Processing digital invoices via OCR, a clear and tight reconciliation process and digital approval flows. These are just a few of the significant changes in AVA’s strong digitisation story.
AVA is a family business with a solid reputation, employing a total of approximately 550 people. The customer is the centre of attention in their company. They export to 7 countries and in total they serve about 5,000 professional customers via AVA Pro. In addition, their 50 stores in Belgium and Luxemburg process more than 25,000 purchase invoices and more than 4.5 million sales transactions each year. Very impressive figures indeed.
Why AVA opted for EASI
From an accounting point of view, the company consists of a property company and an operating company which includes the stores, a factory line and warehouse logistics. In order to enable smooth reporting, the departments in both entities have been set up as cost centres. It stands to reason that the main part of the company's turnover is generated in the stores, which is accompanied by an enormous amount of tickets and equally as many small invoices. This makes a high-performance reconciliation process essential and that is exactly why the company contacted EASI, CFO Chris Elsen explains.
“Our previous package lacked the options for a digital changeover. Even with an update/upgrade that program could not provide us with the features we needed. For instance electronic invoicing, electronic accounts receivable management, high-performance reconciliation tools... We continued to rely on Excel for much of our reconciliation management and that is why we have reviewed the entire process.
Because our warehouse system is still running on an AS 400 platform (now known as IBM i), we knew that our new partner needed specific expertise. It goes without saying any software partner can provide any service over time, but we did not want to be a ‘test case’. We knew that EASI and their Adfinity accounting software had already solved similar problems for other customers, so we were confident the solutions proposed were right for us.”
About daily wins en new benefits
Digitisation of the accounting process created many advantages for AVA from which the entire department benefits.
Charlotte, who is jointly responsible for the AP, sees three major advantages.
“First, there is digitisation in general. We have moved away from the paper flow. We can process incoming invoices in any format: by post like we were used to, PDF by mail, XML via PEPPOL... The OCR tool filters the necessary data, which results in very efficient and fast entries. The digital approval flow that follows is also very practical, we can simply use the web tool to add a person responsible, or someone who has to approve, refuse or comment on an invoice. Even months later, information on who has approved what and when – or is still in the process of approving – is available at a click.”
“In addition, we can now also send automatic payment advice to our suppliers. In the past, we always had to send payment details manually, but today we can automatically send suppliers detailed information including underlying invoices by email at the click of a button. To us, that is a new feature we are very pleased with.”
“And finally, I find the programme to be user-friendly. Everything is traceable, easy to find and above all, is stored in the system. You never have to search to find something and information is accessible to everyone, because you can keep clicking entries until you see the final document.”
Here too, we have made progress as a department, says Chris. “Together with EASI, we have managed to set up an interface between our sales package and Adfinity. All sales are now neatly read in Adfinity, including the payment lines for shop sales. Our interface then picks up the desired data for processing at a later stage.”
“In addition, the copy function within Adfinity is also useful for manual invoices within, for instance, our real estate company. This function allows us to draw them up very quickly and send them electronically.”
Chris is satisfied with the added value of many features within Adfinity. According to him, many tools contribute to high efficiency in closing, including the ability to set automatic distribution of certain cost centres, or – the opposite – the ability to copy entries and the ability to read complex entries from Excel.
An additional feature he considers worth mentioning is the fact that reminders can be sent both electronically and on paper. They store the documents via the document management module, in which they can later conveniently be consulted.
The processing of payment transactions was also under scrutiny, Chris says. “Processing bank transactions starts from the CODA (but also MT940) and Adfinity is now able to extract all data we will need to do the reconciliation later. Within retail, this is a very important given, since we accept large numbers of electronic payment transactions of different payment methods both online and in-store.”
Finally, the team also makes extensive use of the Webexpense so that employees can claim their expenses and use the Adflow application to read or archive certain documents.
Now that the company has tested the digitisation possibilities available with their accounting package, it has opened the way for further optimisation. There are still several things left for AVA to optimise in Adfinity, Chris says. “For instance, direct debits of customer invoices, offering bills of exchange, or POD automation.
Today, all AVA cost invoices have a digital track, but for the goods (part of their Accounts Payable process) there is no automatic IBM i link with Adfinity, Chris says. “Corona has thrown a spanner in the works, but soon we will set up automation within the Adfinity stand-alone OCR module to automatically compare these with the entered goods receipts, based on the read-out metadata of the invoices. This again will save a lot of manual work.”
Chris notes that many other software packages are based on a kind of ‘one fits all’ mentality, with a great deal of adaptation needed to make it suitable for the Belgian market. To him, the fact that Adfinity uses the Belgian market as a starting point, is an advantage. “In addition, it is a broad package with quite a few interesting features. Moreover, what has not been provided for can be built relatively easily, which is a serious advantage.”
Especially for companies with sufficient scale, Chris believes that with Adfinity, EASI offers a good package. “I would say that from the larger SMEs onwards, this program will serve you well. As a company, EASI is very open to feedback and provides input for its customers. It is nice to see that when something is not satisfactory, adjustments can be made quickly and changes can be made without impacting updates later.”