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AP and the Back Office Digital Revolution

AP and Sales Order Automation is Transforming Back Office Operations

March 26, 2018

Two years ago, Gartner predicted that by 2017, 20% of all market leaders would lose their number one position to a company founded after the year 2000 because of a lack of digital business advantage. While the path from vision to action can be long and convoluted for many organizations, one essential landmark on that journey is tackling back office processes that are all too often burdened by error-prone and inefficient manual operations.

As consultant Jaspreet Bindra explained in a discussion of the Ten Commandments of Digital Transformation, “[Back office integration] is the ‘uncool’ part of the equation, the most common point of failure of your digital story. It is also where most hard work has to happen. While digital is not IT, IT is the backbone of all digital execution.”

How critical is obeying this commandment for companies seeking to remain competitive in a digital age?

Take companies like Airbnb as an example. In late 2015, Airbnb had 1.5 million rooms available for rent. Soon, Airbnb will have more rooms than the three largest hotel chains combined, without the overhead of maintaining those facilities. While it is the customer experience that makes Airbnb’s business model possible, it is no secret that back-end processes to support coordinating millions of reservations and transactions among renters and homeowners needs to be flawless.

Or, look at Artsyl Technologies customer Leatherman. In 2012, Leatherman® was laying the groundwork for a financial process to achieve better visibility and control over its business expenditures. The driver for this initiative was the company’s goal of growing its business globally and back end AP processes were identified as one bottleneck to scaling the organization’s operations.

According to IT Director Travis Pierce, Leatherman previously had invested in tools to streamline operations, like Artsyl Technology’s docAlpha Transformation Platform that helped to intelligently capture data from vendor invoices. The trouble was that the underlying ERP system and supporting workflow automation they had historically relied upon wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of their business.

To better position itself for growth, Leatherman®® decided to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics AX. Leatherman® turned to Artsyl Technologies to deliver integration with docAlpha and Dynamics AX to ensure ongoing efficiencies of automated intelligent capture. The result was an end-to-end automated AP process automation, with docAlpha delivering intelligent capture of data from vendor invoices to inform business rules that would drive the Dynamics AX workflow process.

“With docAlpha and AX, we implemented a purchase requisition process with a clear approval structure that holds people accountable for what they are ordering and securing approval,” Pierce said.

According to Pierce, the business impact of the newly-defined AP process has been significant for Leatherman®.

“Putting a process in place to implement greater visibility and control over purchasing and invoice approval has been hugely beneficial,” said Pierce, “It has a tremendous impact on our bottom line growth.”

The Back Office Digital Revolution in Action

For most organizations, maintaining strong relationships with customers and suppliers and maximizing the efficiency of back-end operations like accounts payable remains an untapped source of innovation and competitive advantage.

In many cases, companies today already have the right systems in place to support the kinds of business models described by Gartner. What’s often missing is the ‘connective tissue’ to turn existing enterprise resource systems (ERPs) and Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMs) into the engines of a business revolution.

Digital Transformation Platforms, like Artsyl’s docAlpha, integrate with existing back end business systems to transform the unstructured data in documents stored in ECM systems into structured data that can be stored and managed in ERP systems - automatically, with minimal human intervention.

For AP staff members, this translates into the elimination of routine tasks like invoice/order matching, manual approval routing and G/L coding, transaction data entry and document filing. For executives, it means that data and documents are transformed into information instantly, resulting in greater visibility to critical business KPIs, including cash flow. For customers, this can translate into greater responsiveness and better service at a lower cost.

For explore how Smart Process Applications and Business Process Transformation can help automate and accelerate operations for your organization, contact your Artsyl Technologies representative.

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