Waltham Council

Waltham Forest Council went live with Cogent Consulting’s A-iP service in November 2008 to automate the manual processing of 150,000 invoices per annum. Waltham were previously keying all of the invoices onto SAP manually and it was a challenge to pay invoices on time due to goods receipts not being available on invoice receipt. Managing queries via email and sending photo-copy invoices was a difficult to manage, time consuming task.

Suppliers now send their invoices to the A-iP Service Centre in Corby, Northamptonshire in any format including paper, PDF email attachments and electronic files. The data is extracted from the documents and transferred with the image to SAP via secure VPN within 24 hours of receipt. The data is received in the A-iP Control Centre residing in Waltham’s SAP system and invoices that pass all the checks in SAP are posted automatically with no human intervention.

Invoices that fail the checks are automatically routed to the business user via workflow based on rules and Accounts Payable have complete control and visibility of the documents wherever they are in the process.

On Go-Live the automation rate, defined as documents that post first time with no intervention, was 10%. As part of the A-iP service, we work with customers post-production to improve the percentage of invoices that post time. This is achieved through a mixture of system changes to adapt data based on how the vendor invoices versus how the users raise orders and perform goods receipts and process improvements to use the right purchasing process for different goods/services. One of the key process improvements was to remove goods receipting for catalogue items and use a two-way match process. The two-way match process works by matching the invoice items against the PO items and if matched, the invoice is posted with a payment block. The document is sent for approval on a workflow and by clicking approve on a web page the payment block is removed and the invoice is free for payment. The workflow captures an audit trail and links it to the posting in SAP, so Waltham still have the controls in place, but it’s a more efficient process than goods receipting in SAP.

12 months after Go-Live the automation rate increased to 30% across all vendors or 40% for top 20 vendors.

Cogent continue to work with Waltham on improvements and the target is to reach 50%. Here’s what Gary Gold – Head of Exchequer Services has to say about the A-iP Service:

“Cogent consulting have provided Waltham Forest with an e-invoicing solution that has reduced our costs, improved efficiency and provided visibilty to our vendors and to our budget Holders.”

“They are continually looking at ways to improve the system and increase the automatic posting rates.”

“The benefits of the e-invoicing solution is that on day one the invoice is loaded and if all details correct, price, purchase orders, quantity etc the invoice can be posted automatically and a web cycle sent to the approver without an intervention by AP staff. This enables AP staff to deal with more complicated queries and frees there time matching invoices.”

“The budget holder likes the system as they receive a web cycle, can view the invoice and understand the issue.”

“The reporting out of the cockpit has been very beneficial in identifying problem areas within the system and taking action to address them.”

“With every invoice been loaded into the cockpit we have no filing or paper within our office. You also benefit by seeing the status of the invoice and who is currently dealing with the invoice.”

Yvonne Sanders from Waltham Forest also commented:

'Cogent consulting have provided Waltham Forest with an e-invoicing solution that has reduced our costs, improved efficiency and provided visibility so that we can inform our vendors and our budget Holders of the status of an invoice/s instantly. Waltham Forest have found the company to be keen to make improvements during the period of the contract to date and Waltham Forest have therefore benefited from changes that have further improved business processes and enabled more efficient resolution of queries'

Please contact us to arrange a live demonstration of the solution from receipt to post on SAP. We would also be happy for you to visit the A-iP Service Centre to see the process in action in a production environment.