Xcellerate IT’s solution for Accounts Payable Automation is now live at Parramatta City Council. Processing over 30,000 paper and electronic supplier invoices received per year, the solution has enabled Parramatta City Council to reduce resources in the Accounts Payable department by approximately 25% and at the same time, improve customer service levels. Xcellerate IT’s solution for Accounts Payable Automation is now live at Parramatta City Council.
Initially founded in 1790, Parramatta is one of the earliest areas of settlement in Australia and serves as the major commercial centre of western Sydney. With a population of greater than 175,000, Parramatta City Council plays a major role in revitalising the local area, providing more than 40 services to improve the quality of life for its residents and to make Parramatta a great place to live, work, play and invest.
As part of a growing organisation, the Accounts Payable (AP) department was experiencing challenges with the current workloads. This was affecting customer service levels set by the Council and staff were struggling to maintain organisational standards. Each month Parramatta City Council receives and processes an average of 2,500 supplier invoices that arrive by mail and email in multiple document formats. The Council needed a solution to automate and streamline its accounts payable processing, which was based on paper centric, staff intensive manual processing that was costly and error prone.
“We used to have 4 full time employees in AP plus a senior manager involved in the processing of invoices. Furthermore, every time a staff member was on leave we had to seek resources elsewhere” says Veronica Correa, Team Leader Accounts. “Overtime hours became necessary to keep up with the paperwork and, staff found it difficult to quickly locate invoices, reducing their ability to respond promptly to customer enquiries”.
Parramatta City Council implemented TechnologyOne Financials in 2011 and was keen to adopt best practices in Accounts Payable. The Council wanted to streamline its operations but needed to do so with a system that could leverage its recent IT investments. “We considered other vendors – confirms Veronica – but selected Xcellerate IT based on their integration experience with our ERP system and extensive expertise in deploying similar solutions with other Councils. Xcellerate IT’s team met with our IT and AP personnel to specify and design a solution tailor made for our requirements.”
Parramatta City Council selected Xcellerate IT to implement and deploy an automated invoice processing solution based on the Kofax Capture platform. A key component of the solution includes the Kofax Transformation Module (KTM), which enables the Council to automatically extract key information from supplier invoices, ready for upload to Technology One Financials. Data accuracy is improved through the use of table look-ups and automatic validation of fields including ABN, PO, Supplier #, etc.
The solution includes the Xcellerate IT Email Xtractor module for the capture and processing of electronic invoices received by email. This module monitors a dedicated mailbox (eg.”AP@parracity.nsw.gov.au”) and automatically imports attached invoices for processing. The module enables an invoice to be received, processed and posted to the finance system without any human intervention – a straight through process.
“Most of the implementation was handled by Xcellerate with some input from our Financial Systems Accountant and myself. The implementation was based on our original business case that we put to Council to endorse” adds Veronica, “The system was implemented ontime and within budget and we’ve been doing some “fine tuning” with Xcellerate IT over the last couple of months as users become more familiar with the system”.
Parramatta City Council went live with the Xcellerate IT’s document capture solution in December 2011 and it has registered a significant increase in invoice processing efficiency in the first 6 months. “We have saved one fullt-ime position in the AP team (processing staff was reduced from four to three), with an ROI of approximately 2 years – confirms Veronica Correa – But there are important non-financial savings in terms of increased speed of invoice processing and efficient use of internal resources that are now allocated to more valuable projects”.
The solution has improved quality of service, internally and externally, as invoice images can be viewed electronically from within TechnologyOne Financials throughout the Council, therefore eliminating the time consuming need to search through paper files. Accounts Payable staff can locate invoices quickly and handle questions over the phone immediately that previously took precious time and resources.
“We now spend less time on data entry, searching through paper files and answering internal and external queries. Invoices now come straight to one central point and can be checked by all the relevant personnel to ensure it is consistent with the PO. Invoices are now paid faster and suppliers are therefore happier”, says Veronica “We now have a change in our process that has allowed us to save time in processing payments and we can now focus on further rolling out the Kofax Capture solution across other business areas within Council”.
“We welcome on board Parramatta City Council to join our network of 15 local city council in Australia automating their paper driven processes using our technology – says Howard Boretsky, Managing Director at Xcellerate IT – The solutions will provide a reduction of work effort and duplication of tasks, by replacing the existing business process for AP with a “best practise” process including automation and workflow”.