If I’m an SAP user, is digital invoicing and moving away from paper that easy? One EASY customer that says it is, is the local authority of the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, Trafford Council
Trafford Council delivers local services for around 210,000 residents, including everything from collecting the rubbish to street lighting and keeping libraries and leisure centres open. Given the on-going restrictions that local government faces in terms of funding in England, its small finance team needs to be smart about using the information available, using it to hone decision-making, monitor spending and invoice handling, and spot opportunities for additional efficiencies wherever possible.
It’s been using SAP at the back end for many years to do all of that. However, until recently, a key process remained largely manual: procurement. As a result, its SAP Systems Manager Mark Lilley notes, reconciling POs and invoices was labour intensive, and there was always a danger of key documents going astray or proving difficult to track down.
Running 400 different businesses under one roof
The good news is that Lilley and his team have found an answer to these issues: EASY for SAP, software designed to refine SAP applications and allow integrated digital, optimised and automated processes with add-ons. This move, he confirms, has allowed the Accounts Payable team to capture, store and access Purchase Orders and invoice electronically.
The EASY package’s direct integration with SAP also allows invoices to be scanned straight into the Council’s core finance system. Why this is a great help: making documents continuously available directly from SAP, alongside the corresponding financial records, enables instant traceability and support for rapid, well-informed decisions, he confirms. The software’s flexibility has also been a key help in the 15 years or so it’s been part of his armoury, he adds. “When you’re managing finances within a borough council like we are, it’s like running 400 different businesses under one roof.”
Compliance has also been improved, he adds, as Trafford now has a permanent digital record of all transactions, without having to store paper in physical filing cabinets. Previously, people had less visibility, so teams would never know quite what had been ordered, but now it’s easy to search all purchase orders, invoices and financial records electronically, so visibility and auditability is much improved.“
Capturing, indexing, and classifying contents from paper-based or electronic documents
A welcome recent extension to all this great functionality, he states, has been the introduction of another piece of useful EASY software, EASY Capture Plus for Windows 10. Along with the latest release of EASY for SAP, Trafford now has intelligent recognition capability such as barcode reading and optical character recognition (OCR). EASY Capture Plus allows organisations like Trafford to automatically capture, code, and index unstructured content contained in scanned documents, making them easy to look up or combine with other data to improve business insight and/or accelerate processes.
Going forward, Lilley and his team see greater use of the broader features of its EASY solutions. As his colleague, Council Infrastructure Support Manager Jon Dawber notes, “We’ve only really scratched the surface of what the software is capable of.”