Efficient Electronic Workflow for Invoice Liquidation
Invoices are liquidated according to predefined approval limits and their subsequent circulation is a paper free – electronic form, accompanied only by scanned image of the invoice.
Implementation of electronic workflow for invoice approval represents a successful solution in Unilever South Central Europe (USCE).
USCE belongs into the group of branches of Unilever – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumable goods. Brands such as OMO, Dove, Cif, Domestos, Rexona, Axe, Denim, Lux, Pond’s, Knorr, Rama, Lipton have been positively appreciated by general consumer public for many years.
USCE is seated in Romania. Its task is to coordinate the production and commercial activities for Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldavia, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
Before the new invoice approval system was implemented, USCE did not have any clear procedures, responsibilities, or records about the processes across departments. Supplier invoices delivered to individual local branches and production facilities used to be sent for review to the local headquarters and, depending on the invoice type, its amount, and other unclear rules, they were submitted to individual managers for approval. Once checked and approved, the paper document again travelled between individual countries. Handling of invoices was unsatisfactory from the long-term perspective – many invoices were incomplete, some of them were solved late, it was difficult to document the steps during their liquidation. Some payments were late for obvious reasons or reclaimed. This negatively influenced the supplier-customer relations. Time required for invoice liquidation was long. This also influenced the amount of overhead costs.
Analysis of internal processes was required in the first phase. IXTENT’s consultants were able to optimize the procedures, and to achieve absolutely transparent and efficient liquidation of invoices with electronic workflow.
The resulting process can be briefly described as follows:
- Paper invoices are received by four main branches only
- The invoices are scanned in and paper copies are archived. Subsequent circulation of invoices is paper-free.
- The invoice is received by a group of accountants. The relevant accountant extracts maturity date, amount, and supplier’s identification from the scanned image. In the next step, it selects the person responsible for verification and authorization.
- After automatic evaluation of all required parameters, the workflow item is sent first for review and subsequently for approval.
- A simple and transparent possibility to add more persons into the process if required to approve the document.
- Once approved, the invoice is accepted by the accountant who processes the linked item in SAP and adds a SAP reference number to the item’s workflow. At this point, the workflow item can be completed successfully.
Benefits of the solution are clear. Clear and fast document circulation in transparent and uniform form is appreciated in the international environment. Thanks to early processing of incoming invoices (scanning, electronic archiving), and unique designation assignment, it is possible to track and account for each document easily or to benefit from the possibility of key factors reporting. No tax document can get physically lost in the organization.
Unilever appreciated that it was not necessary to install any new user stations as the Internet Explorer was sufficient for all users to work in this mode.
The IXTENT® solution was based on Livelink BPM, Livelink Archive Server, and Livelink Enterprise scan products supplied by company Open Text and it included customization to suit the client’s needs.