A leader in specialty audio/video equipment, Tower Products, Inc. serves the technical side of the media industry with more than 60,000 unique solutions. The Tower Products catalog has achieved cult status among digital media professionals as the ultimate design tool for creating the electronic infrastructure required to produce the majority of primetime television shows, feature films, commercials and chart-topping music hits, as well as all other segments within the audio and video industry.
Tower Products desired a more streamlined and efficient process for managing thousands of monthly invoices from more than 800 vendors and tracking drop-shipped customer orders and receipts.
The company set out to implement an automated system to gain more control and visibility over vendor invoice processing, streamline approvals, and consolidate invoice ingestion from both fax and email channels. The goal was to achieve greater processing efficiencies and reduce error rates, while improving reporting and supporting 24x7 access for approvals and monitoring.
Digitizing The AP Process With DocStar ECM
To streamline its AP operations, Tower Products implemented the DocStar ECM AP Automation solution with advanced workflow, reporting, and intelligent data capture for invoice capture and verification.
DocStar ECM was selected for its ease-of-use, seamless integration with the company’s Sage 100 ERP platform and accounting system, and ability to automate workflows and routing to streamline invoice processing and approval.
Specifically, Vincent Baldwin, VP of finance, Tower Products, Inc., noted that DocStar offered 2-way matching, where the quantity and amount on the invoice are matched to that on the corresponding purchase order. “The DocStar solution met our business needs from a practicality perspective and was competitively priced. As well, the implementation process was straightforward and streamlined,” said Baldwin.
With robust document management and flexible workflows, DocStar ECM supports critical business operations such as AP, making processing easy and smart—no more stacks of invoices on the desk, no more missing files, no more chasing the right person down to approve payments. DocStar supports electronic invoice processing with full audit trails and management reporting and provides timely access to data and documents via mobile devices for easy anywhere, anytime invoice review and approval.
DocStar ECM achieves this by storing documents from virtually any input device for centralized storage accessible from widely distributed locations. In addition, DocStar ECM was designed to integrate with any ERP or accounting system, making it easy to retrieve data, review invoices, and automatically push workflows in real-time to any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Digitized Process = Shorter Cycle Times, Improved Visibility
Since implementing the DocStar ECM solution, Tower Products has seen significant benefits. For starters, the organization has been able to evolve its AP process. Where formerly the process was “eyeballed” by an AP processor, today, there are digitized, end-to-end, invoice verification and invoice approval workflows. This has gone a long way in shrinking invoice processing cycle times—from 7 to 8 days previously to 4 to 5 days on average.
Intelligent data capture standardizes invoice processing by ingesting invoice data from a wide variety of invoice formats, then flagging any discrepancies with invoice data verification.
DocStar ECM has an efficient automated workflow for 2-way (or 3-way) invoice matching and invoice approvals. Tower Products is often presented with invoices for multiple purchase orders and multiple receipt records. DocStar flags any discrepancies in pricing or incorrect item totals for partial receipt values. Receipt data is linked to match invoice subtotals to receipt subtotals, streamlining the validation process. As a result, the organization can find and address these exceptions early on in the process, which has resulted in a 15 to 19 percent increase in invoice match rates.
“As supervisor of the AP department, I've seen an improvement in accountability,” said Baldwin “I have much more visibility and transparency into the workflow status so I'm able to see invoices flowing through, whether we're behind, and how we're processing invoices, so that's beneficial from my standpoint. I also can do a query to see how many invoices are pending approval from purchasing for purchase orders. I can calculate the match rate on invoices and processing time from drop shipments, which is essentially our ability to turn liabilities into sales to improve our cash flow.”
Fortunately for Tower Products, the DocStar platform is flexible to support multiple use cases, giving organizations the ability to start in any area of the organization and expand to streamline and optimize additional process-oriented functions. Now, with its new automated, digital AP process in place, the company is exploring further ways to optimize its process workflows to achieve greater process efficiency such as returns and credit memos, work order processing for manufacturing, and non-PO-generated invoices.
“Once you understand what the capabilities are, you can move the organization forward to make better use of its resources,” said Baldwin.