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November 29, 2018 BY AMI Imaging Leave a Comment

Water Softener Service Company Automates AP Processes


Water services network of dealers automates invoice approval and payment process

The Challenge

An organization with multiple dealerships and a central home office was struggling with their distributed AP process. Invoices received at each location were manually routed for several levels of approval, requiring manually tracking the invoices within the dealerships and delays in paying invoices on time to take advantage of offered discounts.  GL coding was performed on spreadsheets in a very manual method, with the invoices being sent via mail to the home office for final processing and payment.  Hardcopy invoices were later filed by AP staff at the home office, taking up valuable office space and time, while making subsequent requests time consuming and difficult.

The Solution

AMI proposed a cloud-based Workflow and Electronic Forms solution with Intelligent Capture for AP to automate the organization’s distributed AP process.  Invoices are captured electronically or scanned with existing multi-function copiers for submission to the cloud solution.  The initial Intelligent Capture process reads the invoices and extracts the necessary data (Vendor Name, Invoice #, Invoice Date, Invoice Total, etc.) for posting the invoice in the customer’s ERP system.  After the Intelligent Capture process is complete the invoices are electronically routed back to the originating dealerships for GL coding and appropriate levels of approval. Selective vendor invoices are approved automatically based on business rules defined by the organization.  Upon final approval of the invoices the invoice transactional data is exported from the Workflow solution for ingestion into the customer’s Great Plains ERP system, with vendor payment initiated from Great Plains.

The Workflow solution was also used to streamline the submission of new vendor forms, vendor change forms, and payment requests through Electronic Forms (E-Forms) in place of old paper forms or email messages sent from remote dealerships to the home office.  By implementing E-Forms in place of the existing paper forms, and creating a defined route for the E-Forms to follow for proper processing, the AP department is able to maintain better insight into dealership requests, and act on those requests in a more efficient and timely manner.

The Result

REDUCED COSTS related to a variety of factors surrounding the AP process, including:

  • Invoices were previously being sent via mail.  Now all invoices are routed electronically
  • All invoice data was previously keyed manually.  The Intelligent Capture for AP solution now extracts a majority of the invoice header information automatically.
  • Dealership staff were spending time routing invoices manually for approval.  The new Workflow solution routes the invoices automatically and tracks how long an invoice is out for approval, while making the invoice accessible to staff even while out for approval.
  • Hard-copy invoices were being stored in filing cabinets by the home office staff, taking time and money.  Space used by the file cabinets can be re-purposed for staff.
  • Retrieval requests submitted by a dealership for a copy of an invoice had to be worked by corporate AP staff.  Now dealerships can access their own invoices via the cloud solution.

IMPROVED VISIBILITY into the invoice payment and approval processes to ensure that vendors can be paid as promptly as desired, to take advantage of any available discounts.

IMPROVED VISIBILITY into financial statistics of invoices currently being processed for payment is available from a graphical dashboard interface.

CONSISTENT BUSINESS PROCESSES can be implemented when using a structured Workflow solution versus relying on written rules and standards.  A desired approval rule (based on dollar amount, vendor name, etc.) can be implemented, with the knowledge that the rule will applied to all invoices, regardless of dealership location or the particular staff involved.

AUTOMATED NOTIFICATIONS are configured to notify staff when an invoice has been in a particular step in the process for a predefined time.  Notifications allow an organization to rest assured that processing time goals are being met.

DOCUMENT AND WORKFLOW HISTORY is captured for future reference. Know how long an invoice was waiting for GL coding or approval.

WORKFLOW STRENGTHENS CONTROLS to minimize invoice routing and approval, and to ensure segregation of duties between the requester and the approver, improving control over suspect payments.

VENDOR RELATIONS were improved with key suppliers by improving the speed and accuracy in which invoices are be processed. Inquiries into the process of an invoice and its payment can now be quickly and easily provided to vendors.  (i.e.  Awaiting executive approval, exception handling, etc.)


Filed Under: accounts payable automation, case study, document management