International Finance Automation for a Global Manufacturer
Smartbridge automated four accounting processes for this global manufacturer. By streamlining these international financial processes, manual errors have been predominantly reduced, and 2,560 hours annually have been reallocated to the accounting and customer service teams to perform other higher-value tasks.
Bots in Production
The client is a global medical device manufacturing company that creates breakthrough treatments to improve the quality of life for patients affected by many conditions related to the head and heart. They operate in multiple countries across the world, employ over 20,000 employees, and are a pioneer in the medical device technology sector.
Our client wanted to expand their organizational automation adoption and leverage robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities to streamline some of their global financial activities and reporting. The objective of these finance automations include:
Reduce users’ time spent on manual, tedious processes for key financial and out-of-period sales reporting
Improve accuracy for data entry, invoice approval, and out of period sales reporting
Smartbridge has extensive experience in automation implementations
The client’s finance and accounting team manually execute business processes in their ERP to meet the internal accounting requirements, external reporting obligations, and international government compliance measures. The tasks are extremely repetitive and require the end users to extract data from multiple systems, lookup data from external sources, and reconcile invoices to meet the transactional and control requirements. The processes are executed by ten team members around the world on a monthly basis.
The Smartbridge Solution
Smartbridge’s automation experts worked closely with the client’s internal accounting team to review the current business processes and streamlined them with RPA where possible. The following international financial processes were automated end-to-end using UiPath:
Process: This process involves creating intercompany invoices to split the expenses to different entities for the services provided by common vendors and intercompany departments. In the current state, more than 200 hundred invoices are created from 25 companies across the world monthly.
Automation: Smartbridge designed a standardized automated process for each company to create the required invoices for the other business units within the organization. For the intercompany recharges, the automation runs the process end-end to validate the data, create the required intercompany recharge invoices, and then routes them for approval and posting. After the intercompany recharge invoices are posted, a detailed transaction summary is sent out to the designated resource for each business unit.
Results: The intercompany automation resulted in creating accurate invoices for all the companies and saved over 480 hours annually for the users to work on other high-value activities.
2. Invoice Approval Routing
Process: Every month the customer receives over 1,000 invoices from different vendors for their respective products and services. In the current process, the accounting team reviews each invoice to validate the data then routes it to the appropriate approver based on the cost center and amount. The current process is cumbersome and time consuming to validate and select the proper approver based on the complexity of different business rules. This is causing the invoices to be routed to the wrong individual, resulting in delays to process the invoice.
Automation: The invoice approval automation segregates the incoming invoices based on purchasing type then disperses them to the designated approver. The automation uses multiple cross references to identify the proper approver based on the cost center associated to the purchase order, the total amount of the invoice, and the seniority level of the individual. The bot assigns the approver and routes the invoice to the respective approver for further processing. A detailed transactions summary is sent to the accounting team to audit and track the next steps for the invoices.
Results: Before the users begin their workday, the automation runs to streamline the invoice approval routing process. This invoice approval routing automation improved the accuracy of selecting the correct individual and the total time taken to process each invoice. This automation is saving the accounting team over 1,200 hours annually to focus on more strategic tasks.
3. Out of Period Sales Reporting
Process: The 5-member finance team reviews over 5,000 sales orders at the end of every month to record them in the correct period based on their delivery date. The time-consuming process is very manual in finding the delivery partners websites to track the order and record the proof it was delivered. This process is essential for completing the month end process to close the period and takes roughly 400 hours annually to complete.
Automation: The out-of-period sales reporting automation solution runs daily at the end of each period to gather all sales orders that were not delivered in the month. The automation pulls all of the tracking information, records the proof of delivery from the partners’ tracking sites, and uploads it into their ERP system. This bot is designed to run every day at the end of the current period and a few days into the new period to process all the sales orders created in the period. The automation builds a summary report for the accounting team with the calculated sales amounts to be delivered after the period end from different plants. The summary report is used by the accounting team to record the sales in the right period.
Results: With the out of period sales reporting automation in place, the team is saving 400 hours annually to focus on improving customer experiences.
4.EU Intrastat Reporting
Process: Since the medical device manufacturer is headquartered in Europe and conducts business globally, they must meet the EU’s reporting requirements to account for the movement of goods between countries. This enables the USA government and the EU to track trade between countries for compliance purposes. They run this process in their ERP system to gather all the data needed to generate the Intrastat report for each country.
Automation: The Intrastat reporting automation creates the respective files for each country to submit to the government. The automation carries out the required processes in their ERP system to gather all of the monthly order information, reconcile the data, and summarize the amounts in a formatted template to submit to the EU.
Results: With the EU Intrastat reporting automation in place, the finance team is able to reallocate 480 hours annually for more strategic tasks.
International Finance Automations: Success By the Numbers
hours reallocated annually
Success Through a Modernized Implementation
Smartbridge delivered four robust financial automations for the handling of the global manufacturer’s invoices and reporting processes. These automations provided help to our client in the following ways:
Run the processes on time, daily, or at the end of the period, shortening the period close timeline
Maintain the accuracy of the transactions generated in the ERP system
Assign the proper approver for all invoices
Provide detailed transaction summaries for future audit purposes
Free up the finance and customer services teams to perform other strategic work
The finance team is a critical piece of the client’s framework and plays an integral part in the manufacturer’s overall success. The time saved by the automations allows the finance team to work on more strategic tasks such as complex financial reconciliations and reporting needs. The initial automation success helped the client to realize the true potential of RPA, and they have embarked on automaton adoption for more processes to gain greater organizational efficiencies while continually improving employee and customer satisfaction.