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Optimizing Accounts Payable Automation Solution - Whitepaper by BancTec - BPO Services Provider


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BancTec is a leading bpo services provider which provides fully hosted invoice processing and AP Automation solutions including mailroom processing, scan and capture and receipt of electronic invoices.

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Optimizing Accounts Payable Automation Solution - Whitepaper by BancTec - BPO Services Provider

  1. 1. Featuring Insights on ...Q4 2012Underwritten in part byOptimizing Accounts PayableImproving Performance & Creating AddedValue Through OutsourcingAP Functions Suitable for OutsourcingThe AP Outsourcing UniverseVarious Benefits of OutsourcingAP Outsourcing ParadigmImpact of Outsourcing on DiscountCaptureHow to Ensure AP Outsourcing Success
  2. 2. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comExecutive Summary.......................................................................................................1The APO Universe...........................................................................................................2Benefits of Outsourcing...............................................................................................5AP Automation Paradigm............................................................................................7Outsourcing and Discount Capture.........................................................................11Ensuring AP Outsourcing Success............................................................................13BancTec Profile................................................................................................................17BancTec Case Study.......................................................................................................21Questions to Ask Prior to Making a Decision.......................................................23Evaluating Outsourcing Solution Providers..........................................................24Additional AP Functions Suitable for Outsourcing............................................27Research Methodology................................................................................................30About PayStream Advisors.........................................................................................30Table of Contents
  3. 3. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comExecutive SummaryAs companies search for ways to improve overall performance and create added value,outsourcing non-core business processes such as low-value functions in the accountspayable (AP) process is a perfect place to start. The market for AP outsourcing (APO)has witnessed many changes in recent years and what was once an emerging trendis now becoming a natural element of corporate services. Organizations are nowexploring AP outsourcing services that can turn a cost burden into a competitiveadvantage that provides significant potential to reduce costs, leverage capabilities anddeliver sustainable business value. While outsourcing the entire AP process may notbe practical for most organizations, many companies are choosing to outsource certainfunctions, while keeping full control of other more strategic AP functions in-house. Thismodular approach to outsourcing is gaining momentum in the market and is helpingmore companies improve the overall performance of their AP department.Accounts payable outsourcing services are now recognized as an effectivemanagement tool that works to streamline and optimize AP operations anddeliver operational and strategic benefits. Companies are looking for ways toharness value beyond cost reduction through consolidation and automation, inaddition to achieving the commercial benefits including accessing and buildingcapability, scalability and flexibility that support the company’s core businessstrategy. More and more companies now incorporate outsourcing as a strategy inbusiness planning. A strategy that lets the company focus on providing improvedclient service, produce better products, and do a better job overall, in a more costeffective way, by outsourcing non-critical business functions.AP outsourcing can transform manual, paper intensive AP functions into a fullyautomated process. Per invoice processing costs and cycle times are reduced whileincreasing visibility and control of the entire business process. These tasks areaccomplished without the expense of acquiring, deploying and managing additionaltechnology and resources. AP outsourcing solution providers have the functionalityto tailor a solution to address individual company business rules and integrate with allleading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and enterprise-wide financial systems todeliver a unique set of benefits.This report examines the current demand for AP outsourcing solutions andserves as a reference guide for AP decision makers considering an AccountsPayable outsourcing solution. This report also includes an overview of leading APoutsourcing solution providers and case studies, organized for easy comparison.For more information on this and other research reports available from PayStreamAdvisors, visit the PayStream Research library:
  4. 4. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comThe APO UniverseThis technology insight report covers outsourcing functionality around the front-endof the invoice receipt-to-pay process. Figure 1 outlines the functional componentsoffered by accounts payable outsourcing solution providers profiled in this reportincluding invoice receipt, document imaging, data extraction, content management,approval workflow, and reporting and analysis. Other outsourcing functions includingcheck management, utility payments, and post payment audits fall outside the scope ofthis report; however, they are briefly discussed at the end.Outsourcing the front-end of the AP process makes sense for two reasons. Thefirst is that prepping and scanning invoices and entering data into an ERP oraccounting system is non-value adding to the approval and payment process. Thesecond is that, even if an organization decides to use automated data capturetechnologies to extract data from paper documents instead of relying on manualdata entry, these are tools that need continued monitoring and are often costprohibitive for organizations, especially smaller than Fortune 1000 companies. Thelow value of the process combined with the complexity of advanced tools makes itappealing to leverage the expertise of an outsourcer. Outsourcing companies canprovide service level agreements that guarantee a 99 percent plus accuracy ratein data extraction and a quick turnaround time. Outsourced invoice scanning anddata capture will provide the following benefits to companies:»» Improves and accelerates the visibility of invoices to enable improvedaccrual reports and control processes»» Eliminates the paper at the beginning of the AP processing cycle»» Provides a secure central repository for invoices and supporting documents»» Reduces document storage and retrieval costs»» Eliminates lost and misplaced invoices and supporting documents»» Provides access to invoices and supporting documents by multiple businessunits (vendor and supplier), enabling them to resolve issues»» Reduces manual data entry and full time employee (FTE) requirements ofAP invoices»» Enables the integration of workflow driven automated processing»» Accelerates the invoice entry into a company’s approval queueInvoice ReceiptThe accounts payable process starts with invoice receipt – whether in paper orelectronic format. All outsourcing providers offer some level of mail room services foraccepting paper invoices, with some providing dedicated PO boxes for each client.APO solution providers also accept invoices via fax and email, with some providersoffering client-dedicated fax lines. Others even go to the extent of allowing suppliersto directly input invoices via an online supplier portal. Irrespective of the channel of
  5. 5. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comdelivery of the invoice, they are all routed to the client though a single process in acommon format.Document ImagingOnce invoices are received and sorted in the processing center, paper invoices gothrough a prepping process (removing documents from envelopes, smoothingcreases, removing staples, etc.). Invoices are then scanned. The types of scannersused for invoice imaging as well as scanner speeds and quality vary among APOsolution providers. Most solution providers utilize multiple scanner types in the sameprocessing center and scanners are allocated to clients based on their specific needs.Data ExtractionData can be extracted from invoice images in a number of different ways. Somesolution providers utilize sophisticated image recognition technologies like opticalcharacter recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) to automaticallyextract data. Once OCR has been performed on invoices, the data will be verified toensure accuracy levels. Other providers prefer to manually enter the data and mayuse double blind keying, also called two pass verification, as a quality control methodused to input invoice data. Two data entry operators key in the data and if there are nodiscrepancies in the data comparison, it is then verified. The goal of the data extractionprocess is to deliver high accuracy levels, which is critical for the transactional levelquality required for the AP process. After the data extraction process is complete,invoices are routed for business rules, matching and approval based on key words andpredefined business rules.Content ManagementContent Management refers to the delivery, storage, management and dispositionof electronic data and invoice images. After data extraction, invoice informationis transferred to the workflow or ERP system and invoice images are archived in acentralized electronic repository. Depending on client needs, APO solution providerscan either provide a central content management system for invoices or integrate witha clients’existing content management system. Either way, the content managementsystem is tightly integrated with the ERP or accounting application, so users can easilysearch for and quickly access invoice images and information from a single interface.Approval WorkflowThis step involves routing of invoices according to pre-defined business rules basedon individuals’roles and access rights. Workflow tools are required to review andapprove non-PO invoices that do not go through the matching process as well ashandle exceptions that arise as part of the PO-based invoice matching step. Workflowprovides a tool to track and manage approval processing at the invoice and aggregatelevel. Common features offered as part of the workflow functionality include automaticnotifications to users when specific actions are required, (e.g. invoice review and
  6. 6. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comapproval) and reminder messages and escalation procedures when no action has beentaken.All these actions are based on approval hierarchies that can be configured and changedwithout the need for programming or IT involvement. Solution providers offer approvalworkflow functionality as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution (also known as cloud-based), which decreases upfront costs and maintenance fees since no hardware orsoftware installation is necessary. SaaS solutions provide immediate access to the latestfeatures and functionalities without IT intervention, and functionality is available from anylocation instantly via a web browser.Reporting and AnalysisThe process of analyzing key invoice receipt-to-pay metrics is important and this functionis not lost when working with an AP outsourcing provider. Providers deliver robustreporting functionality including the ability to generate standard and ad hoc reportsdetailing the process from the time the invoice was received at the APO provider’sprocessing center, to the time it was transferred to the client’s ERP or accountingapplication for approval. These metrics can include how many invoices were scanned in agiven period of time, how long it took to extract data from the invoices and the accuracylevels of data extraction, while others only allow for download of transactional data tothird party reporting tools.Figure 1APO UniverseAPO solutions streamlineand optimize the invoicereceipt to pay processand deliver tangibleresults around processingefficiencies and costsavings.InvoiceReceiptOpen Envelopes / Remove StampsSort / Batch InvoicesInsert Separator PagesInvoice ScanningImage EnhancementWork Queue Mgmt.OCR / OMR / ICRIndexing / Data ValidationManual Data EntryInvoice Image StorageInvoice Meta Data StorageSearch & RetrievalApproval RoutingMultiple Levels of ApprovalEscalation / Alerts / NotificationsStandard ReportsCustom ReportsAudit TrailsReporting&AnalysisApprovalWorkflowContentManagmentDataExtractionDocumentImaging
  7. 7. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comBenefits of OutsourcingMost organizations look to outsourcing accounts payable functions to deliver benefitsaround cost containment. While outsourcing may result in lower costs, it is importantto understand the full breadth of benefits that APO can deliver. Outsourcing allowsorganizations to reap the following benefits:Reduce Upfront CostsIn-house technology options, especially licensed software models, have an upfrontinvestment followed by ongoing maintenance expenses. In contrast, outsourcingproviders usually charge per transaction based on transaction volume, which arepayable over the period of the contract. In this way, outsourcing not only enablescompanies to convert the fixed costs into variable costs but also allows them to deferthe costs over a longer period of time, freeing up capital for other purposes.Deploy Systems SoonerAs a service delivered via a web browser, outsourced AP automation solutions maybe deployed more rapidly and less expensive than software solutions that requireextensive integration with enterprise and legacy systems. These Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) models eliminate the need to purchase hardware and software. This is animportant consideration for buyers who are eager to bring the benefits of automationinto their organizations as quickly and painlessly as possible. Another compellingadvantage of outsourced solutions is that the buyer is not burdened with the periodicexpense and effort of upgrading to new versions of the solution and paying annualmaintenance fees. SaaS solutions are automatically updated without the need for ITresources or new software.Go Live QuicklyEven after implementation, it can take considerable time to go live on technologyprojects because the system needs to be tested and users need to be trained.Depending on the complexity of the system and the technical savvy of the end users,this process can take anywhere between a few days to many months. However,outsourcing solutions can go live almost immediately because most of the staff usedon the project are trained employees of the outsourcing services provider who arealready familiar with the technology and only need minimal training on the client’sspecific business processes.Increase EfficienciesThe rationale for outsourcing is that it is usually better for an expert service providerto perform non-strategic activities than to manage these repetitive, low-value tasksin-house. Using an outsourcing provider enables companies to do more with fewerinternal resources. Under the outsourcing model, organizations leverage a third partyprovider’s technology and expertise to offload transactional functions and gain the
  8. 8. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comability to focus more sharply on higher value, analytical activities. An outsourcer’seconomies of scale and cost structure can deliver a valuable competitive advantage tocompanies, particularly in low-margin industry verticals.We all know that paper is the enemy in any AP department. Research shows thateliminating paper increases efficiency and drives cost savings. AP outsourcing is one ofthe fastest ways to eliminate paper. It can be difficult to convert suppliers from paperto electronic invoices; however, if every supplier is instructed to mail or fax invoicesto the AP outsourcing provider’s location rather than the AP department, the APdepartment quickly becomes 100 percent paperless.Decrease Labor CostsCompanies that have high employee turnover or those that have seasonal or cyclicalspikes in invoice volume and need to hire temporary employees for short periodsof time understand that hiring and training employees is an expensive and time-consuming task. Further, temporary employees may not always live up to expectations.Even companies that do not fall under these categories have limited capital, humanand technical resources that need to be allocated appropriately. Therefore, companieswould find outsourcing an appealing option as it allows them to maintain steadyinternal staff levels.Minimize RiskEvery technology investment carries a certain amount of risk – risk of not functioningas expected or being more expensive to maintain than originally planned. Further,changes in organizations’business environments and government regulations as wellas technological advances increase the risk involved in in-house implementation ofautomation options. In the case of outsourcing, the third party provider assumes andmanages the technology risk. However, it is important to note that even outsourcingcontracts might not work out as planned. Organizations should therefore be aware ofswitching costs and penalties for ending a contract early.Manage Solution Provider RelationsOne of the biggest barriers that hinder AP automation initiatives, especially in thecase of electronic invoicing and payments, has been supplier adoption. Persuadingsuppliers to change their processes to align with buyers’needs can be a costly andtime-consuming process, and success depends largely on the buyers’ability topresent a compelling value proposition to suppliers. Many buyers fail to effectivelycommunicate the value of AP automation initiatives to their suppliers, and as a result,struggle to generate the expected results. Outsourcing the supplier onboardingand enablement process, allows buyer organizations to leverage the best practicesand expertise from their provider. In addition, it provides the necessary resources tocommunicate to suppliers while the company focuses on daily tasks.
  9. 9. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comAP Automation ParadigmOrganizations are now seeking AP outsourcing services that can turn a costburden into a competitive advantage that provides significant potential to reducecosts, leverage capabilities and deliver a sustainable business value. PayStreamresearch suggests that these forces have increased an organizations’interest inautomation solutions that work to streamline and optimize AP operations to deliveroperational and strategic benefits.A 2012 IDC study highlights key assumptions and drivers that are creatingsignificant changes in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market. Ata worldwide level, IDC expects that the BPO market will grow at a five-yearcompound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3 percent, reaching $202.6 billion in2016. The U.S. market is expected to grow at a five-year CAGR of 4.2 percent,reaching 92 billion in 2016.Organizations recognize that the transition from manual, expensive paper-basedprocesses to more efficient and cost-effective Straight Through Processes (STP) isusually achieved through multiple small steps, rather than a“Big Bang”approach.The first step towards achieving this goal lies in removing the paper from the source.PayStream research shows that while paper still dominates the AP landscape, moreAP departments are getting out from underneath the paper piles and are utilizingelectronic invoicing. Invoices received via paper have dropped as eInvoicing increases.There is no doubt that the market is moving in the right direction as companies realizethat in order to achieve strategic goals such as improved working capital, they mustfirst streamline their invoice processing in order to accelerate the accurate approval andpayment of invoices.Figure 2Challenges to theAdoption of ElectronicInvoicingAP Outsourcing caneliminate the pain pointsof eInvoice adoption.18%25%20%16%15%6%Lack of budgetWe do not think therewill be an ROILack of understandingof current availablesolutionsLack of resources tomanage automationSupplier resistanceCurrent processes work
  10. 10. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comAP outsourcing services can eliminate many of the key barriers to automation. A2012 PayStream survey found that Supplier Resistance is the number one challengeto invoice automation (25 percent). Eighteen percent of survey respondents reportedthat Lack of Resources to Manage Automation also posed as a challenge. Many APoutsourcing providers include supplier onboarding as part of their service package andneeded resources to manage automation can be kept at a minimum. AP outsourcingproviders are now helping companies transform their AP operations throughautomation to generate bottom line improvements, monitor and manage spend,strengthen working capital and build stronger trading relationships by reducing errorsin their AP processes and gain control over their entire AP business operation.Figure 3Benefits of ElectronicInvoicing2010 201120%23%Fewer supplierinquiries27%24%Improved vendorsatisfaction31%26%Fewer duplicateinvoices37%35%Increased ability tocapture discounts39%46%Increased on-timepayments46%52%Reduction in FTE /processing costs46%50%Quicker approval cycles47%32%Reduction in exceptions /discrepancies47%38%Better visibility acrossthe transaction lifecycle63%51%Fewer lost or missinginvoices
  11. 11. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comIn addition to aiding supplier resistance and the lack of resources to manage automation,AP outsourcing can help to successfully overcome all of the challenges listed in Figure2. The lack of a budget challenge can be avoided due to the lower costs associated withAP outsourcing. Budgets should also increase due to the increase in captured supplierdiscounts. The return on investment (ROI) in AP outsourcing can be substantial as fewerresources are utilized on non-core back office AP tasks.Different Stages of AP AutomationUntil recently, automation efforts in the accounts payable area were focused on invoiceand document management, and reporting functionality and the operational benefits thattechnology delivers. PayStream defines this as the first and second stages of automation.While these first steps in automation provide many rewards, companies are looking forways to expand their level of automation and efficiency with automated matching ofinvoices against purchase orders and contracts. PayStream defines this as the third stageof automation. As companies move up the automation curve they are likely to incorporateoutsourcing in their automation efforts. Figure 4 outlines the various stages of automationthat an organization can experience in its quest to transition from mere tactical benefits tomore strategic objectives.More and more companies are now entering the third stage of AP automation wherethey are leveraging automated matching and approval and collaborative online disputeresolution functionalities offered by innovative solution providers in this space. Savvyorganizations have moved to the fourth stage of automation where they have eliminatedpaper to a significant extent and are primarily receiving invoices via electronic means.Figure 4Different Stages of APAutomationAs companies moveup the automationcurve they are likely toincorporate outsourcingin their automationefforts.Type Of SolutionStage of AP AutomationWorking CapitalOutsource DataCapturePO FlipAutomated MatchingOnline DisputeResolutionOCR and KeyFrom ImageOnline MatchingApproval WorkflowAutomated ReportsCentralizedScan InvoicesManual IndexingManual Approval100% ElectronicInvoicesSupplier SelfServiceSuperior OnboardingIntegratedPurchase-to-PayProcessingStraight ThroughProcessingCollaborativeTactical4321 CostPerInvoiceLevelOfAutomation
  12. 12. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comGiven that a significant barrier still hindering adoption of eInvoicing is changingsupplier behavior, this is one area where automation providers are deliveringtremendous value by offering robust supplier onboarding and enablement services.Solution providers work closely with buyers to segment vendors and also developcampaigns such as email, direct mail and telephone campaigns in an effort to migrateidentified vendors from paper to electronic.These innovative buyer organizations have also considerably reduced the numberof invoices flowing through the approval workflow process and are relying heavilyon STP or touchless processing to manage clean invoices – invoices that do notcontain any errors or those that meet certain pre-determined criteria. This enablesorganizations to direct valuable AP resources toward managing exceptions andaccelerating dispute resolution with suppliers.As companies progress from the first stage of AP automation to the fourth stage,the benefits of automation continue to increase – moving from lower processingcosts to encompass more strategic benefits that automation delivers includingincreased supply chain visibility, improved working capital requirements and bettertrading partner relationships. This evolution often encompasses outsourcing non-value add tasks.
  13. 13. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comOutsourcing and Discount CaptureAccounts payable departments have the ability to turn their cost center into aprofit center by capturing early payment discounts. A series of trade payablesand payments innovations in the past few years are improving traditional supplierpayment terms, including 2% 10, net 30, and 30 or 45 days net to create amore elastic, powerful mix of working capital tools for innovative organizations.Organizations who have embraced these new innovations have created newsources of profits, while maintaining full control of their cash flow.Dynamic Discount Management (DDM) is an emerging discipline that provides newflexibility on how and when corporate buyers pay their suppliers, typically offeringmutual benefits for both parties. The potential rewards for early supplier payments aregreat. Even the standard discount of two percent for payment within 10 days translatesto an annual percentage rate of 36 percent. With returns like that, it’s a no-brainer topay suppliers early if they are willing to offer a discount. Further, the availability ofadvanced technologies such as dynamic discounting is enabling companies to extendthe discount window and capture incremental discounts. Despite the opportunitiesin payables to capture discounts, PayStream research shows that only 28 percent ofcompanies are able to always capture discounts offered by suppliers, see Figure 5.Dynamic discounting solutions provide suppliers with the option of accepting earlypayments against any or all of their approved receivables, at any point, up to thematurity date for a discount fee. Through web-based buyer-supplier networks, buyersare able to project compressed settlement terms through supplier discounts. Suppliersare able to pick and choose among an array of payment options for each outstandinginvoice. The transaction can be self-funded by the buyer or a bank can stand in as ashort-term lender. Buyer organizations receive a portion of the discount fee (similar tothe rebate earned on a purchasing card transaction).Figure 5Discounts CapturedDespite the opportunitiesin payables to capturediscounts, only 28percent of companies areable to always capturediscounts offered bysuppliers.13%28%59%SometimesAlwaysNever
  14. 14. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comMany payables departments are unable to capture a high percentage of discountsdue to lengthy approval cycles. According to PayStream 2011 statistics, theaverage invoice cycle time (from receipt to approval) is 21 days. This cycle ismuch longer for laggard companies. The longer the approval cycle, the fewerdiscounts an organization are able to capture. On the other end of the spectrum,best-in-class companies are able to complete the invoice approval process in onlyfive days, and are therefore able to capitalize on discount capture.Discount management goes hand-in-hand with automating the invoice andpayment management process, which enables companies to compress theentire cycle and capture not only pre-negotiated discounts but also incrementaldiscounts. Outsourcing the invoice management process affords companies thefollowing benefits, which in turn allow them to compress the processing cycle andincrease their discount capture capabilities:»» Centralized invoice receipt to a single location, which reduces the timetypically wasted in desk float.»» Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that ensure data is entered into the ERPor accounting system in a timely manner.»» Robust workflow capabilities to ensure timely routing and approval ofinvoices.»» Visibility into invoices and discount terms, so invoices with expiringdiscounts can be prioritized.
  15. 15. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comEnsuring AP Outsourcing SuccessCompanies currently investigating AP outsourcing options should consider thefollowing ten steps to ensure AP outsourcing success:1. Building a Business CaseOne of the key decision metrics around whether or not to outsource accounts payablefunctions is a return on investment. Calculating the cost of outsourcing non-valueadded processes is an important step in ensuring the success of an AP outsourcingprogram. The simplest way to compare multiple options – each of which has diversecost components – is to use the cost per invoice as the least common denominator.The cost per invoice also works because it is how outsourcing service providerstypically price their offering. Table 1 shows a quick model, which can be used tocompare the following three processing solutions:»» In-House Processing»» Acquiring a Solution»» OutsourcingIn-House Invoice Processing (Manual)A. Number of Full Time AP Staff (FTE) NumberB. Fully Loaded Cost / FTE / Year DollarC. Total FTE Cost / Year A X BD. FTE Cost Loaded by 30% to Account for Soft Cost C X 30%E. Fully Loaded Cost for Invoice Processing C + DF. Total Invoices Processed / Year NumberG. Cost / Invoice E / FOn-Demand Technology ImplementationH. Annual Subscription Fees DollarI. Hardware Cost / Year DollarJ. IT and Internal Support Cost / Year DollarK. Total Technology Costs DollarL. Reduction / Redeployment in FTE NumberM. Total FTE Cost / Year (A - L) X CN. Fully Loaded Cost (AP Staff + Soft Costs) M + D0. Total Processing Cost K + NP. Cost / Invoice O / FOutsourced Invoice ProcessingQ. Cost / Invoice Quoted By Vendor DollarTable 1Comparing MultipleInvoice ProcessingOptions
  16. 16. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.com2. Getting Senior Management SupportPayStream research indicates that more than 15 percent of projects fail due to lackof support from senior management. To increase the chances of an outsourcingproject’s success, establish a steering committee comprised of senior membersfrom various departments including accounts payable, procurement, supply chainand in some cases, even treasury. The steering committee would be responsiblefor participating in periodic meetings with the project sponsors and evaluating keymilestones as they are achieved in the project lifecycle. Obtaining executive buy-inearly in the process helps increase the chance of success.3. Documenting Your RequirementsBefore searching for the right outsourcing services provider, organizations have tothoroughly document their requirements – what functions would the in-house APdepartment be accountable for versus what functions the APO provider would handle?Who would be responsible for document imaging, data extraction, data entry andvalidation? All of these questions will be part of the requirements document andshould be completed prior to looking for an outsourcing partner.The next step is to create an outsourcing roadmap that includes key milestonesand deliverable dates – preferably for a three to five year period. Milestones canbe established based on invoice types, business units, geographic locations,or a number of other parameters. For example, the roadmap can state that theobjective is to outsource all PO invoices in Year 1 and then extend the project toinclude non-PO invoices in Year 2.4. Selecting the Right APO PartnerThe requirements document can be used to develop a Request for Proposal(RFP), which will be delivered to select solution providers that have already beenshort listed based on their capabilities and presence in the market. The RFPtypically includes three sections:»» An outline of the requirements identified and proposed future state models.»» A list of questions around the service provider’s capabilities that they shouldanswer.»» A separate section where they can detail their commercial terms based onthe assumptions provided.Objective score cards should be developed to evaluate the provider responses forthe RFP questionnaires, so solution providers can be narrowed down and a decisionmade as to the provider of choice. Never forget to ask solution providers for clientreferences and talk to existing clients of the short listed providers to understand theircurrent satisfaction with the solution, any challenges they are facing, how smooth thetransition process was, etc.
  17. 17. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.com5. Negotiating a ContractCommercial terms submitted by providers are not written in stone and there isalways room for negotiation. One thing to keep in mind is balancing fixed costs(annual subscription fees or license fees) against variable costs (per transactionfees). APO providers may also enter into gain share agreements as well – passingon the savings accrued from outsourcing to the client – in order to reduce fixedcosts. SLAs and some guarantees and penalties should also be included in thecontract to ensure that the provider delivers as promised.6. Conducting a Pilot ProjectPayStream recommends conducting a test pilot before rolling out any full scaleproject. Pilot projects typically range from six months to one year and the scopefor the project can be determined based on a number of parameters – businessunit or invoice type, for example – and closely aligned with the milestones outlinedin the project roadmap. Doing a pilot allows organizations to test the performanceof the chosen outsourcing partner before deciding whether they are comfortableentering into a long term contract with that provider.7. Segmenting the Supplier BaseOnce a decision has been made, segment suppliers based on how much they will beimpacted by the pilot project launch. For example, if the pilot project is going to coverall invoices of a specified business unit, suppliers can be classified based on transactionvolume, transaction value, strategic relationships, etc., and decide whether all thesegroups will be targeted simultaneously or one at a time.8. Communicating to SuppliersAs with any initiative, which impacts suppliers, do not forget to bring them into theloop as early as possible. Communicate to suppliers about the outsourcing projectand the changes they will be expected to make on their end – such as sendinginvoices to different mailing address or addressing them to a different person. Makesure that the right point of contact has been identified at each supplier location andcommunications are sent to the correct contact. Creating a help line and making itavailable to suppliers for a period of time during the transition, where suppliers can callin with any questions or concerns will go a long way in helping to create a seamlesstransition.9. Evaluating the Pilot Project PerformancePrior to embarking on the pilot project, develop key metrics with the serviceprovider, which will be used to evaluate the performance of the pilot. Somewidely-used metrics are number of invoices scanned and digitized per day,accuracy of invoice data captured, average time taken to receive and approve an
  18. 18. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.cominvoice and percentage of on-time payments. These established metrics can becompared with the actual performance halfway through the pilot and again at theend to determine whether the project is on the right track and whether to enter intoa long-term contract with the chosen provider.10. Monitoring Your Partner’s ActivitiesIt’s tempting to think that once the long-term contract is in place and theoutsourcing partner is handling all invoices, the AP department does not have toconcern itself with those invoices. This is not the case. Just as evaluation of theservice provider’s performance during the pilot is critical, periodic monitoring ofperformance and service levels is important to ensure continued success of theproject.
  19. 19. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comBancTec ProfileWebsite www.banctec.comFounded 1972Headquarters Irving, TexasNumber of Employees 1800+ Full time employeesNumber of Customers 1600+ in 55 countries(includes all software and hardware customersworldwide as well as BPO services)Key AP OutsourcingClientsConcentra, Hajoca, Cape Cod Hospitals, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, Simplex, Linde Gas,UltraLife, GateHouse Media, Sealy, Safety KleenTarget Verticals Banking, Insurance, Government, Healthcare,Transportation & Logistics, Utilities &Telecommunications, ManufacturingAwards/Recognitions 2012 FinTech 1002011 FinTech 1002010 FinTech 1002008 and 2009 Blackbook of Outsourcing for AP(Top Ten)Client (Concentra) awarded PayStream ePayablesExcellence Award in 2010Solution Name AP AutomationFrequency of Upgrades Every six monthsBancTec is a global leader in business process outsourcing (BPO) and transactionautomation for the most demanding business challenges. The companyprocesses $3.5 trillion in transactions annually. Headquartered in Irving, TX,BancTec has a large global footprint with clients spanning 55 countries. BancTecoperates 19 BPO centers in the United States and worldwide, leveraging acommon technology open platform to deliver reliability, security, and consistentlyhigh levels of performance.Providing payment and document processing solutions since 1972, BancTechas consistently stayed ahead of the technology curve to better serve its clients.BancTec’s history in managing payment processing and document processinggives the company an in-depth understanding of client businesses, whichfacilitates the transfer of critical business processes from the client to BancTec.Starting in 1999 with the delivery of remittance lockbox services, BancTechas expanded its BPO services to other financial transaction and documentmanagement processes.As part of the financial transaction portfolio, BancTec provides fully hosted invoiceprocessing and AP Automation services including mailroom processing, scanand capture, receipt of electronic invoices (EDI, eInvoice, direct upload, email
  20. 20. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comand fax), automated workflow, electronic invoice archive, vendor portal and APadministrative support.BancTec’s AP Automation service provides a multi-tenant environment for APand purchasing automation and can be integrated with all major ERP systems. Itworks to leverage and enhance the functionality of the ERP platform by utilizinga disconnected data model to interface with ERP systems. A copy of requiredsubsets of master data is stored and refreshed periodically. The BancTec serviceprovides a web-based, modular procure-to-pay solution, with a wide range offunctionality from requisitioning and order management to invoicing and vendorself-service. In addition, the solution is highly configurable and handles multiplelanguages, currencies and tax calculations out of the box, with no programmingnecessary. The BancTec solution also provides mobile functionality for clients onthe go.BancTec partners with Palette, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, to providethe leading software solution for end-to-end automation for each stage in theAP process. Branded AP Master by BancTec, the automated workflow, approvaland reporting software is based on Palette Arena, and is offered by BancTec as ahosted Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.Invoice ReceiptBancTec supports the acquisition of invoices in multiple formats including paper, EDI,XML, email, fax and PO flip invoices. All mail and packages are opened, bar coded,attachments removed and sorted into work streams prior to scanning. Paper invoicesare scanned using BancTec manufactured IntelliScan XDS high-speed scanners anddata is captured using state-of-the-art OCR/ICR technology. Invoices are matched bycascading logic and filtered into queues. Fully matched invoices can be passed straightthrough to a client’s ERP for payment. Non-matching invoices flow to end usersbased on suggested matching routines/flow proposals. The system suggests defaultcoding routines for non-matching invoices, which reduces the burden on AP staff andapprovers. BancTec is the only provider that provides an end-to-end service fromreceipt of invoices to invoice booking, all hosted and serviced by a single vendor, whichoffers advantages to their client base in that it ensures a high level of service.Imaging and Data ExtractionBancTec scans all batched documents at industry standard levels (300 dpi) toproduce a high quality, double-sided, bi-tonal (black and white) digital image inTIFF format for subsequent data extraction and document review process. Duringthe scanning process, an audit trail is included on the front of each document fortracking purposes and each scan is reviewed automatically for quality. Documentsthat fail the quality check are out sorted for further review, rescan or handlingvia an exception process. All certified document images are then transferred tothe BancTec data capture application software for automated indexing and dataextraction.
  21. 21. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comInvoice data is captured according to the client’s defined business rules. Anydata that is not recognized automatically is entered manually to complete theinvoice record. All data is validated against data repositories such as the OpenPO file, Vendor Master, etc., utilizing BancTec standard look up capabilities andchecked for accuracy using client’s specific validation rules. Validated invoiceand exception data and images will be transferred electronically to AP Master.Exceptions are processed using BancTec’s standard operating procedureswhich flag exceptions prior to being transferred to the customer. In an effort toincrease Straight Through Processing, exceptions are analyzed to locate recurringmistakes and new workflows can be easily created, ensuring continuous processimprovement.Content ManagementData and images are available online for a period of 7 years and access to data,images and workflow function commands can be accessed through a browser-based secure https connection. Data and images are hosted on a mirrored,high-availability storage system that is backed up daily. The AP Master softwareincludes a feature-rich query engine, built upon a state-of-the-art documentrepository. All document data and metrics can be searched using a simple dropdown menu and all query results can be exported for offline research and retrievalpurposes. BancTec utilizes a disconnected data exchange model to interface withERP systems, so there is no direct access to the data repository from the client’sERP system.Invoice data is transferred from BancTec’s processing center to a client’s back-endERP via an automated transfer agent that handles all bidirectional communicationin and out of the ERP. Files are continuously monitored and notifications aresent if scheduled transfers are interrupted. Data transfers are scheduled per theindividual client’s requirements, with most transfers occurring on a daily basis.BancTec’s supplier portal is standard and is available at no charge. Clients candetermine and assign secure vendor access to the portal. Vendors are grantedread-only ability on active AP invoices which include a color coded progress barfor invoice status updates. The vendor portal provides a two-way communicationvia a chat room environment with AP, in addition to full credit/debit memo andinvoice submission capabilities to support and expedite invoice exceptionhandling.Matching and WorkflowThe BancTec solution features an out of the box, highly configurable workflowsystem for invoice approval and inquiry. The system provides default workflows forall invoices based on the cascading matching routines that attempt to match POand non PO invoices to specific workflows and accounting proposals. Users canquickly override the flow proposals and create ad-hoc workflows that can be basedon business specific variables such as amount limits, departments and accountingcodes, PO number, contract number, etc.
  22. 22. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comApprovers receive email notification when they have invoices to approve. TheBancTec system allows for email approval which negates the need to log into theAP Master system, speeding up the approval process. Reminder settings areconfigurable and invoices can be automatically routed to an approver’s supervisoror routed back to AP if an approver fails to act within a specified interval. Thesystem provides roles and permissions-based access, which define the behaviorand appearance of the system as well as who has access to specific modules andbusiness data.Reporting and AnalysisAP Master has robust reporting capabilities and includes a wide array of standardand ad hoc reports that can be easily generated through user-defined, on-demandsearches. Reports can be exported to Excel for data analysis that can be utilizedto help make critical business decisions. AP analysts, managers, controllers andother key business users can select data elements from checkboxes to report onspecific data of interest. Data can be formatted in a number of ways includingCSV for additional offline modeling or PDF for read-only publication. Audit trailsare easily accessed that track all actions and editing of documents in the system.
  23. 23. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comBancTec Case StudyGateHouse MediaChallengeGateHouse Media, Inc., headquartered in Fairport, New York, is oneof the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in theUnited States. The company’s portfolio of products, which includes494 community publications and more than 250 related websites andseven yellow page directories, serves over 233,000 business advertisingaccounts and reaches approximately 10 million people across 21 stateson a weekly basis. With more than 150 locations receiving and codinginvoices, GateHouse Media decided to undertake a project to improve andautomate their accounts payable process, enabling them to reduce costs,cycle times and manual processing.SolutionDatrose, a US-based Business Process Solutions Company, was chosen byGateHouse Media to conduct an analysis of its AP process, and was selectedto serve as lead vendor for the AP automation project. To form the technicalbackbone of its AP automation solution, Datrose selected technology fromBancTec, including its high-speed IntelliScan scanners and enterprise-class APautomation software, AP Master. Because AP Master is an application and nota toolkit, integration required configuration only, not a lot of programming. Inaddition, the solution seamlessly integrated with GateHouse Media’s existingERP systems, while the clear user interface and built-in reporting and metricsmake it significantly easier for staff and senior management to monitor the APprocess and make adjustments as necessary.“When trying to decide whether to outsource the scanning or bring it in-house, we evaluated what we wanted our department to be, IT or AP. TheDatrose/BancTec partnership allows us to focus on what we do best –accounts payable – while they handle the scanning, and more importantly,our users have really embraced the technology. It’s working very wellfor us at GateHouse Media,”says Laura Williams, Director, CentralizedAccounting Services, GateHouse Media, Inc.ResultThe joint Datrose/BancTec solution enabled GateHouse Media to realizethe following benefits:
  24. 24. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | |»» 40% plus overall savings realized»» Streamlined process that allows invoices to go directly to APlockbox»» Invoice information is scanned and captured, eliminating manualinvoice entry»» Invoices are automatically sent to approvers via web-basedworkflow system»» Users receive email notification alerts about invoices needingspecial attention»» Greatly reduced expenses for overnight shipping as paper invoicesno longer have to be sent from each location to the central office»» AP staff as well as site personnel have increased visibility intoprocessed invoices»» A significant reduction in workload for central accounting»» A new process for critical invoice handling»» Reduced onsite storage of paper invoices
  25. 25. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comQuestions to Ask Prior to Making aDecision»» Process – Is the process a core component of our business?»» Skilled Staff – Do we have the required staff or can we hire the neededpeople to manage the process or are we better off leveraging the expertiseof an outsourcing provider?»» Security of Data – This becomes extremely important when dealing withfinancial processes. How comfortable are we handing over our data to anoutsourcer?»» Ability to Customize – Are our processes unique and cannot be handledby a one-size-fits-all approach?»» IT Resources – Do we have the IT staff needed for hosting and maintainingan in-house solution or should we consider a SaaS solution?»» Financial Resources – Do we have the budget to cover the upfront costsassociated with a technology solution?»» Control – Are we giving up any control if we decide to use an outsourcingpartner?
  26. 26. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comEvaluating Outsourcing Solution ProvidersSelecting the right AP outsourcing partner can be tricky. It is critical to look at whatvarious outsourcing firms offer and how exactly those services line up with yourspecific business needs. Below are some questions that can help organizationsfind the outsourcing company whose offerings best suit their needs.Company and Product ReputationIn addition to learning how long a company has been in business, it is helpful toknow whether accounts payables outsourcing is a core offering for the companyand to understand the growth plans and future vision of the service provider.»» How long has the company been in business? Since when has it been offeringaccounts payable outsourcing services?»» What percentage of its business/revenue comes from APO?»» How is it funded? If it’s a public company, look at the prospectus.»» How many customers does the solution provider have and who are they?»» How does the company plan to grow and are there any mergers oracquisitions on the horizon?»» How will the company manage growth and the resulting increased customerdemand on its systems?Performance and ValueThe solution provider must be able to deliver on its promises regarding systems,scalability, security, service, and support.»» Does the solution provider provide Service Level Agreements (SLAs)? Whatmetrics are covered as part of the SLA?»» What security measures are in place to protect the integrity of client data?»» What training and ongoing support are provided as part of the solution?»» Does the provider promise an ROI?Solution Delivery ModelSince different outsourcing firms offer different outsourcing tools, it is importantto look at exactly how the solution is delivered and how well it meets eachcompanies’needs.»» Does the solution provider offer the solution as licensed software or ahosted model or a combination of both?»» What are the different modules of functionality available?»» Does the provider offer any configuration and customization of the solution,as needed?
  27. 27. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | |»» How does the solution integrate with existing ERP/accounting applications?Invoice Receipt, Scanning and Data ExtractionIt is important to understand what hardware and technology the outsourcingprovider has at its processing center to handle incoming invoices.»» What formats of paper and electronic invoices can the provider accept?»» How scalable are the provider’s operations? What transaction volumes canit handle?»» How quickly can invoices be entered into the system once they are receivedat the solution provider’s processing center?»» What scanners are used in the processing center? What are the scannercharacteristics in terms of speed and quality?»» How data is extracted – OCR or manual data entry? What are the accuracylevels?Document Classification and RoutingOnce documents are in the system, they need to be sorted, classified and sent tothe appropriate queue before any work can be done on them.»» How is invoice data validated against client back-end databases?»» How will invoices be classified into different queues and routed forapproval?»» How can business rules and thresholds be configured?»» Can certain invoices be prioritized for routing and approval?Approval WorkflowSome outsourcing providers offer approval workflow functionality as part of thesolution, whereas others merely transfer the invoice image and information to theclient’s workflow system.»» Does workflow functionality to approve invoices and manage exceptionscome bundled with the solution?»» Can workflow be configured and changed within the system withoutprogramming or IT effort?»» How are users notified about pending invoices?»» Does the solution have mobile functionality?»» What reminders and escalation procedures can be configured in thesystem?»» How are invoices transferred to the client’s ERP and content managementsystems?
  28. 28. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comReporting and AnalysisThe ability to track and measure performance is critical to monitor the success ofan outsourcing project.»» What reports come standard with the solution?»» Does the solution offer a wizard to create and save custom reports?»» How does the solution integrate with external reporting tools like Cognos orCrystal Reports?»» Can the data be downloaded in multiple formats (.csv or .xls, for example)for further manipulation?
  29. 29. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comAdditional AP Functions Suitable forOutsourcingIn addition to the front-end AP functions that have been discussed throughout thisreport, there are other functions in the accounts payable process that can also beoutsourced. These include:Check Printing and MailingWhile most organizations are moving towards automating the AP process on theinvoice receipt side, a significant number of business-to-business transactionsare still settled using paper checks. Outsourcing the check printing and mailingprocess has a number of advantages, including security of payment data and thephysical checks themselves. Outsourcing companies also run address validationand duplicate check processes on transactions and customize the checks withtheir clients’logos and addresses. Additionally, check writing providers are ableto leverage favorable postage rates due to the high volumes they process, furtherlowering costs.Outsourcing the check printing and mailing process has a number of advantagesincluding:»» Increased security of documents»» Increased efficiency of print and mail processesFigure 6Methods Used toExchange B2B InvoicesPaper still dominates, 64percent of invoices aretraded via paper.64%14%13%9%PaperE-InvoiceEmailFax
  30. 30. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | |»» Ability to reconcile data from file receipt to mailing»» Increased visibility through online document viewing»» Ability to receive full postal discounts»» Elimination of bank reject chargesExpense Report AuditingScrutinizing expense reports and receipts is an almost fool-proof way to identifyand eliminate expense fraud. However, a lot of organizations tend to overlook theimportance of the auditing process, especially those with a small AP staff or onewith a large number of business travelers and high annual transaction volumes.Outsourcing helps organizations take advantage of the technology and resourcesof a third-party provider to overcome the hassles of fraud. Organizations canchoose to have all expense reports audited or specify the parameters to audit onlya portion of the reports submitted. Depending on client requirements, providerscan audit a percentage of transactions randomly, audit reports from specificindividuals or groups or scrutinize all transactions over a certain dollar threshold.Benefits of outsourcing expense report auditing include:»» Increased control over employee spend and ensure compliance»» Proactively reduce waste, misuse and abuse»» Decrease audit timeline and redirect employee efforts to other tasks»» Ensure expenses are classified properly for taxes and capital expensesUtility PaymentsAlthough utility bills are cyclical and arrive in the mailbox at regular time intervals,there can be significant variances between one bill and the next, unlike recurringlease payments. A company that has multiple office locations, especially onesthat are geographically distributed can find it challenging to keep track of rateplans, capture detailed usage and cost data and identify errors in the bill beforepayment is made. Outsourcing companies take on the responsibility of receivingbills, entering them into a central repository and running a series of checks againstthe current bill and historical data to identify anomalies and errors – all priorto a payment being made. Outsourcers will even handle billing discrepancies.Benefits of outsourcing utility payments include:»» Improved processing time for utility bill payment»» Reduced late fees and shut-off notices»» Ability to electronically capture detailed consumption and cost data at themeter level»» Produce usage reports for facilities, facility groups or enterprise level
  31. 31. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comTax ComplianceIt is often stated that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Partof the problem with taxes; however, are the uncertainties surrounding regulation.Every enterprise in the U.S. must address the issue of sales and use tax. Themore goods and services a company buys and sells, determines the numberof tax jurisdictions in which it has nexus. The larger the customer base and thegreater their geographic disbursement, the more complicated the sales and usetax collection and reporting becomes. Further compounding the issue, tax ratesare constantly changing. Given these complexities, managing the tax complianceprocess can be time consuming and costly. The burden of tax penalties andaudits can be even more costly if the job is not done correctly. Outsourcingproviders take the burden of ensuring tax compliance and ensure that the mostaccurate and up-to-date rates are utilized. Benefits of outsourcing tax complianceinclude:»» Improved control, accuracy and timeliness of tax functions»» Improved efficiency and reduced tax risk»» Enhanced visibility and control over the entire processPost Payment AuditsIn spite of all the due diligence and the technology in place to identify erroneouspayments before they go out the door, any company that has been through arecovery audit is aware that there is always money to be found by looking athistoric transaction data. Missed discounts, duplicate payments, and un-capturedrebates go unnoticed each day. The AP department usually does not have thetime or the resources to audit past transactions in an effort to identify sources ofprofit leakage. Recovery audit service providers use sophisticated technology andalgorithms to identify these issues, some providers will even collect the money foryour company on your behalf. The added benefit of post payment audits is thatclients typically pay a percentage of monies collected based on errors identified,which means no out of pocket up front expenses are incurred. Benefits of postpayment audits include:»» Recover funds paid in error»» Prevent future payment errors»» Enable management to have confidence AP measurements»» Increase bottom line profitability
  32. 32. © 2012 PayStream Advisors, Inc | | info@paystreamadvisors.comResearch MethodologyThe findings in this report are based on the results of PayStream Advisors 2012 Invoice& Workflow Automation Adoption and Electronic Invoice surveys. Participants in thesurveys included more than 300 AP professionals. Based on our experience and thenumber of respondents, the survey has a confidence level of +/-5 percent.About PayStream Advisors, Inc.PayStream Advisors is a technology research and consulting firm that improves theway companies plan, evaluate, and select emerging technologies to achieve theirbusiness objectives. PayStream Advisors assists clients in sorting through the growingcomplexities of IT applications related to business process automation with the goalof making objective, analytical, and actionable recommendations. Wherever businessprocess automation technology is an issue, PayStream Advisors is there to help. Formore information, call (704) 523-7357 or visit us on the web at