Many companies have started using electronic solutions and e-invoices to manage their purchase invoices, making their processes more efficient. Apollo Group OÜ, one of the biggest and fastest growing entertainment companies in the Baltics is one of them. How are accounts payable processes organized in Apollo and what kind of changes it brought along? Janika Roots, Chief Accountant of Apollo Group OÜ shared with us her experience.
When did you start with rearrangements and implementing automated systems?
I joined Apollo Group OÜ a year ago and felt an immediate need for change and major rearrangement. There are over 3000 purchase invoices in Apollo Group OÜ and we were not willing to enter them manually. Making the work more efficient, transparent and automating accounts payable processes became our main goal.
Implementing a new system seemed to be the solution. Our choice was Telema eFlow. This solution helps to simplify work for everybody who handles purchase invoices: approvers from all departments and of course accountants.
What was the most important criteria when picking a new purchase invoice solution?
A fast reply to our request and desire to think along spoke in favor of Telema. The deciding factor was Telema’s virtual assistant Robin who enters PDF invoices. For us it was important that all information on invoices would be entered fast. We did not wish for humans doing manual entry in the background. This slows down forwarding invoices for approval. Additionally I had a great user experience with Telema eFlow in my previous company.
I have had some experience with other service providers, but some of them were too slow for us and others had too many mistakes due to manual entry. With Telema eFlow purchase invoices can be approved very fast and everywhere. We encourage our people to use eFlow mobile app as it makes approving invoices even more comfortable in any place, any time.
What were your expectations for the solution provider?
New partner had to have proven experience, able to offer fast support when needed, competent and willing to think along. Potential solution had to be capable of development and fitting for an international company – in our case for Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Finnish companies.
Adapting with a new system usually takes time and brings up a lot of questions. How was the new solution accepted by the colleagues? Approvers, management?
We carried out employee training and started using Telema eFlow right away. Getting used to a new software takes time, but practical experience is the best way to learn. Using eFlow was intuitive enough so the implementation went smoothly.
Many managers in Apollo approve invoices for different companies. In Telema eFlow it is easy to pick the right company from the dropdown menu and start approving purchase invoices. Even the management is excited to implement the system in all companies to stop going back and forth in different programs.
An important part of automating accounts payable is receiving e-invoices. How did the transition go?
Many suppliers sent us e-invoices before using Telema eFlow and many of them were also interested, if we accept e-invoices. It is apparent that more and more Estonian companies have started sending e-invoices.
Were the suppliers open to changes?
Accountants had to do some informing, but suppliers learned fast. In the end they were also interested in their invoices being paid on time – this is one of the main advantages of e-invoices.
Apollo Group OÜ combines companies from four countries. How far along are you with automating accounts payable processes?
Apollo Group OÜ started using a solution for automating accounts payable already in 2020 and is using it already in 29 companies. Every month all together more than 3000 purchase invoices are approved and allocated in Apollo Group OÜ. Approved invoices will be archived electronically and the data is synced with Directo, our ERP.
Are you still accepting paper invoices?
We do not receive any paper invoices in Estonia or Finland, but mainly e-invoices and PDF invoices. The amount of e-invoices differs by countries – in Estonia it is about half, but we hope to increase this percentage. Paper invoices are a rare sight in Latvia. In this case we scan the paper invoice, forward it to digitalization robot and process it still electronically.
What kind of benefits has accepting e-invoices brought along?
I am all for e-invoices. As e-invoices move from one system to another it eliminates the entry errors. Furthermore it is possible to build more complicated automatic allocation rules for e-invoices. And most importantly of course the time savings, that electronic approval flow gives us.
Several new companies have joined Apollo Group OÜ. How has that growth influenced the financial department?
We have managed to automate most purchase invoice processes using Telema eFlow. Although Apollo Group OÜ has successfully grown, the amount of people in our financial department has not grown that much. But that is the point of automation – managing to do several times more with the same amount of people. We have succeeded.
What are the biggest differences compared to the old process?
Before all invoices directed to companies in Apollo Group OÜ were sent to a single email address and accountants had to find the correct invoices for their companies. It was a very time consuming task The first step when implementing Telema eFlow was to start accepting e-invoices. We made separate purchase invoice emails for every supplier who did not yet send us e-invoices, which are forwarded to Telema robot scanning PDFs. As a result, all invoices arrive to the right company’s account and are already digitized without accountants spending hours in the inbox.
You mentioned that one of the main goals was to make the process more transparent. Did you succeed?
During this time we have moved towards the direction that approval flows would be with certain rules – how and who should approve the invoice. Before, our internal control was sometimes lacking by the end of the month, because invoices were approved without going through the approval flow. Now our approval flow is fixed and we will not pay invoices before they have gone through the approval process.
For whom the purchase invoice automation tool Telema eFlow would suit?
All companies will benefit from it, because if you start using eFlow correctly, the amount of time saved is significant. Not to be afraid, an accountant’s job will not disappear. Virtual assistant Robin will do the dull data entry. Automatic cost allocation rules will help to allocate repetitive invoices fast. Pre-saved approval flows will ensure that all invoices will land on the right approvers desks. In summary – solution creates an opportunity and gives time for more meaningful work.
Apollo Group OÜ
|Number of companies||40|
|Number of invoices (in a month)||3000+|
|Purchase invoice approvers||100+|
|Purchase invoice processes||Telema eFlow|
Apollo Group OÜ is the biggest entertainment company in Estonia, mostly known for popular cinemas, bookstores and e-shops. Many more successful companies are part of the group including Kentucky Fried Chicken, entertainment center O’Learys, Blender juice bars, IceCafe ice cream shops, film distribution company Baltic Film Distribution and Vapiano restaurants in the Baltic states and Finland. All together there are 40 companies in Apollo Group OÜ.