Intelligent Invoice Capture System Eliminates Paper Mountain at Graham
With a turnover of GBP 508 million and almost 2,000 employees, Graham is one of the largest construction and asset management companies on these islands. Headquartered in Belfast but with operations throughout the UK, the company receives in excess of 13,000 invoices every month.
Jill Ross, Graham says that “these documents are as diverse as you would imagine, and arrive into Grahams either through the post or as email attachments.”
Before the installation of Inpute’s solution, each one of these 13,000 invoices had to be processed, coded and approved manually. Purchase orders were cross checked with invoices and delivery dockets to ensure that everything was delivered as required.
There were, and remain, three separate companies within the group. Under the old system, each had its own way of processing these incoming invoices.
The central issue was of course the sheer volume of paper, which required substantial resources to process and validate. If a supplier called to query a particular invoice, staff would have to root through filing cabinets to find the relevant documentation. The system was slow and cumbersome and prone to errors.
Following the installation of Inpute solution, all incoming invoices are captured directly into the system. The software’s optical character recognition functionality extracts the data from relevant fields and automatically validates the invoice.
“The OCR validation has been really successful,” says Jill Ross. “The software is intelligent enough to pick up the right fields when the invoices are scanned in. With less manual intervention, this allows the user to scan more invoices daily to meet volume targets.”
Despite the wide variety in the format and layout of incoming invoices, the system can locate relevant data in each field and to ensure that the right figures are identified and captured. In addition, the system can be trained to allow it to become even more accurate.
“When you scan the invoice,” says Jill Ross, “there’s a button you can select to ‘train the document’. If it hasn’t picked up the right field, you can correct it and show it where the right field is. The next time that invoice comes in from that supplier, the system will know exactly where to go for the right information.”
The captured invoice data from the Inpute is automatically exported and picked up by the Grahams ERP system. There, it is cross referenced with purchase order and delivery docket data to facilitate automatic authorisation.
A workflow process which was once characterised by very high volumes of paper is now entirely electronic. Incoming invoices are captured, then automatically validated by the system. The fact that staff no longer have to handle, process and file so much paper delivers substantial resource and time savings.
Everything remains in one place on one system, generating both efficiency and convenience – and facilitating a level of control and compliance that was just not possible with the legacy system.
“It saves so much time,” says Jill Ross. “If, say, a contract manager wants a copy of an invoice, or if a supplier rings up with a query, you just go to the system. There’s no need to root through boxes and boxes of invoices or filing cabinets.”
Electronic invoices are sufficient for audit purposes, which means that the originals can be taken off site and archived far more quickly. The physical space required to store large quantities of live paper documentation has now been freed up for other uses.
“It does make life easier,” says Jill Ross, “plus it’s a much easier system to train somebody on. And if a member of staff is on leave, it’s so much easier for someone else to pick up their work within the system.”
She notes too that the fact that the system is configurable means that it can be set up with slight differences in each of the three group sites where it’s used. It is robust and stable and Inpute are never far away if there’s a query or a technical issue.