Fuelled by a desire for greater levels of efficiency and reduced costs, organisations around the globe are rethinking long-standing approaches to transactional documents, particularly those that reside within the corporate finance function.
Traditional paper based, manual processes such as those involving invoices for example, not only hinder efforts to receive and approve invoices in an efficient manner but prevent organisations from possessing the visibility required to make more informed business decisions.
Implementing more cost-effective and efficient processes requires an organisation to make the transition from paper to electronic. Avnet’s European operation has taken this step to address handling supplier invoices with the help of Bottomline Technologies. As one of the World’s largest global distributors of electronic parts, enterprise computing, storage products and embedded subsystems, Avnet provides a vital link in the technology supply chain. A Fortune 500 company, Avnet has more than 13,000 global employees with sales in over 70 countries. With a customer base that includes large, global organisations for which Avnet manages the entire distribution cycle, efficient communication and critical supplier interaction.
“Within our division in Europe, we’re driving toward a fully automated system for handling supplier invoices. Given our high order volumes, paper invoices were simply creating too many inefficiencies, said Doug Adams, European Supplier Finance Director for one of Avnet’s European Divisions. “For a number of our suppliers, however, EDI methods are not a viable option. As a result, we were devoting time and resources toward the manual processing of approximately 10,000 invoices per month.”
The accounts payable department was staffed by 22 full time employees that dealt with a large amount of paper invoices to be manually processed on a monthly basis. Following a thorough evaluation of potential vendors and their capabilities for transactional document automation, Bottomline emerged as the clear choice for Avnet to address this. In addition to the breadth and depth of the functionality Bottomline’s solution offered, contributing factors in the company’s decision were the control individual users have in creating documents, the ability to integrate with multiple ERP systems and the comprehensive product training offered by Bottomline.
“When we looked at different solutions, we judged them based on a variety of criteria that ranged from the basic underlying functionality to the level of support each vendor offered,” said Adams. “In selecting a solution, we wanted to free business users from having to rely on IT for tasks such as template creation and changes, and establish a seamless integration with our SAP system. With business requirements such as these, Bottomline offered the ideal solution for us.”
Bottomline Technologies’ award-winning document process automation solutions help organisations streamline business processes that rely heavily on paper-based documents. By combining capabilities for inbound document capture and workflow with sophisticated functionality for the automated composition, routing, delivery and storage of outbound transactional documents, organisations can operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. Through integration with industry-leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP, Bottomline’s solutions protect existing IT investments while simplifying ongoing ERP Maintenance and upgrades.
Since implementing Bottomline’s solution in July 2008, Avnet has realised a significant return on investment. Invoices that were previously dependent on manual intervention for processing and approval are now handled through Bottomline’s solution. Once processed, correct invoices are then linked directly to Avnet’s back-office system for payment.
By introducing advanced capabilities for automating invoice management within the finance department, this department has been able to leverage increased efficiency to redeploy nearly 80% of the accounts payable staff to higher value functions.
The efficiency, visibility and control gained through Bottomline’s solution has enabled Avnet to dramatically reduce its cost to process an invoice to €0.90. Over time, and as more invoices are handled using Bottomline’s solution, the cost per invoice is expected to drop even further. The inherent ease-of-use in Bottomline’s solution has also provided the accounts payable staff with more independence from the company’s IT department.
“As an organisation that has proactively sought to drive cost reduction and take advantage of the benefits of automation, we’ve been very pleased with the success of our Bottomline implementation. Not only are we less reliant on our IT department, but in a very short time we’ve been able to redefine our approach to handling inbound paper invoices, make better use of our existing AP staff and continue to drive down our invoice processing costs,” added Adams.
As their Bottomline implementation progresses, Avnet is beginning to explore new opportunities to leverage these capabilities for transactional document automation across the enterprise. The flexibility inherent in Bottomline’s solution to accommodate a wide variety of transactional documents is also leading to new thinking about how the solution can be used to support other document intensive processes such as credit note verification.
“One of the keys to any technology buying decision is to ask, ‘will this solution be able to grow with the business?’ With Bottomline, the answer to that question is an emphatic ‘yes’. Because of the flexibility of the solution, breadth of functionality and ability to integrate with multiple ERP platforms, we’re in a position to leverage this solution to create exciting new opportunities to increase efficiencies across our organisation.” said Adams.