For the Finnish government, the numbers really speak for themselves. Like many organisations, government offices had always used manual processes in its divisions which handle supplier invoices. But with 2 million supplier invoices handled each year, the expense and delays attached to the manual system handling were becoming unacceptably high.
"Because we were handling things manually, some invoices were paid late, and were sometimes lost on peoples' desks," said Jere Reinikainen, Project Manager for the Finnish State Treasury. "We also did an analysis and discovered it was taking us 1000 man-hours to process invoices manually, and it cost us around EUR30 per invoice. We had to move away from this manual system because it was so expensive."
After considering its options, the State Treasury chose SoftCo's Accounts Payable solution as the basis for its new electronic invoice handling and archiving system. Working with the Nordic system integrators WMdata, the Finnish government began rolling out SoftCo AP to its accounting offices, and Jere says the benefits were evident almost immediately.
"We found it was so much easier to do invoice processing and analysis," he recalls. "Before, we had no information about where invoices were in our system. It's now so easy to see what invoices we have and what is happening to them. Also, nothing is paid unless it is in the system."
According to Jere, SoftCo has significantly cut the expense of the invoice handling for the government.
"We did an analysis in three of our state accounting offices, and we found that the cost for processing an invoice has dropped from EUR30 to EUR10 per invoice with SoftCo AP," said Jere. He says that the reaction from employees has also been uniformly positive.
"SoftCo AP is a good system for us - it's really easy to use. The fact is, manual processes were not efficient but they were easy," he says. "The new system that we put in had to be easy for people, or they would not use it very enthusiastically. The system also had to be fast and responsive, and it is - users aren't sitting there waiting for a response."
He notes that SoftCo's compatibility with a wide range of financial packages is also a big benefit to the government. Use of the system has now expanded beyond the accounts payable function to a number of different areas related to financial administration. Most monthly reports, for example, are stored using the SoftCo archive. "The archive is a very important feature for us, and in future we believe it will probably become the most important feature we use," he says.
The government of Finland is now examining how SoftCo's P2P solution could be used even more widely across other areas of financial administration. "We're trying to see, are there functions that they all have in common that we could use SoftCo's solutions for?" Jere says. "We're sure there are many other parts of the government that could benefit from using SoftCo's document management and workflow solutions, and that's what we're looking to do."
Jere Reinikainen Project Manager, Finnish State Treasury