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Hanze University

SUCCESS STORY

Hanze University of Applied Services Groningen is the oldest multi-sector university in the Netherlands. It encompasses institutes in Groningen (main campus), Assen, Leeuwarden and Amsterdam. With 40,000 invoices coming in each year, the university needed an automated invoice processing solution that could be integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX. 

Discover the:  Challenge  |  Solution  |  Results

Meet Hanze Group Photo

Meet Hanze Group

company

Hanze University of Applied Services Groningen has nearly 26,000 students and a staff of 2,700. It is located in Groningen, a city of nearly 200,000 residents in the northern part of The Netherlands. • Focus areas: Energy, Healthy Aging, Entrepreneurship, Excellence • The university has a wide variety of bachelor’s and master’s programs, certificate and exchange courses, the Hanze Summer School and a Preparatory course

industry

Education

product

Managed Print Services (MPS)

Challenge

Increasing workload, problematic system

Before automation, invoice process at the university was cumbersome and decentralized. Suppliers sent invoices directly to the budget holders at various locations and ultimately ended up in desk drawers throughout the many campuses, or worse, were misplaced. Copies of the invoices were then made, which created duplicate archives. Stakeholders did not know the whereabouts of the invoice within the organization and it was difficult to identify who exactly was accountable for the delays. The manual workload weighed heavy on the staff, resulting in errors in the keying in of invoices. 

I am still getting used to not having a bundle of invoices under my arm to sign.

Jean-Paul Heunks Head of Finance Hanze University of Applied Services Groningen

After analysis, the shortcomings of the current system were defined:

  • Lack of accountability for payment delays
  • Heavy manual workload
  • Lost invoices (invoices disappearing in drawers)
  • Errors from keying in data from paper documents
  • Paper-intensive process, and shadow archives

The workload increased again after a staff member left, and the organization had no choice but to replace the employee or adopt a new and better method.

Solution

New process, improved technology

To improve invoice processing speed and accuracy, the university opted to overhaul and simplify its internal methods by deploying an automated invoice processing system. The chosen solution was jointly developed by HSO, Simac Document Solutions and ReadSoft to seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The paper invoices now arrive centrally at the creditor administration, where invoices are immediately scanned and converted into electronic images. Then, the invoice data is extracted by the ReadSoft solution and tested to ensure its accuracy (such as determining whether the subtotal of the invoice line coincides with the number of articles and the unit price, or whether the VAT percentages and amounts are correct). Any identified discrepancies are then manually verified. Invoice data is transferred to Microsoft Dynamics AX if determined as accurate. 

Thanks to the seamless integration of software from ReadSoft and Microsoft Dynamics AX, we now have complete control over the flow of incoming invoices.

Jean-Paul Heunks Head of Finance Hanze University of Applied Services Groningen

Invoices received as email attachments, such as PDFs, are processed in a similar manner. The ReadSoft software is in constant contact with the mailbox in which the invoices arrive. The software automatically removes the invoice, extracts and tests the data and either alerts staff members to resolve discrepancy, or automatically transfers validated data to Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The turnaround time for invoice process has been cut by a 30%, according to Heunks. 

Results

To maximize internal acceptance, all stakeholders in the invoice processing system were educated through demonstration sessions, newsletters and participation in testing. “ReadSoft is a sound product, a tried and tested solution that was quickly accepted by our users. Our staff on the accounts payable team did not need much training–an afternoon of instruction and the rest was self-explanatory. The power of the software lies in the simplicity of its operation,” says Heunks.

Greater control, faster processing

The invoice processing function at Hanze University now runs more smoothly and efficiently and there is much more control. Errors and double payments are avoided. Invoices no longer get lost and there are no duplicate archives. Staff members with budget approval authority have access to the archive at all times.

The university has gained so much time and efficiency, Heunks says the replacement of departing employee is no longer necessary.

Building on the advantages

The university expects to expand its automated processes to include the matching of invoices to the purchase order. In addition, the organization plans to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and with it, address the automation of other document flows.

“Automation of invoices was a good start for us,” Heunks says,” and we are going to continue on this course.” 

We can easily find any information we need, enabling quick response, and make our customers happier

Jean-Paul Heunks Head of Finance Hanze University of Applied Services Groningen

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