Case Study
Manufacturing Company Goes Paperless

A North American manufacturing company digitizes and automates their AP process

CHALLENGE:

Prior to an upgrade of the customer’s existing SAP ERP platform, invoices and payments were processed manually. Under this inefficient manual system, analysts were spending valuable time on phone calls, sending emails, confirming receipts, researching missing data, and routing paper to and from vendors – all of which had been negatively affecting payment cycle times. The SAP ERP upgrade provided both EDI and imaging capabilities, so the customer elected to transition to paperless processing. The move to a paperless AP environment would involve approximately 1,800 active vendors and affect PO and non-PO invoice processing. The customer tasked Exela with developing a solution that would automate invoice processing through a digital vendor portal, while meeting the following objectives: improve supplier satisfaction by providing easy access for self-service, reduce internal manpower cost, reduce paper submissions, and transition approximately 1,800 active vendors to the self-service web portal.

SOLUTION:

Due to the complex nature of the customer’s environment, Exela recommended a transition plan divided into multiple phases with the first two phases focusing on the most critical aspects of the solutions, PO invoices and non-PO invoices. Once the first phase was underway, invoice mail and supported documents, faxes, and emails were routed to Exela’s Troy, Michigan facility for processing. Exela provided the capturing, validating, and processing of imaged data for use in the new environment.

One of the key challenges of the launch was getting vendors to buy-in to the self-service portal. In addition to sending out notices and adding portal information to internal documents, AP analysts were challenged to encourage widespread adoption. The customer set recruiting goals for analysts, offering prizes to top recruiters who hit major milestones, such as being first to get 100 vendors signed on. Group progress was shared during weekly meetings, creating a competitive atmosphere.

Saving time for both internal customers and suppliers was a primary goal in developing the digital vendor portal. A snapshot dashboard was developed displaying the status of multiple invoices on a single screen, which made it easy to track payments by vendor ID, invoice dates, amounts, clearing information and other data, and all data was available for export to PDF, Excel and Word file formats. The dashboard enables suppliers to easily view status as well as confirmation of what invoices were in the system.

BENEFITS:
  • Easy to use system resulting in quick adoption and improved vendor satisfaction
  • Improved payment accuracy and timeliness
  • Overall streamlining of AP operations led to a reduction of 22 FTE’s
  • Enhanced reporting and tracking providing a 360 view of the invoice pipeline
  • 95% AP invoice automation from a single digital portal from ingestion to authorization