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eInvoicing solution helps Osborne work smarter

Background

A leading family-owned construction, civil engineering and property services business, Osborne, operates from four offices in the Midlands and south of England. It builds schools, healthcare facilities, civic and commercial offices, works on highways, rail and air projects, and delivers affordable housing as well as providing social housing repair and maintenance services.

In all these projects, Osborne aims to exceed customer expectations, and to do so works closely with its supply chain by establishing and maintaining strong relationships with its suppliers. Efficient business processes are fundamental to the Osborne way of working.

Challenges

Osborne had already taken steps to automate the electronic receipt of invoices to its COINS system using electronic data interchange (EDI) technology. This requires the supplier to have systems capable of using EDI and connecting to Osborne’s systems.  The complexity and cost of setting up EDI connections makes it only viable for suppliers submitting high volumes of invoices.

Osborne had already moved their main suppliers over to EDI but this still left a large number of suppliers submitting paper invoices in the post or emailing PDF documents. These had to be processed manually so opening envelopes, printing email attachments, scanning documents and keying data into the system. Osborne had sought to reduce this labour-intensive process by using an outsourced service which used optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

The OCR solution didn’t reduce the reliance on paper, it just moved the problem elsewhere. It also proved to be unreliable and still required a lot of manual intervention. Osborne’s Group Supply Chain Manager, Paul McCulloch, sought an alternative technology that would ‘fill the gap’ and allow more of its suppliers to send paperless invoice data to Osborne without the expense and complexity of EDI. Paul also wanted to lower the bar and allow e-business relationships to be established with suppliers who submitted very few invoices to Osborne.

Solution

Open ECX offer a cloud-based SaaS solution which extracts and processes data from PDF documents which are attached to emails. This is a simple and highly reliable way to automatically process incoming invoices. The technology is rock solid, highly accurate and now widely used across the construction sector.

With the Open ECX eInvoicing system, all the supplier needs to do is create an invoice in PDF format and send it to an e-business email address setup for Osborne by Open ECX. Simple!

The Open ECX eInvoicing system monitors the e-business inbox. It detects and reads emails, finds and detaches PDF invoices before extracting information from the PDF data layer such as date, invoice number, PO number, item details, quantity, value, etc.

Suppliers don’t all use the same format and layout for their invoices. The beauty of the eInvoicing system is that each supplier’s specific invoice format can be recognised and converted to a common data model. This is all configured by the Open ECX supplier onboarding team.

Having extracted the invoice data, the eInvoicing system applies customer-specific validation rules along with any required data conversions before transmitting the invoice in real time to Osborne’s back-office system using the COINS connector.

Osborne have now rolled out the Open ECX eInvoicing solution across their supply chain to create a completely paperless and automated end-to-end process which saves time and money.


Having battled with supplier adoption for many years, Open ECX finally provides the answer. Rapid deployment and excellent supplier take-up.

Paul McCulloch | Group Supply Chain Manager

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