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Reimagining invoice processing for a flexible workspace provider
The way we work is changing, and business premises are fast adapting to accommodate the changing business world! As you walk around your local city or town, you may have seen a number of ‘flexible workspaces’ being advertised.
These new types of workspaces are a reflection of the changing business climate and advances in technology that allow for more remote working and different types of working.
Start-ups, small businesses and digital-first businesses are opting to move away from traditional office space with large overheads, especially in cities, and moving towards these flexible workspaces where everything they need can be provided and it’s easy to scale as the business grows.
For the companies providing these new spaces, there are a lot of back-end processes that ensure everything runs smoothly for all involved, from invoicing all of the tenants through to servicing and management of the offices and buildings.
When working with a flexible workspace provider, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the processes and one process in particular stood out: invoice processing and accounts payable (AP).
As we all know, ‘money makes the world go round’ and in the case of a flexible workspace provider, money means everyone has a lovely office to work in and the services they need.
But when you’re providing a whole host of services (office space, services, maintenance, internet etc.) to lots of companies in locations all around the UK, there are a lot of invoices to process, some of which include hundreds of line items.
To even get started with processing this information, you first need to classify and extract the relevant information to put it into an account system. This takes time. A lot of time!
Then there’s the issue of actually matching the correct purchase order with the invoice. If it’s not done correctly, cash flow slows down and everyone suffers!
And to top it all off, the company in hand uses a property development tool that allows people to request maintenance for issues, for example “I’ve got a broken light” etc. For every request, a purchase order needs to be raised for the associated cost and eventually, the invoice needs to be paid for the work.
Thorough assessment and review identified that invoices coming from the property management tool caused issues in the overall accounts payable process.
As the company relies on the property development software to keep things running smoothly, a solution to fix the invoice issue needed to be implemented.
The solution was actually pretty interesting as we had to really think about how we could solve the accounts payable issue while ensuring the property management tool still served customers and the flexible workspace provider properly.
The overall solution involved developing a connector between Xerox DocuShare and the property development tool.
The connector ties up the two systems and processes so that when a new request is made through the property development tool, a purchase order is automatically created that links back to the invoice.
The solution uses full bi-directional communications along with a workflow and automation that links to the approval process of each invoice.
The approval process itself is quite clever as it’s based on the cost associated with the purchase order raised in the property development tool. For example, if the cost is under £500, it’s paid automatically, if the cost is over £500, it goes through approval process one. If it’s over £5000, it’s into approval process two and then over £10,000, approval process three.
This smart automation means that the flexible workspace provider can keep their invoices up to date and payments can be made promptly based on the different levels of approval.
The whole solution has brought more structure to the accounts payable process and 100% of invoices can now be paid with better knowledge of how they’re raised and all match a PO that was previously created.
The levels of automation and approval also save time, with up to 20% faster processes, while also allowing the finance team to focus on larger invoices that need further approval.
They can also have peace of mind that every payment is linked back to the purchase order giving full visibility of the accounts payable process.
As a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, there is also no need for additional on-premise software, keeping the process clean and reliable. Due to the nature of the DocuShare API, the connector could be created for a proprietary piece of software bringing new functionality and better efficiency to the processes the company already had in place.