Children's Charity Radically Improves Accounts Payable Processes with Document Imaging Technology

25 July 2007

NCH, the leading children's charity in the UK, has vastly improved its accounts payable (AP) processes with Version One's document imaging technology, DbArchive. By using Version One's imaging solution, which is tightly integrated into NCH's OpenAccounts eFinance system, NCH electronically stores 180,000 documents every year, significantly improving AP efficiency whilst making considerable costs savings.

NCH has around 500 project teams which work with over 178,000 children, young people and their families across the UK. Historically, these teams' AP documents, including purchase invoices, staff expense forms, mileage claims and petty cash forms, were processed at NCH's headquarters and then stored in onsite filing cabinets for the first couple of years. Older documents were archived at an expensive offsite warehouse facility. Any AP queries required the time-consuming location and retrieval of the documents being queried. These documents were then photocopied and the copies faxed or posted to the staff who'd requested them.

At NCH, authorisers are not necessarily located at the same site as projects, which meant that authorising AP documents by post and fax proved problematic. As well as being costly, this process was susceptible to mailed documents being lost in transit and was governed by delivery times.

Paul Addington, Finance Change Programme Manager from NCH says, "Before Version One's technology, obtaining approval of an AP document and resolving an invoice query were both long and tedious processes. In fact, it could take many days for a simple invoice query to be resolved. These processes were also extremely costly in terms of fax and postage charges as well as staff time, and as a charity, these overheads were totally unacceptable."

By implementing Version One's imaging system, NCH has resolved the issues that used to plague its AP processes. With Version One's imaging solution, each AP document arriving into NCH's head office is affixed with a barcode and imaged using a high-speed i280 Kodak scanner. With the help of the barcode, the image is then automatically tagged to the appropriate record in the OpenAccounts system. The original paper document is eventually destroyed.

By drilling down through the OpenAccounts ledger or by using the web-based browser, users can view all imaged AP documents directly from their PC screen, putting an end to staff searching filing cabinets and warehouses full of archived paperwork. In addition, the imaging system has totally transformed the document authorisation process. Instead of posting and faxing documents for authorisation, staff can approve documents directly from their desktop regardless of where they are in the UK.

Addington says, "It's now possible for AP queries to be resolved within seconds, freeing-up staff time. Purchase invoice approval times have also been cut, providing us with greater control over how and when we pay suppliers. All importantly, costs have been reduced by many thousands of pounds, freeing-up funds that can be used by the charity more effectively. In fact, we're so happy with the technology's return-on-investment that we're looking to widen its use in the finance function and roll it out to other areas of the organisation."

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