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The Urban Purveyor Group has experienced rapid growth adding many new venues, including the first interstate locations in Queensland. Even before the rapid expansion, manual processing of supplier invoices was growing increasingly unwieldy.
The Financial Controller for the Urban Purveyor Group said the head office dealt with between 3500 – 4000 invoices a month. Without any EDI links with key suppliers, over 90% of these invoices arrived on paper and had to be manually entered. There was a lack of control over the processing of invoices. Additionally, all of the purchase orders (POs) were created manually resulting in a lack of visibility throughout the process.
The manual workflow that had evolved over time had also introduced multiple layers of duplication which added the potential for human error and inaccuracies. Invoices were handled a minimum of three times after being sent to head office.
“Each invoice was sent to the executive chef, who had them compiled into an Excel spreadsheet. Then all food and liquor invoices were entered manually into UPG’s Micros based inventory system, after which they would be sent to the finance department and be entered into the accounting software. Being handled so many times and manually entered into two different systems saw many opportunities for human error.” – UPG’s Financial Controller
The IT Manager for the Urban Purveyor Group had been assessing alternatives for invoice automation since 2009, but the rapid rollout of new stores in 2010 increased the pressure to implement a solution.
Ensuring any solution that was implemented adequately met the needs of the UPG was critical. A number of proposals were considered, but they wouldn’t map to the Micros POS system or couldn’t talk to the Greentree financials. The Efficiency Leader Automation platform (ELAP®), which UPG elected to implement successfully delivered the integration that UPG were looking for. Since the new ELAP system was installed, the Financial Controller has been delighted with the transparency and the efficiencies of the invoice automation platform.
There is better integration between business units, inventory people are talking to financials, who are in turn talking to the venues. There is better interaction between every business unit. Data is accurate so people are more confident in talking to one another – UPG’s IT Manager
In addition to adopting ELAP®, UPG migrated from the Micros point of sale (POS) platform to an alternative from H&L. Efficiency Leaders provided the turn-key automation solution in only 12 weeks.
The entire solution went live at the end of March 2011 and is now interfaced to a new SharePoint Foundation installation, providing automatic archiving of invoice images and extracted data. Invoices are scanned once at the venues on MFPs and sent to head office for processing.
ELAP automatically ingests invoices received and applies image clean-up technology to enable the most accurate extraction results. Once the scanned images are received from the remote locations, the application intelligently interprets the invoice data and automatically applies business rules to validate the content. Efficiency Leaders also developed the custom connectors for Greentree Financials and H&L Sysnet to support automatic line item processing.
Validations are compatible with the ABR Web service, Sysnet and Greentree. Exceptions are handled by operators at head office. If the invoice is valid, the relevant details are automatically exported to Greentree, Sysnet, and SharePoint Foundation.
Suppliers have now been requested to include a Purchase Order (PO) number on the invoice along with specific article codes and quantities. It’s no longer sufficient to invoice for a box of apples – the numbers or weight must be specified.
Business rules are applied once an invoice has been scanned into ELAP®. If the extracted invoice data matches the Purchase Order, it can go straight through for payment from Greentree financials. If there are exceptions or quantities outside a certain limit, the PO will be queried by a validation operator.
“We haven’t had any resistance from suppliers. They are all happy to contribute to a more efficient payment system. We now have transparency with purchase orders being raised first in H&L and we have also gained visibility and control of our food and liquor costs. The exceptions generally come from variances in quantity or weight of foodstuffs, for instance, if you ordered 2 kg of fish and you get 2.1 kg. It depends on the business rules you set whether that gets processed or comes up as an exception.” – UPG’s Financial Controller
“We have added five new venues without any new administrative staff, I don’t think we would have been able to do that without introducing this solution. During this whole transformation, Efficiency Leaders has consistently under-promised and over-delivered. Our requirements were constantly changing and they easily accommodated any changes. They were very easy to deal with. The business is now well placed to manage the rapid expansion plans without increasing back office overheads. This would not have been possible without this technology.” – UPG’s IT Manager