Process Management System Speeds Invoicing

By Brandon Weiss

AEG Worldwide, a leading sports and entertainment presenter, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Co. AEG owns, controls or is affiliated with a collection of companies, including more than 100 major facilities, such as The O2 Arena (London), the Sprint Center (Kansas City, Mo.) and the Staples Center (Los Angeles).

Since it was founded just over a decade ago, AEG has grown exponentially. Today, our company has more than 100 defined legal entities located across six time zones, dealing with nine different fiscal periods.

Within the United States, we process 250,000 to 300,000 invoices per year. Each invoice averages between three and four pages, resulting in more than a million individual pages per year, all of which—in the past—needed to be properly processed, filed in the office by local staff or stored at a paid off-site storage facility, and tagged for later retrieval.

Processing this quantity of paper manually posed significant challenges. Since invoices were frequently in transit between offices for approvals, sitting on someone’s desk awaiting review or filed away in a drawer, this often resulted in invoices being paid past their due date. Additionally, documents could not be readily retrieved during an audit, since they had to be located and physically shipped from an off-site storage facility.

We needed to move away from the manual processing model, instead implementing a scalable solution to ensure that our accounts payable process was both efficient and secure—and capable of expanding to additional branches and locations over time.

Our team realized that AEG’s accounts payable system required an overhaul. To solve these challenges and further our sustainability initiative, we chose process and content management technology from Perceptive Software to complement our existing Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system.

Perceptive Content captures our invoices electronically and stores them on a central server. They are then indexed with document keys, so they can be easily searched and retrieved with a few mouse clicks. Our accounts payable staff members input invoice data into the system, and staff members can access those invoices from anywhere via the Web. They can approve invoices even when they’re on the road—an enormous time-saver.

In the past, invoices that exceeded certain dollar amounts or met other criteria were approved locally, physically shipped to our corporate office for executive approval and then sent back to the originating office. There was a lot of back-and-forth work, and the chances for misplacing documents increased at each step in the process. Now, all levels of approval are done electronically, saving time and eliminating mailing costs.

Scalability was also a key consideration. The Perceptive Content solution that was designed for our first division continues to work well in each division that we’ve implemented it in. In fact, our parent company will be utilizing our solution in the near future, and that will bring another 100,000 to 150,000 documents per year through the system.

Savings associated with implementing this system are substantial. We can now pay our vendors approximately 60 percent faster than we could before. Perceptive has enabled us to eliminate late fees and take advantage of early payment discounts, which has led to a rapid ROI.

Additionally, a financial audit used to be an exhaustive process. Auditors would request a sample of documents, and our staff would have to request the document from an off-site storage facility and then wait for these documents to arrive.

The new system has transformed this process. For our first audit with Perceptive Content, we gave the auditors view-only online access so they could look at the required documents without taking our team’s time. Each step in the process is tracked and is visible from the time the vendor submits the invoice.

Going forward, we expect to see an even greater ROI as we roll out the system to more of our offices internationally. In 2014, AEG’s branches in Great Britain will migrate to this new platform, and we’ll likely begin transitioning our legal department in the United States to it for improved contract management and storage.

We offer additional details on how we reduced our payment cycle in a free Webinar.

Brandon Weiss is senior director, financial systems and process improvement, at AEG Worldwide.