The company is a leading dealer of automobile refrigeration & transportation units offering a range of products from truck units to advanced trailer refrigeration systems and even services on these parts and units. The company has always been committed to providing exceptional customer service through their refrigeration system expertise & exceptional technical services. However, the company’s services relied heavily on timely delivery of services & products to customers which was hindered by traditional manual processes like invoicing, billing, etc.
The Accounts Payable team at the client’s end was overwhelmed with hundreds of invoices being processed every single day. These invoices were often in unscannable PDF formats or even in image formats making it cumbersome to extract information. This caused a lot of time & resources to be spent, and even resulted in a lot of errors. Also, hundreds of records had to be manually entered into a legacy accounting system making the process highly susceptible to errors. Moreover, with the entire process involving multiple steps like extracting the information, verifying the invoice details, approving/rejecting the invoice, entering details into legacy system, and finally sending notifications to vendor, this heavily became time consuming causing a delay in processing invoices, eventually resulting in a loss of productivity.
The urge to achieve digital transformation and improve its business processes by combatting the above-mentioned challenges prompted the company to invest in modern automation technologies like Power Automate RPA. However, it still needed a partner who would provide true guidance in its automation journey and augment its IT team’s technical expertise. Soon after, AQL’s unprecedented RPA expertise and its years of successful experience with Microsoft products & applications made it an unanimous choice as an automation partner for Client.
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After carefully assessing the entire IT infrastructure along with existing business processes, AQL’s expert consultants collaborated with Client’s IT and business experts to identify potential tasks to be automated. Thereafter, RPA implementation strategy was crafted to create an end-to-end automation plan for the entire invoice processing system. Agile methodology was used to deliver the RPA based solution to the client which included incremental rolled out changes in real time allowing the client to provide feedback at each level of the project and customize it accordingly.
Eventually, an automated invoice processing system was developed by leveraging Microsoft’s RPA best practices and modern technologies like Power Automate, Power Automate Desktop, & SharePoint Online. Each task was automated and improved as mentioned below:
- Power Automate’s RPA feature was integrated in SharePoint Online to make accessing, tracking, and analyzing documents an easy task and also to easily navigate to desired SharePoint folders, lists, or sites.
- Power Automate’s AI Builder was used to develop custom AI model for extracting both structured & unstructured data from invoices which included large number of complex records from a single table in an invoice.
- Power Automate Desktop’s RPA capability was used to record each action related to invoice processing such as entering invoice details to legacy accounting application and design a desktop flow based on the recorded actions.
- Power Automate’s RPA capability was used to create a cloud flow which automated the entire invoice processing task starting from receiving the invoice from vendor to processing the file for approval/rejection to sending alert notifications.
Finally, Client’s Accounts Payable department received a truly automated invoice processing system with the following flow:
- Invoices are received at the recipient’s shared folder inbox which triggers the Power Automate cloud flow.
- Each invoice is extracted from the inbox and stored in ‘New Invoice’ SharePoint folder from where it is sent to Microsoft AI Builder for processing.
- Information is extracted from the invoice, documented, & sent to Power Automate cloud flow which in turn sends the invoice details to Teams channel for approval or rejection.
- Once the invoice is approved, Power Automate cloud flow calls Power Automate Desktop through the on-premises gateway for processing information.
- Power Automate Desktop’s flow opens the legacy accounting application, does authentication, & enters data into relevant fields.
- Once information is entered, the desktop flow sends a success confirmation to Power Automate cloud flow.
- Finally, the cloud flow sends an approval notification to the vendor and another notification on the Teams’ channel.
AQL’s Power Automate RPA expertise proved to be a turning point in the company’s digital transformation journey with improved operational efficiency, increased cost savings, optimized workforce utility, and more. With the entire process being automated, starting from extracting information to sending approval/rejection notifications, invoice processing was now done in hours, even minutes compared to the previous time period of months. In fact, the company received the following perks by automating invoice processing using Robotic Process Automation:
- Error percentage in processing invoices reduced to almost 0.01% which saved about 60% of existing annual costs for the company.
- RPA implementation provided about 55% of the FTE capacity, allowing employees to focus on value-added tasks to improve sales, production, operations, & more.
- With a decrease in invoice processing time, backlog processing was done in just 2 hours, resulting in reduced pending invoices.
- Increased productivity due to reduced errors in automation ensured more than 150% ROI for the company in a period of 1 year.
The success of RPA in truly automating the invoice processing at Client’s ensured scaling of automation strategies towards other business processes in sales, HR, marketing, production, operation & other departments.
“AQL’s RPA consulting services has helped us save hundreds of manual work hours and process invoices, orders, bills, quotes with much lesser cycle time, thus improving relationship with our business partners. Not only are our immediate issues addressed, but our product success rate has increased from 45% to 85% in a short span of time.”
Director, Finance Department