AT A GLANCE
- Real Estate brokers
- Improve overall invoice management process through automated capture of invoices and electronic matching and routing for approval
- Reduce time and cost associated with manual matching, distribution of invoices and keying of information
- Provide visibility and accountability by being able to track invoices in real-time through the workflow approval process
- Eliminate overpayments or double payments through rigorous automated checks for duplicates and improved visibility of billing history
- Provide better service to the business by enabling retrieval of invoices and the associated audit logs within a couple of clicks
- Ensure continuity and reliability of information through integration with Accredo (accounting system)
- Esker Accounts Payable Automation platform
- Solution implemented includes intelligent capture, touchless matching and electronic workflow capabilities
- Automated invoice and expense approval process
- Visibility provided to branch and department managers on costs
- Reduced time and costs related to manual data entry and invoice handling
- Cloud-based solution allows users to approve and view invoices
- Monthly invoice processing close-off time reduced
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The solution? A turn-key, automated solution providing a whole new level of accuracy and transparency.
Property Brokers real estate company started small, but they didn’t stay that way. From five people in one office in 1986, they now have 41 branches and over 550 people covering provincial New Zealand.
A paper-heavy AP process
Quinton Keyser, Property Broker’s financial administrator, runs the entire Accounts Payable (AP) function from the company’s head office in Palmerston North. Managing the approval and processing of 1,200-1,300 invoices a month (for head office and all the North Island regional branches) was never a straightforward process.
Scanning each invoice and emailing it to the right branch or department for approval was just the beginning of a slow, manual sign off process which (depending on the approval hierarchy) might need to go through as many as five people in the business. Each recipient printed the invoice out, checked and authorised it for payment, applied the correct finance code, signed and emailed back the re-scanned invoice copy. Quinton then printed it out again and matched it against the original invoice, before entering the data into the company’s Accredo accounting software. After ticking the invoice off on his master list, Quinton finally filed it.
The paper-heavy process was methodical, but not a good use of time. There were opportunities for data entry errors and payment duplications, and no real-time visibility of where an invoice was in the approval/payment cycle. It also made invoice handling slower and costlier than necessary.
Making the move to Esker
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.”
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 the Esker Accounts Payable Automation platform as the perfect fit with their business. And, delighted with both the affordability and functionality of the solution, Property Brokers agreed.
The Fuji Xerox implementation team worked closely with Property Broker’s finance team to configure Esker to reflect the company’s internal processes. From day one, both Quinton and Lee were impressed with Fuji Xerox’s approach, which involved taking time to understand the business and get things right. The effort paid off, and when it came to go-live Quinton says, “Our first use of the platform was very, very good. It was a huge success.”
AP Automation at its best
Automating the invoice and expense approval process made it more rigorous and gave instant results. The new level of consistent invoice coding provides an accurate picture of what the business is spending and where. The Esker platform also gives branch and department managers a clearer view of their running expenses, which helps them eliminate unnecessary overheads. A few mouse clicks retrieve invoices and the associated audit logs, so handling AP queries is quicker and more accurate.
“We now have tighter restraints on what’s being put through,” says Lee. “Everyone is paying real close attention to what they’re signing, and they’re far more accountable. It’s made our managers very happy as they have visibility and control of their costs.”
Lee Waller, Financial Controller Property Brokers
Quinton can now see where every invoice is in the workflow approval process. Nothing is lost or mislaid, and vigorous duplicate checks ensure that invoices can’t be overpaid or paid twice.
Esker’s automated and scheduled reminders coupled with mobile app notifications mean that approvals are given in a timely manner.
Efficiency and data integrity up, costs down
Automating Property Broker’s manual AP processes means data and invoice handling costs have gone down and direct integration of Esker with Accredo supports the integrity and reliability of invoice information.
The Esker platform captures invoices from emails, and uses intelligent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to extract data for 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.
Esker is cloud-based, so as well as supporting Property Brokers’ technology strategy, it makes invoice and expense information available to managers across New Zealand. And because invoices are now entered into the approval workflow as they arrive, reviewing them has become a bite-sized task for managers.
Quinton, who is no longer scanning, printing, filing and manually matching invoices can keep pace with the growing business without the need to recruit more staff. The monthly invoice close-off date has been moved forward and the solution meets all of Property Brokers’ business objectives.
“ I love Esker”
The Property Brokers team are enthusiastic about their new automated AP platform. Even the staff members who were initially nervous about such a dramatic change are now delighted to use the system.
Lee and Quinton knew the project was a success when they started receiving positive feedback from the business users. Greg Kellick, the Waikato Regional Manager wrote “I love Esker. We will see some major improvements to the bottom line in the coming months!”
Source: This article was originally sourced from Fuji Xerox