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South Ayrshire Council

SUCCESS STORY

South Ayrshire is home to a population of 112,000 people in southwest Scotland. To reduce costs and improve processes, the council engaged ReadSoft to modernize the accounts payable function within the company’s Oracle E-Business Suite.

Discover the:  Challenge  |  Solution  |  Results

South Ayrshire Council

company

South Ayrshire is one of 32 council areas in Scotland. The council’s iconic headquarters, located at County Buildings in Wellington Square, Ayr, was built in 1931 and opened by King George VI.

industry

Government

product

Printers & Multifunction Devices

Robert Burns

The first home of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, is in South Ayrshire.

Culzean Castle

Located on the Ayrshire coast, was completed in 1792. It is one of Scotland’s most visited properties.

Challenge

In 2009, South Ayrshire Council was processing up to 150,000 invoices per year. The process at the time was decentralised, with processing performed in 130-plus separate sections. Each year these invoices were processed for a more than 7,000 different suppliers using traditional paper-based methods. The resulting processes were labour intensive and left much room for improvement when interrogating and auditing. The automation solution had to work seamlessly with the council’s Oracle E-Business Suite.

The process was decentralised ... in 130+ separate sections.

Robin Reid Councilor Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance

Solution

ReadSoft, a specialist in the provision of document automation software, was chosen for its experience and ability to operate within the Oracle E-Business Suite. Early 2010, ReadSoft began implementing the new system for accounts payable.

First, ReadSoft project managers and key South Ayrshire Council staff set standards for efficiencies in the accounts payable process. That meant centralising the function into a single section. The use of ReadSoft Invoices software provided a way to read invoices in a range of formats, from traditional paper invoices, through to electronic formats such as PDF or XML.

“While in an ideal world all businesses might like a single e-invoicing solution, the reality is very different due to the variety of suppliers out there,” says Simon Shorthose, Managing Director, ReadSoft UK. “One size does not fit all and we have to adapt our solutions to the real world.”

Through Invoices, incoming invoices are scanned and key information is captured. Invoices can determine which field is which and translate the image into letters and numbers. After invoices are automatically fed into the system—whatever the format—the information is extracted in digital format and matched against relevant purchase orders automatically by ReadSoft InvoiceIt software. InvoiceIt runs inside South Ayrshire’s Oracle E-Business Suite using the standard Oracle workflow engine to match invoices against purchase orders.

Marginal invoice processing costs are now reduced from £1.57 to £0.54.

Robin Reid Councilor Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance

The software can also forward the invoice electronically for coding and approval. If there are any exceptions the system cannot read automatically, relevant staff will receive the invoices for immediate action. The system has the ability to learn over time, so exceptions reduce as usage increases. Staff members are only required to handle real exceptions, such as invoices without a purchase order.

Results

Most sections have reported a reduction in time spent processing invoices— typically 50% and in one case by as much as 90%. As a consequence, South Ayrshire Council is better able to comply with invoice payment targets and potentially take advantage of supplier discounts for early payment of invoices.

In real terms, marginal invoice processing costs are now reduced from £1.57 to a “best in class” £0.54, representing significant financial savings.

ReadSoft’s solution has allowed South Ayrshire Council to not only increase the simplicity and efficiency in finance; these procedures have also become better-controlled. With INVOICEIT operating within the Council’s Oracle E-Business Suite it is always possible to see the image of an invoice at any point in the process, which facilitates much more effective enquiry and audit processes.

In addition, rather than focusing on invoice processing, South Ayrshire Council is now able to concentrate on its core business.

“It is one way that we can be at the forefront of business trans¬formation, ensuring we meet the needs of our stakehold¬ers and residents alike,” says Reid. 

South Ayrshire Council is committed to achieving Best Value for our residents and realising a rapid return on our investment.

Robin Reid Councilor Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance

Industry-leading business process automation

In 2014, Lexmark International, a global technology leader, acquired ReadSoft, a leading provider of applications for automating business processes. Together, they become an unmatched solution for financial process automation. Lexmark enterprise software, hardware and services remove the inefficiencies of information silos and disconnected processes, connecting people to the information they need at the moment they need it. This case study reflects ReadSoft products and positioning at the time of acquisition and has been approved for use.


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