TELUS World of Science: “Beanworks has been a huge time saver for our AP team”
February 3, 2022
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
While the TELUS World of Science in Edmonton (TWOSE) is well known for engaging science enthusiasts, it’s also making strides to modernize and redefine itself in the post-pandemic world.
Last year, the non-profit installed solar panels to reduce its carbon footprint and generate conversation around climate change. It is also upgrading its existing theatres and galleries with new technology to maintain the digital-first mindset.
But the future-forward approach isn’t limited to the external community. The organization is taking a holistic approach to positioning itself in the remote world by replacing outdated processes with smart and agile tools – one of them being accounts payable (AP) automation. “We are going to conduct a remote audit for the first time with Beanworks AP automation,” says Melissa Van Yken, Financial Assistant at TWOSE.
“Before automation, we were passing folders with paper invoices for managers to approve. We had to remember who we gave the folder to and when the approval deadline was.”
Clearing up the clutter
The biggest challenge that motivated TWOSE to automate AP was a slow and frustrating approvals process. With 50 managers tasked to sign off over 200 invoices per month, the finance team was getting bogged down by delays. “Before automation, we were passing folders with paper invoices for managers to approve. We had to remember who we gave the folder to and when the approval deadline was,” explains Van Yken.
Historically, all documents were saved as hard copies, which were stored inside filing cabinets. To get past the paper problem, the finance team upgraded to the online document management system SharePoint, but it didn’t quite solve their AP challenges. “It was just hard to keep track of approvals because it was all managed manually. This made the financial process long and arduous. Our managers didn’t like the approvals process either,” explains Van Yken.
This inspired their search for a solution that could tie in all the missing pieces together. “Beanworks AP automation addressed our challenges in all areas of AP, from invoice approvals to the digital audit trail,” highlights Van Yken. The software integrated with their main financial system, Sage 300, and synchronized all workflows on a central platform.
Access AP–anywhere, anytime
TWOSE’s success is dependent on its ability to host new exhibits and programs. This means the non-profit is constantly working with different parties, including new vendors needing timely payments, and stakeholders such as the CFO who want real-time visibility into finances. “Most of our staff have been working from home, so access to AP documents and workflows have definitely improved with automation,” says Van Yken. This is critical for a non-profit that manages transactions with donors and vendors across the country.
“The automation element really helps because now all our AP documents are in one digital platform. It has reduced all the paper from our office which would otherwise be sitting around on tables.”
To eliminate approval delays that were exacerbated because of remote work, TWOSE immediately moved the AP process online. This fixed the collaboration gap between the AP team, approvers, and vendors.
Now, vendors can send invoices to a dedicated email account that automatically uploads the invoice into the system. Once the coding is complete, the AP staff can line it up for approval. The assigned manager then receives an email notification about the pending invoice, prompting them to log into the software and review the invoice or investigate the details by conducting a quick search in the system. If the approver rejects the invoice, they must specify why. But if everything looks good, the invoice can be approved with the click of a button. Mobile app access simplifies the workflow further.
“The approval process has definitely improved. Earlier, I was trying to track emails and following up with managers to remind them about approvals. Now, it’s just a completely different system for tracking it,” says Van Yken.
Manage expenses online
Amid stay-at-home orders and remote working, TWOSE couldn’t rely on employees sending their expense receipts through email or mail, especially when over 30 corporate credit cards were in use. To fast-track receipt submission and expense reimbursement, TWOSE transitioned the entire cycle into the cloud. “The automation element really helps because now all our AP documents are in one digital platform. It has reduced all the paper from our office which would otherwise be sitting around on tables,” notes Van Yken.
Regardless of where employees are working from, they can take photos of their expense receipts and submit them through the Beanworks mobile app. The receipts are automatically uploaded into the system for approval and payment.
Maximize cloud capability
Although TWOSE had to temporarily close its physical space due to the pandemic, its financial unit has matured extensively as a result of necessity. “We’ve automated purchase orders, invoice approvals and employee expenses,” says Van Yken.
Not only does this integration of workflows make it easy to bring data to immediate use, but it also maintains the agility that TWOSE needs to function efficiently. Instead of relying on a mix of time-consuming tools like paper and email, they can just manage AP through one platform. “Beanworks has been a huge time saver for our AP team,” says Van Yken.
Wondering where you should be in your automation journey? Connect with our AP expert to find out where and how to start
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