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Powering Up an AP Transformation Strategy for the Energy and Utilities Industry

28 July 2021

5 minute read

Powering Up an AP Transformation Strategy for the Energy and Utilities Industry

Providing safe, affordable, reliable energy has always called for adapting to shifting market and regulatory demands. The challenge has only increased as emerging technologies reshape the utility industry. And the pace of transformation is accelerating.​ Read this blog and learn why AP automation may be the next best step in your organisation’s digital journey.

 

“Utilities no longer have a choice but to embrace technology to foster innovation and change,” says Brad Williams, vice president of industry strategy at Oracle Utilities. “The industry cannot let old ways of thinking stand in the way of transformation. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can supercharge the efficiency and resilience of the core business. Other technologies can lead to entirely new value-added services and business models.”​

Bring AP out of the dark ages with automation

The energy & utilities industry is now focused, more than ever, on trends such as clean energy investments, technology advancements to bolster transition and growth, sustainability, and increased connectivity. And with 54% of the energy and utilities workforce saying they feel overworked, it’s time to look into solutions that free up time. 

But in order to achieve these goals, the right technologies need to be implemented. Predictive analytics, big data, and cloud computing are all stepping stones to accomplishing your business objectives. But there’s one important element you’ll need to address first to get to your goals – automation.

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 an increased risk 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.

By implementing a centralised platform that consolidates all your invoice data and provides 100% visibility into suppliers and spend, 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% of your transactional data.

Touchless processing, increased efficiencies with Basware AP automation

There’s a lot your energy & utilities 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), and predecitive and prescriptive analytics.

By automating AP processes with Basware, a business could process all their invoices through a single platform, with our best-in-class clients processing 95% of their transactions, without any human intervention.

automating AP processes

For example, these 4 invoice processes can be fully automated to get your 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 XML 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 storing the data in a 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 field tickets), 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 the release of payment

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

How Basware customer, VINCI , achieved greater agility and speed

When you’re dealing with millions of incoming and outgoing invoices each year and have a presence in 52 countries like VINCI Energies does, it’s essential to use an e-invoicing solution that supports you now and in the long term. That’s why VINCI came to Basware when their old invoice digitisation solution was no longer supported by their provider.

VINCI Energies was looking for a long-term partner capable of supporting them worldwide in a way that would allow them to both send and receive invoices in multiple ways. The solution they chose needed to allow them to send and receive paper invoices, PDF invoices, invoices via a portal, and via EDI.

They wanted more than just putting a provider in place. Instead, they sought to find an innovative and long-term solution that could handle intra-group invoices, internal invoices, and supplier invoices. Basware was able to help them, while reassuring them that they were in good hands.

The main benefits they realised were:

  • Centralisation of the flow of invoices and orders within the same solution, worldwide

  • Standardisation of processes in a highly decentralised organisational context

  • Ability to process all invoice formats: EDI, PDF (mail), portal, paper invoices scanned with OCR

  • Gains in productivity and traceability in the processing of invoices

Why SWDE chose Basware to automate and reach 100% electronic invoices

SWDE (Société Wallonne Des Eaux) had been using the Basware platform to handle incoming invoices from its large suppliers. In a bid to maximize efficiency, Denis Flémal, CFO, wanted equally smooth processing for the remaining paper invoices – from smaller suppliers. After careful analysis of the proposals, SWDE opted for Basware.

SWDE is a highly decentralised company, with a large number of electricity and telephone invoices. They were searching for a way to get rid of paper invoices with their ‘big billers.’ That’s when they first decided to go with Basware to help with their invoicing needs.

A few years later, they took a look at their inbound invoices once again. Most of their large suppliers were invoicing electronically, but 80% of their inbound invoices still required manual opening of envelopes, and handling of paper invoices. So, the next phase was to automate the handling of these paper invoices.

They started off by considering an in-house scanning solution but quickly realised that digitalisation and verification of the various fields requires expertise. So, once again, SWDE decided to push their invoicing efforts further to achieve 100% of their invoices digitally and paper-free.

Download eBook: The Roadmap to Procure-to-Pay Transformation for Energy & Utilities 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 more to explore the benefits of Basware solutions.