Tag Archives: document process automation

Get the Right Formation for your Order Processing

I’m a big fan of football. The ups, downs, highs, lows and the general togetherness it can bring. I suppose the time when everyone comes together is particularly when the World Cup rolls around every four years. It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling that all football fans live for. Being an England fan, it’s then normally met by the usual feeling of disappointment (normally when we get knocked out on penalties) and then you’re left for another four years craving that excitement and togetherness, that you only get at club level once every couple of weeks.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have that buzz where everyone comes together, all year round?

That got me thinking, I suppose it’s like Esker’s Order Processing solution, in that you want to have something that gives you that feeling your orders are handled successfully on every single occasion, rather than only getting the process right once in a blue-moon – then constantly chasing the game to get the winning result you are after. Wouldn’t it be ideal then, to have the right formation and a team you can depend on, week in, week out?

Consider this; the fact that you can have all orders managed within the one solution is like all rival teams setting differences aside for a common goal. The validation, data capture, and auto-learning capabilities are like the players out on the field performing to the best of their ability, showcasing different skills to provide the best results. Then this all culminates in posting the order seamlessly into the ERP, like when a goal is scored. Plus, what football fan can’t relate to the World Cup, where football is always on the TV, meaning you cannot get away from what’s happening (I love it!). It’s much like the dashboard/visibility Esker can provide on the sales order process in real time, whenever needed. The togetherness between what are normally rival fans can be seen as the integration between different systems where, although they have differences, there’s always a way in which integration can be achieved.

So, unlike England over the years, don’t pay the penalty on your customer order process, and look to Esker to make things more in “Lionel” and less “Messi”.

Ready to tackle your process?

Written by Dan Weston – Esker Export Account Manager

Today’s a Good Day for Automation

Most companies face a wait time receiving customer payments that could range anywhere from 30 to 90 days to even longer. Payment delays not only cause anxiety for the collections management team, but they impact your cash flow. The bottom line is simple — the more quickly you collect your accounts receivable (AR), the better your cash flow situation will be.

You have undoubtedly heard about or have automated certain business processes already. By automating wherever possible, you’re looking where you can leverage technology to compliment your existing ERP or finance solution, and reduce labor-intensive administrative tasks, thus operating much more efficiently in the process. AR automation transfers invoicing to a digital process, sets you up to receive multiple forms of payment, handles what is usually labor-intensive deductions, accurately applies cash, and captures and prioritises collections efforts. In addition, AR automation allows you to:

  • Create customer invoices based on your company’s data or simply upload an ERP created file of invoice PDFs to send and track electronically or via postal mail
  • Send automated reminders for payment

Finally, AR automation also supports numerous types of collections strategies and is set up for internal collectors based on the collections rules and approach unique to your company.

The benefits of AR automation are numerous and impossible to ignore after you have experienced them firsthand. Here are the main reasons to consider implementing this year:

  1. Faster Payments
    If you’re accustomed to dealing with clients who tend to pay your invoices at their leisure, then you’re not alone. This is just one of many reasons to consider automating your AR processes as soon as possible. The enormous benefit of automation is that e-invoices are made available for customers to pay immediately. This eliminates delays in payment that might have previously been common. AR automation can help you speed up your invoicing so you get faster payment.
  1. Improved Customer Experience
    A benefit of AR automation is an enhanced customer experience. Your team is better able to focus on more strategic and detail-oriented tasks. When it comes to AR-related customer data, you know the more you can do to merge things for greater visibility, the better customer service you can provide. When it comes to inaccurate invoices or collections issues, AR automation technology allows you to quickly address any issues that may arise. By implementing technology in your AR processes, you are giving yourself a valuable tool that allows you to provide stronger customer service. Because of this enhanced customer experience, you can expect improved customer retention and a decrease in customer service-related problems.
  1. Cost Savings
    Studies have shown that e-invoicing saves approximately $8 per invoice sent. This cost reduction might come as a surprise. However, the decrease reflects cost savings in several areas, such as postage costs, manual handling of paper invoices, cost of paper, envelopes, and equipment used in the printing and posting process. By implementing invoice delivery automation, your company can cut costs where you never could before. In time, the sizeable cost savings will be worthwhile to leverage technology to your benefit.
  1. More Control & Visibility
    Another benefit of AR automation is the added control and visibility you and your team will gain. Invoicing and international e-invoice compliance, automated payment reminders, online customer payment, automatic cash application, collectors outreach and workflow, and capturing dispute reasons are just a few of the AR automation functions that allow real-time visibility and reporting. Improved visibility provides insight you and your team can act on.

You may still have reservations about making the switch. The manual processes you’ve always known feel comfortable and familiar. Change can sometimes be scary. Look at automation technology as something that can easily be adapted to your business needs. Opt for software that’s simple, intuitive and closely matches how you already do business. Consider automating your AR and collections process — it’s a more predictable and repetitive sequence of activities that provides benefits from end to end.

Esker: Growing the P2P Suite in 2018 and Beyond

Company Background

Esker was founded in 1985 with the vision of helping businesses deliver paper documents electronically. Today, more than 30 years later, they have stayed true to its roots and are now one of the larger document process automation vendors in the market. Over 85% of sales now come from its on-demand (SaaS) solutions for Purchase-to-Pay, Order-to-Cash, and document delivery. Headquartered in Lyon, France, Esker also has operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Based on the strong growth of its cloud-based solutions (+21% YOY), Esker’s 2017 sales revenues increased by 15.3% over 2016. Another interesting stat from the earnings release is that the number of employees in R&D increased by 18% in 2017, and now represents an impressive 22% of the total workforce.

During our briefing, Esker spoke to us primarily about the newer solution for Purchasing but also covered the Accounts Payable solution as well. Below is a brief description of each solution.

Accounts Payable

Esker’s sweet spot has always been its AP automation solution for the mid- and large-market. The cloud-based AP solution is designed to eliminate paper, reduce manual processing of invoices, lower costs, and improve efficiency. As you would expect they can easily handle most invoice formats and delivery vehicles. The solution can automate the AP process from invoice receipt to 3-way matching, and through to, and including, approval and transfer for payment. They have also automated the exception handling process, which can automatically be routed around based on customisable workflows and business rules.

Esker offers adapters for a number of ERPs including SAP, Oracle eBusiness Suite, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Over 50% of Esker’s AP customers have SAP as their backend ERP, not surprising since Esker has long provided integration to SAP. Two years ago they introduced an adapter for Oracle and this has resulted in good growth in this market segment as well. It is important to point out that Esker’s workflow sits outside of an organisation’s ERP, something they say is one of the major reasons clients select Esker for their AP automation.

Purchasing

Based on requests from its existing customers, and sensing market demand, Esker launched its on-demand Purchasing solution four years ago, in order to be able to offer full P2P functionality. The majority of Esker’s customers utilising the purchasing solution already had Esker’s AP solution or were sold the full P2P suite in the last four years. Esker Purchasing allows enterprises to automate the full P2P cycle, from the purchase request all the way through the payment process. Esker automates purchasing workflow and integrates seamlessly to the Esker AP solution. They provide out-of-the-box, role-based dashboards tailored to the specific needs of the user, and allow for easy switching between the AP and Purchasing solutions. Esker provides functionality to easily manage internal catalogs and is in the process of launching ‘punch-out’ catalog capability that will be available later this spring. Eskers purchasing solution is currently best suited to handle an organisation’s indirect spend but, Dupuy-Holdich said their vision is to possibly handle direct spend as well sometime in the future.

Final Thoughts

After a successful 2017, it was great to get an update from Esker to hear how they achieved such positive results and learn what they are currently working on and plans for the future. They have recently provided integration to SAP S4/Hana, Dynamics NAV 2017, and early payment discounts. Future plans include support for SAP S4/HANA Cloud and NAV 2018, punch-out catalogs, and contract management. They are working to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in all of its solutions. The ‘Esker AI Engine’ is currently being used to improve global field recognition, for an intelligent splitting of invoice batches, general ledger auto allocation, and improved supplier recognition on invoices and purchase orders. Esker R&D is looking to utilise AI to improve the functionality of its solutions wherever possible. Esker understands the importance of being able to offer a full P2P suite and is motivated to bring its purchasing solution on par with that of the AP solution. Esker has produced solid revenue growth over the last couple of years and has a plan in place to keep that momentum going in 2018. Ardent Partners is very interested to see where Esker goes from here and the traction they are able to achieve in the full P2P market.

 

Source: http://payablesplace.ardentpartners.com/2018/03/esker-growing-p2p-suite-2018/

 

The Benefits of Document Processing Automation in the Food Industry

The exchange of documents is essential to how daily business activities are conducted, especially in manufacturing and distribution. In fact, how well an organisation optimises document processes directly impacts profitability. This is especially true in the food and beverage industry, where FDA regulations and product shelf life make efficiency and accuracy particularly important. It is also true then that the promised gains from automation are often amplified in this space.

The Pitfalls of Manual Processes

Each and every day, warehouse distributors and manufacturers handle faxes, emails and other paper-based supply chain management documents that cause problems such as:

  • Data entry errors associated with the manual rekeying of data, resulting in delayed/incorrect shipments
  • Inefficiency in getting fax/email data into a back-office system, resulting in production delays and overstocks
  • Concerns about the cost for increasing staff and infrastructure to handle high volumes and peak periods

Management Concerns

The struggles associated with manual processing affect a business at multiple levels —, particularly at the managerial level. When document entry cycle times are long, managers cannot grow the business without adding staff. Additionally, there is no easy way to prioritise and monitor document entry, meaning high-priority and time-sensitive processing can be delayed. Document processing errors are also a common problem that causes a domino effect of issues for managers. Errors can lead to delays in fulfillment and cash collection, additional shipping costs, waste (especially with perishables) and repetition. Furthermore, processing errors can cause returns, which a business must pay off in credit notes, restocking or write-offs. Finally, archiving poses a major concern for management. The cost of printing and the space to store documents, combined with the time it takes to file and retrieve records, can hold a company back. Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are often unable to find documents to answer customer questions, and information is not readily accessible for auditing purposes.

The Promise of Document Management Automation

The more efficient a company’s billing and cash collection methods are, the faster documents are handled, processed and tracked, which accelerates the flow of business cycles. There are then four main expected outcomes from replacing traditional, paper-based processes with document management automation:

  • Cost-effective integration of incoming documents into business processes so they get to the right places/people as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Removal of human intervention and manual paper handling from document processes, increasing efficiency and reducing errors from manual touch points.
  • Increase in the efficiency of back-office operations frees staff to focus on higher value, strategic activities.
  • Improvement of supplier and customer relationships by creating a superior, more efficient experience receiving payment or products.

Success Story: Sales Order Processing and Bel Group

If a manufacturer or distributor in any industry makes a mistake with an order, it incurs costs associated with bringing the product back to the warehouse, repackaging it and redistributing it. There are the shipping costs, the time wasted on duplicate processes and the incurred risk to reputation to think of. But when it comes to the food and beverage industry, order processing takes on an even greater importance because in many cases, product cannot simply be reshipped in case of error. Perishable product must be disposed of, which can lead to a total loss of revenue on inventory. That’s a cost no company wants to pay.

The Bel Group is a worldwide leader in branded cheeses with operations in 36 countries and more than 12,000 employees. Its Spanish operations were hamstrung by inefficient, manual processing of customer orders and invoices. Prior to implementation of an automated order processing system, two-thirds of the approximately 25,000 customer orders the division received annually came in via fax, email, and telephone. Processing those orders manually was slow, labor-intensive and much more susceptible to error.

Like many companies with traditional systems and long-standing customer relationships, Bel Spain worried that their customers would balk at submitting orders electronically. Since solution implementation, Bel has taken an active role in helping customers change the way they send documents, moving from telephone and paper to electronic format (fax or email). Within a year, two-thirds of Bel’s orders were being received electronically. Thirty percent of those were processed using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, drastically reducing the number of manual touch points—and opportunities for error—associated with their traditional system. Today, 100 percent of Bel Spain’s document exchange with customers using non-electronic formats is automated and seamlessly integrated with SAP. Orders are now more accurate, and the company has seen significant improvements in the quality of managing order-to-cash and procure-to-pay cycles.

Sales Order Processing Benefits:

  • Achieved significant financial savings by eliminating the costs involved with printing and mailing invoices and manual reception and processing of customer orders.
  • Decreased order and invoice processing time.
  • Eliminated processing errors associated with manual handling.
  • Streamlined relationships with vendors and customers by making communication with both more reliable, resulting in faster sales cycles and increased customer loyalty.
  • Eliminated physical archiving by using 115 fewer filing cabinets every year, resulting in an estimated savings of €4,500 per year based on the average price per square meter.

Bel Spain also automated the sending and archiving of electronic customer invoices. Invoices are now received quicker and easier, and never get lost. Duplicate copies can easily be printed if needed, there is greater invoice traceability and Bel Spain benefits from decreased days sales outstanding (DSO).

Accounts Receivable Benefits:

  • Invoices with electronic signatures are automatically generated from SAP.
  • Signed PDF invoices are automatically sent by email via Lotus Notes.
  • Electronic invoices are archived online, freeing-up physical space and decreasing associated costs.

Success Story: Accounts Payable and Farmland Foods

Increasing industry pressures have many food and beverage companies looking for ways to lower operational costs and gain leverage with suppliers. The expense and inefficiency of keying in, verifying and approving vendor invoices manually make accounts payable automation a popular way to modernise AP processing, reduce costs and improve vendor relations.

International pork processing company Farmland Foods processes about 30,000 invoices every month. That’s an awful lot of paper to push via outdated manual processes. AP operations were frustratingly slow, and the accuracy rate wasn’t where it should have been for a company of Farmland’s standing. Invoices were stored in paper files in an inconvenient storage room, and employees were wasting too many hours printing invoices and manually re-entering them into SAP.

In 2014, the company decided to implement an automated AP system that integrates with SAP. As a result, the Farmland experienced tangible cost-savings.

Benefits:

  • Improved visibility. Managers now have access to key metrics, such as number of invoices to process, how far out they are, payment terms for discounts, etc.
  • Easier access to invoices. Instead of tracking down invoices in a file room, Esker allows users to access them via document numbers to easily email/print a copy online.
  • Faster freight processing. Esker helped Farmland reduce its “out period” for freight invoices from a deadline-pushing 14 days to just two days.
  • Cost savings. Fewer manual processing tasks allowed Farmland to save on costs equal to three FTEs, and reallocate current staff to projects offering greater value.
  • Faster invoice entry time. Where the invoice entry goal for Farmland’s AP staff used to be 150-200 invoices per day, they are now achieving over 400 invoices per day.
  • Fewer outstanding accruals. Faster invoice entry times have enabled Farmland to reduce the number of outstanding AP accruals by $8 million.
  • Increased discounts. When comparing the last six months to the six months prior to automation, Farmland estimates it has gained an additional $29,815 in discounts.

 

EDI Made Easier Through Automation

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) came onto the scene as an antidote to the traditional cumbersome and error-prone ways of manually moving business documents between partners. Before EDI, documents in the order purchasing process, such as invoices, purchase orders and receipts, were exchanged through emails, faxes or traditional mail. This required human effort on each end inputting the data and handling document transmission. As with most manual systems, order processing was slow, inefficient and costly. Errors in data entry were commonplace and the processing could not keep up with the increasingly fast pace of modern business.

EDI digitized the process, removing most human intervention and paper from the equation. It made the document exchange a computer-to-computer event that accelerated processes, improved accuracy, increased document security and reduced costs. However, while EDI has been a great start in improving order purchasing process, it isn’t a panacea. It comes with its own set of complexities and challenges that can slow the system down and introduce inefficiencies. Businesses can turn to automated order processing management solutions to help address the myriad EDI exceptions that can impact data accuracy, bottom-line costs and business cycles.

This technology has been around for about three decades, and there are multiple EDI formats and standards, including XML, EDIFACT, ANSI and UBL. In order processing, EDI essentially involves taking the data that’s been entered into the system by the buyer and putting it through a series of translation, mapping and processing steps before an invoice is sent to the supplier. Within that process, there are multiple points at which errors and exceptions can occur, affecting accuracy, adding costs and throwing speed bumps into the system. We have found that up to a third of EDI orders can contain exceptions. Errors can range from incorrect pricing or promotion codes to invalid material numbers to missing segments, and addressing them can be time-consuming and expensive. For example, about 30 percent of shipments are received with an advanced shipping notice (ASN), which can cost a company as much as $178 per purchase order to process.

The complexity of EDI means that when an exception occurs, customer service representatives (CSRs) often have to bring in the IT team to figure out the order and fix the problem. Essentially the company is paying two people to handle a single problem.

Those exceptions also have a ripple effect throughout the entire supply chain, where there are so many stakeholders involved — not only the CSR, IT team and management, but everyone from the supplier to the customer. Any slowdown caused by inaccuracies and inefficiencies in any part of the supply chain can have a domino effect throughout. It can damage business partner relationships and result in lost profits or lost business. EDI has helped digitize the entire order purchasing process, but complexity, challenges and exceptions remain.

Automated order processing solutions can help alleviate many of the problems caused by EDI exceptions. It can ensure the accuracy, efficiency and security of the system and remove the need for manual intervention. An order processing automation solution essentially becomes an overlay of the EDI system and the central place where every order is processed. That includes the orders received not only through the EDI system, but also via email, fax, paper or any other route, with the orders sent to the right CSR and all the purchase order data collected and used to create a sales order in the ERP system.

These automated solutions make every order readable to humans and provides full visibility and control over every order. Purchase orders can come to the trading partner through the EDI system, but, at the same time, they can come separately via other avenues. It’s often up to the CSR — and at times the IT staff — to remedy any discrepancies. With a best-of-breed automation solution, the software brings all of that together in one place, can quickly determine if there is a problem with the order and provide feedback to the business partner if the order needs to be reworked and the problem addressed.

The handling of exceptions is also automated, which puts control back into the hands of the CSR and eliminates the need for an expensive IT professional to help resolve the issue. Now, the data from an EDI file is used to create a PDF, where discrepancies are not only quickly and easily flagged, but the automated solution can learn from previous situations to automatically correct recurring issues and remember changes that users have made in the past. This accelerates the process, increases efficiency and reduces the number of exceptions that need to be addressed. An automation solution can reduce EDI processing time by an average of four days over EDI systems where manual intervention is still needed.

Companies also gain greater visibility into the order process through customizable dashboards that enable users to track all orders in real time. For CSRs, this means being able to better manage SLAs, ensure the integrity of priority orders and see what orders are awaiting approvals, rather than having to sort through layers of data or use guesswork. Managers can use the tool to view long-term performance forecasts and anticipate staffing needs.

Relationships with trading partners are further strengthened, in part by enabling CSRs to not only process orders through the automated solution, but also to track and address customer issues through the same interface. Problems are dealt with quickly, strengthening the relationship between the companies and freeing customer service representatives to spend more time working with customers. Automated solutions also include a self-service online portal to ensure instant communication between business partners and give customers an always-available online place to access order information and address issues as they arise.

Onboarding new customers is simplified through an intelligent and easy-to-use mapping tool, and automation solutions can easily be configured to work with existing EDI or ERP infrastructures. Businesses don’t need to rip out and replace any systems in which they’ve already invested. Instead they can bring in an automated solution to improve the overall process.

EDI was a great start to improving the overall order purchase process, which for a long time has been a heavily manual — and thus slow and error-prone — operation. However, as with any process or rule, with EDI there are exceptions that have to be dealt with. Until now, managing EDI exceptions has meant more human intervention, by a CSR with few IT capabilities and by an IT professional without deep experience in business process models. Essentially, two people were needed to fix one problem. An automated order purchasing solution can address exceptions quickly and easily by ensuring that all orders go through a single system regardless of where they originated, granting CSRs full autonomy to EDI exception handling and offering customer-friendly features to build and cement trust in business relationships.

 

Property Brokers – Improving supplier invoice processing with cloud-based accounts payable automation

BACKGROUND

Property Brokers, New Zealand’s leading provincial real estate brand, runs its entire accounts payable (AP) process out of its head office in Palmerston North. The company was manually handling the processing and approvals of its 1,200-1,300 monthly supplier invoices (for the head office and all the North Island regional branches). Unfortunately, the process was very paper-heavy and laborious and not a good use of time or resources.

Each invoice was scanned and emailed to the right branch or department for approval, and depending on the approval hierarchy, would sometimes need to go through as many as five approvers in the company. Each recipient printed the invoice, checked and authorised it for payment, applied the correct finance code, then signed and emailed back the re-scanned invoice copy. The accounting team at the head office would then print it out again and match it against the original invoice, before entering the data into the company’s Accredo accounting software. After ticking the invoice off on the master list, the invoice was finally filed.

This time-consuming process was both inefficient and error-prone. Data entry errors and payment duplications were numerous and the accounting team lacked real-time visibility of where an invoice was in the approval/payment cycle. It also made invoice handling slower and costlier than necessary.

The company knew it had to improve its overall invoice management process through automated capture of invoices and electronic matching and routing for approval, as well as reduce time and costs associated with manual matching, distribution of invoices and keying-in of information.

SOLUTION

It was time to modernise. Lee Waller, Property Brokers’ financial controller, was keen to find a better way to manage incoming invoices and expense claims handling. “I wanted an automated, simpler, faster and less labour-intensive system,” he said. So, the search was on. Property Brokers drew up a list of requirements and asked four potential partners to submit proposals.

Fuji Xerox New Zealand recommended Esker’s Accounts Payable automation solution as the perfect fit with the business. And, delighted with both the affordability and functionality of the solution, Property Brokers agreed.

The Fuji Xerox implementation team worked closely with Property Brokers’ finance team to configure Esker’s solution to reflect the company’s internal processes. From day one, Property Brokers were impressed with Fuji Xerox’s approach, which involved taking time to understand the business and get things right. The effort paid off and the go-live was a success.

Automating the invoice and expense approval process delivered instant results. The new level of consistent invoice coding provides an accurate picture of what the company is spending and where. Esker also gives branch and department managers a clearer view of their running expenses, which helps them eliminate unnecessary overheads.

Esker captures invoices from emails and uses intelligent Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract data from header and line level detail. It provides users with a friendly interface for invoice review and coding, a workflow engine to handle multi-level approval, reporting with dashboards, as well as archiving of images with the audit trail for further retrieval.

In addition to supporting Property Brokers’ technology strategy, Esker’s cloud-based solution makes invoice and expense information available to managers across New Zealand. Because invoices are now entered into the approval workflow as soon as they arrive, reviewing them has become a more manageable task for managers.

Thanks to AP automation, invoices are no longer scanned, printed, filed and manually matched. The AP team has been able to focus on more value-added tasks and keep pace with the growing business without the need to recruit more staff and monthly invoice close-off date has been reduced.

The Property Brokers team are enthusiastic about their new automated AP solution. Even the staff members who were initially nervous about such a dramatic change are now delighted to use the system. The company knew the project was a
success when they started receiving positive feedback from business users.

“I love Esker. We will see some major improvements to the bottom line in the coming months!”
Greg Kellick | Waikato regional manager

Read more:

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.

 

How Technology Plays a Role in Order-to-Cash Success

Whether its customers calling in about late shipments or your warehouse accidentally shipping incorrect items, sales order disputes can impact customer satisfaction. Order disputes can arise as a result of several different situations, such as:

  • Price variations of the goods that appear on the order vs. the invoice
  • Sales tax and shipping costs inaccuracies
  • Keystroke errors from manually entering orders
  • Differences in the terms of sale on the PO and the invoice

As a consequence, payment delays occur because customer service teams have to reprocess the orders and exceptions. Customer service is strapped for time as it is, and it’s challenging to take the time needed to adequately review all customer purchase orders for accuracy before processing.

Unfortunately, inaccurate orders result in inaccurate customer billing. If customer service had the time to manually review orders line by line for accuracy, there would be any number of exceptions found (e.g., PO with the wrong price or unacceptable terms and conditions of sale). No matter the exception so begins the tedious task of rejecting or reprocessing the order. Emails back and forth, requests made for an updated order to be re-sent, inventory put on hold, credits applied, verification for price adjustments … and this can go on and on for weeks.

Getting orders entered right the first time shortens the timeline to billing. By streamlining your entire procedure for customer communication, order processing, invoicing, and collecting payment for an order you’ll speed up cash flow, cut costs and serve your customers better in the long run. So, where is this Utopia found?

In the world of inbound customer sales order automation. From having visibility of all received sales orders into a single queue (by email, EDI, fax orders) to automatically extracting data from the document (e.g., customer name, PO number, ship to address, quantity, etc.) and comparing the data against information stored in your ERP, automation provides customer service a streamlined approach to approve orders or handle exceptions.

Technology like sales order automation has a role to play in implementing best-in-class strategies for order-to-cash (O2C) success. No need to avoid new technology from fear of costs, effort or change — these investments are necessary to remain competitive. Order automation can be implemented at a reasonable cost for companies processing as few as 500 orders a month and scalable to handle over 500,000. Speeding up the overall O2C process means speeding up your cash flow, reducing costs and running your business more efficiently overall.

Efficient O2C processes play a large role in the customer experience and company success —  unfortunately, they can be a challenge to attain when you have different teams working towards different goals. Download your copy of this eBook to start creating a positive customer experience with a proactive solution.

 

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.

HEINEKEN Spain Delivering Improved Customer Service Using Esker’s Order Processing Solution

Orders are now being processed five times faster thanks to automation

Sydney, Australia — February 13, 2018Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with HEINEKEN Spain, the leading developer and marketer of premium beer and cider brands including Heineken®, Cruzcampo, Amstel and Buckler, to automate its order management process. HEINEKEN was looking to improve customer response times, reduce manual handling of errors and increase visibility over orders received via all channels. 

Within a few months of implementing Esker’s Order Processing automation solution, HEINEKEN was able to significantly accelerate its order management process by reducing the average time to process an order from 170 to 30 seconds (five times faster).

HEINEKEN receives an annual volume of more than 40,000 orders via fax and email. Thanks to Esker’s machine-learning capabilities and intelligent image-recognition technology, HEINEKEN’s Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are able to process orders without any human intervention. After just three months of solution implementation, over 50 percent of orders were fully automated without needing user validation. Today, 74 percent of orders are validated with no changes required.

Intelligent automation

Esker’s solution extracts all order data (e.g., customer numbers, product codes, quantities, ship to addresses, etc.) and automatically matches it with HEINEKEN’s master data. Once read, interpreted and validated, the order is sent to HEINEKEN’s SAP® system. Orders are automatically split by product type and multiple orders are created in SAP for one order document. Order data metrics are visible on the dashboard homepage, resulting in greater visibility to the work carried out by the customer service team.

“Thanks to Esker, our customer service team is more efficient and has been able to spend more time on higher-value tasks which have increased customer satisfaction,” said Luis Fernández-Palacios, order management manager at HEINEKEN’s Department of Logistics and Customer Service. “Our team is thrilled with the functionality and flexibility Esker has brought to their daily work, and with how quickly and easily the solution was implemented.”

Next steps

Esker is already working on several enhancements to enable HEINEKEN to deliver increased value to its customers, including dispatch advice, invoicing and managed returns. HEINEKEN is also interested in automating its Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) orders with Esker to achieve 100 percent visibility over all order reception channels.

About HEINEKEN

HEINEKEN Spain is a subsidiary of HEINEKEN, the world’s most international brewer and leading developer and marketer of premium beer and cider brands. Led by the Heineken® brand, the Group has a portfolio of more than 250 international, regional, local and specialty beers and ciders. The company is committed to innovation, long-term brand investment, disciplined sales execution and focused cost management. HEINEKEN Spain has more than 110 years of history in Spain and four factories located in Madrid, Valencia, Seville and Jaen where more than 10 million hectoliters of beer were produced in 2016.

Through “Brewing a Better World,” sustainability is embedded in the business and delivers value for all stakeholders. HEINEKEN has a well-balanced geographic footprint with leadership positions in both developed and developing markets. It employs over 80,000 employees and operates breweries, malteries, cider plants and other production facilities in more than 70 countries. Heineken N.V. and Heineken Holding N.V. shares trade on the Euronext in Amsterdam.