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An AP Transformation Long Overdue – Automation in the Consumer Goods Industry

06 August 2020

5 minute read

An AP Transformation Long Overdue – Automation in the Consumer Goods Industry

Close your excel spreadsheets and throw away your printing calculators – it’s time to automate! While you’ve been busy implementing the latest robotics and technologies on the production floor, your Accounts Payable (AP) department has been tirelessly filing away paper invoices into the “black hole” of office furniture and tediously processing invoices by hand.

Bring AP out of the dark ages with automated accounts payables

Innovation in manufacturing is often thought of in terms of machine technology and factory operations, with finance taking a back seat. Upgrading machinery, calculating inventory turnover, and improving floor operations tend to lead most executive conversations around company efficiency.

However, modern, back office technology is now allowing consumer goods companies to rid their accounts payable teams of inefficiencies and streamline their operations. This is especially critical for roles responsible for keeping cash flowing, securing cost savings, and reducing risk. So why are so many finance and AP operations still relying on paper invoices and antiquated systems?

As the technology around us continues to evolve and introduce new solutions to our personal lives, doesn’t it make sense to transition these same tech-savvy behaviors to back-office processes and tasks? Reliance on paper-based and time-consuming manual AP processes exposes increased opportunity for errors, exceptions, and lengthy invoice processing cycles. These result in late payments and lost discounts—two things not feasible in a world where cash flow visibility and spend control are vital.

A recent report by Deloitte revealed that macroeconomic indicators suggest that the economic climate for the consumer goods industry could be vulnerable. Corporate investment growth has been weakening and the slowing of international trade is weighing heavily on the expansion of certain economies tied closely to consumer goods markets.

In an industry that already operates on low margins, the impact risk to the bottom-line can be detrimental. By implementing a centralised platform that consolidates all your data and provides 100% visibility, your AP staff can focus on more value-added activities such as analysing spend patterns, strategically managing supplier relationships, and developing a roadmap for AP and Finance based off 100% if your transactional data.

Touchless processing, increased efficiencies with Basware AP automation

There’s a lot your consumer goods business can gain from automating and digitising finance and AP operations. Without having to depend on outdated AP processes and paper invoices, operations keep flowing as usual – regardless of what’s happening in the global economic climate. From a compliance standpoint, it’s easy to keep all your information organised and safe for any potential audits in a secured but easy-to-access digital, invoice repository. Automating processes and bringing AP into the digital era for all opens the door to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and a conversational UX.

By automating AP processes with Basware, a business could process nearly all their invoices, 95% or even higher, without human intervention.

For example, these 4 invoice processes can be fully automated to get your consumer goods organisation well on its way to a touchless utopia.

  1. INVOICE RECEIPT: Consolidation of the receipt of all invoices in any format from suppliers – including EDI and true electronic invoices, emailed PDFs and even paper – in a central system

  2. CAPTURE: Processing of all invoices to extract the needed information (including OCR for paper invoices) and store the data in your centralised system

  3. VALIDATION & APPROVAL: Confirming that the extracted data is accurate against the document and reference data (e.g. matching invoices against POs and goods receipts), then routing for coding and final approval

  4. SETTLEMENT: Issuing of payment to supplier or raise an issue (like a duplicate charge) for correction before release of payment

(Read more in our report “’Backing In’ to Improve Procure-to-Pay (P2P) ROI")

How Basware customer, Mammut Sports Group, achieved greater agility and speed

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality mountaineering equipment, Mammut Sports Group came to Basware searching for a solution to solve these main challenges:

  • They were manually processing over 20,000 invoices annually,

  • They were drowning in inefficient, expensive, and time-consuming processes,

  • Their insufficient processes caused them to make late payments to critical suppliers.

With automated invoice matching, Mammut reduced their invoice processing time by an impressive 40%. Now, automation enables the use of any combination of invoices, POs, goods receipts, quality checks, contracts, etc. for straight-through processing of PO-based invoices to calculate the best matching scenario – simplifying and streamlining processes. This automation helped eliminate errors and boost department-wide morale. Their decision to partner with Basware was based on our flexibility and capability to provide a solution that fit their needs.

 “Basware solutions offer the flexibility needed to meet the requirements of invoice management at Mammut.”

Christian Rohr, a member of Mammut’s accounting team

(Learn more in the Mammut case study.)

Why The Wattyl Group chose Basware to automate processes

With manufacturing, sales and distribution operations in multiple countries, the paint and surface coatings business, The Wattyl Group, needed a partner with a robust network and solution that could consolidate financial data for better visibility across the organisation.

They initially struggled with:

  • Financial visibility

  • Paying suppliers on time

  • Complicated purchasing and invoice approval processes

The Wattyl Group urgently needed a more efficient way of processing invoices that would provide visibility and standardisation across the company. By streamlining procurement workflow and automating their AP operations, they simplified their purchasing process, automated manual invoice processing tasks, and improved supplier relationships. With greater control over procurement and AP, that once fragmented relationship is now collaborative and seamless.

“Purchase-to-pay automation has completely changed the role of our accounts payable staff. Previously, their work involved mainly coding but now they are mainly policy compliance officers, overseeing the correct use of the system.”

Eduardo Lara, Procurement Manager of Indirect & Resale Products 

(Learn more in The Wattyl Group case study.)

Download Brochure: Basware solutions for Consumer Goods companies

Automating your AP and procurement processes with Basware means lower processing costs, fewer exceptions, fewer manual tasks, and the ability to redirect limited resources to more strategic activities. Read to explore the benefits of Basware solutions.