Innovative, Digital Finance Is A Reality For International Firm Seven Energy

Seven Energy  is a fully-integrated gas company developing, producing and distributing gas. Founded in 2004, Seven Energy is now the leading integrated gas company in south-east Nigeria, with extensive upstream oil and gas interests in the region.

Thanks to its deep understanding of its market, Seven Energy has won impressive market share supplying gas to local power generation and manufacturing industries, principally through its integrated processing and pipeline infrastructure. The firm has 150 employees – and is headquartered in London and Lagos.

Seven Energy is a success story, without a doubt, but it’s recently turned to DM (Document Management) to make that success go forward on a more secure base than it originally had. That’s because for the first years of its busy expansion, it used a US-hosted external finance system which had worked fine initially, but had ended up delivering less efficiencies than desired over time.

Why? It was too paper-obsessed. All invoices had to be manually printed off and stored in folders, while documents for overseas approval were signed off by scanning a document and emailing. This disjointed process was giving the firm unwieldy workflow with extensive administration overhead, as well as being open to error with all the keying and rekeying of data.

Seven Energy could see this was not optimal, so opted to implement a modern purchase-to-pay system which would incorporate requisitions, purchase orders and invoices all with online approval. To back this up, a fully integrated and always-available, central document management system was a necessity.

Seven Energy reached out to us via its partner Touchstone Energy, to see if our market-leading ECM (Enterprise Content Management) could help. We won an intense bidding process, and set to work.

Barcode help

I’ll let the customer speak to what happened next. Seven Energy reports that the solution we delivered has enabled it to streamline all its internal payment procedures, which now all adhere to strict payment terms and carefully set payment dates. “If there are any queries, users can quickly go into the system and look at the scanned image of the invoice, which is great for us as well as our supply chain,” comments the Group Systems Manager, Richard Ray.

Key to the solution is the use of a unique reference system we’ve helped Seven deploy based on barcoded stickers, which are entered into the procurement system when any invoices are registered, providing the link to the document in EASY. That means that when the invoice is submitted for approval, the user can view the internal coding of the document but also view the original scan. Seven Energy has also implemented Infor BI (Business Intelligence), which enables users to drill down from a single balance to the individual transaction level and pull up the relevant invoices through the document management system, any time they want to.

The new EASY DM system has also enabled Seven Energy to get an overview of its tax returns, which, due to the international nature of its business, can often be highly complex – and with three different types of tax to pay in Nigeria alone, that’s a real help, as it’s made it much easier to track tax enquiries across the business. Plus, thanks to EASY, internal tax specialists can easily pull up invoices, terms and conditions from the document management system.

Seven Energy also uses EASY to store contracts and associated documents it holds in a third party contract management system. Seven chose to store the documents in EASY as staff were already familiar with the software for invoices and the indexing and fast retrieval were also key to their requirements. That’s because accountability is paramount to Seven Energy’s success. “We often have transactions for significant dollar amounts,” Ray points out. “Having vital business contract documentation stored away securely in a digital content management system means we never have to dig into cabinets of paper. It also avoids data duplication and promotes much better contract management all-round,” he adds.

Dealing with compliance and complexity

Finally, this new integrated digital finance system has been extremely beneficial in managing one of the processes that has the largest amount of transactions within the organisation – travel expenses. “The ability to have all the necessary travel and invoice documentation scanned and always available has made things a lot easier for our travel admin and accounts payable teams, who deal with a high volume of travel requests,” he confirms.

So far, Seven Energy has seen tangible benefits from EASY in terms of reduced administration overheads and improved efficiency and productivity. But the journey isn’t over yet, says Ray. That’s because Seven Energy’s next step is to implement the scanning and archiving of all finance journal back-up. The plan: when a user posts a journal, it will be assigned a unique reference and that will be used to attach supporting documentation within EASY. This will allow the journal approvers to view the supporting documents directly in the document management system.

To put that in context, at present each journal that is posted, is printed out along with any supporting documentation. The approver will then manually sign the documents before filing them. The move will also help third parties, especially auditors. The idea is to give external auditors read-only access, so they’ll be able to carry out their work without any need to find origins of a part or set of journals external to the main finance platform, SunSystems. Seven Energy believes that once this new process is in place, it will reduce the amount of queries; deployment is scheduled for the first half of 2017.

Let’s close with one of my favourite comments out of the whole engagement. For Ray,“EASY said that once you get a document management system in a particular department and people can see the benefits, then the use of document management quickly spreads out into other areas, and I think we really are only scratching the surface here at Seven Energy with ECM and EASY.”

Putting this customer success in a wider finance solution context

I am very excited about the success of Seven Energy, which is one of our most important DM engagements in the oil and gas sector. It also strikes me as testimony – due to its size, complexity, scope, and above all, the multi-country operational aspect of Seven’s achievement here – to the power of EASY’s technology.

You may be aware that EASY was recently acknowledged by our peers in the document management industry when EASY Invoice was voted ‘Accounts Payable/Invoicing Product of the Year’ in the 2016 DM Awards, partly down to strong use cases like this. A huge thanks to everyone who voted for us, and we hope through our work for great clients like Seven Energy to warrant your attention when the Awards roll around again this year.

Howard

Howard Frear is Sales and Marketing Director at EASY Software UK

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