Home News & Insights Evolving Technology with AP Automation

Evolving Technology with AP Automation

Evolve Education has undergone massive growth since launching in 2014 – acquiring more than 100 early childhood centres throughout New Zealand in its first year. Thanks to a clever solution delivered by Sharp, Evolve has been able to effortlessly manage the growing demands of its accounts payable function.

Evolve Education now employs more than 2,000 people – as well as delivering early education to thousands of young New Zealanders. The company first listed on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchange in December 2014 after acquiring two well-known businesses, Lollipops Educare and PORSE. By the end of 2015, they had acquired over 100 ECE centres in New Zealand, and two additional home-based childcare businesses. Evolve now has a central support office, based in downtown Auckland, which provides operational support to all centres around the country. 

Vivek Singh, Chief Financial Officer for Evolve, explains how the Sharp solution came about. “Lollipops was already a Sharp client, using their Multi- Functional Device (MFD) solutions. So when Sharp discovered we were looking for an AP solution, they were proactive about introducing us to Sharp AP.”

Vivek was already familiar with the benefits of automated Accounts Payable Solutions and knew it would prove valuable in their fast-growing business. “The beauty of an automated solution like Sharp AP is the efficiencies of scale,” he says. “As we’ve acquired more centres, Sharp AP has allowed us to grow our accounts payable function – without having to add more people to our existing AP team.”

About Sharp AP

Sharp AP is a cloud-based invoice collection and processing engine; supported by a quality assurance(QA) outsourcing service. Sharp AP, is designed for companies that process more than 600 AP invoices each month. It is particularly suited to organisations, like Evolve, that have a network of offices or centres. As a cloud-based system, Sharp AP can be easily integrated with the organisation’s existing Accounts Payable or ERP systems.

Multiple efficiencies

Vivek Singh believes accounts payable is a prime candidate for automation – as it reduces paperwork, achieves workflow efficiencies, and drives out unnecessary time and cost. “We want to automate any process which bogs down our team members doing repetitive manual tasks that don’t add value. Automation technology like PlusOne takes the drudgery out of AP.” He says Sharp AP’s success has been clearly proven by the way it easily absorbs any additional workload, as new centres have come on board.

“The past 12 months has been a massive period of acquisition and integration for us. Yet we haven’t had to increase our AP team at all as we acquire more centres. Cost of processing is dramatically reduced. And the bigger you are, the better the effect on your costs.” Vivek Singh says it also improves the level of job satisfaction for existing team members. “Staff are more enthused because they’re not doing repetitive tasks, and can instead focus on more value-added work.”

Intelligent workflow

As every invoice is received by an Evolve centre, paper invoices are scanned into their office’s MFD and electronic invoices can be emailed directly into the system. Sharp AP’s intelligent workflow then takes over. Invoices pass through a data recognition and capture process to turn them into electronic records in an aggregated database.

To validate each invoice, the system automatically applies Evolve’s pre-set business rules. Only true exceptions or queries are referred back to the accounts payable team for review. In addition, all invoices are routed through the appropriate approval channels, with pre-allocated authority limits for nominated individuals. Vivek Singh says this not only saves a massive amount of time, it also improves accuracy and internal controls.

“The system has its own checks and balances that will alert us to any errors. It also ensures the correct authority levels are maintained.” Another benefit is that Sharp AP also provides efficient reporting – whether it’s on the number of invoices being processed, awaiting approval, accruals and age reports.

Proactive service

Vivek Singh has been impressed by the proactive approach of Sharp from day one. Given that Evolve was scaling up its business so rapidly, they were looking for a supplier that was equally dynamic.

“As soon as Sharp found out I was thinking about scanning, they got on to it straight away. It showed me they were proactive, and could be really responsive in supporting us.” The implementation of Sharp AP had to be done quickly – and without any complications or delays. “The implementation was quite time-challenged. We listed on December 5th, and by March 31st we had already acquired 86 centres. We started the implementation project with Sharp a month before we acquired our first centres, so we could hit the ground running.”

Continued growth

Vivek Singh has also been impressed with Sharp’s continued support, as Evolve continues to grow. “When we acquire new centres, we often find that Sharp is already the existing service provider. But if they are not, they can still easily integrate Sharp AP to another provider’s machine.” “We’ve certainly been very happy with Sharp’s level of service, and their whole approach.”

 

To find out more about PlusOne, and how it can help your organisation, contact the Sharp Business Solutions team on

0800 501 201

Seamus O'Dare is Sharp's Marketing Coordinator. Originally from Northern Ireland, he has enjoyed travelling the world and developing a passion for digital marketing and content creation.