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Technology transfer between research and industry is the core business of research and development service provider GWT-TUD GmbH. To do so, GWT manages projects running in a network of around 500 scientists and 1600 industry customers in 30 countries. In order to facilitate accounting across all cost centers, Konica Minolta took the initial step of integrating an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system in over 50 workplaces.
Many individual projects and accounts are the result of project coordination, which GWT performs as the link between research scientists and industry partners. For that reason, the number of incoming invoices is very high, as detailed by GWT Company Controller Steffen Groß: "We receive between 100 and 200 invoices a day in Dresden and the two other locations in Berlin and Chemnitz. They have to be assigned to the correct projects and accounts and processed efficiently."
However, prior to installing the new solution, there was a serious lack of efficiency. Although accounts were assigned using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, the preceding invoice processing steps were still paper-based. With particular focus on digitalizing the receipt and dispatch of invoices, the GWT management were searching for, as Groß put it, a "state-of-the-art system for processing documents". In addition to accelerated and reliable invoice processing, another objective of the project was to integrate external cost center managers in document-based project processes via a web portal.
It was essential that the new document management system offered an appropriate interface for the ERP software in use, Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Furthermore, GWT felt it was important to achieve a good price-performance ratio, as well as to find a reliable and trustworthy partner for the project.
"To set the ball rolling, myself, the IT administrator responsible and the Accounting department created a requirements specification, which primarily specified the file and storage structure, as well as the file types, and envisaged the setup of the interface to Microsoft Dynamics NAV," explained Groß, who led the project. "Together with the specialists at Konica Minolta, we finally developed a workflow which improved invoice processing considerably."
Following implementation of this process, employees now provide invoices with a barcode and record them on a multifunctional system by scanning them digitally. For this purpose, there are scanning facilities available at the branch offices in Chemnitz and Berlin. "The recorded invoices are detected immediately in the system at the central Accounting department and can be edited without the invoices physically having to be present," explains Groß, who is delighted with this initial time saving.
When processing invoices, employees are displayed a list of projects in an account allocation screen, which they simply have to select. The account allocation uses appropriate pre-selection options to substantially reduce potential sources of error. Work processes involving outgoing invoices have also become noticeably faster, as invoices are now printed using the ERP software and stored directly in the document management system.
After a project lasting almost nine months, which included a three-month decision process, Steffen Groß can now report on numerous advantages arising from digital invoice processing: "Overall, the quality of invoice processing has been improved, as less information is lost and options such as accounts and cost objects are now shown. Controllers and auditors can easily perform analyses which could be extended even further. Thanks to clear, digital storage we also know which invoices are in circulation, as well as many other pieces of information." In addition, the full-text search makes it easy to retrieve invoices and provides excellent search options.
According to Groß, the digital invoice processing workflow has already resulted in "better quality and faster processing cycles". He considers an extension of the solution in cooperation with Konica Minolta highly likely in future. The first step would be to allow the external cost center managers not only to view accounting entries, but also to read documents which relate to these accounting entries.
To design more efficient processing of incoming and outgoing invoices
A scalable Enterprise Content Management system with direct ERP connection
Rapid and clear invoice processing with analysis functions and considerable time savings as a result, standardized storage in a read-only archive