The journey towards automation
In 2018, the Financial Excellence team at the iconic Danish luxury audio company, Bang & Olufsen, did an end-to-end assessment of their invoice handling system. This was step one on their journey from traditional manual processes and tools to a more agile and automated approach. It was also part of the company’s overall asset light transformation to streamline all areas of the almost 100-year-old business in order to focus on their core competencies of innovative product development and design.
Inefficient, time-consuming, and resource-heavy workflows meant they were in the market for a smarter solution for invoice registration. Their solution at the time could read some information, but the rest had to be manually scanned or entered into their ERP system, SAP. This also increased the risk of human error due to, e.g., duplicate invoices or the immense complexity of numerous languages, currencies, VAT codes, etc.
The company went with long-term partner NTT DATA’s solution MAKIRA Capture – after a business case showed significant time and cost-saving potential. In addition to being much more automatic, a key factor was the solution’s scalability and the fact that they would no longer have to host, maintain, and pay license fees for their solution.
We got the most value for money with MAKIRA Capture It was simply the most cost-effective solution, plus its scalable variable cost structure gives us full flexibility and transparency, says Nickolaj Almskou Holler, Director of Financial Excellence & Tax.
Optimized flow, costs, and purpose
Today, approximately 40,000 invoices go through Bang & Olufsen’s MAKIRA Capture every year. Sent to a no-reply email inbox directly linked to MAKIRA Capture, it scans, reads, and interprets each invoice before automatically exporting it into SAP for accounting and payment. Around 95% go through without any manual handling. If an invoice does not match the predefined data, it is automatically sent to NTT DATA’s service center to establish the cause, e.g., changes in a supplier’s invoice layout or wrong currency – before sending it back into the flow.
Automating invoice handling has resulted in a number of benefits for Bang & Olufsen. Thanks to the built-in screening in MAKIRA Capture, the error rate from, e.g., duplicate invoices, has gone down considerably ensuring both compliance and cashflow so that they avoid double payments. Plus, in addition to reducing the cost per invoice, it has freed up both time and resources that are now used for value-adding optimization of other processes and functions – also giving Nickolaj Almskou Holler’s team a better sense of purpose.
According to him, both the implementation and ongoing cooperation with NTT DATA has been more than satisfactory and allowed them to react quickly:
Collaborations shouldn’t be assessed on whether complications happen – because they will. It’s about how you deal with them. The proactive mentality, continuous adjustments, and healthy sense of curiosity on both sides makes this a great partnership.
A launchpad for further automation
Bang & Olufsen is currently examining how to get even more value out of MAKIRA Capture. Here, the modularity of NTT DATA’s solution is a great advantage as opposed to a fully customized one. Already today, Bang & Olufsen also use MAKIRA Approve ensuring an efficient approval workflow centered around pre-approved PO numbers. And according to Nickolaj Almskou Holler, there is a quantum leap ahead for his team as they look into also automating the subsequent processes, including exploring an AI approach.
To become best-in-class, you have to surround yourself with partners that share your ambitions and are closer to the technological development. And our chances of getting to where we need to be 5-10 years from now are much better with a long-term partner.