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July 2022
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An Invoice Automation Workflow Case Study: Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT)

Barchart imagenhslightblueIn 2005, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) chose ITESOFT, a leading developer of automated document processing and Purchase-To-Pay solutions, to streamline their Accounts Payable process. This forward thinking approach from OHFT was a driving factor in the evolution of their shared service centre in Oxford.

The Aim

OHFT aimed to achieve financial spend control and visibility through supplier invoice automation and the ability to access to information on demand. A key focus was to improve supplier invoice data accuracy through eliminating manual errors, reducing unnecessary delays and easily identifying duplicate invoices. Having a system in place that was able to streamline the way invoices were tracked and authorised was also a major priority; indicating clearly who did what and when. Secondary goals included decreasing pressures on staff during busy periods such as year-end. There was also the goal to boost staff productivity through reducing the time spent on supplier enquiries, manual data entry and searching for misplaced Invoices.

In full, the organisation aimed to implement a solution whereby they could attain full visibility, improve purchase to pay cycle times and gain control of their Accounts Payable process, from both an operational and financial point of view.

What is invoice automation?

Automating the processing of invoices by integrating straightforward workflow and document matching software with existing systems, as a result removes manual and repetitive tasks.

Being able to access comprehensive financial management information quickly speeds up the decision making process for audit and reporting purposes as well as providing the “what if” scenario.

Why automate invoice processing?
A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group evaluated a certain number of accounts payable departments and designated those who had successfully leveraged automation to optimise their efficiency as being “high performance”.
Companies classified as “high performance” surpassed their competitors on numerous points. These companies showed

91% reduction in the cost of processing invoices
46% shorter invoice processing cycles
12% decrease in late payments
30% reduction in the time spent handling supplier queries

Main Challenges of an Accounts Payable department:
Control & Visibility: uneconomical business processes and inefficient payment cycles
Auditability: Staff focused on data entry & lost documents, rather than higher level tasks
Accountability: A complex approval & decision making process

Main Challenges of OHFT’s Accounts Payable process:

Invoice volumes increasing at a rate of 10% a year

No signature limit and cost centre checking

Pressures from the government for tighter regulatory compliance

Loss of paper invoices

Complicated audit trail

Payment delays  

What did Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust Achieve?

A fully auditable process; able to identify the approval process efficiently
Reduced invoice processing costs
Access to invoices anywhere through a web based portal
Over achieved PSPP targets
Reduction in processing Staff
No barcodes, no dividers

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