Electric Power and Natural Gas Utility

The client has embarked on a journey to review opportunities for automation, develop an in-house centre of excellence and expertise, implement a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) POC and pilot for their Accounting processes.
The POC and Pilot are focused on A/P invoice processing. The A/P processes are repetitive, time-consuming, and typically require high levels of involvement from employees. As such, RPA is an excellent fit for the automation of A/P processes.

Account Payable Invoice Process

A high percentage of invoices are received electronically either by e-mail (approx. 90%) or saved directly to SharePoint (approx. 10%). E-mailed invoices are received through an AP Group address (approx. 35%) or individual employee addresses (approx. 65%).
Invoices received electronically are then scanned and manually entered into SAP along with any paper copy invoices (Records Management scans paper invoices, with an AP clerk then attaching a document number to each scanned file).

Issues

Non-standard invoicing, errors and exceptions, and missing data.
The accounts payable process was manual and cumbersome which involves capturing information from PDF invoice that is received by email and post it in SAP based on business rules.
  • 6-5 Total # of FTEs supporting this activity
  • PO invoices constitute approx. 60% of all invoice processing
  • Around 7500 invoices per month resulting in ongoing backlogs
  • Over 2500 different vendors
  • Invoice format and data (invoice number) is highly unstructured
  • PDF contains multiple invoices
  • Invalid pages – pages that are not invoiced

Actions

Besides using code stage, Cloudworks optimized the existing invoice posting process and to make it more suitable for an RPA implementation.
Using ABBYY Flexicapture OCR, The UiPath Robot extracted data from incoming invoice via Microsoft Outlook email (vendor and internal SharePoint). It validated the PO number, the number of items, and the cost per item against the purchase order and goods received and post accordingly in SAP. This allowed employees to focus on higher-value processes that involved more critical thinking.

Results

  • 60 % ROI
  • 80 % increase in efficiency
  • 100% of efforts automated
  • 90% reduction in processing time
  • Immediate reduction in the backlog of invoice processing
  • Having seen the benefits of RPA, the client is planning to automate other use cases in the finance and accounting department

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