Advantage Solutions

Marketing agency boosts productivity 17% after implementing a workflow-based document imaging solution to streamline accounts payable processes.

Advantage Sales and Marketing wanted to improve the speed and accuracy of its accounts payable process. The company implemented software products provided by Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner KnowledgeLake, based on Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003. Now, invoices are handled 40 percent faster, productivity in accounts payable is up 17 percent, and the company has full visibility into the invoice-approval process.

The Challenge

It’s probably true that no one likes to pay an invoice. This was exceptionally true for the managers at Advantage Sales and Marketing, one of the leading sales and marketing agencies in the United States. Their troubles were not among their vendors, but from the company’s accounts payable system.

The problem was Advantage managers could be in any of the company’s 50 locations around the United States, while printed invoices reside in a single location; therefore, an invoice was seldom where it needed to be for proper processing. Transferring invoices from office to office was a haphazard process of faxing, scanning and sending the digital file through e-mail with no authoritative way to track the status or location of invoices. This was a problem for the accounts payable people responsible for routing invoices because they had no way of confirming these invoices were sent to the appropriate managers.

After review from their business analyst, Advantage discovered its invoice-approval process entailed 35 business steps; from the company’s executives’ perspectives, that was far too many. Therefore, Lewie Wake, chief technical officer at Advantage, collaborated a task force of IT and business users to address the issues. The team discovered that a portal solution- with a single, intranet-based location for storing and approving invoices- would not only solve the problem, but also serve as a model for centralizing and streamlining other processes for their large and widely dispersed company. These solutions are available from leading document management companies such as Documentum, Hummingbird and IBM – which provider should the company choose?

The Solution

Advantage rejected the expensive, well-known document management solutions and instead chose KnowledgeLake, a solution that enhances Microsoft SharePoint.

We worked closely with the marketing firm to streamline their accounts payable process from 35 steps to 14 steps and by automating the process.

The Benefit

The Microsoft-based KnowledgeLake solution continues to make the accounts payable process faster, easier and more productive for everyone at Advantage. Invoices are now processed 40 percent faster, and productivity in the accounts payable staff is up 17 percent, saving Advantage U.S. $95,000 per year.

The increase of visibility of the company has improved many aspects of the business; For example, Advantage personnel are consistently aware of the location of the invoices. The growth has even made an impact on Wake, himself, He now has the ability to oversee drastically more invoices than ever before.

The KnowledgeLake solution has not only improved the visibility of the company, but also the accessibility of the network. For example, considering the many business trips the company’s executives venture on, the only network access available to them was through their mobile devices. Prior to this solution, invoices needing approval were simply on hold until the executives were able to access them. With KnowledgeLake, invoices are now available to the executives through their mobility connection. This enables the accounts payable process to flow immensely quicker.

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Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, based in Irvine, California, is one of the leading sales and marketing agencies specializing in outsourced sales, merchandising, category management and marketing.

California, United States


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