5 Ways to Drive Meaningful Process Improvements in Your Finance Department

2017-02-06_brian_5_process_improvement_goals SAPinsider, January 2017 Setting goals for the finance team — such as improving efficiency and reducing costs — helps drive process improvements across the organization, but it is important to review these goals regularly to ensure they continue to serve the overall strategy of the business. Evolving best practices and new technologies can make it necessary to revisit outdated processes and shift the focus on value. In his latest article, Brian Shannon discusses five ways that companies can drive meaningful process improvements in their finance departments.

  1. Improve Speed and Accuracy of Information Capture
  2. Use Intelligent Automation
  3. Focus on User-Centered Design
  4. Move to the Cloud Where it Makes Sense
  5. Value is More Important that Cost
Read Brian's article to find out how to organizations can ensure that they are using current best practices and new technology to drive meaningful process improvements that deliver benefits throughout the finance department and beyond. Download_PDF

5 Ways to Drive Meaningful Process Improvements in Your Finance Department

2017-02-06_brian_5_process_improvement_goals SAPinsider, January 2017

Setting goals for the finance team — such as improving efficiency and reducing costs — helps drive process improvements across the organization, but it is important to review these goals regularly to ensure they continue to serve the overall strategy of the business. Evolving best practices and new technologies can make it necessary to revisit outdated processes and shift the focus on value. In his latest article, Brian Shannon discusses five ways that companies can drive meaningful process improvements in their finance departments.

  1. Improve Speed and Accuracy of Information Capture
  2. Use Intelligent Automation
  3. Focus on User-Centered Design
  4. Move to the Cloud Where it Makes Sense
  5. Value is More Important that Cost

Read Brian’s article to find out how to organizations can ensure that they are using current best practices and new technology to drive meaningful process improvements that deliver benefits throughout the finance department and beyond.

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Winning the Order to Cash Race

Cutting costs is a surefire way to improve the bottom line, but visionary Global Business Services leaders do more by controlling costs, cash, and risk. During this session we’ll discuss how to identify opportunities for process improvements across the entire Order-to-Cash mega-process. We’ll discuss how to prioritize improvements based on corporate strategic goals for cost containment, risk management and cash flow optimization. We’ll also help you build a business case to overcome common hurdles such as:

  • Executive and organizational “buy in”
  • Harmonization of improvement across your ERP systems
  • Engaging your stakeholders
  • Calculating ROI

Please fill out the form to access the webcast:

 

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Great-West Financial Goes Mobile to Speed Approvals and Drive Immediate Business Value

Great-West Financial needed a mobile solution to improve the timeliness of its invoice approvals so its users could approve invoices whether they were in the office or out in the field. Yet, the regulated financial services company didn’t want to sacrifice centralized transparency or control.

This webcast demonstrates how in only a few weeks, Great-West Financial was able to deploy the Dolphin Mobile Approval app powered by Innovapptive to:

  • Approve and code Non-PO Invoice.
  • Accelerate the resolution of blocked or held invoices.
  • View invoice images as an attachment.
  • Approve other SAP transactions from a single mobile app.
  • Activate same app with 40+ additional line of business approvals.

Please fill out the form to access the webcast:

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Data Management & Digitization in the Energy Industry

Electric Energy T&D Magazine, May/June 2016
Brian Shannon

Organizations are continuously adapting to manage the ongoing stream of data, implementing strategic business plans to ensure that the company remains on top of current trends. But data volume management can be an arduous undertaking, specifically in highly regulated industries such as the energy industry.

Without implementing some sort of data volume management strategy, organizations leave themselves vulnerable to risk from retaining data beyond corporate policies or penalties incurred from not responding properly to an audit request. Audit requests from tax authorities and regulatory organizations can be challenging, and data volume management needs to be a priority for finance and IT departments so that the organization can remain compliant with data retention policies and then quickly and simply extract data to respond to these requests. While some organizations implement an archiving strategy to retain data after the fact, an increasing number or organizations are digitizing business processes such as accounts payable and journal entry approvals to ensure that information is being stored properly from the beginning.

Read more by downloading the article.

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University of Toronto Masters Invoice Processing

The Facilities and Services Department of the University of Toronto was looking for a solution to enable more efficient invoice capture and routing so it could reduce errors, eliminate paper-based processes, and shorten the payment cycle to vendors. The department, which is responsible for maintaining the downtown campus of the 4th largest university in North America, wanted to gain greater control over the large number of Non-PO invoices the university processed each month and benefit from better pricing/discounts from its wide network of vendors. Due to the unique audit and compliance requirements of this institution, the university also wanted to improve visibility into the entire invoice lifecycle from capture through posting and payment through the use of unique vendor spend reports.

Solution
After a detailed search for a solution that could meet the university’s needs, it selected the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP), which enabled the university to achieve significant cost savings through the following key capabilities:

  • Flexible invoice capture to capture invoices electronically, improve invoice accuracy, and eliminate paper
  • Automated approval and exception handling workflows to shorten the payment cycle to vendors
  • Real-time invoice information to improve visibility into invoice processing, including Non-PO invoices
  • Ability to view invoices by vendor to reduce the time spent on vendor inquiries and report on vendor spend
  • Web and email notifications and escalations for approvals and exception handling
  • Ability to delegate approval authority to multiple individuals over a selected time period to accommodate employee sabbaticals
  • Report on utility consumption, spend trend, and more to improve compliance with the university’s policies and regulations

Results

Since implementing the solution in late 2014, the university has been able to:

  • Gain complete transparency into invoices on spend by individual, departments, etc.
  • Fast capture and processing improves consistency of payment process, resulting in more discounts and avoidance of penalties
  • Capture of utility consumption is a huge gain for the department
  • Online processing results in no duplication of effort, freeing employees to do higher-value tasks instead of low-value clerical work
  • Sustainable online solution: the university is removing 80K sheets of paper, reducing office and storage space, etc.

Based on the current volume and cost of invoice processing in the department, the department expects to save 250K in the first year.

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Faster Invoice Approvals on SAP HANA Cloud Platform

Fast Invoice Approvals & More Discounts with a Modern and Responsive App on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform

Want to capture early payment discounts from vendors and have better control over cash flow? Dolphin Advanced Approvals enables companies to quickly and easily approve Accounts Payable invoices and manage exceptions anytime, anywhere using any device.  Available on the HANA Cloud Platform, Dolphin Advanced Approvals is a modern and responsive web-based application that is both easy to deploy and use.

In this Webcast:

  •  Learn how enabling users to approve invoices quickly ensures the organization can capture more vendor discounts and lower invoice processing costs
  •  Discover how extending SAP applications with invoice approval solutions can improve transparency and control over organizational spending and cash flow
  •  Leverage the power of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform to quickly transform outdated, manual processes with minimal administration and support effort
  •  Increase user adoption with modern, responsive solutions that provide a consistent user experience on a desktop or mobile device

 

Please fill out the form to access the webcast:

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Oil + Gas Monitor – Best Practices for Managing Data Through Corporate Transformation

February 25, 2016
Dr. Werner Hopf

Big Data, while still in its relative early stages as a trend in the Oil and Gas industry, is forcing midstream organizations to evaluate how best to handle it now and in the future. At the same time, the industry is realizing the current industry climate, while challenging, is allowing for a period of strategic transformations. Organizations must take control of unsustainable database growth and other difficulties presented by Big Data, however, if they want to be able to respond quickly to changing market conditions. Rather than letting too much data become an expensive and time consuming problem that prevents necessary corporate transformations, organizations should ensure that they are taking the proper steps towards successfully managing data now and in the future.

Find out what Dr. Hopf says about how companies can:

  • Identify Legacy Data and Move it to Less Costly Storage
  • Consolidate Redundant Systems to Prepare for the Future
  • Lose the Manual Processes

Read online at Oil + Gas Monitor.

Transforming The Finance Department With An Optimized Maturity Model

January 2016, Manufacturing Business Technology
Brian Shannon

Take a step back and consider your organization’s finance department for a moment. Is it a paper-based, manually driven process prone to errors? Does it feature some automation, but still require loads of time on exception handling? Global Process Owners (GPOs) are expected to ensure the company gets paid, and to pay the company’s bills on time. The sophistication with which this is completed varies wildly from organization to organization. However, in prior years, one thing was constant: generating revenue typically was not part of the equation for this group.

At Bourns, Inc., a global manufacturer of electrical components for the automotive, industrial, consumer products, and communication industries, revenue generation become an expectation as recently as 2012. Read more

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Travel and Expense Reporting for Dolphin Process Tracking System

Simplify Expense Reporting, Comply with Expense Policies, and Improve Transparency
Submitting expense reports can be time-consuming and frustrating for employees and a challenge for accounting departments. Dolphin’s Travel and Expense Reporting, which is available as an option with the Dolphin Process Tracking System, makes it easier for employees to enter expenses while on the road, using web or mobile clients.
Simplify Expense Reporting

  • Capture and attach receipts from a mobile device.
  • Auto-populate expense items from corporate credit card statements or enter details manually.
  • Ensure expenses comply with corporate categories, properly recover VAT and other input tax.
  • Enter line or header notes to facilitate processing.

Enforce Expense Policies & Procedures

  • Automatically route expenses to approvers based on SAP hierarchies and approval authority levels.
  • Flexibly approve expenses in SAP, by email, on the Web, or using a mobile device.
  • Set up substitute approvers or forward to other approvers to ensure quick, consistent processing.
  • Automatic reminders and escalation if expenses are not filed or approved in a timely manner.

Improve Transparency & Auditability

  • Track expenses in real-time by expense type, user, or date, either online or using configurable reports and dashboards.
  • Analyze expense reporting patterns to prevent rogue spending and fraud.
  • View supporting documents instantly, from a secure,low cost, SAP-compliant content repository.
  • Maintain a comprehensive trail of expense approvals to support audit inquiries.

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Journal Entry Processing for Dolphin Process Tracking System

Improve Journal Entry Processing with Automated Input, Workflow and Document Management

Dolphin Process Tracking System for Journal Entry (JE) solution breaks down the silos of information that make it difficult to create, manage and control journal entries in SAP systems. The solution helps organizations:

  • Automate and track complex journal entry approval chains
  • Digitize and enforce the inclusion of journal entry supporting documentation
  • Quickly escalate journal entry approvals during critical financial close periods
  • Comply with fiscal regulations such as SOX
  • Report on and measure the efficacy of the entire journal entry process

For companies that want to ensure greater transparency and auditability of their financial close process, it provides a better way for companies to complete journal entry approvals and mitigate the associated risks. With this solution, organizations can create, track and report on journal entries directly in the system of record, SAP.

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GE Water & Process Technologies Maximizes Procure to Pay Efficiency with Dolphin

Hear Gretchen Kincade of GE Water & Process Technologies speak about how the company created a global center of excellence for controlling accounts payable activities across a broad multi-national organization to ensure maximum performance, achieve superior match rates, and capture all available discounts.

By integrating the Dolphin Accounts Payable solution with Ariba, GE Water has been able to gain better cost control over the procure-to-pay process with:

  • Increased visibility and global metrics enables centralized oversight of an off shored Accounts Payable process
  • An optimized the entire Buy-to-Pay process to meet and surpass corporate document retention and compliance standards
  • Coordinated large multi-national project with a change leadership strategy to put the right pieces in place for success

 

 

Honeywell’s Flexible and Scalable Approach to Global AP Processing – One Process, One Solution

Honeywell International, a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, was looking to improve its AP efficiency with a solution that could be used across its six global business groups. Everyone, everywhere should be able to use the same process and the same solution, so the company could more accurately track and report on invoice status. The global and diversified nature of the business required a solution that was also flexible enough to allow the company to extend its common core process to accommodate local business needs and regulations where necessary.

Solution

The company initially rolled out Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable in 2006, at the same time the company was rolling out its global SAP system. At this time, the company used the Dolphin solution to provide a centralized view of scanned invoices received from across the company. Gradually, over time the company expanded the functionality of the solution in phases to include capabilities such as:

  • Increased electronic invoice capture, including OCR (paper, fax, or email) and EDI (large vendors or inter-company transactions)
  • Automated the processing and coding of non-PO vendor invoices (i.e., Utilities, Rent)
  • Configurable business rules to increase ability to auto-post invoices
  • Tight integration with SAP OM to support billing documentation requirements
  • Flexible document search and batch output to support internal and external inquiries and local document storage requirements

Separate phases and functionality were rolled out in 2010, 2011, and 2013.

Results

Now that the company is using one common process and one common solution for Accounts Payable, it has achieved many benefits including:

  • 40% auto-posting of invoices
  • Real-time view of invoices across all six business units
  • Ability to increase volume without increasing headcount
  • Fewer keystrokes required for invoice entry and validation
  • Faster processing of Non-PO invoices, such as utility invoices
  • Ability to support international documentation requirements quickly and easily
  • Compliant with EU payment directive and other regulations
  • Multiple shared service centers running on the same IT infrastructure

Collier County Clerk of Courts Implements an Audit-Ready Invoice Processing Solution

The largest county in Florida wanted to centralize and automate the processing of more than 7,000 invoices a month. The county had implemented SAP ERP more than a decade before and used the software for many of its financial processes; however, the AP department still relied on a paper-based invoicing process. Vendors mailed invoices to the county’s various offices and departments, and these invoices were then routed for manual approval. For an organization that manages massive projects like constructing roads and buildings, accurate financial planning is crucial. Also, Florida Statute requires the Collier County Clerk of Courts to audit these documents to ensure legality of payment, which can increase the timeline for processing invoices.

“We had manual processes in place for receiving and processing invoices,” says Jane McDonald, Senior Project Manager for Collier County Clerk of Courts. “Workers used email and interoffice mail and didn’t always send the invoices to the AP department right away. We didn’t have visibility into an invoice’s status until it was approved and entered into SAP ERP at the very end of the process. Because our projects sometimes continue for months, workers often had to search through file cabinets (files are kept on site for two years) or warehouse archives to locate older invoices.”

The Clerk of Courts management information system (MIS) and AP organizations knew it was time to research new technology that would leverage the SAP workflow. A cross-functional team was assembled and began to evaluate how much work would be required to build and maintain a custom solution from scratch. At the same time, they also considered third-party vendors that might be able to provide an appropriate solution. Key capabilities the county identified include:

  • Ability to integrate the chosen technology with the organization’s current SAP environment
  • Digital storage of invoices
  • Easy extraction of information for auditors

Solution

The county’s vendor selection team chose Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP), which went live in August 2012. The project involved instituting a new accounts payable workflow aimed at centralizing the AP process countywide. Key feature are:

  • Automated invoice capture, with scan and capture
  • Powerful InfoCenter to facilitate invoice processing and troubleshooting by the AP staff
  • Automated workflows to route invoices to the appropriate department that, in turn, can route it for additional approval(s).
  • Improved exception handling for If an invoice is rejected during that process, it can be easily returned to the vendor with a rejection code along, with any backup documentation to explain why it could not be paid.

“All of these steps in the invoice approval process have a predefined status within the system’s workflow,” explains Frank Bodino, Senior Systems Analyst at Collier County Clerk of Courts. “In this new process, all of the steps are visible. We know where each invoice is at all times, we know who looked at it, what notes they put down, and when it was approved. If the invoice was rejected, we know why.”

After the invoice is approved, the goods receipt is matched, and the AP audit is performed, then the invoice can be posted to SAP ERP. “All the information we need to post the invoice is there, so there’s no dual-keying or duplication of data,” McDonald says. “We just hit the button, and the invoice information posts.”

Improving the AP business process required changes across the entire organization. For example, since invoices now come into the AP department as the first step of the new process, the various departments within county government had to adapt to a new workflow where AP clerks scan the invoices.

While the new workflow for invoice processing is much more streamlined and intuitive, it did require training users on the new system and getting their buy-in on the updated processes. “Just like with any training, some people caught on very quickly and others struggled with the new processes,” says McDonald. “The project team created training documents to help explain the process in a way users could understand.”

Results

According to McDonald, the new solution has delivered all of the benefits advertised and more.

  • Easy access to and cost effective storage of invoice documents
  • Simplified approvals process
  • Ability to track how many invoices are processed in a given period is helping the organization measure its own performance.
  • Improved visibility both internally and externally.

“Now, we can provide our external auditors with invoice information, purchase order (PO) information, and backup documentation more easily than we could with the paper-based system,” says McDonald. “In the past, we had to go back to the paper files and dig out the invoice which was time consuming. A significant time and cost savings benefit was our ability to search by check number or the clearing document and instantaneously receive the information associated with the invoice.”

The improved metrics have also pinpointed any delays in the AP process. For example, the new process showed that many invoices are rejected because vendors don’t provide PO numbers on their invoices. Without the PO number, AP clerks were forced to try and find out which department and what purchase generated the invoice. By requesting that vendors provide the PO number on their invoices, the AP process has been streamlined even further.

According to Bodino, the county has become more efficient thanks to the new solution. “We have been able to fix and change processes that, while they worked, were cumbersome at best,” he says.

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Pacific Drilling Addresses International Growth with Optimized AP Solution for SAP HANA

Pacific Drilling, an international offshore drilling company that provides ultra-deep water drilling services to the oil and natural gas industry, wanted to have an automated, more controlled accounts payable process that would work with the company’s SAP HANA systems.

The existing accounts payable (AP) process was completely manual necessitating many emails, phone calls and the collection of manual signatures. The global oil and gas company required 24 hour access to information and the company’s manual reporting methods could not keep up with its rapidly growing needs. The company needed a solution to improve the accuracy, productivity and timeliness of its invoice processing. The solution also had to be very scalable. Due to extremely rapid growth, the company wanted to be able to support the increased global invoice volume without adding more AP headcount.

Solution

The company began the project focusing on the US business operations. The Houston head office was processing 4200 invoices per month of which 44% were non PO and 57% were PO based. They chose Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable for several reasons:

  • Flexible capture of invoices
  • User intuitive interface required little training
  • Small system footprint that leveraged their SAP investment
  • Easy to configure for changing business rules
  • Simplified approvals
  • Automated workflow

Additionally the supplier portal greatly helped to reduce the amount of emails and phone calls that the AP department had to manage.

Results

The company implemented the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable solution with e-Invoicing, which significantly reduced the amount of time the AP department spent on manual entry of invoices and  answering supplier queries. The accuracy of invoice processing increased and the company was able to:

  • Post 20% of their invoices automatically; this number continues to increase as they refine their process.
  • Use flexible work centers to meet their business requirement for multiple individuals to share responsibility
  • Set up Multiple Approver levels in the automated workflow
  • Search easily search for invoices with holds or exceptions allows for faster processing
  • Roll out the system to remote locations with little user training because of the intuitiveness of the system
  • Use existing staff able to handle the increased workload

 

Pepco Holdings: Optimizing Accounts Payable Processes

Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the mid-Atlantic region wanted to centralize its accounts payable processing to increase efficiencies and lower processing costs. The company had grown gradually through acquisition, and as a result, was receiving, reviewing, approving and processing invoices at more than 20 locations in four states and five jurisdictions. The accounts payable processes were disjointed and very manual, which increased the company’s cost of paying invoices and made it difficult to stay in compliance with the highly regulated industry’s stringent data retention requirements.

Solution
As part of PHI’s Invoice Improvement Project (IIP), the company implemented Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) solution with the Supplier Portal by Taulia, for the following key capabilities:

  • Advanced imaging and digitization of invoices
  • SAP-enabled workflow solutions to automatically post or route invoices based on the company’s multi-tiered corporate approval policy
  • Centralized, efficient storage of invoice images for easy access
  • Self-service portal access for self-service invoicing and online inquiries
  • Real-time analytics and reporting on invoice processing metrics for productivity, cash flow, and status tracking.

The solution was rolled out across all three of PHI’s utility companies, Delmarva Power & Light, Atlantic City Electric, and Pepco, in a comprehensive process-driven initiative unlike any other accounts payable project in the utility industry.

Results

The company was able to achieve over $3 million in savings for 2014 – an incredible return on investment. Mary Gabriel, Manager of Accounts Payable and Sarbanes-Oxley stated “Enhanced controls, increased transparency and shortened cycle times are a direct result of the process-centric innovation the solution provides”. Key results include:

  • Reduce the average invoice processing time from 30 days to less than 10
  • Automated the processing of low-dollar, high-volume invoices
  • Improved reporting and compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Reduced document storage fees by 39% for savings of more than $100,000 each year
  • Increase transparency with their suppliers and strengthening their relationships
  • Captured nearly $2 million in discounts in by offering early payments to their suppliers through the intuitive supplier platform

In June 2015, the company received the Supply Chain Excellence award from Southeastern Electric Exchange for its innovative Accounts Payable project.

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Multi-media Retailer Implements SAP Accounts Payable Automation and Workflow

One of the largest multi-media and on-line retailers in the world was struggling with a very paper driven Accounts Payable process. The time to process invoices was long and labor intensive. The staff was spending too much time handling exceptions causing lost invoices, duplicate payments and other inefficiencies. The decision was made to automate as much of the process as possible.

There were several unique requirements for the solution. The company decided to roll out the solution in the UK; however the technical team was in the US. Also, not all approvers were SAP users and there was no budget for additional licenses. In addition, the company needed a solution that would:

  • Work with SAP Apparel and Footwear (AFS)
  • Enable auto-posting of invoices
  • Use SAP workflows

Solution
Dolphin implemented our best practices solution for Accounts Payable (AP) that leveraged the company’s existing SAP environment. The solution included key features the company needed including:

  • Visibility into invoice status throughout the invoice-to-pay process
  • SAP workflows and automated invoice capture to speed up and automate the manual processes
  • Web-based approvals for both SAP and non-SAP approvals.

Manual processes were replaced with automated ones reducing risk by eliminating errors, duplicate payments and lost and/or misplaced documents. The company transitioned from a completely paper-driven, manually intensive AP vendor payment process to an automated, streamlined and flexible workflow solution thereby reducing costs and improving inefficiencies.

Results

The company has realized many benefits since implementing the solution:

  • Reduced average invoice processing time from 20 days to 9 days
  • 40% reduction in processing staff
  • Improved productivity through all processing steps
  • Eliminated errors and redundancies
  • Invoices are handled only once
  • Simplified approval process
  • Decreased number of vendor inquiries
  • Provides complete visibility, control and audit trails from point of entry into SAP to payment

Other Solutions
The company also implemented SAP’s Data Archive Retention Tool (DART) for the UK and Germany, and data archiving in the US, for FI and MM. Ongoing data archiving is ensuring optimal system performance and compliance for structured and non-structured data and documents.

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Real Estate Giant Transforms Its Manual Invoice Process and Improves Visibility

A 140-year-old privately held real estate investment company best known for the balanced, sustainable communities in Southern California and the Silicon Valley was in the process of rolling out SAP. The company had grown quickly and consequently had very complex Accounts Payable (AP) processes. With over 400 managed properties, there was no visibility into invoices needing approval, and the process needed to be re-engineered. The company decided the best approach is to automate its existing AP process, concurrent with the SAP rollout, so it could have a more centralized invoice process that provided greater visibility.

Solution 
Dolphin provided complete blueprint, implementation and training services for the company’s invoice process for Accounts Payable. The solution included Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable, along with archiving to retain the invoice images in PBS ContentLink, an SAP ArchiveLink certified document repository. Dolphin designed and implemented the capture management system consisting of Kofax Ascent and Ascent for Payables Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Custom workflows were created using SAP Business WorkFlow to provide seamless integration and to complement the entire procure-to-pay process.

Key decision points were:

  • An end-to-end solution with one vendor
  • A complementary rollout in conjunction with SAP Procure to Pay
  • Maximum leverage of their SAP investment with minimal additional Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Best practices-based solution tailored to their specific environment
  • Web-based approval and coding of invoices
  • Automatic routing of invoices for approval and coding based on rules, without AP processor intervention

Results 
The project from blueprint to implementation successfully went “live” in conjunction with their SAP application providing a seamless procure-to-pay solution.

  • An enterprise-wide view to invoices
  • Automatic process time monitoring and escalation as needed
  • Improved efficiencies and visibility to invoices reducing lost or misrouted invoices

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Cobra Electronics Improves Time to Payment With Easy Access to Sales Orders

Cobra Electronics, a leading global designer and marketer of communication and navigation products, found that customer billing questions were impacting the company’s time to payment. Resolving billing questions often took multiple calls and the staff had to search for and assemble sales order related documents from many areas.  This problem was even greater when large customers had billing questions, as delayed payments on large orders significantly impacted the company’s cash flow.

At the time, the company would manually key in all order information, hand write the SAP document number on each order, the copy the order, file it and then send it to be scanned and indexed in SAP applications.

The company wanted to automate this process to reduce the manual, time consuming parts of the order entry process and reduce the time required to respond to billing questions. The goal was to be able to answer questions in a single call. To do this the company would need to be able to:

  • Search for and instantly access all sales order related documents – bills of lading, credit memos, sales orders – regardless of where they resided in SAP.
  • Access customer-related non-SAP documents that are covered under Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) policies.

The new solution would replace the existing, homegrown imaging system with a solution that would be capable of managing all customer order related documents and flexible enough to scale to meet the needs of other business process areas.

Solution
Dolphin implemented a solution that included Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Receivable, Dolphin Document Navigator and Output and Dolphin Cloud Archive Service. The solution, would enable every sales representative (SR) to have a complete 360 degree view of all sales order related documents by enabling:

  • Intelligent scanning of sales orders
  • Linking of scanned images and bar codes to SAP transactions
  • Searching for customer-related documents across all of SAP
  • Ability to select and assemble all customer-related documents in a single PDF
  • Ability to print, fax or email selected documents

With this information close at hand, sales staff can easily engage customers in a real-time discussion and answer inquiries or resolve disputes on the spot.

Results
The solution was implemented in 37 days using very few IT resources. Thus far the company has significantly improved time to payment. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced time to resolve customer billing inquiries from 3 days to minutes
  • Faster payment and reduced Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)
  • 50% reduction in time to resolve collection issues
  • Instant access to customer-related documents from SAP and non-SAP systems
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Faster audit response time
  • Improved compliance with secure document retention

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Managing Cost, Cash and Risk through Process Innovation

Supply & Demand Chain Executive, May 21, 2015

In many organizations, the finance department is viewed as a cost center. At first glance, there do not seem to be many, if any, opportunities for accounts payable (AP) or accounts receivable (AR) to contribute to meaningful business objectives. This business unit is traditionally tasked with billing customers and paying vendors. It is responsible for getting the company paid and paying the company’s bills. Generating revenue typically does not factor into the equation.

That was the situation at Bourns, Inc. as recently as 2012. As a global manufacturer of electrical components for the automotive, industrial, consumer products and communication industries, Bourns handles about 100,000 invoices per year. AP department functions are decentralized with nine separate manufacturing plants each handling individual AP responsibilities. As many as 80 percent of invoices are purchase order-based because the company purchases such a high volume of raw materials, further complicating the process.

The process was mostly paper-driven, required hands-on attention and was extremely labor intensive. When Bourns’ chief financial officer (CFO) saw the day-to-day actions required to manage this, the inefficiencies were both obvious and startling. He issued a challenge to the AP team at the Riverside, Calif. plant: It had one year to implement a touchless processing program that would see at least 60 percent of all invoices being processed with no AP involvement once invoices entered the work flow.

Read the full article on Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

5 Ways to Energize Your SAP Back Office

SAPinsider, April/May/June 2014
Brian Shannon

Are your back-office processes cumbersome, error-prone, and lacking in corporate-wide visibility?

Perhaps the fundamental issue is that you refer to them as “back office,” affixing what could be considered a derogatory label to a staff of valuable contributors. Using such seemingly unimportant labels, you are also likely neglecting a potential area for improvement that could help your operation significantly reduce cost infrastructures, improve cash flows, and mitigate the risks inherent in such processes.

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Gain a Competitive Edge by Optimizing Your Core Supply Chain Processes

SAPinsider Special Report, January 2014.
Brian Shannon

Improving customer service and responsiveness, particularly related to exception processing, while reducing costs is one of the biggest supply chain challenges that SAP customers will face in the coming year. Companies need to get a handle on business processes and data within their supply chains.

This undertaking can be overwhelming. Companies need real-time visibility so they can adapt their processes to changing economic and commercial environments, ensuring they have the right information at their fingertips to make informed decisions. It is also critical that solutions intended to enhance the supply chain integrate with existing SAP systems and applications, so they improve overall business performance instead of hinder it.

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SAP Business Process Improvement

Brian Shannon, Principal Finance Consultant at Dolphin, discusses Dolphin’s approach to improve business processes within the SAP environment. He talks about listening and delivering transparency and visibility, efficiency and control for improved cash flows.