are now being received more quickly and accurately.
  • Centralized workflow: all orders are accessible on a single platform and no longer tied to a single person, allowing others to step in when an employee is out of the office.
  • Expedited shipping: faster processing means orders are now shipped almost a day earlier.
  • Freed-up staff time: employees are able to focus on higher-value tasks, like a future Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system update.

“We had a staff member who was hesitant to make the transition to Esker’s solution,” said Darlene Mancuso, customer support manager at IPC Global Solutions. “Now that we’ve implemented it, she tells us she doesn’t know how she ever did her work without Esker. Our employees enjoy using the solution.”

About IPC Global Solutions

IPC Global Solutions, headquartered in Taunton, MA, is a leader in the private label filter and wiper blade business. With a 35-year heritage of supporting the very best names in the automotive aftermarket, IPC has built its success on delivering quality products and service to customers around the world. IPC is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company with manufacturing and distribution facilities in the United States and China.

Are You Losing the Potential Energy From Your Customer Orders?

A strategy of continuous improvement in the supply chain is necessary in order to maintain competitiveness in the world of med-device and hi-tech manufacturing. These specialized industries have highly experienced and educated customer service and inside sales staff that, often times, spend too much time trying to manage customer orders. What if, instead of expending energy on managing these orders, you could collect the order data and let that energy work for your organization?

Most of the organizations I work with are receiving some combination of orders via EDI, fax, central orders email box and phone. And then there are the orders coming from e-commerce sites, customer portals, and EDI transactions that are rejected by their ERPs. Sales guy Bob struggles with control issues, so his customers send their orders directly to his email box, not the general order box. All of a sudden, the omni-channel customer ordering experience becomes less of a way to help your customers and more of a risk for orders to be misplaced, accidentally deleted, and slow to enter the supply chain.

Med-device and high-tech manufacturers have the added complexity of an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions. Say a site in Pennsylvania is running SAP, that one in Washington is running Oracle, and the site in Houston is running AS400. Not only are orders coming in through multiple channels, they are routed to different ERPs. With order information spread out across an organization, it is extremely difficult for operations, treasury, supply chain, and executive leadership to have access to accurate organizational reporting. Manual reporting is rarely accurate reporting, and the results of demand planning based on it can be disastrous.

Forward-thinking organizations are investing in a singular platform for all orders, regardless of the way their customers find it easiest to send orders and to which ERP those orders are heading. With advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computing power, Esker is helping those organizations mine data from orders and provide visibility into orders as soon as they arrive. No more mishandled orders, inaccurate reporting, or surprise trends. Bonus kicker? The reporting power is in the hands of the users. No more submitting an IT ticket requesting someone else to magically dig information out of your ERP on their timeline.

With the omni-channel growing in complexity, it is important to have control and visibility into all customer orders to balance and accelerate the customer-centric supply chain cycle. Automating processes is the goal for many med-device and hi-tech manufacturers, but to what end? You can build a business case based on efficiency gains, but a complete order management platform touches so many other aspects of the supply chain. The ability to handle demand spikes and sudden rises in order volume, increased employee morale (leading to a better customer experience), a reduction in order-entry errors entering the supply chain, and a significant improvement in the cost to serve are just a handful of the realizations organizations experience when truly harnessing the power of their inbound orders.

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.

8 Accounts Receivable Management Strategies That Might Just Get You Promoted

Despite what a lot of accounts receivable (AR) leaders may still believe, “We have an ERP/accounting system” is not a viable credit and collections management strategy. Not in 2018, anyway.

Other departments (sales, marketing and accounts payable to name a few) have been more open to adopting complementary digitized solutions that provide added value beyond the traditional systems. It’s no great wonder why: They’ve proven to be effective tools for maximizing time, money and resources while creating a more transparent and collaborative work environment.

Nevertheless, AR appears content to settle for the status quo. Manual invoice delivery. Using sticky notes and spreadsheets for post-sale collections. No real analytical analysis. To put it in style terms, AR is out here in 2018 still rocking a mullet and mustache — and not in some hip ironic way, either.

Want to be the savior your behind-the-times AR department so rightly deserves? Here are 8 simple and sensible strategies that will get your team on the path to improved AR performance and maybe, just maybe, lead to a well-deserved promotion in the process.

Strategy #1: Greet technology as a friend.

Contrary to what’s commonly believed, automation is not some technological wrecking ball designed to wipe out and replace all of your existing people, processes and technology. AR can’t and shouldn’t be fully automated. The idea is to automate what should be automated.

Think of today’s best-in-class AR solutions more like a highly specialized team member. Except, this employee not only helps you get paid faster, keep costs down and improve customer relationships, it doesn’t take any time off. If that’s not an idea to get behind, I don’t know what is.

Strategy #2: Think beyond DSO.

Using metrics to improve performance is not a new or radical concept. But in AR, besides “DSO” and “Amount written off” the data analysis pool is laughably shallow. AR departments that find ways to go beyond DSO are able to effectively track performance, hold their teams accountable, and ultimately get the results they desire.

Want specific examples of these key metrics? Download the eBook found at the end of this blog post.

Strategy #3: Make e-invoicing a priority.

Switching to e-invoicing is in everyone’s best interests — both company and customers alike. It’s just a matter of creating a specific plan to facilitate the transition to e-invoicing. This can include strategies as simple as:

  • Setting defined goals (e.g., increasing e-invoice delivery via email by 20% over four months)
  • Collecting accounts payable (AP) email addresses from all new customers
  • Reaching out to existing customers in order to convert them from paper to email

Strategy #4: Confirm invoice receipts.

“I never received the invoice.” How many times have you heard this from a late-paying customer? With the right AR automation solution in place, this problem disappears. Users can track invoices from beginning to end and know exactly when the document was received.

Taking it a step further, the solution gathers data that your team can also use to set up workflow rules. For example, your team could be altered to any unopened invoice (based on when it was sent, dollar amount, customer group, etc.) and reach out to the customer. Simple, easy and effective.

Strategy #5: Get a clear follow-up plan.

Most companies would love to contact their customers before 15-20 days past the due date. In reality, that’s a tough ask … especially in a manual environment that’s strewn with bottlenecks. Automated AR solutions have a better way of doing it. Their slick payment reminder capabilities ensure that friendly emails are sent out automatically to notify slow-paying customers. No human intervention necessary. No manual headaches or hassles.

Strategy #6: Focus on team efficiency.

It’s not uncommon for as much as one-third of an AR rep’s time to be spent on prioritizing contacts and searching for contact-related information. That’s a lot of time/money/production lost, my friends. Automated AR management solutions have an elegant solution to this problem — giving staff members a clear snapshot of their day via customized to-do lists. Not only will they know what to do and when to do it, managers are also aware, and can make decisions accordingly.

Strategy #7: Evolve with your customers.

You may have noticed that people nowadays seem to prefer interacting with small, glowing rectangles than actual human beings. Your customers are no different. Instead of speaking to a rep or getting put on hold, they would rather make an invoice payment or get a question answered online, often from their mobile device, and on their own time.

Self-service tools offered through automated AR solutions help customers do things like:

  • View invoice information online
  • Make payments electronically
  • Apply credits to open invoices
  • Sign up for auto-pay functionality
  • Get questions answered rapidly

Strategy #8: Use root-cause analysis.

How do problems like late payments, customer disputes and deductions happen in the first place? Good question. With an automated AR solution, you can finally get the answer. Users can identify, track and categorize the root causes of some of the most common payment-related issues, and over time, even help them pinpoint customer patterns as to help avoid them in the future.

Care to learn more about these 8 AR management strategies? Download the eBook, 8 Accounts Receivable Management Strategies to Make Your Process Best-in-Class. It goes over the same strategies covered here … just in a bit more detail. If you liked this blog post, you’ll love the eBook. Enjoy!

The Business Case Backing Order Processing Automation

Creating a culture of great customer service is tricky. One of the largest challenges for departments looking to boost customer satisfaction is bandwidth. Do your team members have enough time to start focusing on helping customers versus manual tasks like data entry and filing documents? If not, it’s time to make the case for a solution that removes manual activities and helps businesses achieve top-notch customer service.

It should be a solution that benefits not only customer service but your entire business. We’ve got just the thing: Order processing automation.

Bettering customer service with automation

Thanks to machine-learning technology, an electronic workflow and digital archiving, order processing automation streamlines even the most complicated processes to overcome challenges like:

  • Unhappy customers because of order errors, lengthy processing times and poor support
  • Low staff productivity due to a high level of manual tasks
  • High costs resulting from excess paper, re-shipping orders and other inefficiencies
  • Order errors due to staff manually entering data
  • Low visibility and accountability over the process
  • Difficulty reporting and lack of reporting on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

What may seem like a benefit for customer service teams translates into benefits for the entire organisation. From wasteful spending to customer churn, the impact of manual methods in order processing is widespread — and so are the benefits of automating it.

Getting buy-in from upper management doesn’t have to be a daunting challenge. We’ll show you the ropes on what to sell, how to say it and who to talk to, to get your project approved.

Building a business case for order processing automation

Want the best shot at getting c-suite’s approval? Building a strategic business case is what you need. Follow along as we guide you through solution knowledge and strategies needed to make your dream of order processing automation a reality.

It’s 2018. Time to step into the future and step up your customer service standards with order processing automation.

Why Finance Leaders Should Kill Spreadsheets

Capturing and handling data from accounting solutions to ERP systems has certainly evolved. We’ve moved from information viewed on printed pages to cloud-based business intelligence (BI) tools.  With new ways of processing information faster and with greater visibility, why in the world are so many executives still using Excel spreadsheets to manage critical accounts receivable (AR) and collections management data?

Mining information from different systems stored in various areas (such as an Excel-based aging report, collections call notes, ERP open invoice information, and cash application systems, just to name a few) is still exported, sliced and diced, and often manually compiled and pushed into a report. Then accounting has to dig into their email inbox, or navigate the share drive like Ferdinand Magellan, to gather the spreadsheets. It’s an upgrade over paper or not reporting at all, but still restrictive and does not provide immediate, actionable intelligence that today’s businesses need to remain nimble. While important data points that, once collected, deliver actionable BI, gaps in information exist that systems typically don’t capture (e.g., why customers are paying late, disputes or deductions, etc.)

Lack of visibility in AR and collections management is particularly apparent when managing:

  • Past due customers. A collector may receive a promise-to-pay, but the customer didn’t live up to their promise, and no follow up notes or reasons were captured. All the while, that customer continues to order product. Now you have capital tied up in the open AR, along with additional product being produced or procured from the supply chain.
  • Collections forecasting. Without the ability to easily uncover and report on late payment trends, recurring issues, and spot underlying problems, an accurate collections forecast is near impossible.

Accounts receivable automation maximizes ERP and other business application investments you’ve made by combining data from all systems to populate dashboards and centralize workflow. Introducing automated processes with algorithmic rules and strategies helps eliminate tedious tasks and allows you to focus on things that make a greater impact. No more spending countless hours capturing data from multiple solutions and putting findings in a spreadsheet.

Automation helps you prioritize activities and aggregate data — giving you the insight to perform pertinent tasks immediately. Details can be shared with your customers, making them self-sufficient, creating a greater user experience and providing immediate, automatic collaboration. And guess what? You get paid faster and avoid costly write-off or risk!

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.