Top Banana Case Study
Top Banana, established in 1999, has grown over the last 20 years to be one of the most reputable creative communications agencies in the industry. With over 50 employees, they work with some of the world’s most recognised brands.
The growth of the business resulted in a significant increase in supplier invoices that had to be processed and paid on time. Jane Bradley, Top Banana’s Financial Director, recognised that the finance department was in danger of becoming overwhelmed. Jane recruited Katarina Kysela as a Finance Manager, with Katarina being tasked with helping to manage the workload and identify a solution. As Katarina explained, “We recognised that with our significant growth, we would soon outgrow our paper system. There was a genuine concern that the paper format of invoice processing could become unmanageable.”
Invoice processing was extremely manual and getting their 300 monthly invoices approved and ready for payment was difficult and time-consuming. Every invoice was printed out and added to, what Katarina called, ‘the folder of doom’. The folder would circulate the office for project managers to approve their invoices. Invoices would often go missing on desks and the finance team would not learn of any queries until the invoice came back to them. It also made payment runs difficult. “Come supplier payment day, we would be running around trying to track down where bits of paper had got to. And so, there was a general consensus that the process needed streamlining.”
Initially, their existing Sage 50 system was considered to be part of the problem and alternative finance software was reviewed. However, it soon became apparent that the requirement for a system handling project-codes made Sage 50 an outstanding contender as a finance system. This led Katarina to focus on the core problem area – accounts payable – requiring an efficient, controlled and visible way to automate the processing of invoices.
With that, Katarina refocussed on the process and system requirements to streamline supplier invoice approval by project.
“The Invu team were very proficient at answering all our questions from a finance perspective, this gave us reassurance that they understood us from a practical angle – which is not always the case with IT salespeople.”
Sage 50 Integration with Project Coding Capabilities
The project was now restated to find a solution that was easy to use, easy to setup, and enabled integration with Sage 50 project codes while ensuring supplier invoices were sent to the correct managers for approval. Top Banana looked at four different systems, one of which was Invu Verify.
The other three invoice solutions reviewed were considered to be overcomplicated for the needs of the business and did not offer invoice routing by project code as part of their standard functionality. After a thorough review of the alternatives, Top Banana chose Invu Verify. Katarina commented, “From a usability and cost perspective, Invu Verify was the best fit for us.”
The initial demo and implementation process were straightforward for Top Banana. Katarina said, “The Invu team were very proficient at answering all our questions from a finance perspective, this gave us reassurance that they understood us from a practical angle – which is not always the case with IT salespeople.”
Invu Verify fits in well with the existing business operation, moving the process from paper to digital, and cutting out the need for printing paper copies of invoices and the distribution of the ‘folder of doom’.
“From a usability and cost perspective, Invu Verify was the best fit for us.”
Supplier invoices are now received by email from suppliers and the key invoice details, along with an image of the invoice, are automatically captured into Invu Verify. Katarina and Harry, a Finance Assistant, then use the triage stage within Invu Verify to check each invoice and code them to the relevant project. The project managers then receive the notification that they have an invoice to approve for their project. Once approved, the invoice is routed back to the finance team for a final review before being automatically posted into Sage 50.
Before any payments are run, Katarina has full visibility of any invoices in process and can make sure invoices that are due for payment are progressed and not missed. Katarina noted, “It slotted in really well to existing processes, especially with our existing Sage 50 set up.”
Currently, 40 members of staff use the system, and Katarina was able to very quickly train those that use the system using a two-step process:
First, Katarina gave everyone an overview of the system and how it worked, then walked through the process with individual employees as and when they had invoices to process.
Katarina added, “I know that at any point I need to hand Invu Verify over to someone else I have no reservation that it wouldn’t take me more than half an hour of training – and that’ll mostly be spent teaching them about nominal codes!”
“It slotted in really well to existing processes, especially with our existing Sage 50 set up.”
Streamlining the Business
Invu Verify has helped Top Banana achieve their initial goal of streamlining their invoice processing by project code: “There is no lost data and it is a lot less stressful for everybody involved in the process.”
Additionally, the finance team is under less pressure now and have the time to focus on more valuable work. Katarina said, “Invu Verify puts the ownership back on the project managers instead of on the finance team.”
Top Banana is extremely grateful that they brought in Invu Verify just before remote working started. “It got a lot of praise, especially with Covid-19 and lockdown. I think a few people went back in their heads to the ‘paper days’ and realised how much it has benefited us,” said Katarina.
Not only that, Invu Verify also ensures Top Banana has business continuity by allowing them to continue processing invoices if anyone is away: “If anybody went off sick, we know that we could fill that gap really quickly and suppliers won’t be left not knowing what’s going on.”
Any changes they make to Sage 50 are reflected in Invu Verify quickly. Additionally, they can add & remove users and change where the invoices go very quickly. Katarina said, “We have had some leavers as well and disabling accounts has been really straightforward. The system is very self-explanatory.”
“If anybody went off sick, especially with coronavirus, we know that we could fill that gap really quickly and suppliers won’t be left not knowing what’s going on.”
In accounting, the audit trail is always important, and this is facilitated using Invu’s “Sage Buddy”. At the click of a button, Sage Buddy enables the review of transactions in Invu Verify direct from the Sage transaction enquiry. Katarina finds Sage Buddy useful when doing a full review of the ledgers for year-end. “We sometimes go backwards into detail, Sage Buddy is very handy to use for this,” she said.
Invu Verify offers a range of reports. The creative team at Top Banana use the reporting functionality to track freelancer times, which is helping them monitor external resource. With the simple Export to Excel functionality, the team receives a copy of the report and use the direct document links to go directly into Invu Verify to look at the specific invoices.
Katarina concludes, “We are really really happy with Invu Verify and the support we get on it. It has worked really well for us and we are happy users.”
“We are really really happy with Invu Verify and the support we get on it. It has worked really well for us and we are happy users.”
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