insiderPROFILES, Volume 8, Issue 1. In today’s fast-paced, digital world, employees are more likely to prefer the convenience of a smartphone app than the rigidity of an on-premise one. This was certainly true at Great-West Financial, a life insurance and retirement services provider that hundreds of thousands of customers rely on. Executives and managers could only access their invoice workflows via a desktop connected to the office’s system, which limited the ability to speed Accounts Payable (AP) processes. Learn how Great-West implemented the company’s first mobile app for invoice approval to bring greater speed, efficiency, and controls to its AP process.
SAPinsider, July/August/September 2016. For companies looking to achieve the next step in their digital vision, the cloud-based smart applications that are available on SAP HANA Cloud Platform provide an ideal solution. These applications can be quickly rolled out to users even before a full business suite migration to SAP HANA, which means they can be strategically used to add new capabilities and address key business pain points in existing SAP environments. Because the applications run on a cloud-based, in-memory platform, users can benefit immediately from the applications’ modern user interface, powerful computing capabilities, and seamless integration with on-premise systems. They are faster and are easier to use, deploy, and maintain than legacy solutions.
Advanced Approvals Add On for Accounts Payable
Dolphin Advanced Approvals is an add on solution for Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable. The application enables business users to approve or manage exceptions on vendor invoices using the web or a mobile device. Listen to Dolphin CTO Vishal Awasthi explain the benefits of using this application and watch a demo to see how it can:
- Reduce costs
- Improve efficiencies
- Reduce cycle time for processing invoices
Dolphin is an AppDev partner with SAP. We help our customers improve the performance of their business processes by giving them the solution that optimizes and automates them. At the same time, we also help them improve the performance of their SAP systems through data volume management.
The solution that we are going to show here is called the Dolphin’s Advanced Approval for Accounts Payable. It runs on the HANA Cloud Platform. This solution is essentially an extension app for our on premise accounts payable application (PTS-AP). The app allows us to extend the reach of our on-premise solution to the new user base.
In this demo we’re gonna see the example of Dolphin’s advanced invoice approval application that runs on the HANA cloud platform.
Here we’re going to take the example of the invoice that has just been sent by the accounts payable team for approval and the verification of the accounting information.
To take an action the user can actually click on this web approval link which you can see down here. That link essentially points to the HANA cloud platform base UI5 app. When they click on that app link using the single sign-on option, they might be taken to a screen like this here.
I can see the image side-by-side with the invoice information, which is shown here on the left-hand side.
We can see information like the PO number, the invoice number, the date, the amount, the reason code, why the invoice was sent
This application isn’t just limited to the invoice approvals, so it can also be used to resolve the exceptions such as the price mis-match between the PO and the invoice.
I can scroll down and I can see the notes from the accounts payable team in case they have some special notes about this invoice.
I can see where the invoice is going next.
I can see the invoice history as to what has happened to this invoice from the point it came into the accounts payable team.
I can upload any extra attachments.
I can put some notes of my own.
But finally, I can simply approve or reject the invoice using these two options.
When that happens, at that point, I can say accept and now basically the invoice will be approved. This actually will be sending a real time approval to the Dolphin add on solution (PTS-AP) that runs on the ECC which will then allow the accounts payable [team] to post this invoice or if you have the rules configured to auto post the invoice, the invoice will actually post automatically in the finance module in SAP.
We offer deep integration to SAP and at the same time we bring deep domain knowledge in accounts payable.
Our solution really plugs into SAP and now with the HANA cloud extension app we can bring the innovation at a much faster pace in the cloud and also extend the reach of our on-premise application (PTS-AP).
We chose to go with the HANA cloud platform because it really does offer us seamless access to the on premise components of the Dolphin solution. It allows us to give our customer the options for the user authentication and it really makes it very easy for us to manage the deployment and the ongoing maintenance of the solution.
The top priority among the many responsibilities of the CFO is managing the organization’s cash flow, costs, and financial risk. To accomplish this, processes must be both flexible and scalable in order to respond to immediate business challenges and opportunities as well as to future scenarios — such as potential acquisitions, divestitures, and expansions into new territories — with minimal disruption to operations. Processes must also be user friendly and closely aligned with the overall business roadmap to ensure buy-in across all departments. Read more
January 2016, Manufacturing Business Technology
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
This infographic demonstrates how the University of Toronto Facilities and Services Department was able to have savings add up quickly by implementing a centralized and standardized Accounts Payable solution for SAP systems. This award-winning solution has saved the team hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of paper as were able to increase the percentage of electronic invoices and enable online approvals for more than 100 staff located across Canada’s largest university that is like city-within-a-city.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
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.
For Bourns, a global manufacturer of electronic components, the goal was to go beyond ‘paperless’ in Accounts Payable to achieve touchless processing in its SAP environment.
In this ASUG Webcast, Marie Bourns of Bourns, Inc. shares the details of their journey to find a solution that met their CFO’s mandates of eliminating paper and manual ‘touches’. She discusses how they automate the exception process and benefits from real time visibility enabling the ability to handle discrepancies as well as employee expense processing.
Marie describes their course from roadmap to realization documenting the value gained in addition to lessons learned. In particular attendees will learn about Bourns’ unique approaches to reach “touch-less processing” using Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable which delivers options such as auto post within tolerances.
The next step for Bourns is rolling out the automation solution to its 15 global entities across Central and South America, Europe and Asia quickly and effortlessly.
Electronic invoicing (e-Invoicing) by Dolphin is so efficient, you’ll save 50% or more on each invoice. Faster processing, lower transaction costs and greater visibility into your accounts payable process translates to significant savings and optimization throughout the AP process.
We’ve made paperless invoice processing fast, easy and affordable to implement for SAP Accounts Payable – even for your smallest vendors. It eliminates all paper and manual handling, from validating and scanning to indexing and distributing. Unlike traditional EDI, Dolphin’s e-Invoicing requires no costly IT maintenance or change in your vendors’ billing systems. It’s so easy that your vendors will thank you.
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.
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.
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.