Accounts Payable Workow -Straight Through Processing for Morrison Facilities Services
Morrison is one of the country’s leading facilities services providers. With over 3,000 employees, the company delivers a comprehensive range of repair and maintenance services and looks after more than 500,000 properties across the UK. Morrison is committed to delivering the highest level of performance, compliance and customer satisfaction, completing more than one million repairs every year on behalf of clients which include social housing providers, local and central government and commercial organisations.
Morrison was undertaking the creation of a Shared Service Centre to initially handle all accounts payable (AP) processes across the business and wanted to deploy a workflow application that would provide a clear view of all invoices from receipt to payment authorisation. Centralising the AP functions would remove paper and transactional processing from operations and enable significant cost savings to be achieved by reducing headcount and office space requirements. The organisation also wanted to introduce compliance, control and segregation of duties across the AP team.
After completing an extensive evaluation of available solutions and potential suppliers, Morrison selected e-docs UK to supply and install the Mediusflow invoice automation system to automate the enterprise-wide AP process. e-docs UK would also provide a rapid scanning and data capture service for purchase invoices as well as processing email attachments and EDI files in the XML format.
According to Liz Love, Head of AP Shared Service Centre at Morrison: “e-docs UK was our chosen supplier as the company demonstrated that it fully understood what we were trying to achieve and had extensive experience of working with Shared Service Centres. This gave us the confidence that it could successfully deliver a complete solution to achieve higher straight through processing performance with minimal human intervention.”
Throughout the deployment phase Morisson’s shared services team worked closely with e-docs UK and Medius to develop the final functional specification. This required customisation to the Mediusflow software which was completed by Medius in short timescales. e-docs UK also helped to develop and set-up custom templates to accommodate variables from different suppliers and enhance match rates.
The Mediusflow software sits outside the ERP system with information exchanges between the two occurring in real time. It extracts data captured from the invoices and matches it to the Purchase Order data from the ERP. Completed matches are passed straight through the Mediusflow workflow without any human intervention and the invoices are flagged as approved and ready for payment.
A phased approach was taken to centralising AP processes from eight different locations to avoid disruption to the business. This was managed effectively and the roll out proceeded smoothly.
All purchase invoices are now scanned and uploaded to Mediusflow servers hosted by e-docs UK. These servers are located in two different locations to provide the highest level of resilience and meet all contingency planning requirements. Powerful data capture software is used to extract information from each invoice prior to uploading every document into the Mediusflow system. Invoices are indexed using ten key fields including supplier name, PO number, delivery date and delivery point, which speeds up the search and retrieval process. Staff have browser-based access to the system from any location around the clock which delivers significant efficiencies and cost savings to the business.
“The e-Docs UK solution has been a great success and we particularly like the simple and intuitive user interface which has enabled staff to use the system without requiring extensive training,” continued Liz Love. “Medius also carried out a comprehensive train the trainer programme which has made a significant contribution to getting the solution up and running in short timescales and deliver a rapid return on investment.
Should invoices be difficult to read due to poor print quality, an exception file is created for AP staff to manually verify the captured information. An additional workflow module allows AP staff to control the movement of invoices to originators and authorised signatories with email alerts automatically generated to users who can approve or forward invoices to other colleagues as required.
“Automating the AP processes has not only speeded up the approval process but it has also provided us with greater cash flow visibility to pro-actively control spending, manage liabilities and realise the benefits of available early payment terms. It has also reduced our exposure to fraud and errors,” continued Liz Love.
Morrison has found that automating manual handling and data keying processes has resulted in a more consistent process for inputting invoices, with a complete audit trail and history for management and operational KPIs. It has also eliminated the duplication of invoices and improved accuracy resulting in fewer discrepancies meaning staff spend less time resolving purchase order queries.
“The e-docs UK solution has enabled us to consolidate our AP operations from eight separate processing centres into a single Shared Services Centre and reduce headcount by 40%. It has also delivered a 95% reduction in the number of paper invoices handled to improve our straight through processing pass rates. EDI is about to be added and we expect to be achieving over 80% pass rates with further headcount reductions.” concluded Liz Love
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