Digitizing finance operations.
Saving time and resources by automating approval and information management processes.
Industry: biogenetics; Solution area: process automation, knowledge management
Background and business situation.
Our client – a global biogenetics and animal reproduction company – was experiencing periods of fast development and needed innovation and automation in certain business processes to save time and keep up with their pace of growth.
Their finance department and invoicing/accounts payable operations, in particular, needed modernization. They were recieving their invoices via mail, email, or fax. They dealt with and distibuted them in hard-copy form, tracked them manually, and stored them in filing cabinets throughout the office once they were finished processing. In order to get approvals for each invoice, an accounting clerk had to track down the approval officer – a continually more challenging task as the company expanded to different locations and the workforce became more mobile – and get them to physically sign off on it. If anything needed to be reviewed or brought up, the accounting team would have to sift through filing cabinets to find what they needed, and even then, the information available was limited. If documents had to be shared across distant offices, they had to be scanned, uploaded, and emailed (if not travelled manually). Time and resources of the accounting team were being wasted every step of the way, and traditional filing cabinet storage lacked the detailed taxonomy and “search” capabilities necessary to gain quick and easy access to important information.
Incorporating the SharePoint platform, SharePoint cloud capabilities, and SharePoint workflow functions, our team developed a solution that would automate the workflow and approval processes of their invoicing, keep an audit trail of who did what and when it was done, and securely store all documents in a fully searchable, sortable cloud-hosted environment.
How does it work?
The process starts with a simple scan of the document. Once the invoice is scanned, it’s automatically uploaded to the system and routed to the approval officer (accompanied with an automated email notification), who then reviews the invoice and approves it for payment. The finance team then recieves a notification upon approval, instructing them that they can go ahead and make the payment to the vendor. At this point, the invoice is paid and stored in the cloud, accessible and searchable anywhere and any time through their SharePoint environment, involving custom taxonomy to further make it easier to find what they’re looking for. All of this while stricly enforcing their procedures (the invoice cannot be stored and paid to the vendor without proper approval), and keeping an audit trail of which employees were involved at every step of the way.
The solution is driving innovation in our client’s finance department. Precious time and resources are being saved with each invoice the system processes and every time accounts payable information needs to be found, cutting down overhead accounting team costs and enabling them to remain focused on driving forward their core businesses areas. Furthermore, the finance office is far more organized as no longer are they storing thousands of hard-copy documents in overflowed filing cabinets.