Bernicia Group has completed an overhaul of its accounts payable processes with a new system from ProcessFlows. Following a three-month implementation of AP ProcessFlows, the housing provider has reported that the time taken to process invoices has fallen from two weeks to two days, with the new system expected to deliver a return on investment of around £200,000 per year.
Newcastle-based Bernicia’s previous accounts payable system was inefficient and slow; purchase ordering and invoice authorisation/matching were neither process driven, nor conducive to end-users being able to get it right first time. And with 98 per cent of invoices still paper-based, this resulted in supplier invoices taking up to two weeks to process and pay as well as slow response times for supplier queries.
Bernicia identified the purchase-to-pay function as offering the greatest opportunity to quickly implement change, provide significant efficiency gains for the capture and processing of invoices, and demonstrate a clear return on investment. In order to automate the purchase-to-pay function, Bernicia chose AP ProcessFlows, a real-time, rules-based, purchase-to pay system capable of processing an unlimited number of invoices each year.
The new accounts payable process begins with the batch-scanning of all inbound paper invoices, with document imaging software capturing invoice header data, indexing it and automatically delivering data and images into the workflow system for processing.
AP ProcessFlows then uses the same document management engine as Bernicia’s existing Civica housing management system and Sun Accounts software to provide an integrated purchase order requisition (POR) workflow to control the creation and authorisation of purchase orders, which can then be automatically matched against incoming invoices.
The ProcessFlows software automatically performs three-way matches – checking scanned invoices with POs, goods received notes and POR information. Rules-based functionality for invoice routing delivers correctly-verified information to the right approver or budget holder and sends any exceptions to managers for review and authorisation. If everything matches and is within pre-defined tolerances, the invoice is automatically uploaded to the financial system, ready for payment.
Shirley Carr, who has worked in Bernicia’s accounts department for nearly 20 years said, “Within a month, we were able to scan our backlog of invoices into the system and considerably reduce the number of invoices held up due to queries.”
Gary Hind, ICT manager, Bernicia Group, added, “We have explained to our suppliers that if they present an invoice containing the correct, relevant information, it will be processed for payment within a week. This has proved to be a very good incentive – the number of queries has reduced dramatically, but when we do get them, we are far better placed