Driving Efficiency in Accounts Payable Processing

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1 Driving Efficiency in Accounts Payable Processing An Optika Industry Spotlight

2 The Business Challenge As companies look for ways to contain costs and gain competitive advantage in an uncertain economy, they must evaluate their operational efficiency with greater scrutiny than ever before. Back office operations such as Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR) and Human Resources (HR), which were once considered operational cost centers, are now focal areas of strategic importance. Accounts Payable is leading the charge. Today, these paper based processes control over 90 percent of most companies' AP transactions. Add a statutory 7-year retention requirement, and your AP process efficiency is literally tripping over the paper. ERP and financial systems can't create efficiency until they become aware of the transaction. Unfortunately, 30 percent or more of transaction processing time is spent getting paper ready for data entry. Of course once the 30% or more of transaction processing time is spent getting paper ready for data entry invoice has been keyed into the system, the challenge is now on locating the invoices and other supporting documentation (i.e., proof of delivery documents, purchase orders) for any issues that may arise. An additional 40 percent or more of the remaining processing time can be spent trying to find them. As a result, most companies have not realized the full benefit or return from their investment in ERP or financial system technology. Some companies may still be holding out hope that the unrealized promise of ecommerce technologies such as EDI and B2B exchanges will provide some relief. Unfortunately, that is not the case. First, electronic transactions come with their own set of challenges and in spite of the benefits, do not provide the mechanisms to resolve discrepancies when they occur. Second, despite the push from ecommerce vendors, paper is expected to be the primary method of billing communications for years to come. Why? To begin with, it is almost as efficient and cost effective for the billing company to send paper, as it is to send electrons, and requires no additional investment in technology or EDI service. The ensuing AP inefficiencies cost the billing company nothing, and may in fact create subtle benefits on the receivables side such as fewer early payment discounts realized and the potential for double payment. An internal audit of a mid-cap telecommunications company discovered over $150,000 in un-recovered duplicate invoice payments and recognition of less than 3 percent of available early payment discounts 1. Simply put, paper-based transactions create three costly chokepoints in the Accounts Payable process that effect bottom line earnings. These chokepoints include: Managing and storing business critical, AP transaction content (invoices and supporting documentation) in a cost effective and secure manner, such that it can be retrieved instantaneously at the desktop, and recovered in the event of a catastrophe. Efficiently routing paper invoices through the front end coding and approval process, ensuring timely data entry into the ERP system. This includes maintaining control over discrepant transactions that cannot be completely processed by your organization or ERP system without further research. Providing a secure mechanism for internal and external parties to inquire about transaction status, review transaction content, and collaboratively resolve transaction discrepancies efficiently with minimal payables processing disruption. An additional 40% or more of processing time can be spent trying to find documents 1 This and other statistics quoted are the result of internal investigations with existing and prospective Optika customers. Page 2

3 Along with these chokepoints, paper-based transactions cause other tactical challenges such as managing float, accurate reporting of payables exposure, and visibility from beginning-to-end processing metrics. Combine these with the cost of managing out of tolerance transactions, typically representing 40 percent of your payables operational budget, and it becomes clear that you need to find a way to better manage your process. You can begin to control these costs, but first you must gain control of the paper and accurately measure your processing performance. Fortunately, there is already a proven solution that will help. Acorde Payables is being used by hundreds of the world s leading, strategicallyminded companies to control these AP costs and get the most from their ERP investments. Opportunity for Success Companies that want to be successful in times of economic challenge and change need to embrace technology advances to drive operating efficiencies within their organization. It is important to remember that improvement doesn't necessarily mean wholesale changes to your existing infrastructure. Your challenge as a manager is to be open to new technology when warranted, but also to exploit existing technologies like ERP applications, by adding functionality that will help these systems and the people that use them, operate at peak efficiency 2. Once this efficiency is achieved, customers are able to realize several benefits within their organization, including: Eliminate or minimize the chance of lost documents by capturing all documents associated with the payables process as early as possible. Ensure data recovery in the event of user error, natural disaster or other catastrophic events. Free employee resources by making vendor inquiries easy to handle through a single interface. Provide vendor self-service by enabling a Web browser interface that allows vendors to view transaction problems and all supporting information as well as determine the source of the discrepancy and initiate a solution. Produce cost efficiencies and reduce cycle times by managing the entire payables process from start to finish. Supporting documents from other systems are linked to the invoice, provding a complete picture of the transaction to participants and helping to accelerate the approval process. Take advantage of discounts for early payments that are otherwise unavailable to your company. Institute proactive being used by measures to reduce transaction discrepancies by analyzing problem transactions for patterns of erroneous behavior for a vendor or buyer. As a result, you may find that a few vendors or approvers account for the majority of erroneous transactions and it is important that you monitor those parties and help your company take corrective actions as necessary. Accelerate and improve the accuracy of the voucher entry process by extending it to participants outside the payables department via a Web browser. In a distributed environment, much of the required information is located in remote offices. Typically those individuals have not had access to the approval or coding process and are not trained ERP users. Build in extra checks on transactions likely to have errors. As an example of what to guard against; nearly 50 percent of all erroneous transactions are made between mid-november and mid-february. Also, by putting extra Acorde Payables is hundreds of the world s strategicallyminded companies to control AP costs and get the most out of ERP investments. 2 Taken from Ernst & Young. Thriving in Economic Uncertainty. Cost Management: From Quick Fix to Competitive Advantage Page 3

4 system checks on large dollar transactions, you can place special attention on 80 to 90 percent of the total dollar expenditures for your company. The Acorde Approach Over the years, we have worked with premier organizations like The Home Depot, Clear Channel Communications, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Costco Wholesale and Georgia Pacific, helping them drive efficiencies in their payables departments. Subsequently, we have bottled that knowledge into a product, a set of image services and a Best Practices approach to making our customers successful. improvements to their process. The Acorde approach, on the other hand, has low-risk at each phase, but carries the same overall efficiency gains as the traditional approach. However, the efficiencies and ROI are gained at each phase of the implementation rather than at the end of the project. As a manager, you are assured that your This evolutionary approach, based on a large number of experiences with world-class organizations, provides the customer with lower initial risk, incremental return on investment (ROI) and a foundation on which they can build for future expansion. overall probability of success is significantly higher than with the traditional approach. As you can see in the figure above, the traditional approach consists of a large, up front risk that doesn't begin to diminish until the project is complete. The efficiencies achieved are significant, but the costs and risks are so high that many companies may choose to forego any Optika is successful with this approach and unique in the marketplace for one primary reason: Our technology ensures that as you grow your process, the software grows with you. Some software companies can only provide Phases I or II and as your solution requirements grow, their software cannot. Other software companies can only provide Phases IV or V where the risk is greater and the ROI is suspect. At Optika, we work with our customers during the sales process to determine which phase(s) should be implemented. Some customers immediately take the plunge to full-blown AP automation, while others prefer an incremental, cumulative approach. Our primary goal is to ensure that our customers' expectations and requirements set the pace, not the software. Page 4

5 Why Choose Optika? In today's business environment, you need vendors who are as committed to your success as you are. At Optika, we create partnerships with our customers and we use that philosophy to guide every step of your implementation. While working with our customers, we realize that many customers need a quick, efficient way to bring their AP processes into the 21st century. The result of this commitment is the Acorde Payables Packages, which allow the customer to implement a solution in as little as 15 days, including just the software and services you need for rapid deployment and quick realization of benefits. Should you decide that you want to expand your Optika system from the most simple of integrations to a full-blown AP automation solution including collaboration outside the enterprise, Optika includes a service methodology that guarantees success. Our objective with the methodology is to make delivery of high-value business solutions a rapid, repeatable, low-risk process and to provide our customers with longterm, sustainable competitive advantage. This approach includes four primary phases that can provide you with an implementation in just days. up applications and processes; develop, integrate and test the system; project management; and technical knowledge transfer. Phase Three: Solution Rollout end-user training; implementing the solution at user workstations and the transition from paper-based to automated workflow processes. Phase Four: Solution Extension 'continuous improvement' process; identify 'extensions' and enhancements to the solution to improve benefit realization. In addition to our Solution Services team working with you side-by-side during the initial and ongoing implementation, we continue to ensure your success by providing 24 x 7 world-class support for your Acorde solution. There are two primary differentiators in terms of our customer support. First is the close integration of customer support to development. This results in quick reporting and escalation of issues with fixes delivered to partners and customers in an expedited manner. Second is the fact that whether you are installing for a handful or hundreds of users, the baseline of the Optika software code is exactly the same. This allows our support and R&D organization to focus and specialize in only one product code-line, which, in turn, accelerates problem resolution for the customer. Optika s Proven Methodology Phase One: Solution Definition analyze requirements; define detailed scope and conceptual design, infrastructure and application architecture; and define phased implementation plan all detailed in a 'scope document' the primary deliverable from this phase. Phase Two: Solution Development set up infrastructure; install and configure software; set For more information on how Optika can help you get the most out of your Accounts Payables investments, please contact Optika at or visit us on the web at Optika Inc Campus Drive 2nd Floor Colorado Springs, Co Page 5

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