AT A GLANCE
- Reduce time and costs associated with manual workflow processes
- Improve the visibility of outstanding invoices in real-time
- Eliminate overpayments and double payments of invoices
- One comprehensive solution that addresses all the business requirements
- Cloud-based solution without a need of infrastructure
- Esker provided full visibility and outgoings for the month
- Eliminated the need to print out invoices
- A simple approval process via computer, smartphone or tablet
- Improved relationships with suppliers as invoices were not lost and always paid on time
FOR MORE INFORMATION
European Motor Distributors (EMD) is a subsidiary of Giltrap Group Holdings, a large automotive group in New Zealand. EMD import and distribute a range of vehicles from brands such as Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Skoda, and SEAT.
Consistent growth over the recent years created a challenging workload for the company’s accounts payable (AP) team.
The problem with paper
EMD relied heavily on paper-driven processes. This included manually entering data from the 3,500 invoices received each month in PDF format, into EMD’s financial software. On receiving the documents, the AP department printed out and circulated each invoice for approval. The approval process included verification of the invoice amount and coding. Once approved, invoices were handed back to the AP team for data entry and processing.
“With the paper-based system, there was so much of the unknown.”
This reliance on manual processes and the flow of paper around the organisation created significant challenges such as double-payments and lost or misplaced invoices. There was also an alarming lack of visibility of the AP operations and processes.
The unknown costs
EMD knew that their AP process was too slow for a progressive business and were concerned that they had no means to quantify the full extent of the problems.
“With the paper-based system, there was so much of the unknown,” says Zainab Mussa, Financial Controller for EMD. “We had no accurate idea of how many invoices were awaiting approval. We could only estimate our monthly expenses. Although our managers tracked the major invoices, we were concerned about the smaller ones which could be slipping through the gaps.”
“Even simple things like filing invoices, then trying to find them for auditing purposes, or looking something up for a vendor query, took unnecessarily longer than it should.”
As well as wasting valuable time, the lack of transparency elevated the risk of costly errors such as double-payments or overpayments.
“If an invoice was being chased for payment, we wouldn’t know if it was because we’d missed it, if it was on hold, or if it was already in the system and we couldn’t find it because of incorrect data entry,” says Mussa. “It was all too easy to print out another copy and put it into the approval cycle all over again. Then, of course, we’d have approvers saying ‘I’ve already signed off that invoice two or three times, what’s happening with this bit of paper?’ It delayed invoice processing and created frustration for the AP team.”
The AP team spent far too much precious time in a seemingly endless cycle of trying to track down and manage the flow of invoices in the approval phase.
The search for the perfect process
By the end of 2016, EMD knew they had to seriously look at automating their AP process to reduce time and costs. They realised electronically capturing invoice information, and matching and routing invoices for approval was of critical importance.
EMD evaluated several solutions, and it was Fuji Xerox’s Esker Accounts Payable Automation platform that won over the business users.
“We were really impressed with the interface that the approvers would see, and the ease of use from their end,” says Mussa. “We didn’t want to only focus on the benefits to the AP team; it was about how it would be embraced by everyone in the business. We knew our people would love being able to use it on their mobiles too. Everything about Esker seemed to fit with what we wanted.”
Fuji Xerox finished scoping the requirements in August 2017. Implementation started in November, and the solution was up and running in February 2018.
A new look AP platform
The Esker platform has a clean, easy and functional interface, which won the approval of EMD’s AP team and business users. The solution gives EMD comprehensive reporting and dashboards customised to the specifics of the motor business. Alongside archiving and image retrieval for the audit trail, Esker provides the transparency the company needs.
Invoice data is captured digitally regardless of format, over and double payments have been eliminated, and invoices are tracked in real-time. Staff and business partners retrieve invoices with just a few clicks, and there is a reliable and continuous flow of information throughout EMD’s business applications.
Mobile apps for iOS and Android mean EMD’s business users can review and approve invoices from anywhere, at any time. Mussa says it’s not unusual to see invoices being signed off when she knows the approver is traveling overseas.
EMD can now better manage cashflow because they can see exactly what their outgoings are. The solution’s workflow engine supports multi-level approval across multiple operations, and data entry is now 100% accurate due to intelligent capture by the system.
The perfect partner really clear guidelines of what we needed to do, and how to best prepare ourselves for it. Fuji Xerox took the time and effort to understand what we needed early in the process, and we were very honest with our requirements and expectations. At no time did I feel that they overpromised things.”
Esker makes processing invoices easier and faster for EMD while providing critical visibility into the entire AP process.
“We’ve gone from dedicating 3.5 employees spending time manually processing invoices to 2.5 employees using the Esker system. We have been able to re-purpose the additional employee,” says Vaughan Taylor, EMD’s CFO. “Even with an extra company coming under EMD’s umbrella, there’s still no need to add further AP headcount.