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Tim Robertson

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
150 150 Tim Robertson

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
150 150 Tim Robertson

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
150 150 Tim Robertson
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
150 150 Tim Robertson

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
150 150 Tim Robertson

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
150 150 Tim Robertson

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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.

Automated Invoice Processing Cloud Service Hits It Out of the Park
150 150 Tim Robertson

Automated Invoice Processing Cloud Service Hits It Out of the Park photo

Imagine processing over 1,000,000 invoices a year – automatically – with a cutting edge invoice automation solution. Now imagine doing this with different ERP systems, across multiple business groups and subsidiaries, all in one dashboard. A tall order for any automated invoice processing solution.

Our invoice automation solution is based on a platform created by a company called Palette. Palette “knocks it out of the park” when it comes to automatically processing high volumes of invoices in very complex situations.

Unlike many of our competitors, this software was designed from the ground up to automate your entire AP or purchase-to-pay (P2P) process. The platform is currently in use in over 4,500 companies worldwide with recommend and approval ratings of over 90%.

Cloud-Based ERPs Grow

While invoice automation has become the norm for organizations of all sizes across Europe, this definitely not the case here in North America. One of the biggest barriers to adopting true AP automation is a resistance to move sensitive processes “into the cloud”.

We find that most of our newer clients are already using cloud-based ERP systems. They have experienced, first hand, the benefits of working in the cloud and are exploring other services that are compatible with their cloud-based ERP.

If invoice automation is something you are considering, you’ll want to ensure that the solution you choose has the following bases covered:

Intelligent Data Capture – You want to use the most advanced technology for data capture. For example, “intelligent OCR” intuitively performs data capture, one of the more time-consuming aspects of traditional processing of email and paper invoices. Then you have “e-Invoicing”, which takes data capture automation even further with the use of sophisticated “capture rules” that provide 100% accuracy and completely removes the need for any manual involvement. E-Invoicing is especially effective when capturing, validating and processing invoices from your high volume vendors. 

3-Way Matching – You want purchase orders, supplier invoices and goods receipts to be automatically matched. Exceptions should be flagged for reconciliation.

Workflow – You want invoices to be gathered into a central dashboard from where they are automatically sent to managers to review and approve, with the system then automatically sending them to your ERP for payment. 

Archive & Audit – You want your system to automatically archive supplier invoices in the cloud for searching, reporting, and to provide an audit trail.

For more information about our automated invoice processing solution called EchoVera ASAP, click here.

 

NetSuite Procurement: Getting Control Over Spending
150 150 Tim Robertson
NetSuite Procurement: Getting Control Over Spending photo

Rein in Maverick Spending with Purchase Automation for NetSuite

Advanced Procurement for NetSuite

First of all, let’s make a distinction between procurement, requisitions, and purchase orders:

Procurement is the process by which a company selects the suppliers with which it wants to do business, as well as the actual process of negotiating contracts and obtaining goods and services. Selecting a supplier, negotiating the contract, and acquiring the goods or services – it’s all procurement.

A requisition is the request for goods or services that is sent by a person in the company to the purchasing department.

And the purchase order is the paperwork that is sent to the supplier to formally purchase the goods. Purchase order approval is the process by which the company keeps track of who ordered something; what was actually ordered; when the order was initiated and finally, the requisition approval date.

There are several benefits to automating the entire procurement process for NetSuite.

  • You get full control over your spend and rein in maverick buying
  • It’s much easier for your employees to create or approve orders
  • Automation increases compliance with corporate policies
  • You gain more control over suppliers
  • Automation helps to generate better information – information that can be used in your price and contract negotiations.

Detailed purchasing activity statistics provide you with valuable information, strengthening your position when negotiating pricing and/or terms, or for supplier reviews. And your customized permissions and approval workflows ensure that your employees are purchasing goods and services from preferred suppliers, following properly approved business rules.

Matching orders against invoices

Purchase automation solutions such as EchoVera Purchase Automation automatically match invoices against the corresponding PO at the header or line level according to your predefined rules and tolerances. Any invoices that are matched within approved tolerances can be sent directly to NetSuite for recording. Invoices that are missing key information are automatically identified so that they can be corrected and matched manually.

Managing both CAPEX and OPEX

It’s important to be able to manage both capital expenses and operational expenses. With Purchase Automation, operational expenses are managed through the standard requisition to PO process, as described above.

In the case of Capex, the expense request enters your flow for approval/signing, and then purchases are deducted from the approved Capex request. This gives you control over all of the costs associated with a project, while providing an “early warning system” if it looks like you’re likely to exceed the budget.

For more information about EchoVera Purchase Automation for NetSuite click here.

Contract Management for NetSuite: Managing Those Recurring Invoices
150 150 Tim Robertson
Contract Management for NetSuite: Managing Those Recurring Invoices photo
Looking to automate the repeat processing of recurring invoices and send them directly to NetSuite? Automation gives you immediate access to all of your contract information, which is useful for review and renegotiation. Automating the process ensures that your recurring payments are consistently processed on time.

Keep in mind though, that some “contract management” software may not be suitable for your AP processing needs. Many solutions have been designed for legal documents and other non-financial agreements. What we’re talking about here is contract management software designed specifically for financial transactions. These solutions are especially useful where an invoice is generated on a recurring basis.

Contract management software that manages financial contracts stores all contracts centrally, making them searchable. Invoices for repeated “purchases” such as rental payments, utilities or regularly contracted professional services are automatically matched to related contracts, posted to their respective charge codes and approved for payment.

How automated contract management works
Contracts are scanned or imported into a database. Users configure the system with authorization rules, work flows, user roles and regulations. The software then:

  • Archives different types of contracts, and classifies them
  • Searches & establishes which invoices are connected to each contract
  • Sends reminders when a contract is about to expire or needs to be reviewed
  • Matches recurring invoices to contracts, or identifiable tracking numbers such as utility account numbers
  • Provides exception handling if the invoice amount varies or the contract is in jeopardy of being overspent

If the supplier does not send regular invoices, a supplier invoice is automatically created based on the contract terms. Users can also be notified if an expected recurring invoice (such as a utility bill) has not been received.

Integration with NetSuite
Contract management software for financial transactions should seamlessly integrate with NetSuite. This will ensure that all incoming invoices are validated against the most current information in your NetSuite system.

See more information about Contract Management for NetSuite here.