You’d be hard-pressed to find a more paper-laden function than accounts payable. Receipts, invoices, check requests, purchase orders, contracts, and more keep A/P personnel knee-deep in forms and documentation.
Loyola University Chicago’s accounts payable staff processes about 50,000 transactions among its three campuses annually—and 80 percent of them involved hard-copy documents. In many cases, A/P was not the final stop on the trail for this paperwork, and lost items were common, leading to processing delays and dissatisfaction among stakeholders.
“We took it all in and did what we could with the systems we had,” says Brian Slavinskas, assistant controller and director of disbursement services. “As time went on and our volumes and staff size increased, it became more apparent we needed to find a better solution to manage the paper and manage the relationships we had with departments.”
Slavinskas got his chance four years ago, when he was tapped to serve on a needs assessment committee. He and colleagues from such areas as enrollment management, information technology, and the registrar’s office concluded that document imaging and management was the way to go. After months of wading through RFPs, listening to vendor pitches, and going on site visits, the committee opted for Optical Image Technology’s DocFinity ECM system.
DocFinity has been a boon for accounts payable at Loyola. The system’s ability to integrate with multiple applications has allowed A/P to store electronic versions of procurement card documentation and move them smoothly throughout the institution. And the department uses it to process about 50,000 expense reimbursements, purchase order invoices, check requests, vendor certification documentation, unclaimed property documentation, memos, and returns each year.
“DocFinity really gave us the solution we were looking for,” Slavinskas says.
Average check release time has fallen from 12 days to five, and other turnaround times have been cut by 40 percent, since A/P can access supporting documentation instantly. DocFinity has even improved Slavinskas’ email inbox, with inquiries dropping from 200 per day to 40.
“Relationships have improved,” he says. “Can you put a dollar figure on that? Not necessarily. We know we have business partners out there and ... we want to make sure we’re keeping them happy.”
In addition to increasing efficiencies and improving relationships, Slavinskas says, implementing DocFinity has had the benefit of boosting teamwork. The cross-functional team that chose the new system inspired him to involve everyone in his department when the time came to roll it out. The shared decision making, he says, helped foster “a new level of morale.”
“The purpose of the technology is not to make things easier, per se,” Slavinskas says. “What we’re really trying to do is create better processes so that the teachers and students can spend their time doing what they do best. We wanted to take out the worry of, ‘Hey, is that bill going to get paid? Are we going to get our materials in time?’”