Green gains for DEH SA

From IDM Magazine May-June 2009

South Australia’s Department of Environment & Heritage (DEH) has implemented a customised document scanning system that eliminates the need to rekey information in paper records for accounts payable and receivable and allows staff to search through individual records for information and reporting purposes.

Scan Conversion Services’ (SCS) document management software validates every invoice, in many cases scanned directly from faxed records into the Master Piece Financial System.

CAAPS (Complete, Automated Accounts Payable Solution) eliminates the need to check every invoice and remittance. It automates processing of routine invoices and remittances; quickly routes exceptions to the right person, across multiple sites; reduces manual handling errors and increases productivity.

“The SCS service makes our department much more productive and the time savings are phenomenal,” says Mark De Ritter, Manager of Accounts, Operations and Taxation at DEH.

The system was conceived in 2005 when Mr De Ritter viewed an SCS trial being conducted by the Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA).

“The concept at that time was simply to scan data and retain an image of all invoices., which now is standard practice, but back then was quite new,” Mr De Ritter said.

“There was some scanning software around but there was nothing that would import the data to meet our highly specialised requirements.”

At the time, the department was looking for two key deliverables: scanned documents that could be accessed by anyone easily with the ability to import data from scanned forms in a consistent manner checking of invoice numbers for anomalies such as double payments, as well as filing invoices automatically in a chronological order to make it easy to search for a particular customer or invoice.

“This was in the early days of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and we were spending a great deal of time making sure that tax invoices were compliant before processing them,” Mr De Ritter said.

“The SCS software has a built-in check to make sure it’s a compliant tax invoice. Plus it has a nice piece of functionality which checks that the delegation status and code match up for approval of payment. As far as I know, this feature is unique to SCS.”

Mr De Ritter said that the deliverables exceeded expectations.

“The software is extremely easy to use, requiring minimal training, and the fact that it also integrates easily into the Master Piece system is a highlight.”

The DEH project uses SCS Dv Scan software, which captures the data and creates a PDF image. The information is transferred by secure FTP and automatically loaded into Dv TDM, SCS’s Workflow and Archive software. Dv TDM uses Oracle as the database, because it’s the standard database platform for DEH. Staff process the images through Dv TDM's web interface. Dv TDM integrates with the DEH financial system, Masterpiece Financial Software, to match and check data. Once the data is processed in Dv TDM, and meets the criteria of the DEH business rules, it is automatically transferred to Dv TDM. Currently around 6000 images are processed per month.

“The regions want to access the invoices to see what was paid and to have a description of goods,” Mr De Ritter explained. “Previously, we would have to send the batches back to them in hard copy – this was before we even had scanning on our photocopiers.”

The department also discovered unforeseen benefits, including the fact that sections outside Accounts Receivable/Payable could use the information for other purposes, such as running a Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) report instead of manually retrieving batches.

The department is required to report on its fuel consumption and the scanning data base has reduced the processing time needed to collect the information. Previously all they knew from invoices was that the fuel had been purchased from, say, Shell, Mobil or BP fuel accounts. Now the scanned data will tell you how many litres was purchased for each person and each outlet, whereas our financial reporting only tells you how much in dollar terms. Gas and electricity usage can be calculated the same way.

“As a filtering tool, it is absolutely fantastic because every section may have a different requirement. One might be interested in how much fuel you use. Another is interested in how much electricity, gas or water you use.

“Before SCS, they would need to check every meter. Another department uses it to work out how much paper we use, all calculated using the descriptions on the invoice.”

“From the user’s point of view it is so easy. It’s all on one screen you don’t need to know codes. It takes 20 minutes of training versus six months to a year for Master Piece and if you don’t use Master Piece regularly you forget all the codes.”

“In the broader perspective, we originally thought SCS would be only for processing invoices. Now we are using it regularly for basic investigation and analysis, while we depend on our Cognos system for in-depth enterprise reporting,” he said.

“All we were looking for was a scanned image – everything else we have received was quite a surprise. We are also pleased to be supporting an innovative South Australian company.”