Workflow Automation Tips for Costpoint Users Series – Billing Return on Investment – Part 4
In the first three parts of our Workflow Automation series, I presented tips for automating the accounts payable process from initial purchase approval request, to submission of an invoice and ultimately to payment of the voucher. In the final parts of our series, I’ll share how NeoSystems automated several of our critical business processes to speed approval times, improve security, and save money.
One of the biggest benefits NeoSystems realized internally with business process automation was also one of the longest-lived untouched processes we used internally. NeoSystems CEO Michael Tinsley asked me to automate the company’s billing process.
Strengthen Security, Speed Billing Approvals
Michael wanted a more secure way to handle customer invoices and attachments. Outlook didn’t meet our need for increased security. Auto-completed email addresses opened us up to risk of sending sensitive information to the wrong person. Also, he knew that our days sales outstanding (DSO) was much higher than it should be, which was impacting our cash flows and adding unnecessary lag time from completion of a project to collection of cash. Part of the reason was it took seemingly forever to get a bill approved and sent to a client. Our approval cycle took weeks to complete, required multiple emails and follow up, and couldn’t be tracked.
So, with a relatively simple process, I automated bill approvals. The first month, as we worked out the kinks, our approval time was around 10–15 days. By the second month, we were under 5 days, and when Michael started tracking the 90-day cycle time for billing approvals, we quickly reached our “under a day” goal and sped up our cash inflows.
Instead of approvers digging through hundreds of emails and attachments, they now open a task list, which includes access to supporting documents stored on a secure server. After reviewing requests, approvers simply push a button to let accounting know they are done. Our accountants can also report on the process and see who is holding things up. Automation eliminates the endless man-hours spent sending email, following up on email, and sorting through email to make sure the most recent one is the one that was approved.
Integrify has become a solution that delivers value to internal and external customers well above the benefit of increased security. Employees and clients now expect the ease of request initiation, automated workflow, and ultimate receipt of approvals delivered by the Integrify process and can’t imagine going back to the old manual, paper/email intensive routine.
One Thousand Requests Automated Every Month
We’ve also seen a rapid return on our investment. The system continues to grow with us and allows us flexibility to use it internally and with our clients in ways that we initially only jotted down on paper. At first, we automated hundreds of requests in the system each month. Today, we are doing almost a thousand a month — sometimes more. Factor in our client processes, and NeoSystems automates some 20,000 requests a year.
As the system took hold, users from nearly every function came forward to reap its benefits — Sales, Contracts, IT, Human Capital Management, and others. Integrify has literally “gone viral” inside NeoSystems and across our client base. In my next blog, I’ll share how NeoSystems’ Sales department has automated our client referral and new client onboarding process.