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Automating Accounts Payable for Facility Management Firms

According to Gartner and Celent, it costs the average real estate company $21.00 per invoice to manually process paper invoices. Most people are shocked to learn this. Multiply this to the tens of thousands of invoices a facility management firm process every year and this amounts to a fairly significant administrative cost. Automating accounts payable reduces much of the labour and materials associated with paying bills, thereby saving time and money.

Realcomm Advisory, identified A/P automation as the hottest topic of the year. Here I present my experience in helping one of our facility management clients’ automate their A/P process.

Currently Infosys is implementing Maximo 7 SP for a leading global facility management company. One of the key challenges was to automate the A/P process. Going paperless was the obvious solution but not all suppliers/service providers in the real estate space were large enough to have their own EDI setup. Most of these suppliers were small plumbing/cleaning firms with a man-in-the-van setup. An effective automation strategy would have been ineffective without taking into account the technical limitations of the suppliers. Hence, the right approach was to have a cost effective A/P process that addresses both a paperless as well as a paper based invoice processing system.

EDI interface was developed for registering electronic invoices and a ‘shared services’ strategy was recommended for the paper based invoices. Having a centralized shared service centre for invoice processing frees up a large number of resources at the managed site. Integrating Maximo with scanning solutions and optical reader solutions helps to considerably reduce the time taken to register a paper invoice in the system.

A three way matching of the invoice was recommended as a process. This would help in the auto processing of the invoice once it is registered in the system. Intelligent rules were built on the customer site and vendor record to enable auto payment of invoices. Auto approval threshold was set on a customer site record. This identifies the invoice value that can be considered for auto payments along with the auto approve flag on the Vendor record. Sensitive suppliers were identified by making use of the Company Type information in Maximo and were subjected to manual invoice approval.

Once an Invoice is registered successfully in the system, a matching process matches the invoice with the receipt quantity and the PO quantity. If the quantity matches and if the invoice value is within the tolerance value, the invoice is flagged as MATCHED. Another automated process picks up the matched invoices and checks for the invoice auto approval threshold and the auto approve flag on the vendor. If all the rules are matched, the invoice is auto approved for payment. There is no manual intervention and the invoice sails through the system. This complete solution was built using the workflow architecture of Maximo and there was no customization.

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