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The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is the UK’s leading qualification and professional membership body for accounting technicians.
Based in London, AAT has over 135,000 members in more than 90 countries. It awards vocational qualifications for accounting and finance and is backed by more than 600 approved training providers worldwide. AAT employs over 260 staff and has a turnover of over £28 million.
Using email for paperless document delivery has many advantages. But what happens when you are told an overdue invoice hasn’t been received? Like many companies, the Association of Accounting Technicians spent too much time chasing undelivered invoices.
Thanks to a new solution, it now knows when its invoices are received and has reduced the chances of being paid late or not at all.
AAT uses Microsoft CRM as its membership system. This passes customer and sales order data to its accounting package, Microsoft Dynamics AX. AX produces invoices for memberships, assessment fees and other charges for both individual members and training providers.
The key to introducing paperless invoicing is PrecisionForms, a document management solution designed for Microsoft Dynamics by Bottomline Technologies. PrecisionForms uses a pre-built connector that converts data from the Microsoft Dynamics database into XML files. These are then rendered into invoices, statements or remittance advice.
Using PrecisionForms, AAT can create or change its financial document templates without technical expertise. The high-quality branded PDFs created by PrecisionForms were initially attached to standard emails and sent from AAT’s email server. Mark Merfield, Working Capital Manager, says there were some time-consuming problems.
“I wanted to know what was going out, how we could monitor it and how I could reduce the workload and maximise the time the credit control team spent chasing debt,” says Merfield.
AAT had previously implemented PrecisionForms followed by the PTX platform for Bacs payments and Direct Debits two years later. Would it be possible to find something that met all the objectives? The document automation module, PTX Connect solved the challenge.
The implementation proved very straightforward. Once PTX Connect had been set up as a test environment (which took less than one day), an afternoon’s hands-on user training followed.
No changes to the document layouts and emails were necessary. A series of batch jobs in Microsoft Dynamics produces XML data files for invoices, credit notes, statements and supplier remittance advices. Once received from PrecisionForms, PTX Connect emails them out straightaway. “We send in the region of 1,000 documents a month, and it’s now possible to track each document and easily spot exceptions by looking at PTX Connect,” s ays Merfield.
Batch runs sent out are grouped by date with easy access to the details. “If an email fails, the email address within PTX Connect can be updated and simply resubmitted. PTX Connect is a joy to work with.”
Instead of sending the documents as email attachments each document is saved online and shared with customers using a unique and secure link. Clicking this link enables customers to view or download the document from any device. PTX Connect records these interactions to give AAT insight it never had before.
“Bottomline found on average that if its customers don’t open or download an invoice within 10 days then they probably won’t. We found something very similar,” says Merfield. “So 15 days after doing an invoice run we will revisit to see who has downloaded and who hasn’t. If necessary we then follow up.”
The audit trails recorded by PTX Connect also help in customer conversations. AAT can now provide evidence that its customers have received, printed or downloaded documents which removes one excuse for non-payment. This helps support more effective credit control and has saved over one day per month compared to the old method.
AAT continually reviews its systems to help modernise and drive down costs. They are currently reimplementing the Microsoft Dynamics AX system and long term they may eventually move to Dynamics 365. As PTX is fully deployable in the cloud and integrates with Dynamics 365, AAT is well prepared for the future.
Cash is the lifeblood of any organisation and businesses of all sizes rely on generating positive cashflow. Almost all companies face late payments challenges and it is estimated that small businesses alone are owed more than £250 billion in late payments (Zurich Insurance Group).
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