How a global vehicle manufacturer was able to automate 95% of AP invoices from ingestion to authorization
A top global commercial vehicle manufacturer operating in 38 countries with approximately 1,800 active vendors needed to overhaul its invoice processing workflow. Prior to an upgrade of the company’s existing legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, invoices and payments were processed manually.
Under this inefficient system, analysts spent valuable time on phone calls, sending emails, confirming receipts, researching missing data, and routing paper to and from vendors. This cumbersome process was causing a significant negative impact on payment cycle times.
An upgrade to the legacy ERP platform provided both electronic data interchange (EDI) and imaging capabilities, so the company elected to transition to paperless processing.
The company’s move to a paperless AP environment would affect PO and non-PO invoice processing. They turned to Exela to deploy a solution that would automate invoice processing through a digital vendor portal meeting the following objectives:
- Improve supplier satisfaction by providing easy access for self-service
- Reduce staff and operating expense
- Reduce paper submissions
- Transition all vendors to the new web portal
Due to the complex nature of the customer’s environment, Exela recommended a transition plan divided into multiple phases, with the first two phases focusing on the most critical aspects of the solutions: PO invoices and non-PO invoices.
Once the first phase was underway, invoice mail and supported documents, faxes, and emails were routed to Exela’s Troy, Michigan facility for processing. Exela provided the scanning, data capture, validation, and processing of imaged data for use in the new environment.
One of the key challenges of the launch was getting vendors to transition to the self-service portal. In addition to sending out notices and adding portal information to internal documents, AP analysts were tasked with encouraging widespread adoption. The customer set recruiting goals for analysts, offering prizes to top recruiters who hit major milestones, such as being first to get 100 vendors signed on. As the numbers increased, an intern was hired to call lagging vendors and encourage them to join in.
Saving time for both internal customers and suppliers was a primary goal in developing the digital vendor portal. A snapshot dashboard was developed, displaying the status of multiple invoices on a single screen, which made it easy to track payments by vendor ID, invoice date, amount, clearing information, and other data. All data was made available for export to PDF, Excel, and Word file formats. The dashboard enables suppliers to easily view status as well as confirmation of what invoices were in the system.
- 96% AP invoice digitization achieved
- 95% AP invoice automation achieved (from ingestion to authorization)
- Easy-to-use platform resulting in quick adoption and improved vendor satisfaction
- Improved payment accuracy and timeliness
- Workforce reduction of 22 FTEs due to streamlined AP operations
- Enhanced reporting and tracking, providing a comprehensive view of the invoice pipeline