Wigan Council outsources purchase invoice processing to Graphic Data Online

Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, the UK's twelfth-largest metropolitan district, has selected Graphic Data Online, a leading provider of document management and processing services, to help automate and manage its paper-based purchase invoice processing.

The Council currently processes around 180,000 invoices a year from around 5,000 suppliers, worth around 250 million per annum. It was facing an increasing challenge to meet government PI (performance indicators) to make payments to suppliers within 30 days of receipt of invoices, and implement a paperless process for order-to-payment to meet e-government requirements.

"We were implementing a new ERP system and electronic document management solution to improve our efficiency and productivity," said Ian Kell, Deputy Director of Finance and IT at Wigan MBC. "We looked at solutions for invoice management using scanning, workflow and document imaging that would enable us to get rid of the paper and automatically match invoices to purchase orders and other relevant documents."

Pending the all-singing paperless order-to-payment system being implemented, Graphic Data Online (GDO) was selected to scan a backlog of 135,000 invoices which were then posted on GDO's web site for Council staff to access via their intranet. Kell was then looking at scanning new invoices and then having the finance department's clerks key in the data from the scanned images. A conversation with GDO provided a better solution.

"GDO said we could go further than that by using data capture and recognition, effectively capturing not only images of the invoices, but also the data," said Kell. "It would then be possible to download all of this information onto a CD on a weekly basis and then feed the data and images automatically into our Comino document management solution. With the scanned images and invoice data provided by GDO, invoices can be matched with purchase orders and, where appropriate, goods received notes and quantities, prices, and so on." Matched and approved invoices are finally posted to an Agresso Financial System.

With the new system, Kell is confident about meeting government IEG Priority Outcome (R9) and PIs while improving business relationships with suppliers, in line with e-government requirements. "We're looking to finance the cost of buying and implementing our ERP and document management solutions in the savings we will make from the services GDO is providing, which we estimate will be around 250,000 a year. We'll be able to reduce manual error, significantly increase efficiency and move staff to more productive tasks," he said.

Kell concluded. "When you've been working in an informal, paper-based environment, implementing electronic purchase invoice processing demands certain standards be met - so it's important to work with an organisation like GDO who can help you achieve that, and avoid the pitfalls."

Graphic Data Online's Purchase Invoice Processing Service (PIPS) revolutionises the manually intensive operation of processing purchase invoices, from receipt to payment readiness. Using advanced technology for automated recognition, combined with extensive facilities for volume paper handling, Graphic Data Online can enable high volumes of purchase invoices to be processed, with massive productivity and cost benefits. The PIPS service can also include data delivery to other core systems, image hosting, web-access and workflow, and process management.

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