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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.