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Tim Robertson

Procure to Pay Trends – What Role For the ERP?
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Our technology partner Palette has published this SlideShare on the Future of Procure to Pay, and the role that ERPs play.

In recent years there has been a lot of interest around digitalization and robotic process automation. In spite of that, adoption of automated systems for procure to pay is low – even though these two subjects are trends that are seen as having the greatest impact on procurement processes over the next 10 years.

ERP systems are front and centre in most of the transactions of the procure to pay process in many organizations, yet few ERPs are equipped to handle the sophistication and flexibility that role requires.

Paper Persists
By default, companies are doing most of their purchasing and AP processes inside their ERP. Paper processes predominate: invoices, purchase orders, and goods receipts are handled manually. Even emailed invoices are printed out and entered into the accounting system manually.

Purchasing
For purchasing, most ERPs do not have purchase requisitioning systems, and the ones that do lack flexibility in their workflow design. Communications capabilities with suppliers is limited to Outlook or other email client, which can often contribute to longer product lead times. Because ERP purchasing is limited to inventory or direct purchases, 40% – 50% of transactions are unmanaged and prone to maverick spending.

Procure to Pay Trends   What Role For the ERP? photo

A shared central dashboard showing invoice status can provide visibility and reduce cycle times.

Accounts Payable
For accounts payable, if invoices do not match available POs, the dollar amounts don’t match, there is no PO, or if goods receipts do not match, the exception has to be handled manually. This can stretch cycle times as well as prevent finance executives from having visibility into payment status or payables balances.

The solution is to have a Procure to Pay Platform that:

  • Can handle multiple ERPs, multiple currencies, and multiple reporting.
  • Be able to translate many different file formats such as XML, PDF, EDI, Text, Excel, etc.
  • Leverages robotic process automation for approval workflow
  • Provides knowledge workers with tools such as ad-hoc routing and email or total communication abilities with vendors
  • Has a modular approach to match company adoption cycles and gives more opportunity for optimization in the future

For more information on our Procure to Pay Solution that is powered by Palette, click here.

Intelligent 3 Way Match Explained
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Intelligent 3 Way Match Handles Exceptions with an Approval Workflow and a Shared Central Dashboard

In this video you’ll see an example of how Palette Software automates the matching process for invoices, purchase orders, and good receipts. As well, there is an explanation of how the approval workflow for exception handling works. Both of these functions save huge amounts of time, and reduce the manual handling of documents to a bare minimum. 2.5 minutes

Excerpt – Defining The Challenge: 2 and 3 Matching

“Most companies do some form of matching of vendor invoices to purchase orders and/or goods receipts. This is called a two or three way match. The process can require a great deal of manual effort, particularly if the invoiced items have to be matched at the line level.

Intelligent 3 Way Match Explained photoOnce an invoice is entered into an ERP it is assigned a “match/no match” status. If for any reason there are price differences or problems with the goods receipt, the invoice cannot be processed by the ERP. Users or knowledge workers typically have to cancel the transaction, and then perform time-consuming manual work to clear the exception. This usually involves the purchaser, the receiver and sometimes the vendor.

ERPs do not have an automated way of handling these exceptions and in many cases staff members may spend days trying to clear up the differences between purchase orders, invoices, and goods receipts.”

To find out more about our 3 Way Match solution that is powered by Palette Intelligent 3 Way Match, click here.

AP Automation for Manufacturing – Detailed Case Study from Palette
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This case study shows how procure to pay software boosts the performance of  an auto manufacturer’s finance department using robotic process automation.

It shows how the company achieved a 70% drop in cycle times, a 43% reduction in invoice processing costs and a 20% increase in invoice volumes, without adding to the 18 people already in finance.

Some of the challenges the AP department had included:

  • Invoices could get lost during the manual approval process between 11 plants
  • Internal invoice communication was in Outlook (very inefficient and hard to track)
  • No visibility to vendor contracts – which increased exposure to making payment on recurring contracts after the expiration date
  • Organization made AP the corporate policy enforcers for approvals on invoices, PO’s and expense reports

AP Automation for Manufacturing    Detailed Case Study from Palette photo

And issues around indirect purchasing:

  • No visibility to indirect spend
  • Non-preferred vendors were being used without authorization
  • Authorized signatures were not being verified
  • PO’s were randomly getting lost on their way to corporate

See how Palette’s AP automation for manufacturing empowered the company’s employees with an approval workflow and a reduction in the manual handling of invoices, purchase orders, and expense receipts.

It covers important topics around purchase to pay, procurement, ap automation, and spend management.

Palette is a major component of EchoVera’s complete solution called ASAP.
Find out more here.

SAP Business One AP Automation – The Next Step
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SAP Business One AP Automation   The Next Step photo


Are you happy with SAP Business One? Here are some comments from reviewers and users:

  • Pro: “SAP Business One provides a comprehensive and sophisticated financial system that also easily extends to add the functions of a true ERP system, including modules for production, HR, CRM, and MRP.” -PC Magazine
  • Pro: “SAP One for business is what everyone needs in their manufacturing to keep up with inventory, production, shipping, and financials.” –Softwareadvice.com
  • Con: “Clients are spending large sums of money on consultants with minimal guidance unless you pay the extremely pricey SAP costs.” –G2Crowd

In other words, this ERP is a great platform for medium sized businesses, including manufacturers…but sometimes consulting fees can add up! This seems to be the general consensus overall.

SAP Business One users are also reducing paper and all of the effort associated with manual invoice processing, by automating their accounts payable. That means having a workflow for approvals, 2 or 3 way matching that is “touchless”, handling exceptions and non-POs within the automated system and having an audit trail for compliance purposes.

How Sap Business One AP Automation Works

Capturing Data with Intelligent OCR and AI

Incoming paper invoices are scanned while emailed invoices automatically enter the system. Artificial Intelligence software examines both paper and emailed invoices, capturing all relevant data.

AP Approval Workflow

In a central shared dashboard, the status of invoices is easily monitored. Users can see the invoices that they are approved for, unless they are an administrator.

SAP Business One AP Automation   The Next Step photoIf invoices match preset configuration settings, approvals are automated. The invoices are coded by the appropriate person and sent to SAP Business One. The accuracy of account coding is ensured through the use of permissions, which ensures that users are only working on those documents for which they are authorized.

Automatic notifications for approval are sent to designated managers. Invoices or line items are flagged if needed. Once approved by the user, invoices are sent to SAP Business One.

3 Way Matching, Handling Exceptions, and Non PO Invoices

Purchase orders, supplier invoices and goods receipts are automatically matched by the software. If the invoices don’t match your configuration settings, the appropriate information, including items such as a PO or goods receipt, are sent in a package to the appropriate approver to review.

Non-PO invoices are automatically pushed through to the person(s) in charge of that invoice. The managers or knowledge workers, who also get an email notification, review the information on their laptops or mobile devices, and approve the invoice accordingly.

Workflow steps are easily added, based upon specified authorization levels. If additional approvals are needed, the package is sent either to a supervisor or other appropriate team members.

Communications

SAP Business One AP Automation   The Next Step photo

Internal and external communications by email or the chat function in the dashboard allows users to both monitor and process invoices quickly.

Since users are automatically notified via email when there are invoices that need attending to, exceptions and other complications are handled more efficiently and with less of the back-and-forth of regular communication channels.

Audit Trail

A step-by-step documented history of invoice transactions is recorded. This includes email and chat conversations, which are recorded and documented. Included in the records are time stamps and the approval process for each invoice.

This reliable and easy-to-follow audit trail is not only good practice internally, it also forms the basis of objectivity for audits or other investigations.

For more information on EchoVera’s SAP Business One AP Automation, click here.

Canadian Cloud Automation Company Surpasses $1 Billion Processing Mark
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Canadian Cloud Automation Company Surpasses $1 Billion Processing Mark photoPR Release: Toronto, Ontario – May 11, 2017 

EchoVera, an accounts payable automation solutions provider, has surpassed the $1B mark in the processing of invoices for major corporations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. AP departments use EchoVera’s technology to optimize and automate the approval process for invoices, purchase orders, and goods receipts.

Central to the solution is Intelligent OCR, a system that uses Artificial Intelligence to scan both email and paper invoices to capture relevant data. A shared central dashboard by Palette Software provides an approval workflow for managers to code and approve invoices on mobile devices. A three way “matching engine” matches invoices to purchase orders and goods receipts, and sends non-PO invoices and exceptions to the people in the organization who need to approve them.

Ralf Leitner, CEO of EchoVera said, “Both Intelligent OCR and Palette Software provide a Purchase to Pay automation platform that helps our clients optimize their operations, reduce the manual handling and errors associated with paper processes, and decrease their environmental footprint.”

EchoVera was one of the first technology companies to invest in a cloud infrastructure for its AP automation solutions. Waterloo-based Watserv provides SOC2 compliant cloud operations in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Visit the EchoVera AP Automation page for more information.

On Twitter, follow @EchoVera

About EchoVera:
EchoVera Inc. provides Intelligent Capture and Automated Purchase to Pay solutions to companies and organizations looking to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of their accounts payable operations. With offices in Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa, EchoVera brings over thirty years of experience to clients around the world.

Contact Information:
Ralf Leitner, CEO
EchoVera Inc.
100 Dupont Street
Toronto, ON CAN
M5R 1V2
416 968-2335
sales@echovera.com
echovera.ca

EchoVera Partner Lands U.S. Patent for Artificial Intelligence Software
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EchoVera technology partner, CloudTrade, has been awarded a patent for Artificial Intelligence software by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent is for CloudTrade’s Gramatica software, which uses unique artificial intelligence (AI) to search, interpret, validate, and extrapolate semantic meaning from invoices, sales and purchase orders and shipping receipts. The patent covers Europe, the U.S., and Australia.
EchoVera Partner Lands U.S. Patent for Artificial Intelligence Software photo

CloudTrade’s technology allows businesses to send electronic invoices, purchase orders, and other business documents straight into the receiving ERP or accounting system.

“We have solved an old problem of how to get a computer to interpret a human-readable document by matching patterns using AI. That means we can automate document processing saving time, money and paper.” – David Cocks, CEO of CloudTrade

The software is part of EchoVera’s Intelligent Data Capture solution.

Intelligent Data Capture intuitively detects various supplier invoices and other documents based on their layouts, and intuitively performs field mapping and data collection.

EchoVera’s solution helps AP departments transform all of their paper and emailed invoices into data that becomes part of an intelligent approval workflow.

How Sales Order Automation Boosts Productivity & Sales
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How Sales Order Automation Boosts Productivity & Sales photo
Sales order automation gives companies the ability to move away from the data entry of paper, fax, and emailed sales order documents.

Companies using cloud-based sales order automation software receive validated orders directly into their sales order application ready for processing – within seconds of their customers having sent it. Better yet, it’s done with zero technical changes or process change in the sender’s environment.

Not only does the processing of sales orders become more efficient, some companies have experienced substantial sales growth as a result of implementing sales order automation.


“Most orders are received via phone, fax, with the vast majority arriving on email. Once received, the order is processed manually. Because of the time this takes we couldn’t process orders fast enough and were losing potential orders as a result.” – Arco


How It Works

Emailed Orders

Customers who send their sales orders by email are given a specific email address assigned for processing their orders. Sales order capture technology maps the data directly from the PDF (or Word, XML, EDI, Excel) document, validates it, and then places it into the sales order application.

Faxed or Paper Orders

For customers who print or fax in their orders, Intelligent OCR intuitively detects each customer’s unique identity. It then performs field mapping on each order form, and makes the data available in the sales order application.

Impact on Customers

It’s important that customers are not impacted by a new technology related to their ordering process, which is why this approach to automation works so well. And because best-of-breed sales order automation is cloud-based, there is no need for any application, infrastructure, or process change for the buyers sending in their orders.


Companies implementing automated sales order processing:
  • Reduce sales order processing administration overhead
  • Give current employees more time for revenue generation
  • Eliminate 90 –100% of processing errors
  • Provide a better customer experience

For more information about ASAP Sales Order Automation, click here.

Dynamics AX AP Workflow and AP Audit – What You Should Know
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Dynamics AX AP Workflow and AP Audit   What You Should Know photo

 

In a previous post we talked about the 3 forces affecting Dynamics AX and the AP process today:

  • Finance executives want more visibility into the overall accounts payable process.
  • Companies want to reduce the cost of processing supplier invoices.
  • Technology has made 3-way matching, intelligent data capture, auditing and real-time reporting of invoice status a reality.

We also talked about what functions to look for when exploring AP automation solutions, such as Intelligent OCR, Intelligent Capture, and Authentic 3 Way Matching. In this post, we talk about the functions – AP workflow, reporting, communications, and audit trail  – that are incorporated into an AP automation platform for Dynamics AX. 

AP Workflow Provides Visibility


Visibility into the AP process means being able to monitor the status of your invoice processing at any time. It’s about managing the workflow so that invoices don’t get stuck in the system, resulting in late payments or other complications.

An AP automation workflow automatically routes invoices for approval, coding, or payment.

Incoming invoices from Intelligent OCR (paper invoice capture) and Intelligent Data Capture (email invoice capture) show up in a dashboard where the status of each invoice is displayed. For invoices that match your configuration settings, approvals are fully automated, from header or line order matching, and account posting, through to automatic routing for authorization and automatic sign-off.

  • Invoices that fall outside predefined thresholds are classified as “exceptions” and automatically routed for reconciliation. Based upon the rules as defined by your business users, the correct account postings would be added to the invoice, and it would then automatically be transferred to the correct approval workflow.
  • Managers approve expenditures on laptops or mobile devices, and once authorized, the invoices are coded by the appropriate person and sent to Dynamics AX.
  • Workflow steps are easily added, based upon your specified authorization levels, if additional approvals are needed. In total, manual intervention is kept to a minimum – with “one-click” invoice approval.

Reporting


Reports allow you to drill down to the detail level, and export data to Excel. The reporting system tracks data and the trends that affect all of your AP processes, e.g. bottleneck reports, invoice flow status, supplier balance, GRNI, etc.

Communications


You can execute internal and external communications using email, FYI routing and chat in the workflow dashboard, which greatly reduces processing time when handling exceptions.

  • Users are automatically notified via email when there are invoices that need their attention. Reminders and escalations are set based upon your business rules.
  • Accuracy of account coding is ensured through the use of permissions which would ensure that users are only working on those documents for which they are authorized.
  • Each step the invoice takes in the process is logged and monitored in a comprehensive audit trail.

Audit Trail


The audit trail is an electronic trail that gives a step-by-step documented history of invoice transactions.

  • The presence of a reliable and easy to follow audit trail is an indicator of good internal controls instituted by an organization, and forms the basis of objectivity for enquiries or investigations.
  • The audit trail not only records and displays communications between internal staff and suppliers, but also includes time stamps and the approval process for each invoice.

Putting It All Together: ASAP

Our solution, EchoVera ASAP for Dynamics AX delivers a comprehensive solution that includes Intelligent OCR, Intelligent Data Capture, 3-Way Matching, Contracts,  an AP workflow for online coding, validation, and approval; extensive reporting with drill down functionality; online tracking, an audit trail and a searchable archive.

For more information on EchoVera ASAP for Dynamics AX, click here.

Dynamics AX AP Automation with “Kick-Ass” 3 Way Match
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Dynamics AX AP Automation with “Kick Ass” 3 Way Match photo
Originally developed by IBM in collaboration with Damgaard Data in the late 90’s, Microsoft Dynamics AX was acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Today Dynamics AX is the ERP of choice for thousands of organizations.

There are three major forces impacting Dynamics AX and the AP process today:

  • Finance executives using Dynamics AX want more visibility into the accounts payable process
  • Companies are looking for ways to cut their AP processing costs
  • Advances in technology have made it possible to automate invoice data capture, 3-way PO matching, AP workflow and real-time reporting.

Palette Software AB, a global leader in accounts payable automation, also developed their technology in the late 90’s as well. Currently Palette is being used by 4,500 companies worldwide, as either a cloud-based or on-premise platform.

Palette provides visibility into the entire AP process, reduces AP processing costs with a volume-based pricing model and automates the time-consuming manual tasks associated with AP.  Where many other software companies cobble together their AP automation/invoice processing solutions by combining legacy technologies, Palette Software AB has developed its technology from the ground up. And that’s probably why Palette enjoys a 95% recommend and approval rating – across the board. 

Before you begin researching AP automation solutions it’s important that you understand the functions that provide the best return on your investment. Here are 2 key functions to look for:

Intelligent OCR & Intelligent Capture
– the smart way to capture invoice data

Dynamics AX AP Automation with “Kick Ass” 3 Way Match photoManually capturing essential data fields from emailed or paper invoices is time consuming and resource intensive. We have found that AP departments handle mailed invoices in various ways, with most of them keying in the data manually, a time consuming and error-prone process on the best of days. Some of our clients have historically handled emailed invoices the same way, printing them out and then keying in the data manually. Not the most efficient way to input data, in our opinion!

Using Intelligent OCR to capture a paper invoice

Some AP departments use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to scan their paper invoices. Conventional OCR can often require manual input in order to be useful. Intelligent OCR, on the other hand, teaches itself to identify supplier invoices based on their layouts and then automatically stores that information for future reference. Intelligent OCR also intuitively maps the data fields in each invoice using intelligent tags (called intellitags) as identifiers, and stores them in a database as well.

Using Intelligent Data Capture for an emailed invoice

Virtually all billing applications generate data PDFs. You want a capture system that reads the data layer found in PDF invoices and then extracts the required data fields. Intelligent Data Capture does this, meaning that your emailed invoices are automatically processed in less time than it takes to pour that first morning coffee. The data taken from the invoices shows up in a workflow dashboard, ready for approval by the appropriate manager.

Authentic 3 Way Matching

Dynamics AX AP Automation with “Kick Ass” 3 Way Match photoThree Way Matching Defined
Three-way matching refers to matching the amounts on three different documents – the vendor’s invoice, your purchase order and the goods receipt – to ensure that the numbers are accurate.

Three-way matching is an important, but onerous, part of the manual accounts payable process. According to resellers working in the field, while most vendors claim to do three-way matching, many of these solutions do not give you 100% accurate results.  Ultimately you want what we call authentic automated 2 and 3-way matching, that which provides completely accurate data. Your 3 way match system should reduce the costs associated with manual processes, as well as provide a visible audit trail.

Where the rubber hits the road – in a 3-Way Match for Dynamics AX, you want to be able to:

  • Set your own parameters and variance tolerance levels
  • Automatically identify variances outside of your tolerance levels and, using your own simple rules, route these invoices for review and/or correction if applicable
  • Read and match both line and header information
  • Allow for matching on the total level when invoices are not itemized
  • Provide match and variance reports and statistics

Authentic 3 way matching ensures the quantities ordered and received, the price per unit, the terms, and other relevant information contained on your documents are all accurate. Once these documents are properly matched, supplier invoices should be forwarded to Dynamics AX for payment. Exceptions should be flagged for reconciliation by your team.

Dynamics AX AP Automation with “Kick Ass” 3 Way Match photoPalette is the technology behind EchoVera’s ASAP – Accounts Payable Automation Solution for Dynamics AX. We’ve combined the Palette platform with other complimentary technologies to create a robust solution that gives finance professionals the control and visibility they want throughout the entire AP process.

For more information on Intelligent OCR and Capture, Authentic 3 Way Matching, and EchoVera ASAP for Dynamics AX, click here.

 

Intacct AP Workflow Gets A Boost
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Intacct AP Workflow Gets A Boost photo……………..

A new robust Intacct AP workflow incorporates intelligent OCR, authentic automated 3-way matching and audit/reporting functions. It’s a solution that intelligently captures invoice data; matches supplier invoices, purchase orders, and goods receipts; provides a workflow for approvals and coding; and generates reports.

Intelligent OCR – the smart way to capture invoice data
Manually capturing essential fields from paper or emailed invoices can be time consuming. Intelligent data capture solves this problem while at the same time allowing for fewer errors and boosting productivity.

For paper invoices:
Data capture often involves manually keying in data from paper invoices or using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to scan the invoices. Conventional OCR often requires manual intervention.  Intelligent OCR teaches itself to “read” your different supplier invoices based on their respective layouts, and then intuitively maps the data fields. It uses intelligent tags as identifiers for each data field and stores the information for future reference.

For emailed invoices:
Invoices sent by email are processed automatically by software that maps and stores the data. Virtually all billing applications generate data PDFs and the capture system uses the data layer found in PDF invoices to extract the required information. When invoices are emailed as scanned images, the information is routed to Intelligent OCR.

3 Way Matching
3-way invoice matching refers to the three documents that make up the match process: the supplier’s invoice which has been received and will go into the accounts payable process when approved; the purchase order that initiated the purchase; and the goods receipt or receiving report that shows proof of goods.

An automated 3-way matching process takes much less time and effort than a manual accounts payable workflow. When an invoice matches a purchase order, it inherits the account postings and authorizations from that order and is sent directly to payment. With simple rules, you control what happens to invoices that don’t match a purchase order and which tolerances apply.

Invoices that are matched within your approved tolerances are sent directly to Intacct for recording. Invoices that have values outside of your tolerance values are automatically sent to the appropriate role for review.

Automating the 3-way matching process provides key benefits such as:

  • Invoices, POs and goods receipts are matched automatically
  • Exceptions are flagged for further review
  • Provides a complete audit trail
  • Ensures accuracy of the data

Workflow
The AP automation workflow starts with the data capture of either mailed or emailed invoices. Invoices are gathered into a central dashboard. From here they are automatically routed to the appropriate approvers for review and approval. Once approved, invoices are then sent to Intacct.

Audit and Reporting Functions
Our solution, EchoVera ASAP, has online tracking, an audit trail and a searchable archive. In addition to its extensive reporting capabilities, EchoVera ASAP provides you with live status information of all the invoices in the system.

For more information visit EchoVera ASAP – AP Workflow for Intacct.