First Steps to Automated Processes
Precoat Metals, a unit of Sequa Corporation, is the largest independent metal coil coater in North America. Precoat provides quick, dependable service and the highest standard of quality for continuous coiled metal used in commercial and residential construction, appliance, HVAC, transportation, and container products. As a leader in the industry, the company has spent over 50 years focused on continuous process improvement to deliver the highest quality products efficiently.
Since Precoat was processing 8,000-9,000 invoices per month, AP needed a way to centralize operations for greater visibility and process efficiency. With no central storage, documents were hard to find. The large volume of invoices slowed down key processes with all the manual touchpoints required. They needed automated processes to help things run more smoothly.
A starting point for AP was to begin managing digital documents with Webdocs, a centralized document storage system. The company started using Webdocs to store their digital content like invoices, orders, and quotes in a way that made retrieval easy and painless. Webdocs provided 3-way matching for PO-based invoices, and to eliminate duplicate data entry they had integrated Webdocs with their ERP running on IBM i (AS/400, iSeries).
When a new CFO came on board, he determined that even with this added efficiency, AP needed another level of automation to maximize their use of Webdocs.
“Our new CFO wanted everything centralized, and he wanted automated PO and invoice matching. His direction was: within a month, get it done,” Account Payable Supervisor Pat Collins said.
Leveling Up with AP Automation
Precoat wanted to free AP staff members from manual work like printing and scanning emailed invoices, matching invoices and POs manually, and rekeying information into their ERP. At times the manual workload was so great, the company had to employ temps to scan and handle 15 to 20 batches of invoices daily with multiple pages of line items, sometimes totaling 100 pages.
Precoat implemented HelpSystems Advanced Document Capture to take their automation to the next level. Advanced Document Capture monitors email inboxes to automatically identify the type of attached document (whether a PO, invoice, or other document), extract the appropriate transaction data, and upload everything into Webdocs, automating invoice scanning and data entry.
Once in Webdocs, quotes, invoices, and orders are matched automatically. Any exception is flagged for manual handling by the AP staff, but most invoices flow through the systems all the way to the ERP without needing any manual intervention.
“We're not really touching much paper anymore. We work the batches out of Advanced Document Capture, then it goes to Webdocs, and then it goes through a match process.”
Pat Collins, Accounts Payable Supervisor, Precoat Metals
To Maximized Efficiency and Beyond
According to Collins, utilizing HelpSystems Advanced Document Capture with Webdocs was key to helping Precoat centralize their AP operations and maximize efficiency.
“We're not really touching much paper anymore,” Collins said. “We work the batches out of Advanced Document Capture, then it goes to Webdocs, and then it goes through a match process.”
As a result, Precoat has been able to re-assign four full-time employees to higher-level accounting, finance, and analyst roles, better utilizing the talent within the organization.
Beyond efficiency, the new approach delivers greater process visibility and control. “Everybody who is in the financial buyer role has access to see all the invoices,” Collins said. With increased visibility, less manual handling, and increased efficiency, Precoat has added value to their AP team and their business processes by implementing Advanced Document Capture along with Webdocs.