“We knew we had a problem, but we didn’t see a good solution,” said Fenstermaker Chief Financial Officer Dan Lavergne. He was referring to the 25-inch-high stack of draft invoices and supporting documentation his accounting staff would process twice a month for project managers to review.
“We send out about 1,600 invoices a month. The review process had gotten so complex that we started using different colored paper for draft invoices: pink for January, green for March,” Lavergne said. “We’d sort the big stack by project manager and ship the packets FedEx® to them around the country. The paper and logistics were becoming unmanageable.”
Client invoicing wasn’t Fenstermaker’s only concern. “We had grown quite a bit since first installing Deltek Vision® in 1999 — adding locations, jumping from 100 to 300 employees,” Lavergne said. “We were patching our ERP system to make it work, but we’d done so many patches we’d just about come back to meet ourselves,” he cleverly remarked. So the firm asked EleVia Software to analyze its use of Deltek Vision and work processes.
An easy solution
“EleVia’s consultants came in and showed us how to do things easier,” Lavergne said, “including how to simplify and speed the client invoicing process with EleVia Electronic Invoicing.” EleVia Software’s add-on product for Deltek Vision allows project managers to review draft invoices electronically, along with supporting documentation, and easily mark-up the invoices with built-in notation tools.
“Our unbilled amounts were down, despite a 30% increase in revenue. And we didn’t have to add accounting staff with the growth.
”“With the automated system, there’s no more paper or FedEx shipments,” Lavergne said. “Project managers get an email on Wednesdays letting them know their draft invoices are ready to review. They pull up a screen, mark up the invoices and send them back to accounting. It’s much easier,” he said.
Lavergne credits EleVia Electronic Invoicing for lowering Fenstermaker’s unbilled amounts, despite a 30% increase in revenue the past year. “There’s a ripple effect of benefits,” he said. “If your unbilled is down, it means you’re not having to borrow on your line of credit and your receivables jump, which helps cash flow.” As an added benefit, “we didn’t have to add accounting staff with the growth,” he said.
One of Lavergne’s favorite features of EleVia Electronic Invoicing is the ability for project managers to sort their invoices by dollar amount. “Sometimes PMs are too busy to review all their invoices quickly, even with the faster system,” he said. “So I told them, ‘If you can only get to three invoices in a day, then make it the biggest three.’ With this new process, I don’t have to sweat the small stuff.”
Improving payables, too
EleVia Software also provided a solution for improving Fenstermaker’s manual vendor invoicing process with EleVia Payables Approval & Tracking software. The add-on product for Deltek Vision automates the review of incoming invoices. Paper invoices are scanned into the system, which automatically notifies reviewers, who can then view and electronically mark up invoices quickly and easily on their desktops.
Additionally, the electronic invoices are much easier to store and retrieve than paper versions. “We have decades’ worth of paper invoices from vendors,” Lavergne said. “With the humidity down here in Louisiana, the paper just collapses, so we put them on palettes, shrink-wrap them, and put them in our storage unit. Good luck finding an old invoice if you need it, because every time there’s an audit, something gets lost or misplaced. And all it takes is a couple of hurricanes to wipe out all our records.”
“With the automated system, there’s no more paper or FedEx shipments.”
Now with the EleVia Payables product, all the vendor invoices will be stored electronically. “Not only will our offices be able to review incoming invoices easier, we’ll also be able to actually find old invoices,” Lavergne said.
Fenstermaker is a regional company providing engineering, surveying and mapping, and environmental services to all levels of government, the oil and gas industry, and private enterprise. The firm specializes in advanced technologies, including high-definition surveys and underwater acoustic surveys.