Automated Accounts Payable with Distributed Approvals for Sage 50
Mansley Group required a solution that provided them with multi-tiered invoice approval, allowing staff to approve invoices faster from their respective offices.
Mansley Group has offered luxury serviced apartments across London, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, and Inverness for over 50 years. Their award-winning properties are full of character and each has its own individual style.
With over 70 staff located across different properties, obtaining the approval of supplier invoices to ensure they are ready for payment on time was a challenging process.
The key goals of the project were to improve the efficiency and controls of their Accounts Payable process, with the objective of providing;
– Faster invoice processing
– And providing more staff the ability to approve invoices whilst having full visibility of the costs allocated to their properties.
Mansley Group recognised the need to implement an automated system that enabled them to streamline their invoice and approval process.
As a Sage 50 user, they reviewed a number of Accounts Payable solutions. They chose Invu Verify as their preferred provider based primarily on its ability to deliver a three-tier distributed approvals process based on invoice value. Other important selection criteria included simple set up, ease of use and the benefits arising from a multi-tenanted cloud-based product to support multiple company entities.
“We did not find any other software that gave us the advantages that Invu Verify has. I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted and Invu Verify fitted that requirement perfectly.”
Barriers to Invoice Approval and Lack of Control
Before implementing Invu Verify, Mansley Group suffered from a slow approval process that often resulted in late payments to key suppliers. This meant that staff were often taking calls from suppliers, chasing overdue invoices which took up valuable time.
The limitations of their manual system meant they had an inconsistent process for the receipt of invoices. Suppliers could either post paper invoices to the relevant property or to one of the central offices in Edinburgh and London. Invoices were also sent by email to individuals, resulting in multiple points of entry for invoices meaning no one knew where an invoice was in the process.
There was a huge logistical challenge in getting an invoice approved. Approvers based across multiple locations required invoices to be scanned and sent for approval. Due to this, Mansley Group only operated a one-step approval process, as it was too time-consuming to send the invoice to multiple approvers. The whole process from receiving an invoice, to getting it approved and onto the purchase ledger would take up to 3 weeks.
Although there was a defined approval process where invoices would be sent to department heads and property managers for approval, approvers could not see all the relevant coding and account details. For example, a maintenance invoice approved by the relevant manager could be miscoded to the wrong account. The manager responsible for that account would then experience a surprise cost overrun. Work was then needed to investigate and correct the errors.
Invoices often went missing in the process as there was no visibility over where invoices were in the process and were only highlighted when a supplier called asking for payment.
Approved invoices were sent to head office where the finance team manually entered and coded them onto Sage 50. Invoices were then manually filed at head office. Any property manager or department head who was not located at head office needing to investigate any invoice charged to their department (or property) had to request a scanned copy of the invoice to be sent to them.
It was therefore crucial that Mansley Group found a solution that gave them better controls and visibility over their invoice processing with a complete audit trail supporting a multi-tiered approval process.
“The operations managers now have far more visibility and control over the cost of their properties because they can now see every invoice that has been charged to their budget. Previously this was not clear at all.”
An Automated 3-Tier Approval Process with Greater Control
Mansley Group reviewed a number of solutions but found that the majority of systems only captured key invoice data and did not cater for their approval requirements.
They required a cloud-based, easy-to-use system that supported the ability to have multiple approvers based on invoice value.
Invu Verify delivered on all these key requirements.
Colin Stone, Group Chief Operating Officer noted, “We did not find any other software that gave us the advantages that Invu Verify has. I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted and Invu Verify fitted that requirement perfectly.”
Mansley Group now operates a 3-tier approval process. Invoices can be approved by up to 3 different approvers, following a consistent workflow, dependent on monetary values set in the authority register. The approval register has been set up based on departments.
Supplier invoices for all 7 properties are now received centrally through one email address. The key invoice header details are automatically captured and sent to Finance for coding. The invoice is then automatically routed to the operations managers or department head at the relevant location and follows the defined approval processes through to automated upload into Sage 50. Colin noted, “Getting invoices approved by approvers based across different locations has only been made possible by Invu Verify.”
With a multi-tier approval process, the system now ensures key staff can see their invoices and the correct coding details. The system now forces consistent approval by the relevant budget holder, which eliminates the risk of overspending on budgets. If invoices are coded to the wrong department on receipt, this can be identified early in the process by the approver and easily amended.
Managers can now see the full audit trail for all the invoices coded to their departments, vastly improving the speed in which they can investigate any issues or respond to questions.
Colin explained, “The operations managers now have far more visibility and control over the cost of their properties because they can now see every invoice that has been charged to their budget. Previously this was not clear at all.”
“Getting invoices approved by approvers based across different locations has only been made possible by Invu Verify.”
Time Savings and Complete Visibility
In addition to a robust approval process and greater control over budgets, Mansley Group has saved time in several areas.
The time it takes to process an invoice from the point of receiving an invoice to payment now takes 1-3 days, with most invoices being approved the same day the invoice arrives. This is a vast improvement compared to the 3-week turnaround time beforehand. Colin added, “The speed of making payments has improved significantly as well as the accuracy. We have fewer missing invoices and the data input is of a higher degree of accuracy because of the automatic capture of invoice details.”
Furthermore, Invu Verify has played a key part in saving time when it comes to the company’s annual audit. They now give the auditors a login to Invu Verify which allows them to search for invoices and view the full audit trail themselves. Previously, the audit process was a manual task and would involve searching through paper files to find the requested invoices.
With full visibility of each invoice in process, the finance team can reliably respond in real-time to supplier questions. This dramatically improved the customer service levels, as previously unless an invoice was already posted to Sage 50, Colin and the team would have no idea where the invoice was. This could be sat in someone’s in-tray waiting to be actioned or sat in a pile of post to be opened. Colin added, “Invu Verify has brought efficiencies for everyone and not just the finance team. It has made the job easier for not only those processing invoices but the operations managers doing the approvals too.”
“The speed of making payments has improved significantly as well as the accuracy. We have fewer missing invoices and the data input is of a higher degree of accuracy because of the automatic capture of invoice details.”
The Invu Verify system has enabled Mansley Group to improve control, allowing an increased number of approvers to see invoice coding at approval, and improved efficiency, speeding up the process and automating the posting to Sage 50.
Colin concludes, “I cannot imagine there is anything else out there that would work as well as Invu Verify has for us. It meets our needs in full and allows us to have a robust approval system with geographically diverse approvers.”
“Invu Verify has brought efficiencies for everyone and not just the finance team. It has made the job easier for not only those processing invoices but the operations managers doing the approvals too.”
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