The power of the Schlegel brand extends across Europe and many territories in the rest of the World, known as a quality supplier of window and door components.
With manufacturing plants and offices around the world including the UK, Spain,Germany, Belgium, Singapore and Brazil, Schlegel International Group is a leading supplier of seals and hardware components for the door and window, window covering and furniture industry. At the UK manufacturing plant, which has been based in Bedfordshire for the last 35 years, enough seals are produced to take you around the equator twice, each year!
Known as a quality supplier of window and door components, Schlegel, the UK division of the Schlegel International Group, required a solution which would bring visibility and control over their purchase invoices.
“If Invu was taken away from us we would have to go back to the dreaded brown envelopes and chasing people. Invu has helped us a lot!”
3rd party way of working/Three’s a crowd
Nine years ago Schlegel approached Invu with the aim of creating a basic storage solution which could hold purchase invoices. Whilst the company had looked at other providers, Invu was the clear winner as the software demonstrated good value for money and more importantly, their invoices would be easily accessible.
At the beginning Schlegel required a basic system which would provide a search and storage facility for invoices. The company would collect invoices and send them in batches to a 3rd party company who would scan them and then send a disk back containing all the scanned documents. These documents, which would primarily be purchase invoices, as well as sales orders and other financial documents, would then be downloaded into Invu where they could be search for.
However, towards the end of 2015, after spending several years on the previous version of Invu (Series 5) Sten Goransson, Senior Finance Controller, wanted to further improve Schlegel’s processes and, after speaking to their Invu account manager, migrated to the latest version of Invu (Series 6) and the Invu Workflow module.
“We did struggle with people working outside the UK and people traveling a lot, it would take a long time to get invoices approved with the manual system. I was impressed with how the updated version of the software looked and how it could work for us, this is when we decided to migrate to the new version of Invu and include workflows.” Sten continues, “This solution was a far better tool for us than what we previously had, all the purchase invoices are scanned and recorded as soon as they enter the business and we can view them instantly.”
“This solution was a far better tool for us than what we previously had, all the purchase invoices are scanned and recorded as soon as they enter the business and we can view them instantly.”
Before making the decision to use Invu Workflow, Sten was concerned about the quality of the scans being returned by the 3rd party, which sometimes contained spelling mistakes and incorrect company details. “Staff could be sitting for days going through thousands of invoices and checking for any issues as well as changing details or reprinting invoices.” The improved system needed to produce better quality scans than previously. With Invu Workflow implemented Sten and his team are now able to scan each invoice directly into Invu which has resulted in a big improvement to the quality, “We are able to add indexes to the invoices, which was something we couldn’t do prior to Invu.” Sten goes on to explain that while having good quality scans was one of the key criteria, accessibility of the documents was also extremely important to the business, “When we used the 3rd party company invoices would be stored up for months and then would be sent to the scanning company in large batches. With Invu we scan the invoices more or less on the same day as they arrive, meaning we have access to them on the system in a far easier way.” Sten continues, “We no longer have to search through the batches of invoices or wait for them to be scanned and uploaded into Invu. This new way of working is a great improvement for us.”
“I’m no longer chasing brown envelopes! Once invoices were logged, I would put them in envelopes and pass them onto the manager. They would then physically have to sign them and hand them back to me.”
New way of working
While the solution at Schlegel is simple it is extremely effective at achieving their initial goals… financial visibility, accuracy and control. Invu has enabled the business to improve their processes and allowed staff who are based outside the UK to easily send purchase order requests back to Bedfordshire via Invu to get approval, with a response all within 24 hours. This is a stark contrast to the time it used to take for invoices to be approved, where overseas employees would have to scan documents, send them to the UK and wait for a reply, which could take a long time, especially if staff in the UK didn’t remember that they needed approving. Sten adds “The Invu system is far more efficient for us.”
Margaret Lucas, Accounts and Purchasing Administrator, explains that she no longer has to deal with envelopes which would be full of invoices needing to be approved. “I’m no longer chasing brown envelopes! Once invoices were logged, I would put them in envelopes and pass them onto the manager. They would then physically have to sign them and hand them back to me.” With the improved Invu system invoices are scanned in-house where a copy is always available. Missing invoices are a thing of the past, managers no longer need to keep copies and for invoices that have yet to be approved/delayed the finance team have the ability to easily search for them to see their current status. Margret adds, “It has speeded up the whole process!”
While Sten explains that the scanning part of the process takes slightly longer to do this extra time is saved in the rest of the process, such as in the approval and searching stage. Once scanned, invoices are automatically sent for approval via Invu Workflow where approvers are sent a notification that an invoice needs approving. “The approval process and accessibility is a lot quicker with Invu. The quality of the scans are also much better than when we were using an external company.” Sten.
“The approval process and accessibility is a lot quicker with Invu. The quality of the scans are also much better than when we were using an external company.”
“We should have done this years ago (Workflow), it is far more ridged and there is an audit trail. By doing the scanning in-house we get to decide the quality and how we want to index the invoices. We can even expand the indexing if we want too. This is a good way for us to work.”
Invu is purely used within the finance department to help manage the approval process of purchase invoices. However, after seeing the benefits the solution has given the department, Sten and his team are now considering using Invu within other areas of the business. The quality department have been identified, where a similar process could be implemented to help manage document approval and gain confirmation that a person has read a document.
Staff who previously had to go through invoices once they had come back from scanning have been be utilized elsewhere within the business, “These are highly qualified people, their skills and knowledge are now used elsewhere within the business” Sten explains.
Feedback from the finance department who use Invu on a daily basis has been very positive, “They appreciate having the invoices scanned in and approved electronically and they have an audit trail, this is highly appreciated by the finance team.” Non finance employees like being able to view items which need approving in their inbox as well as being able to go back to documents at a later date. “Invu has had a positive effect on all of us!”
Sten and Margaret go on to explain, “The biggest benefits by far are the audit trail and accessibility, if there is someone in another office who wants a copy of an invoice they can look for the log number on the finance system and then perform a search in Invu. Previously the person would need to look through filing cabinets for a hard copy where there was no audit trail. Now all the information is right in front of the user.”
Looking to the future, Sten and his team are discussing the possibility of using a similar solution within other departments across the Bedfordshire based business. Sten adds, “Invu has always offered the best package for our business needs. When we wanted to modernise the system and add workflow we stayed with Invu and it has worked for us.” Schlegel are also considering updating their finance system which would allow further implementations with the Invu system. “We would hope in the future we will be able to click on an invoice in our finance system and drill down to see all the details in front of us, that would be ideal and a further improvement to the way we currently work.” Sten Goransson, Senior Finance Controller.
“The biggest benefits by far are the audit trail and accessibility, if there is someone in another office who wants a copy of an invoice they can look for the log number on the finance system and then perform a search in Invu.”
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