As the North American operation of OSRAM AG of Germany, OSRAM SYLVANIA is a leader in lighting solutions and services, specializing in innovative design and energy-saving technology. E-invoices account for 50,000 of the 250,000 invoices that OSRAM SYLVANIA processes annually, so when it came time to upgrade its automated invoice processing application, a supplier invoice portal was a “must have.”
By the time of its spin-off in 2013, the Accounts Payable (AP) staff had had plenty of experience with electronic invoice processing—they had used four different AP workflow systems and various versions of a supplier invoice portal. Working through change management wasn’t the problem; getting the right solution was.
Tight time table, high standards
Despite the company’s experience, the team only had four months to migrate out of current processes, vet a replacement AP automation workflow application and implement its selection. It was a major challenge.
“We had an incredibly short timeline,” says Rich Gilchrist, Process Manager of Finance and Controlling. “The solution we chose didn’t work well, and it wasn’t long before we began looking for a replacement.”
The second time around, however, Gilchrist and his team were determined to choose the right AP automation application.
One feature—a supplier invoice portal—was an absolute must. OSRAM SYLVANIA already had a decent number of vendors using its supplier portal and submitting invoices online.
“If our suppliers are submitting invoices electronically,” Gilchrist says, “we need to be able to accommodate them.”
In addition, the company needed the conversion from the old portal to the new portal to be as seamless as possible.
Supplier invoice portal is a win-win
After much deliberation, Gilchrist and his team selected the SAP-certified AP automation workflow application and cloud based supplier invoice portal from Kofax. Today, with an average of 25 suppliers registering per week, OSRAM SYLVANIA’s portal boasts more than 2,000 active users. Suppliers enter invoices directly into the system, and can log in at any time to quickly check the status of their invoices. This has eliminated the need to call and inquire on the status of invoices.
Automation and ease of use has not only improved OSRAM SYLVANIA’s relations with suppliers, but freed its AP staff to spend more of their time on higher-value responsibilities.
Enhanced invoice integrity
Gilchrist and his team especially appreciate the capability to flip purchase orders into invoices because the seller must ensure that the invoice contains correct and verifiably authentic data. Because it standardizes price and quantity, it’s the best way to get invoices into the system.
“Users can only flip a purchase order to an invoice for the available quantity,” he says, “so when the invoice data is ready to go into the workflow, it’s error-free.
Unresolved PO-based invoices are automatically sent into a workflow for discrepancy handling, while non-PO invoices are auto-routed for coding, approval, and posting in SAP. Images of all invoices and their processing status are readily available throughout the process.
A seamless transition
Since implementation in October 2013, Kofax and OSRAM SYLVANIA have made 16 seamless updates to production—a smooth transition by any technology update standard.
“Any time you go live on a brand new piece of software, there are bound to be issues, but this wasn’t the case with us,” Gilchrist says. “We were able to jump on any issues we had, which were all minor, and keep moving. The Kofax team is very responsive.”