Optimizing Your SAP Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation
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Optimizing Your SAP Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation



The accounts payable (AP) landscape is rapidly changing in today’s high-tech world. Manual methods of vendor invoice processing — although still widely used — often prevent AP staff from meeting ...

The accounts payable (AP) landscape is rapidly changing in today’s high-tech world. Manual methods of vendor invoice processing — although still widely used — often prevent AP staff from meeting their performance goals and can restrict a company’s ability to reduce costs and stay competitive.

For leading chemical company, Albemarle, the answer was clear: adopt a cloud-based automation solution that could integrate with its existing SAP® interface. With Esker, Albemarle was able to achieve end-to-end AP workflow automation while maximizing its SAP investment.



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  • Before we get started, I’d like to tell you a little about Esker – who we are and what we do.Esker has been recognized by Gartner, IDC and other analysts as a key player in the market for document process automation solutions. We’ve helped well-known companies such as Microsoft, Whirlpool, and many others automate business-critical processes. We’re a global company with 24 years of practical experience, including and a long history of innovation in fax technology. Esker specializes in the cash conversion cycle, automating sales orders, accounts receivables purchasing, and accounts payable from end to end to drive productivity, efficiencies, and profits.With regard to SAP, Esker is a long-standing SAP Software Partner with certified integration. Esker uses SAP applications for its own business, and SAP corporate uses Esker solutions in its operations. Our priority is to serve SAP customers with the highest quality solutions available on the market. We have an R&D team dedicated to SAP solutions, and our customers benefit from the depth of SAP knowledge. As a result, Esker offers the only SAP-certified solution that can do both inbound and outbound document automation equally well. Esker has a patent on the core technology behind its document process automation solutions. And we’ve been a pioneer in Software as a Service.
  • Here’s a preview of what we’ll talk about today. We cover aspects of what it means to have a manual AP process, benefits of automation, automation in the cloud, we’ll discuss a few customer stories, automation beyond just AP, and then have some time for questions.
  • Let’s jump right into a quick review of what most consider the manual process of Accounts Payable to look like.
  • With all the time spent dealing with the great paper chase of AP, and all the problems associated with it, it can be difficult to focus on the key objectives of most AP departments, which are …Achieving accurate and timely closingsAvoiding late payment fees and capturing early payment discountsMinimizing vendor communication timeKeeping the supply chain running smoothlyProviding high levels of service
  • Today virtually every organization running SAP recognizes the value of eliminating manual AP processing to gain the efficiencies that automation brings. The AP function has evolved from a back-office cost center to a strategic target for process improvement initiatives like these.Industry analysts have reported that as much as 80% of AP processing time is spent on routing of vendor invoices. Companies that have not automated need too many people to run around and make sure they get the necessary sign-offs to approve payment of invoices. This is a significant time waster and typically results in lost invoices, late payments and missed discounts. Knowing where an invoice is in the approval process and being able to escalate payment of invoices from top vendors are crucial, but manual processing offers little or nothing in the way of visibility and invoice prioritization.
  • With the ever-increasing complexity of business, the vision of one enterprise/one ERP simply does not reflect today’s reality. A one-to-one relationship sounds good in theory, but today companies are going global and mergers/acquisitions have become an almost everyday part of their activities. It is not unheard-of for a company to have as many as five ERP systems in use across its global enterprise. Some companies also run different variations of one ERP solution. Although they are all based on the same platform, each system can be different enough to require special attention. They may seem identical from a high-level view, but it can be a very different picture at the operational level.Even if a company has standardized on an enterprise-wide ERP solution, multiple instances in different locations around the world can require integration of multiple workflow tools in order to automate AP workflow. This can complicate key initiatives such as setup of shared services centers.Integrating an automated AP workflow solution can have a significant impact on the ERP environment. CIOs and ERP system administrators who have done their research recognize the need for a solution that fits neatly into the ERP landscape and leaves the rest of the ERP implementation unaltered.
  • Now let’s look at how intelligent automation technology works:1) When an invoice arrives, AP automation technology captures relevant data such as company name, invoice number, due date and line item details. 2) Captured data is automatically checked using 2-way or 3-way matching against an existing purchase order. 3) If there are no exceptions, touchless processing can create the invoice for payment without the need for user validation. If an exception occurs, the invoice is blocked for payment pending validation and approval via an electronic workflow. The workflow can be setup to go through one or several users. 4) Invoice is either cleared for payment or blocked to clear the exception issue.5) The original invoice image is directly linked to the new business transaction, allowing users to view both documents without leaving the SAP system. Automated indexing — to the SAP content server or another archive, assures easy search and retrieval. Every action taken is documented and auditable.
  • Why businesses automate AP workflow outside of SAPBusinesses running SAP basically have two choices — install a tool inside the SAP system or use a certified solution with data recognition, validation and workflow residing outside the SAP system. At first glance integrating a solution that runs AP workflow inside the SAP system might seem like a logical approach, but there are some important factors to consider.For example, companies running several SAP systems within the organization must maintain “inside workflow” in each instance. This can cause inefficiencies, additional costs and consistency issues over time.Many companies ultimately choose an external solution for automated AP workflow because of the time, cost and risk involved in implementing a tool that automates AP workflow from within SAP applications. Unaffected by changes to the SAP implementation, such as an upgrade to a new version, web-based AP workflow outside the SAP system helps maintain business continuity by keeping AP processing stable through the many IT landscape changes a company can expect to undergo.

Optimizing Your SAP Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Optimizing Your SAP Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Presentation Transcript

  • Accounts Payable Optimizing Your SAP® Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Jason Anderson © Esker 2013 www.esker.com November 2013 ESKER ON DEMAND
  • Esker Overview Highlights Worldwide Presence  SAP-certified integration  50% of Esker customers run SAP® solutions  Document feedback in the SAP interface  Dedicated R&D team focused on SAP solutions  Patented DeliveryWare Rules technology  Software as a Service (SaaS) pioneer  Esker is an SAP customer  SAP is an Esker customer  Serving SAP customers is Esker’s top priority  Esker’s objective: offer SAP customers the best document process automation solutions Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • In This 60-Minute Webinar:  The Manual AP Process  AP Automation – Benefits – Process  AP Automation in the Cloud  Case Study  Q&A Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Accounts Payable: THE MANUAL AP PROCESS Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Accounts Payable Objectives Accurate and timely closing Avoid late payment fees and capture early payment discounts Minimize vendor communication time Automation Keep the supply chain running smoothly Provide high level of service Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Manual AP Process (PO) Your Supplier Purchase Request Manager Approves Goods Delivered, Invoice Created PO Created Accounts Payable Open Mail Goods Receipt Archive Invoice Key-in Invoice Manager Approves Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Who Feels AP Pain? CFO Buyer Supplier Vendor Invoice Cycle AP CEO Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Accounts Payable: AP AUTOMATION Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Drivers for AP Automation  Improve productivity – Automate instead of adding staff – Reduce time and money spent chasing paper  Shorten reconciliation and payment cycles – Eliminate duplicate payments and fraud  Gain visibility – Invoice processing and approval – Reporting and audit trails – Connect accounting and procurement functions  Help improve cash-on-hand planning Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Drivers for AP Automation  Supports Shared Services Center – Diverse ERP environment • Multiple ERP system instances • Legacy and homegrown applications • Need to maintain an AP workflow tool for each system • Inefficiency, cost and consistency issues – Risk of disrupting ERP system integrity Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation
  • Register for the Full Webinar Optimize Your SAP Investment with Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Wednesday, November 20, 2013 2:00 pm ET / 1:00 pm CT Register Today Join the conversation on Twitter: #quitpaper AP Automation