Friends Life achieves 30 per cent efficiency savings using shared Advanced finance system with integrated document management

25 March 2013

Supplier invoices are now costing up to five times less to process

Friends Life, which provides pensions, investments and life insurance for over five million customers, has reported 30 per cent efficiency savings in its accounts payable team as a result of implementing a shared finance system with integrated document management software.

It is also costing the company up to five times less to process an invoice. The shared Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) e5 finance system went live in the early 1990s and the integrated document management software, which is powered by V1, went live in April 2012.

Friends Life was formed when Resolution acquired three different businesses between 2009 and 2011 – Friends Provident, most of AXA’s UK life and pensions business and Bupa Health Assurance. At the time, the businesses were using distinct finance systems and their financial processes operated in silos.

To streamline financial operations, the three businesses were moved onto a shared e5 finance system from Advanced and it was decided to standardise the processing of supplier invoices using integrated document imaging and optical character recognition (OCR) technology. This technology would replace a number of manually-intensive and restrictive accounts payable (AP) solutions.

Will James, Head of Finance Systems from Friends Life, says, “We recognised that if Friends Life was to operate effectively and efficiently, it was key for us to be using a common finance system and to adopt the same processes. We now use a shared Advanced Business Solutions e5 system with integrated document management functionality which has streamlined our accounts payable processes.”

The integrated document management solutions are now being used by the 600- strong finance team and by invoice authorisers across the business. 15,000 supplier invoices are received into the central AP department and are scanned by two members of staff. Using the OCR technology, invoice data is automatically captured and verified before being uploaded to the e5 system, cutting manual data entry. The imaged invoices are automatically circulated for electronic authorisation, eliminating lost invoices, delivering greater AP transparency and reducing the time taken to process supplier invoices.

“Since going live with document management in April 2012, we have experienced 30 per cent efficiency savings in the accounts payable team. We are also enjoying bottom line savings as it is costing up to five times less to automatically process an invoice compared with processing an invoice manually,” says James.

Friend Life is benefiting from greater control over the AP process, enabling the company to take advantage of early payment discounts. A greater volume of invoices can also be processed without having to add extra staff to the finance team.

James adds, “By harmonising accounts payable processes across our three businesses and multiple sites, we have transformed the speed in which we can pay suppliers enabling us to take advantage of early payment discounts. This would never have been possible before we had implemented Advanced’s software across the business.”

“We are also in a very strong position for the future because the efficiency savings we are enjoying means that there is no immediate need to grow the finance team.”

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