EfTEN Capital AS, the largest pan-Baltic commercial real estate fund management company, automated their purchase invoice handling five years ago. By now, no one in the company can picture what life was like before the invoice handling automation.
Funds managed by EfTEN Capital AS deal with commercial real estate investments, and the value of the company’s assets exceeds one billion euros. The funds’ assets are located in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and are managed by more than 56 specially founded real estate companies.
In 2018, Eften started with automation of purchase invoices by implementing Telema eFlow. Now, five years later, the company’s finance department affirms that, among other things, it saved them from worse during the COVID pandemic. In March 2020, everyone was forced to the home office, and all work continued paperless. If processes had not been automated in 2018, handling and approving purchase invoices from home offices would have been much more difficult.
Currently, the company’s finance department across Baltics employs 15 people. The hybrid office mode continues even after COVID. Although accountants are technically equipped to work from home, they value direct team communication, which is why they prefer to come to the office on most working days.
Automation made life significantly easier
Marilin Hein, CFO of EfTEN Capital AS, says that employees hardly remember the time before Telema eFlow was introduced. “Before, invoices were kept in folders. In real estate management, it is occasionally necessary to see the original invoices either within the company or by auditors or other third parties. So when you needed to find something, you had to browse through the physical folder first. The invoices that needed approval were piled up on the corner of the board member’s desk, waiting for them to have a moment and a look,” she recalls.
Before automation, invoices arrived mainly by email. The accountant then printed it out, and once the approval signatures were collected, the data was entered into the software. When the invoice was sent directly to the property, for example to the shopping center manager, it was printed there and after signing scanned, sent to EfTEN, where it was printed again, signed by the approvers, and only then the data was entered into the accounting software.
After the introduction of Telema eFlow, the situation has changed completely. Marilin Hein explains: “When I now want to do a financial check, I simply go to the Telema eFlow portal and search for an invoice by the name of the supplier. Since Telema eFlow also has an auditor’s user role with viewing rights, it is now handy for auditors as well. We provide them user rights to remotely access the entire invoice archive and check exactly the information they wish. Thanks to flexible search filters, searching is quick and convenient.”
Previously, the EfTEN headquarters did not intervene in the daily accounting operations in Latvia and Lithuania, because each country has their administrative nuances. However, after the implementation of eFlow, automation has standardized the invoice handling system boosting transparency.
Expectations for automation were not that high
EfTEN has set high requirements for its accounting systems and they apply to all parts and partners likewise. The purchase invoice handling and approval in Telema eFlow has been integrated with the accounting system MS Dynamics NAV, and two CRM systems – Moderan and Bidrento – are also in use.
Marilin Hein admits that she initially had rather low expectations towards the purchase invoice automation and Telema eFlow. “I thought that it would simply forward e-invoices directly to the accounting system, but I had no idea how excellent of an overview this program would give us,” she reveals. “I can search and sort invoices. The speed of the approval flow benefits from the mobile app, enabling approvers to sign invoices from anywhere in the world. I knew these features were there, but really felt the advantages only when we implemented the system. The gain was much higher than I expected.”
Telema eFlow frees you from stupid work
The CFO adds that Eften’s primary goal in purchase invoice automation was to liberate the accountants from stupid work so that they could do something more valuable than key in invoice data from 9 to 5.
“To be honest, we had our fears – again, a new system, the implementation, will it be expensive. But in fact, everything went smoothly, both development and implementation, which we did not have to do from scratch, as it had already been done with NAV for other customers,” she comments.
Terje Paasik, an accountant at EfTEN Capital, adds that for her the user experience is crucial. “When you look at a new program, you can tell pretty quickly whether the solution is convenient or not. Telema eFlow is very easy to use even for those who do not encounter this on a daily basis,” says Paasik, who also claims that one of Telema’s advantages is fast and efficient user support.
Thanks to the automation of purchase invoices, EfTEN’s accounting has become completely paperless, and the savings in terms of time and money are impressive. After all, there are 56 companies in the group, and every one of them would have at least one folder full of purchase invoices every year.
“I can’t even imagine how we would manage this stack of folders, because in five years we have grown significantly. Now, all Latvian and Lithuanian data is in the Telema eFlow system, which is very helpful for managing the group’s finances,” explains the CFO. “In the case of a group with many companies, one of the most important advantages is the transparency and overview of the invoicing process, on top of saving time and money, that is.”
EfTEN Capital AS
EfTEN Capital manages six real estate funds, including two listed companies, and 56 properties in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The funds have a total of about 1,300 tenants. EfTEN’s real estate portfolio is quite equally divided between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which means that the company also has a pan-Baltic corporate culture.
|Countries operating in
|Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
|Number of purchase invoices (in a month)
|Purchase invoice approvers
|MS Dynamics NAV
|Purchase invoice automation system