Tag Archives: vendor invoices

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

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.

Join us at the upcoming Queensland CFO Symposium.

 

Order and Issue Management: An Untapped Potential for Improved Productivity and Enhanced Customer Relationships (Part 7)

 

Let’s not confuse ‘issue management’ solution and ‘issue management’ process.

For sure, most companies deal with ‘customer issues’ – mostly via a mix of tools such as email, telephone, CRM, intranet, etc. This means that there is no adequate ‘issue management’ solution in place to effectively and productively drive the prompt resolution of customer issues. Of course, this leads to customer dissatisfaction and erode positive branding. Like the recent quote from the CEO of Telstra who said that customers do not compare their customer experience between vendors but against their last interaction with the same company.

Esker Survey Results 7

Order and Issue Management: An Untapped Potential for Improved Productivity and Enhanced Customer Relationships (Part 6)

 

The early and broad adoption of EDI technologies in ANZ in various industries means that a large proportion of customer orders are transmitted via EDI. However, like everywhere else, EDI orders are processed via one set of technologies whilst fax and email orders are processed either manually or via another set of technologies – often enough not in an integrated manner. This means that the customer service team seldom has access to all customer orders from one interface, cannot easily reconcile all customer orders from customers using multiple channels (EDI, fax, email, tel) and in some companies a dedicated team needs to check and correct EDI orders.

A simpler, integrated solution to manage all orders – EDI, fax, email – provides an effective tool to increase productivity and increase customer satisfaction.

Esker Survey Results 6

Order and Issue Management: An Untapped Potential for Improved Productivity and Enhanced Customer Relationships (Part 5)

 

The early and broad adoption of EDI technologies in ANZ in various industries means that a large proportion of customer orders are transmitted via EDI. However, like everywhere else, EDI orders are processed via one set of technologies whilst fax and email orders are processed either manually or via another set of technologies – often enough not in an integrated manner. This means that the customer service team seldom has access to all customer orders from one interface, cannot easily reconcile all customer orders from customers using multiple channels (EDI, fax, email, tel) and in some companies a dedicated team needs to check and correct EDI orders.

A simpler, integrated solution to manage all orders – EDI, fax, email – provides an effective tool to increase productivity and increase customer satisfaction.
Esker Survey Results 5

 

Order and Issue Management: An Untapped Potential for Improved Productivity and Enhanced Customer Relationships (Part 4)

 

Many industries and hence companies in ANZ also have seasonal peak order processing (garden products, home renovation products, season dependent food products, etc). Often enough companies hire additional temporary admin staff to handle the increased workload. Whilst this approach might work OK for some companies, every year these companies go through the same stressful situation of recruiting, training, temporary staff and do not really address the core issues. This is another great opportunity for companies to ‘do more with the same resources’.

Esker Survey Results 4

 

Order and Issue Management: An Untapped Potential for Improved Productivity and Enhanced Customer Relationships (Part 2)

 

Whilst the mix of inbound channels for receiving order in ANZ might vary slightly – greater EDI adoption and lower faxed orders – the same challenge of VISIBILITY exists in ANZ. Typically there is no single view of the customer orders and no real time analytics on order management is available to supply chain management and business managers.

Esker Survey Results 2

ESKER: A Worldwide Leader in Cloud-based Document Processing Automation Software.

Esker A worldwide leader in Cloud based solution 2

Quit Paper in any Business Document Process

For Quite some time, business faced challenges to manage documents across different devices, as well as to control document flow that made business reporting an arduous task. This scenario prevailed for years mainly because organisations used manual processes, which were neither sophisticated not intelligent enough to capture data from complex documents such as invoices, sales orders and account statements. Due to the complexity these documents contain: product codes, GST, quantities, prices, etc. businesses experienced processing delays, high error rates, poor reporting and customer dissatisfaction. Thanks to documentation process automation software, organizations can automate their manual business processes  which were neither sophisticated nor intelligent enough to capture data from complex documents such as invoices, sales order sand account statements. Due to the complexity these documents contain: product codes, GST, quantities, prices,etc., businesses experienced processing delays, high error-rates, poor reporting and customer dissatisfaction. Thanks to documentation process automation software, organizations can automate their manual business processes and free up their workforce from spending hours on error-prone manual operations. Automating document processes throughout a company adds value to existing systems, enhances productivity, strengthens business relationships and improves the exchange of business-critical documents between customers and suppliers.

Starting off as a host access software provider in 1985, today Esker has become one of the leading document process automation solution providers. Esker solutions help organizations of all sizes to improve efficiencies, accuracy, visibility and costs associated with business processes.

The core principle behind Esker’s document process automation platform is a focus on helping businesses Quit Paper to drive operational efficiencies, cost savings and process visibility. Esker offers solutions specifically designed to eliminate the huge amounts of paper flowing through order-to-cash (O2C) cycle of fulfilling customer orders and collecting payment, and the purchase-to-pay (P2P) cycle of buying the goods and services.Increasing speed and accuracy through document process automation helps businesses fulfill customer orders faster, get paid sooner, optimize financial management and maximize supply chain efficiency.

From cloud computing and infrastructure to business processes and personal collaboration, Esker has proved to be one of the rarest software vendors to offer 100 percent cloud and business automation to its clients.

In a nut shell, Esker guarantees to bring the paper-flow of information to a halt within an organization by initiating the right automation to every business documentation cycle.

One Platform for Any Business Process

Esker allows businesses to control all of their document process improvement efforts in one collaborative platform that spans the entire cash conversion cycle. Whether they want to automate and capture any inbound documents (sales order, vendor invoices) or electronically deliver any outbound document (customer invoices,purchase orders),Esker allows them to automate as needed using a shared group of technologies.

Through this innovative platform, businesses have a single solution to receive sales orders or supplier invoices from any source; send purchase orders or customer invoices directly from ERP systems and store documents and data within the ERP application

Esker’s automation solution is implemented either on-premises via Esker Delivery Ware or in the cloud via Esker on Demand to automate accounts payable, order processing, accounts receivable, purchasing and more.

“Working with in a wide range of industries for nearly three decades with businesses of various sizes, we have found that automation typically helps organizations process business documents like orders and invoices up to 90% faster and a minimum of 40% more cost effectively when compared to manual processing methods,” said Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker.

Esker’s Innovative Solutions

Esker infuses its core mantra, Quit Paper, in every solution that the company delivers. For instance, Esker’s mobile invoice approval application, Esker Any where, equips managers with on-the-go accessibility to review and approve purchase requisitions and supplier invoices. The application helps businesses further speed up the review and approval cycles of invoice and requisition processing, as well as improve efficiency in the P2P cycle.

“Employees are becoming increasingly mobile and require anywhere accessibility to business processes and data in order to maximize productivity,” said Jean-Michel Bérard.“Our mobile app is a result of our ongoing commitment to bring value to companies looking for faster and more efficient ways to do daily business activities, including processing invoices and spend requests on the move.”

Esker A worldwide leader in Cloud based solution

Solution Dash boards Optimize Business Process Management

Esker offers collaborative and customizable solution dashboards which facilitate daily tasks, monitor performances indicator sand react quickly to prevent problems or spot opportunities early, making every action smarter and more strategic. The dashboards, which are integrated into all Esker solutions, enable users to access the right information when they need it, follow key performance indicators and provide real-time visibility on work in progress.

“Our simple, intuitive and collaborative solutions allow organizations to optimize how they manage critical business processes,” said Jean-Michel Bérard. “We are committed to improving our solution functionality, placing the user experience at the center of our development efforts. This new development philosophy generates greater customer adoption and improved user efficiency.”

“Esker is commitment to building a network of business collaboration, enabling meaningful connections between organizations, suppliers and customers.”

 

After having catered to Malaysian Airlines, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Whirlpool etc.,Esker continues to innovate and offer enhanced solutions to deliver greater added-value to its customers.