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Invoice processing streamlined and enhanced

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Xstrata Alloys has significantly streamlined and enhanced their invoice processing and management by acquiring Kofax Capture, the leading provider of intelligent capture and exchange solutions, locally distributed and supported by IT solutions specialist, Bateleur Software.

Xstrata Alloys is the world's largest producer of ferrochrome, is a leading producer of primary vanadium and has a growing platinum group metals business. Xstrata Alloys also owns carbon and anthracite operations which supply key raw materials to its ferrochrome production operations and is one of five highly autonomous global commodity businesses owned by Swiss based Xstrata plc, the fifth largest diversified metals and mining company in the world.
Xstrata Alloys' operations are located across the mineral-rich Bushveld Complex of South Africa's North West and Mpumalanga provinces, where it employs over 12,300 people including contractors.
"Xstrata Alloys includes 17 operations with approximately 1 000 invoices needing to be processed every day," explained the manager of Shared Services, Melanie Dawson.
"Prior to our SAP implementation, we had no imaging solution available and performed all AP invoice matching manually, investing immense time in the process. Our AP was decentralised, not electronic, and inefficient.
"Along with SAP, we acquired the Kofax solution to enable decentralised scanning of invoices and facilitate image attachments in SAP, and then we expanded the scanning solution to include HR related documents."
Kofax Capture (formerly known as Ascent Capture) accelerates business processes by collecting documents and forms, transforming them into accurate, retrievable information, and delivering it all into business applications and databases.
"The imaging solution was flexible," says Dawson, "and could be configured to fit into our document handling solution to recognise other types of documents as well.
"It allowed for decentralised scanning at the different operations but with a central database from where Shared Services could manage the software licenses and upgrades and validate and workflow the documents.
"Xstrata Alloys can see the benefits with the relatively easy scanning process, audit trial of documents received, data extraction reliability being acceptable and all invoice images being linked to the SAP transactions."
NokusaEI, a specialist document management consulting partner of SAP, implemented and support the SAP document management solutions running at Xstrata Alloys. Bateleur Software has been working with NokusaEI at Xstrata Alloys for the last six months providing solutions through the Kofax intelligent capture software designed to help companies automate business processes. "Kofax enables your business to run more efficiently, accurately and profitably," explains Bateleur technical solutions specialist, Moeketsi Motloung.
"Every organisation has its own specific business processes and industry regulations. That is why intelligent capture and exchange solutions from Kofax adapt to the unique needs of each organisation to enhance and accelerate its document-driven business processes: from claims processing for an insurance company, to proof-of-delivery for a logistics firm, to new account opening for a bank, to case management for a government agency, to invoice processing for almost any organisation.
"Kofax will decrease the cost, time and effort required to capture and validate invoices in order to provide process ready data to the SAP financial application," says Motloung.
Three advanced transformation technologies drive the software: Virtual Rescan (VRS); Kofax Capture; and Xtrata Pro. VRS dramatically increases the optical character recognition (OCR) read rate with improvements of 60% and more. Dot matrix text is enhanced, document orientation is corrected, image file size is reduced, even coffee stains are understood and eliminated, resulting in challenging originals being greatly improved.
Kofax Capture's main focus is on all that cluttering paperwork that needs to be captured quickly and accurately in a digital format, but the information can come in any format from digital images, e-documents, web/XML, voice/sms, faxes or e-mail. Compatible with scanners and other capture devices, as well as content and document management systems, workflow applications and databases, Kofax Capture consistently delivers powerful data capturing capabilities and production-level documents, with indexing and validation of all your important information.
Xtrata Pro enhances the power of Kofax Capture by adding comprehensive document classification and data extraction capabilities. It automates document processing functions previously done manually, cutting costs while speeding the flow and improving the accuracy of information throughout an organisation. Xtrata Pro learns by example for rapid setup on key fields and can be processed in any language.
"Kofax is good value for money," said Dawson, "and can accommodate Xstrata Alloys as we evolve and progress. The switchover went live from April and so far for April to July, 7 750 invoices have been scanned, extracted and matched 3-way without any manual human intervention."
Dawson explains Xstrata's invoice stream: "Our invoices are scanned via Kofax at the different geographically dispersed operations and at the Shared Services Centre. An automated response is then returned to the sender after invoice validation to list the documents received in the batch.
Invoice validation is used to ensure SARS compliance of the invoices before matching for payment and then the system will attempt a the-way match in SAP. If the purchase order, goods receipt/service entry and the invoice matches perfectly, the invoice will be posted directly in SAP and be ready for payment release when due.
"The entire process is called "lights-out-matching" because in a perfect instance the only human intervention since invoice scanning is the data validation of the invoice information extracted by Kofax. We have also developed a query handling solution in SAP/DMS to handle the mismatched invoices via workflow."
"Kofax is easy to learn, easy to deploy and simple to maintain," adds Moeketsi. "It provides a single solution for all documents which integrates seamlessly with other Workflow and Content Management Applications. The software offers full multi-language support and is completely customisable, flexible and scalable for growth.
"Kofax Capture features several new benefits that are vital to business-critical applications in enterprise environments, including a 'disaster recovery' function, and the software can be tailored to support precise business processes with dozens of plug-and-play modules – from automated document separation, to postal mail scanning, to automatic classification of unstructured documents and powerful forms-processing tools that extract information from even the most difficult documents.
"Kofax is an award-winning total capture solution that will provide a verifiable return on investment," concluded Moeketsi.
Bateleur Software and Kofax are currently working hand-in-hand to design a specifically South African knowledge base for the software, and Bateleur Software is further interested in expanding Kofax to other Xstrata concerns.