Five Ways to Maximize the Value of Shared Services Centers

5-waysTo streamline operations and improve service levels many organizations are considering establishing shared services centers. Near-cash processes, such as Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable, are very mature, transactional in nature, and have a vast repository of industry-independent best practices; therefore, these processes are often the first ones that are moved into a shared services environment. While there are many benefits of moving to a shared services model, there are five key points to consider that will maximize the value of the shared services center to the organization. Download Five Ways to Maximize the Value of Shared Services Centers. Download_PDF

Five Ways to Maximize the Value of Shared Services Centers

To streamline operations and improve service levels many organizations are considering establishing shared services centers. Near-cash processes, such as Accounts Payable
and Accounts Receivable, are very mature, transactional in nature, and have a vast repository of industry-independent best practices; therefore, these processes are often the first ones that are moved into a shared services environment.
While there are many benefits of moving to a shared services model, there are five key points to consider that will maximize the value of the shared services center to the organization. Download Five Ways to Maximize the Value of Shared Services Centers.

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

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Honeywell’s Accounts Payable Shared Services Success – A Global Roll Out

In this session, Shawn Davis, Enterprise IT, Finance Solutions at Honeywell International, Inc., will discuss what Honeywell has done since 2006 to move to a shared services model.

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.


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.


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


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.”


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.

Optimize SAP Processes to Enable Innovation in Your Business

Dolphin’s SAP-certified solutions for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales and Distribution, and Finance and Administration ensure that you get the innovative capabilities you need. Dolphin solutions let your business adapt quickly to new requirements and continue to benefit from running the world’s leading enterprise applications – SAP.


Tennant Company: Standardize Global Processes for Greater Control & Transparency

Tennant Company, a world-leading manufacturer of indoor and outdoor environmental cleaning solutions and specialty floor coatings, wanted to standardize its global accounts payable processes to provide the company with greater control and transparency into invoice processing in its three shared services centers in Minneapolis, Uden, and Shanghai.

The company, which processes up to 30,000 invoices each month, wanted a solution that would enable it to:

  • Increase the efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness of invoice processing
  • Enable consistent reporting on invoice status, productivity and cash flow, globally
  • Enforce corporate controls and comply with local regulations

The solution had to be configurable and flexible enough to accommodate the statutory, regulatory, and cultural issues faced in different countries. To reduce complexity and minimize change management, Tennant wanted a single, centralized solution that could support the shared services centers with minimal impact on critical business and IT resources and would be easy to upgrade and extend in the future.

Tennant chose the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) solution, so it could leverage its existing investment in SAP applications. After reviewing the way Tennant processed invoices in all three shared services centers, Dolphin delivered a solution that included:

  • Automated capture of highly unstructured invoice information using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
  • Intelligent validation of invoices against Vendor and PO information.
  • Configurable business rules to determine how to route invoices for tax approval or exception handling.
  • SAP workflows to automate invoice processing and integrate with Procurement, Finance, and Treasury department processes.
    Centralized storage of invoice images for global access
  • Real-time analytics and reporting on invoice processing metrics for productivity, cash flow, and status tracking.

Tennant-specific business rules were developed to improve the accuracy of tax determination and to manage European consignment transactions.

The solution was rolled out using a phased approach and achieved a high return on investment, paying for itself in less than one year. Key results include:

  • 100% of invoices are captured using OCR, 60% of invoices are submitted electronically for direct OCR capture.
  • Greater transparency into invoice status, productivity, and working capital across all services centers.
  • Improved compliance with diverse fiscal and legal requirements in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
  • Easier support for services centers. Tennant was able to roll out the final phase of the solution to the Shanghai services center without consulting assistance.

The company plans to increase automation by moving from OCR to eInvoicing, and adding support for other invoice capture methods such as EDI and ERS.

IMS Health Streamlines Throughput and Trims Waste from AP

Presenters are Jim Ferguson, Director of Accounts Payable and Tax, IMS Health, and Dolphin’s Brian Shannon talk about how IMS Health improves global accounts payable processing:

  • Best practices of an accounts payable process, including capture, processing and analytical elements
  • Straight-through processing success
  • Effective project and change management techniques
  • Evaporation of language issues
  • Remote processing
  • Viewing the status of invoices throughout the entire transaction lifecycle

Tennant’s AP Shared Services Centers Simplify Audits and Enables ‘Flex’ Resourcing

Don Keskey, Senior Manager of Global Shared Accounting, Tennant Co. addresses the four things the company has done in the past three and a half years to move away from business challenges, and moved towards:

    • Putting preventative controls and processes in place to avoid costly and inefficient audits down the road
    • Freeing up administrators’ time from low value work and enabling accountants to work on higher level accounting
    • Operating a standard global process that everyone now follows
    • Being able to ‘flex’ resources by moving high volume work to low cost, high resourced delivery centers, instead of recruiting locally to manage peaks in demand

A Simplified Approach to Global Process Management: How to Maximize the Value of In-House or Outsourced Shared Services Centers

Increasingly, organizations are moving Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and other core business functions to in-house or outsourced shared services centers. While CFOs are looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the reality is that many organizations struggle with how to ensure that shared services centers deliver maximum value to the organization. Too often, the move to a shared service center can result in a loss of control and transparency for critical business processes and once in place, it can be difficult to change processes to align with the organization’s strategic goals or adapt to rapidly changing local requirements.

Global Accounts Payable Success in a Hybrid Outsourced Shared Services Environment

A world-leading global supplier of water treatment, wastewater treatment and process systems solutions centrally received all invoices in the US. In an effort to reduce processing costs, they outsourced the processing to Bangalore, India. However, they soon found that visibility into the process and control became issues.

Dolphin implemented the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable, which would allow the company to reduce costs with outsourced processing and still maintain centralized control over invoice processing.  The solution included:

  • Scanning and Capture of manual invoices (mail, fax or email)
  • Real-time data on invoice processing
  • Instant access to invoice documents from within SAP
  • Invoice validation and SAP workflows to address common challenges such as ad-hoc approvals, invoice prioritization and invoice duplication.

The solution enables the US facility to receive invoices by mail, fax or email. The invoices are then scanned and approved. Staff in the US facility also handle vendor inquiries and master data maintenance. The team in India, on the other hand is responsible for indexing the scanned documents and processing the invoices. Both the US and India groups worked together to pinpoint success factors and formalize the necessary hand-offs to support the business process. The solution was implemented in less than four weeks.

Today, 25% of the processing is done in the US; 75% is sent offshore. Benefits of this module include 24-hour work cycles; the ability to structure and assemble teams with diverse skill sets; and the ability to scale up or down depending on the requirements. Other benefits are:

  • Lower cost processing
  • Visibility into the process
  • Process control
  • Greater productivity


Automotive Supplier’s Global Shared Services for Accounts Payable

After rapid growth of the business through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the automotive division of global manufacturing was left with a decentralized accounts payable (AP) process across its 180 plants worldwide. The company had two outsourced shared services environments, inconsistent processes, and limited visibility into when invoices were received and paid.

To process its more than 2.5 million invoices each year, the company wanted an SAP-centric solution that would enable the company to centralize and standardize invoice processing
across the company and:

  • Reduce invoice processing costs
  • Post invoices quickly
  • Resolve vendor discrepancies with less effort

The company also wanted a solution that would allow it to bring its shared services center in-house to increase controls and transparency.

The company implemented the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) solution. After conducting a detailed analysis, the Dolphin team developed a blueprint for process optimization that included:

  • Automated capture of invoice header and line-items with Optical Character Recognition
  • Early, automated validation of invoices against specific business rules
  • Automated routing of invoices for approvals and exception handling using SAP workflow
  • Detailed AP dashboard and analytics for insight into invoice status from initial capture through processing and posting

Dolphin incorporate industry best practices and the company’s specific business rules to enable the centralization and standardization of its accounts payable processes. With the solution in place, the company was able to move its shared service centers in-house. It was also able to adopt new business rules such as “intelligent routing and coding”, which increased efficiencies and lowered processing costs by ensuring key invoices were paid on time, available discounts were captured, and less time and effort was spent managing exceptions and vendor inquiries.

The solution was implemented in less than four months and has since been expanded to other divisions. Today, the company is processing more than 10,000 invoices per day, faster, and at
a lower cost per invoice. Key results include:

  • Millions in savings from faster invoice processing, captured discounts, and reduced late payment penalties
  • Improved accuracy with a >70% OCR recognition rate across all European languages.
  • Faster exception handling with invoice validation and vendor inquiries performed by in-house shared service centers in Europe and Mexico
  • Improved control and visibility with real-time invoice status tracking and improved reporting and analytics

The initiative received the company’s Chairman’s Award which is the highest company-wide recognition for an internal project.


IMS Health Streamlines Throughput and Trims Waste from AP

IMS Health, a leading provider of market research services for pharmaceutical and healthcare industries relies on robust processes and innovative technology to support its Healthcare Measurement, Consulting, and Analytics & Services business divisions. With an active acquisitions team, the company was growing quickly and sometimes struggled to merge disparate organizations and fractured processes. The company is continuously striving to deliver exceptional service as it tracks more than 80% of global pharmaceutical activity annually for the pharmaceutical and related industries.

The company, which runs SAP ERP, needed an Accounts Payable improvement solution that:

  • Supports the strategic imperative of exceptional customer service
  • Improves processing of time-sensitive invoices from the global supplier base.
  • Enables centralization/outsourcing of processing capable of handling the company’s many foreign language transactions
  • Automates the capture of invoice data with accuracy and reliability
  • Fits into the company’s new SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) module

Optimizing the business process was critical to the success of the solution. The team chose to leverage Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable and its capabilities including:

  • Intelligent document capture of digitized images
  • Data validation and line-item matching to enable hands-free posting of transactions
  • Intelligent workflows to route transactions for exception handling, coding and approvals based on the organization’s business rules
  • Real-time information on invoice status for improved transparency across the company’s shared service centers and the centralized corporate management team
  • Reporting and metrics, such as invoice cycle time, to identify areas for improvement across the business process

Language issues and remote processing concerns evaporated once Dolphin’s solution was implemented. With an invoice recognition rate of over 90%, the solution delivers significant auto-posting success rates that previously required manual touch points. The organization has experienced tangible cost savings and greater control over their cash flow as well as mitigating the risk inherent in the AP process.

Launchpad Demo

The PTS Launchpad provides users with a graphical dashboard that acts as a centralized reporting hub for reporting on Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales and Distribution and Finance and Administration processes in SAP systems. Users can monitor business processes from start to finish with the vast library of reports and key performance indicators that are available out-of-the-box with the Dolphin Process Tracking System. The Launchpad enables users to view any Dolphin, SAP, or custom report; group reports by categories; and save personalized report variants so they always have access to the information they need.


Differentiating Good from Great. Transform Key Financial Processes to Gain Competitive Advantage and Drive Results

SAPinsider, Jan/Feb/March 2015

Strong financial leadership means more than cost-cutting and performance management. Customers and vendors are looking for reasons to do business with your company — they are differentiating the good companies from the great. To find out where your organization falls on the spectrum, start with this question: Are your finance processes optimized for internal and external business drivers?

Successful finance organizations distinguish themselves in many ways, but the most strategic and successful start by improving service levels and transforming the business to adapt to changing market conditions. Let’s look at three ways companies can adopt a relentless approach to business transformation that drives results.

To read the full article click here

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.

Effectively Leading Change in the Finance Organization

Business Finance, May 2012

Change is constant, and it’s critical that financial organizations adapt to meet the needs of current economic conditions. This article will discuss how to become a catalyst for change by reinventing key processes within your finance organization, including accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger activities. It will demonstrate how optimizing back office functions like accounts payable and accounts receivable can deliver real value to an organization, and provide insight into how to effectively drive this change.

Click here to read the full article on Business Finance Magazine.