The OCS office was drowning in paper, manually processing a mountain of invoices was proving costly and inefficient.
The Inpute team worked closely with OCS to fully understand their accounts payable process. Delivering a solution to automatically capture data from supplier invoices, route the invoices for approval to over 40 managers via a web based interface and seamlessly integrate with an existing ERP.
“Inpute turned out to be the one system that our team couldn’t live without...It’s the bible now for us when it comes to dealing with supplier invoices. It’s so easy to use.”
Achieving the paperless office is an ambition that few workplaces ever manage to pull off convincingly. At facilities management company, OCS, however, things were particularly challenging. Head of IT Joe Scully paints a picture of an office drowning in paper.
“Basically there was paperwork everywhere,” he says. “We had bundles of invoices that needed constant processing and filing. The invoices themselves were passed around from desk to desk for different people to approve, and that meant that they kept going missing, which meant that suppliers weren’t paid on time, which meant we were looking for copy invoices all the time.”
“If a note needed to be added to an invoice, it was simply written in pen on the invoice, and these additions were frequently illegible. At one point,” says Scully, “two separate Excel spreadsheets were being used to try and maintain an audit trail. As might be expected, the process wasted a lot of valuable time and energy, and because it was all paper based, additional data entry resources were needed to transfer the invoice data into our ERP system.”
Inpute’s accounts payable solution delivered a fully integrated system that revolutionised the supplier invoice process at OCS.
The first step in reducing the throughput of paper in the company lay in digitising the invoices as they arrived. To that end, Inpute installed an intelligent scanning solution and scanners in OCS’s accounts payable department.
Once scanned, documents are processed by the OCR (optical character recognition) module. No two invoices are quite the same, but the system is ‘trained’ to identify and extract key invoice data no matter where on the document it appeared.
Staff log onto the system – which sits on OCS’ intranet – each morning. At lunchtime, emails are automatically dispatched to staff members who have invoices in the queue awaiting their approval. By clicking a link within the email message, the staff member is brought directly to the invoice where it can be approved, rejected, queried, parked and so on; a range of choices are available depending on level of authorisation.
“You can zoom in and out of a digital copy of the invoice,” says Joe Scully, “you can add notes or attachments...For example, when I purchase IT equipment, I can attach the signed capital requisition form to the digital copy of the invoice as backup.”
An audit trail builds up automatically behind every invoice. The Excel spreadsheets are gone, and because everyone communicates within the system, there are no emails going back and forth relating to invoices. Everything remains in one place, which means that supplier queries are much easier to handle.
The solution also integrates with the existing ERP system so invoice data does not need to be keyed into Sage. The system also incorporates a facility to track supplier invoices that need to be rebilled to OCS clients. In addition to being routed for approval, a separate process is triggered to flag these invoices for rebilling by the OCS billing team.
Reaction from users has been universally positive, says Scully. “It’s a great system, and has revolutionised our AP process.”
“There has been a huge saving on man-hours, allowing our teams to make more efficient use of their time because there’s a lot less time wasted searching for and querying invoices. The workflow process is streamlined and we’re not buried under a mountain of paper.”
The true value of the Inpute solution emerged during a recent discussion on consolidating systems within OCS. “Inpute turned out to be the one system that our team couldn’t live without...It’s the bible now for us when it comes to dealing with supplier invoices. It’s so easy to use.”
“Eliminating paper-based invoicing isn’t always a viable option for organisations. But our tailored capture and workflow solution delivered intelligent automation that eliminated the volumes of paper-based document management, achieving all the efficiencies of paperless invoicing.”
Finance automation expert, Inpute