How to Automate and Enable Hybrid Accounting Teams in Dynamics GP (Video)

Modern finance departments have made the shift to hybrid work. Enabling individuals to effectively collaborate while working remotely is key to your success as a finance team. Find out how accounting and finance teams are embracing hybrid work to become more impactful than ever.

Watch this recorded session to learn:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on accounting departments
  • How to adapt to the new norm
  • How businesses have implemented hybrid work
  • The role of AP automation, plus a demo

Transcript below:

Sherry: Good afternoon and thank you for joining today’s webinar. My name is Sherry Bettencourt, and I am a customer service associate here at Encore Business Solutions. I’d like to start by thanking you for joining today’s how to automate and enable hybrid accounting teams in Dynamics GP webinar. Today, just a reminder that all attendees will be in listen-only mode. So if you have any questions that come out throughout today’s presentation, please just go ahead and type them into either the questions pane or the chat section of the GoToWebinar console, and we’ll be sure to leave some time at the end of today’s presentation to respond to your questions. Also to note, I will be recording today’s webinar so you can expect to receive a link to the recording in the coming days so that you can review or share today’s presentation with your colleagues. At this point, I’m gonna turn today’s webinar over to Dylan Hume from Beanworks. He is the channel development manager over there, and he’s going to take it from here. Thank you, Dylan.

Dylan: Thank you. And hi everyone. Welcome to the presentation today on how to automate and enable hybrid accounting teams. There you go. Okay. For the agenda today, we’re gonna focus on the impact and legacy that this pandemic has had on accounting teams. We’ll also look at how accounting teams are embracing the hybrid work and how AP automation enables new hybrid or remote work environment for these teams. And lastly, I’ll take you through a product demonstration to show you the high-level features that we have to offer here, then followed by a Q&A session at the end. So feel free to save those questions and Sherry will read them out for you once we get there.

Great. So let’s get started here and I’ll start with saying last March, after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus as a global pandemic, only 37% of businesses had the right technology in place for employees to conduct their critical business operations from home. So this meant that accounting teams across the globe were still relying on paper-based processes, such as managing paper invoices and cutting paper checks. And they had to make drastic changes to their traditional workflows. Prior to the start of the pandemic, many businesses were still resisting digital transformation, with many leaders wanting to still physically sign off on checks and keep their processes the way they were. However, by August of last year, businesses were forced to put an end to their paper-based systems with 72% of CFOs actually ranking cloud-based applications as their top priority.

According to another survey from the association for finance professionals, in the first 2 months of the pandemic, 65% of organizations had shifted from paper-based payments to electronic formats. So that was then, but the workplace, as the workplace restrictions started to ease, many companies are still opting to maintain a hybrid working approach as this is something that many employees are still looking for. So a survey conducted in May of last year found that 82% of respondents who worked from home during the pandemic have found the experience to be a positive one, while just 20% wanted to return to the office every day. And then 60% would like to return to a hybrid model, heading into the office for those collaborative experiences with their coworkers while still working part-time from home. The top three reasons for preferring to continue to work from home were the conveniences, saving money, and increased productivity they were experiencing. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of prioritizing mental health and wellbeing. Surveys have shown that working from home has helped employees balance their work responsibilities with their personal commitments. According to one survey, 73% of respondents felt that working from home has improved their work-life balance significantly, 77% of respondents believe that they were more productive while working from home as they were experiencing fewer interruptions, there was more time for them to focus and less time spent commuting to and from the office, which is a big one for me as well.

It was also found that 82% of accountants reported lower levels of stress compared to working from the office environment. So the opportunity to strike a healthier work-life balance and reduce the stress and anxiety is one of the key reasons why accountants and finance teams don’t wanna rush back to the office. So, Sherry, I’m gonna take a quick pause here for a poll. And the question we’re asking is what has been the biggest benefit for you from working remotely? And that could be saving money, saving time by not commuting, spending more time with the family, or reducing overall stress. And I’ve got another one here where…for people who just have remained in the office environment and haven’t been given that opportunity yet. And Sherry, I’ll let you take a moment here but…to read out what people have been experiencing.

Sherry: Okay. I’ll just give people a couple of minutes…or a couple of seconds here to vote. But so far we’re seeing saving time by not commuting as well as reduction in overall stress. So those seem to be the two.

Dylan: Yeah, I’m sure all might be relevant, but, yeah, it’s definitely the two that we’re hearing about most often. So perfect. Well, moving on, working from home does have several advantages, but we are seeing a lot of these disadvantages as well. And we understand that there’s two sides to the coin. Some of the downsides during the lockdown, of course, include dealing with distractions, such as young children. I’ll also hold my hand up for that one. And then also maybe even your partners, as you have limited workspace in your home, and then also missing those social interactions you normally get from that office environment. And these are from us all from a survey that we recently had conducted.

So 87% of those surveys said that the office is still important for collaboration with their team members and building those relationships that they’ve been working on. Yeah, even though the video conferencing tools have come a long way, nothing quite compares to being in the office with your colleagues to spark those game-changing initiatives that you’re working through. And it’s often much harder to whiteboard online, so…I know it’s possible though. That’s where the hybrid work model comes into play, which allows those employees the time to collaborate with their colleagues well, having that time to focus as well.

But optimizing the hybrid workplace requires the right technology to support the virtual collaboration and creativity, not to mention scheduling and visibility. Some of the most common SaaS tools that accounting teams have adopted during the time of the pandemic include Zoom, Slack, and Asana, and I’m sure a lot of those competing solutions in those spaces as well. But what about AP automation? Let’s talk more about that. Despite technological advances, accounts payable is still an extremely manual paper-based process in most offices and that means that the hybrid work situation is almost impossible, and let me explain why. At the start of the pandemic, 89% of small to medium-size businesses were still receiving paper invoices, which was problematic as the only way to retrieve those documents was to go into the office.

Many organizations were still cutting paper checks as well, and only 54% of those organizations actually were able to convert over to fully electronic payments. Finance teams also lost oversight into their spend and increased the danger of errors and fraud from occurring due to the manual processes that they had in place. In fact, 79% of companies have seen an increase in fraud activity at work since the beginning of the pandemic. If your processes aren’t set up for remote work, moving to a hybrid model is easily a challenge for an organization going in that direction.

So accounting teams that have adopted AP automation have been able to embrace hybrid working and become more impactful. A survey done shortly after the start of the pandemic found that 63% of firms that had AP automation in place felt they could handle the impact of COVID-19 quite well and felt that they had a seamless transition into remote work. With AP automation, accounting teams can access critical information from a centralized system in the cloud. They can manage AP processes like approving invoices or submitting expense reports through the web or a mobile app and making payments remotely. In simple terms, AP automation uses digital systems to reduce manual and repetitive tasks such as data entry and other fundamental tasks that were originally designed to be handled inside an office. An automated AP system digitizes the paper invoice, automates the approval workflow, puts the control of the approval workflow, and the rules in the hands of the accounting department, and allows for electronic payments to vendors in any currency anywhere. The best AP automation systems give you a 360-degree view into your accounts payable processes in one central platform. Ideally, it’s an end-to-end purchase to payment platform. That’s why Beanworks has four modules to help AP teams better manage payments…sorry, payables from end to end. And let’s take a look at what automating your AP means for each of those four AP processes.

Purchase orders can be generated digitally from anywhere and then matched automatically to the corresponding invoices. You can set up spending limits in advance to gain greater control over the process and automate approvals in the same place. Invoices can be processed up to nine times faster. You can simplify your audits and save time with digital invoice storage and retrieval, and reduce risk of fraud and errors with customized approval channels for the team. Then we brought payments, they’re gonna be much quicker, easier, and more secure with automation. You can set up a reliable and transparent approval process for vendor payments and easily look up the status of any payment at any time from anywhere. And the next, employee expenses can be…often be delayed and even fraudulent, but with the expense module built in, you can gain visibility into employee spend when employees are uploading the receipts in real-time and creating expense reports from anywhere with the mobile app or in the web browser. Beanworks AP automation helps AP teams focus on the three Rs of AP, reducing cost, reducing risk, and enabling remote work. Let’s dive into these.

One of the areas that automation really does help accounts payable is by reducing costs. By decreasing the amount of time spent on labor-intensive tasks, organizations with AP automation have saved anywhere from 60% to 80% of the cost associated with processing an invoice, with the average coming down to $3 or less per invoice. By generating digital audit trails, it’s easier for you to find and track every document and the approval channel that it went through. Flagging suspicious activities, such as duplicate payments is also there, gaining 100% visibility into approvals, who approved it, what they approved, when, and how long it took. And by enhancing visibility into employee expense spend this helps improve the compliance and reduces the risk of abuse and errors from taking place. And finally, AP automation helps your remote accounting team stay productive and access critical information from anywhere. Where your team…whether your team is in the office or working remotely, they can access the AP from a centralized [inaudible 00:14:52-00:14:57], make payments remotely and manage the AP process like approving invoices or submitting expense reports through the web or mobile app. There they are. Don’t just take my word for it though. Well, we’ll now look at one of our customers, Radisson Hotels, and how they’ve successfully used automation to help enable remote work. We started working with Radisson last year to help them transform their AP workflows. The AP teams at the hotels we’re still dealing with the paper-based processes for approving invoices, which was very time-consuming for them.

They were spending one-third of their day or three hours per day on AP-related tasks. But with part of their team working remotely, they urgently needed to have a quicker way of getting the invoices through their process and paid without relying on paper and manual data entry. The team was also keen to discover how that process could be made more cost-efficient and accurate, especially under the uncertain time for the hotel industry and the world in general. There was about 10 different approvers at the hotel, and delays were often caused by approvers being not around for the organization. So employees had to physically give their invoices to the accounting departments in order for them to pay those invoices. This became difficult and very impossible during the time when people were working remotely. It all ended up being…ended up to a lengthy and frustrating process for everyone, that it was very prone to errors. So that’s where Beanworks came in and we helped them automate their tedious and manual tasks. As a result of using Beanworks to automate their AP processes, the hotel was able to address a number of their number one priority of saving time on invoice approval process. Not only was the AP team able to reduce the time spent on managing invoice approvals by 90%, but they were also able to reduce cost and increase accuracy of the data that their accounting systems was pulling in. And it also cut down the time the department heads were spending on AP tasks by 50%.

They don’t have to now sign off and shuffle around paper in their office. And if they forget to approve, they have an app and a browser that reminds them directly through the Beanworks solution. It smoothed out the AP flow for their entire team, and now they have to…now that they’ve automated their AP, they’re now in a position where they can continue to work in a hybrid environment ongoing. We have the full case study for Radisson on our website as well, and it includes a great video as well from the team. So I recommend you jump on that as well, if you’re looking for more information. But at this point, I’m gonna jump over into a demo environment, which should be right here on screen.

So what you’re looking at here is the Beanworks AP automation solution. And as you can see, there…all of the four modules are right here within one interface. We have the expense, purchase orders, invoices, and payments modules. And that means you can manage your entire AP workflow across multiple entities, which would be showing up down in the organizational structure here. It’s all here in one screen, not having to jump into multiple tabs to do so, which is all gonna be fully integrated back into your Great Plains accounting system as well through a two-way sync that’s happening on the back end. So if we jump over here to purchase orders, we can also support your purchase order workflow, whether you are actually originating these within your accounting system, Great Plains, or if they’re generated here in Beanworks directly in our purchase order module. But I’m gonna jump past that, leave it for another day and we’ll jump straight to the invoice module.

So you’ll be able to upload your invoices directly into the system here in our Create tab. And that’s for the paper-based invoices that you will still be receiving. But most vendors have switched over to a digital process. So for invoices, you’re receiving digitally by email, you can actually set up electronic forwarding. So these invoices will flow automatically into our in-progress tab for immediate processing, which we’re in now. So once your invoices are waiting for you here in In-Progress, we can jump into one. And what we’ll have waiting for you is all of the header information, the invoice number, the dates, due dates, subtotals, totals, and taxes. The only thing that’s left for you to accomplish potentially is going to be the line items, but there’s multiple ways of getting that in for you as well. So if you have a PO process in place, we’ll be able to determine if that PO relates to an invoice and match it up directly right here, where you see the PO number.

And you’ll actually have a version of that purchase order as well, showing up right next to the invoice so you can view them side by side. And also once it has been matched, you can go ahead and click PO adoption here, which will automatically adopt all of the line items from that purchase order, which have already been approved by your organization. Once everything is in here, from that, you’ll be able to review it and submit it for approval. We also have at the top here as another method, a smart code functionality that remembers how invoices have been coded the previous time. So if you click that button, the system actually recognizes the coding from this vendor and populates those details accordingly as they were the previous. And you’ll be able to review them and submit this for approval. Either of those two methods are not [inaudible 00:21:51]. All of these GL codes you’re seeing here are pulling directly from your GP instance.

So you’re gonna be able to quickly either review or just use our wild card functionality to search for whatever code you’re looking for and it’ll pull up everything with the names that you start typing right into the screen so you can choose it accordingly. And once done, submitting it for approval is the next step. But there is a final way of getting the coding completed, and that’s gonna be our smart capture functionality, which is gonna give you…actually have the coding done for you when you log into the solution as we have our OCR functionality that can actually capture that for you. This is something we can take you through more detail in the future demonstration of the solution, but for now, I’d like to just leave you there and jump to the approvals process, which is the next step here at the top.

And you’ll see it’s all in a nice listing row for you, in our workflow so it’s gonna guide you through the process. So in approvals here, we are able to create robust workflows based on any data point of that invoice. So whether it’s the dollar amount, the vendors, the specific accounts, you name it, we are able to create unique workflows for your business to ensure that appropriate people within your company are included and are able to approve each invoice. They’ll be notified by email and those invoices will show up in their feed, which is what we’re seeing here, and they can access those here or in the mobile app, and it’ll be a very similar view into that invoice with all of the data that’s being coded. And they’re gonna approve or reject that. Approving it will jump it to the next step of the process, which is here in the Export tab.

For export, we can actually export these into Great Plains on a schedule, or you can leave them for someone to do on a weekly or daily basis by just selecting them and selecting the Export button action here. But at the end of the day, those are gonna flow directly into Great Plains and be archived here within our solution. There’s nothing here in this demo environment, but all of your invoices are gonna remain here for seven years, at least. And you’ll be able to search for any part of that invoice or payment or expense or purchase order by using our global search on the screen you’re in and they’ll all show up accordingly. And you can build very good reports for that, with all of the approval channels and backup documents that you’ve attached to each one.

Great. So the other modules I’m just gonna touch on. For payments, you’re gonna be able to create payments for all of the invoices that flow through the system here, right in the same platform, and once created, you’re gonna go through the In-Progress tab to make sure that you have all the appropriate fields selected such as the payment method. We support EFT, virtual checks, virtual credit cards, and wires. So pretty much anything you’re gonna need. And then we make sure everything else…you’re gonna make sure everything else looks good. You’re gonna send it over to the approvers. They’re gonna approve it. Then you get to release it to the vendors. And it’ll show up here in the Paid tab where you’re gonna export those back as a record into the accounting system, just like you did for the invoice module. So once you learn the workflow for the invoice module, it’s pretty much the same for the payments and the purchase orders, which makes training very fast and easy within our solution, as once you’ve learned one module, you’ve pretty much learned them all.

The last module I haven’t talked about yet is our expense module. So we’ve got this separate module here, which will allow your employees to snapshots of their expenses on their cell phone and upload them here to create expense reports right in Beanworks. And you can also speed up the reimbursement once they’re approved, as you can pay them right here within the same solution. And that’s gonna keep your employees happy as that’s often a pain point for employees of using their own credit cards. That about summarizes the whole module here within Beanworks or all modules. If you wanted to get a better demonstration at some point, we’re always ready and willing to jump on a call with you to show you more. So let me jump back into the slides here, and we can talk more about that.

So what I’m showing here is a picture of an Amazon gift card. What does that mean? We’d like to see you in the future if you’re interested. So if you use the link on the screen, you’ll actually be able to get credit for that gift card and book the demo at the same time. So please do so. If you don’t have time to write it down now, we’ll be sending it out in an email to you or at least Encore will. And you can also ask any of your Encore reps for that link as well. So thanks for attending our session today. If you have any questions, please contact your Encore rep or ask them right now in a Q&A, as I’m happy to spend a couple minutes here to go through those. I’m sure you have your reps’ email, but this is the one you can access all of them through, or you can send us the email directly and we’ll be happy to answer any questions as well. But at this point, I’m gonna pass it back to Sherry Bettencourt to see if we have any questions.

Sherry: Okay. Thank you, Dylan. That was a great presentation. We do actually have a couple of questions here. First one, how long does it take to get set up?

Dylan: Great question. Yeah, it’s not a very complicated process with Beanworks. We typically experience about 2 to 3 weeks or 15 business days for the complete implementation to take place. And that includes three meetings, which one would be the integration meeting with the Great Plains, just making sure we can sync appropriately. You don’t need a technical person per se on board, but that’s the first meeting. Then we do some configuration with you. And the final meeting is training. So it’s not a super long process.

Sherry: Okay. And the next question is which payment methods do you support?

Dylan: Yeah, good question. And, I briefly went over it, so thanks for letting me explain more, but we offer virtual tracks, so you can get away from having to sign in our platform and have those all processed automatically, shipped out and mailed without more than a click of a button. And then we support the virtual credit card, which is being accepted by more and more vendors and gives you cashback afterwards. And then we’ve got the virtual…sorry, EFT or ACH in the U.S., and wire, which is a worldwide option.

Sherry: Fantastic. Okay. That looks like it for today. And look at that, we’re finishing right on time, so we couldn’t have timed that better. All right. Well, thank you, everybody. And thank you, Dylan. And so again, you can watch for the link to today’s recording. It will show up in your inbox in the coming days. And please follow up with your Encore rep if you have any questions. Thank you everyone.

Dylan: Thanks again, everyone.

Sherry: All right.

Dylan: Bye now.

Sherry: Bye-bye.

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