Global engineering company cuts billing cycles in half

IBM Enterprise Content Management software helps streamline invoicing and payment processes

Published on 31-Dec-2012

"With IBM Enterprise Content Management software, we know the status of each invoice and have ready access to the supporting documentation in digital format. We are now down to a 10-day billing cycle with no increase in staff." - Manager of ECM, US-based global engineering services company

Customer:
A Global Engineering Company

Industry:
Professional Services

Solution:
Enterprise Content Management

Overview

This US-based global engineering company provides engineering services for the energy industry. It delivers a full range of offerings including design, engineering, project management, construction management, surveying, inspection and document management.

Business need:
Manual paper-based AR and AP processes delayed client billing, slowing payment for services.

Solution:
The company is automating back-end processes with phased implementation of core IBM Enterprise Content Management software components.

Benefits:
The billing cycle has been cut in half, and the goal of processing vendor payments within two days is already realized in parts of the organization.

Case Study

This US-based global engineering company provides engineering services for the energy industry. It delivers a full range of offerings including design, engineering, project management, construction management, surveying, inspection and document management.

Challenge
Each month, the company sent out approximately 1,200 to 1,400 invoices in two billing cycles. The slow, paper-intensive invoicing process took up to 21 days from initial information gathering on billed hours to sending the final invoice. Multiple systems were used to generate a draft invoice with supporting documentation, which was then sent to a project manager for review and validation. Changes went back to the billing group to incorporate into a new invoice draft that was again submitted for project manager approval. The only electronic part of this iterative process was the occasional email; people passed most files back and forth manually. To contain costs and improve cash flow, the company sought a way to compress the billing cycle.

Solution
Beginning in 2007, the organization embarked on a phased approach to automating back-end administration by implementing core components of the IBM Enterprise Content Management platform to enhance accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AR) processes. To start, the project team analyzed the billing process and shortened it where feasible. Then it automated the workflow using IBM FileNet Business Process Manager software. “Now we know the status of each invoice and have ready access to the supporting documentation in digital format. We’re down to a 10-day billing cycle, from 21 days,” says the manager of ECM.

The company is similarly enhancing its AP process. Each month, 600 invoices are scanned after they are entered into its ERP system. Because most of these bills are incurred as part of services to clients, the company can pass through the digital invoices as part of the electronic backup documentation linked to the AR workflow. The project team recently completed piloting a solution that uses FileNet Business Process Manager software to launch AR and AP activities simultaneously.

The enhancement starts with receipt of a bill. The system uses IBM FileNet eForms software to generate an online form and attaches it to a scanned image of the invoice. The file goes to an employee, who uses the application to code the invoice for automatic routing to the appropriate project manager or the accounting department. The system monitors the process and generates email reminders at the start of each business day, notifying employees of required actions. Once the solution is fully deployed, the company expects to significantly reduce the time required to process or review an AP invoice.

Benefits
• Accelerates cash flow by cutting the AR billing cycle by more than half, from 21 to 10 days
• Recovers USD41 million in outstanding invoices within the first six months of solution deployment
• Is on target to reduce from five to two days the time required to process AP invoices

For more information
To learn more about IBM Enterprise Content Management software offerings, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website, ibm.com/software/ecm.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
FileNet Content Manager, FileNet Business Process Manager, FileNet eForms

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America December 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and FileNet are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON­INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.