With more than 150 locations receiving and coding invoices, GateHouse Media decided to undertake a project to improve and automate their AP process, enabling them to reduce costs, cycle times and manual processing.
GateHouse Media, Inc., headquartered in Fairport, New York, is one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States. The company’s portfolio of products, which includes 494 community publications and more than 250 related websites and seven yellow page directories, serves over 233,000 business advertising accounts and reaches approximately 10 million people across 21 states on a weekly basis.
As of March 31, 2009, GateHouse Media’s core products included:
- 90 daily newspapers with total paid circulation of approximately 789,000;
- 289 weekly newspapers (published up to three times per week) with total paid circulation of approximately 686,000 and total free circulation of approximately 1 million;
- 115 "shoppers" (generally advertising-only publications) with total circulation of approximately 1.9 million;
- Over 250 locally focused websites, which extend the franchises onto the internet; and seven yellow page directories, with a distribution of approximately 758,000, that covers a population of approximately 2.0 million people.
Because of its large and diversified holdings across the country, GateHouse Media has a significant accounts payable (AP) organization, processing approximately 230,000 invoices each year. With more than 150 locations receiving and coding invoices, GateHouse was interested in exploring ways of enhancing the effectiveness of their AP process. Specifically, the company was interested in:
- Decreasing costs associated with handling invoices multiple times
- Removing manual keypunching processes
- Improving cycle times
- Increasing visibility to transactions both at Corporate and the sites
- Easy to use document storage
In order to better meet the needs of both corporate and field users, GateHouse Media decided to undertake an AP automation project. Their top goals for the project included cost reduction, reduced cycle times and elimination of manual processing. Secondary goals included increased invoice visibility, better compliance measures and centralized processing. In order to meet these goals, there were many challenges GateHouse had to overcome in this project, such as cleaning up the vendor master file within its ERP system, working around a complicated general ledger coding system, notifying over 15,000 vendors of a billing address change, training hundreds of users, multiple ERP platforms, and bringing new vendors online quickly. Finally, to meet specific corporate needs for GateHouse, the project had to be completed in less than two months.
Datrose, a business process outsourcing (BPO) provider, was brought in by GateHouse to conduct an analysis of its AP process, and eventually to serve as lead vendor for the AP automation project. To form the technical backbone of its AP automation solution, Datrose selected technology from BancTec, including its high-speed IntelliScan® scanners and enterprise-class AP automation software, AP Master™.
As a major provider of finance and administrative BPO services, Datrose selects and integrates technology best suited to handle each client’s particular environment. In GateHouse’s case, Datrose is responsible for receiving, scanning and capturing invoice information using BancTec’s IntelliScan high-speed scanners. The data is then fed into BancTec’s AP Master, a software suite that provides an automated, end-to-end solution for each stage in the AP process. Because AP Master is an application and not a toolkit, integration required configuration only, not a lot of deep programming. In addition, the solution seamlessly integrates with Gatehouse Media’s existing ERP systems, while the clear user interface and built-in reporting and metrics make it significantly easier for staff and senior management to monitor the AP process and make adjustments as necessary.
Another key to this project being completed in such a short timeframe—45 days—was the experience and AP expertise of both Datrose and BancTec. The BancTec and Datrose partnership was able to:
- Identify and keep up-to-date all key sponsors and stakeholders
- Achieve complete alignment from all sides on project goals
- Communicate early, often and openly
- Offer superior project management and participant buy-in at every step
- Build positive collaboration among all members
Ultimately, the joint Datrose/BancTec solution enabled GateHouse Media to realize the following benefits:
- 40% plus overall savings realized
- Streamlined process that allows invoices to go directly to AP lockbox
- Business partner (Datrose) scans and captures invoice information eliminating manual invoice entry
- Invoices are automatically sent to approvers via web-based workflow system
- Users receive email notification alerts about invoices needing special attention
- Greatly reduced expenses for overnight shipping as paper invoices no longer have to be sent from each location to the central office
- AP staff as well as site personnel have increased visibility into processed invoices
- A significant reduction in workload for central accounting
- A new process for critical invoice handling
- Reduced onsite storage of paper invoices
In the Client’s Words
“When trying to decide whether to outsource the scanning or bring it in-house, we evaluated what we wanted our department to be, IT or AP. The Datrose/BancTec partnership allows us to focus on what we do best—accounts payable—while they handle the scanning. We are very pleased with the solution, and more importantly, our users have really embraced the technology. It’s working very well for us at GateHouse Media.”
-- Laura Williams, director, Centralized Accounting Services, GateHouse Media, Inc.