The myth that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is only profitable in large companies is widespread, but false. In truth, the effects of automation measures can be enormous, especially in small and medium-sized organizations. Because every Euro saved is worth even more in relation to the total costs than in a large corporation. This is also the case in the three-person financial management team at NENI, where the team is small but the innovative power is great. Vincent-Frederic Kotazka, Head of Finance at the NENI Group, tells us how the automation of the incoming invoice workflow has halved the time spent processing documents.
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Medium-sized companies are the backbone of the Austrian economy. They differ from the big players not only in terms of their company size, but also in terms of qualitative characteristics such as a family management culture, agile organizational forms and innovative strength. A good breeding ground for digital innovations. This can also be seen in the example of the NENI Group, a family-run gastronomy company with four operating companies:
- NENI am Tisch GmbH, under which the supermarket line is produced and distributed
- LIB Gastronomie GmbH, the gastronomy company that operates Tel Aviv Beach and the cooking school
- LIB Franchise GmbH, which manages all the franchises under which the restaurants outside Vienna are operated, such as NENI Berlin in the 25h Hotel
- C.O.P GmbH, a new restaurant soon to open in Vienna's Biberstrasse.
Molcho Holding GmbH, headquartered in Vienna, acts as the holding company and handles administrative and coordination tasks for the operating businesses. Together they employ around 100 people. In addition, several hundred employees are employed by the franchise companies. A clear organizational structure, whose threads come together at Molcho Holding GmbH. In view of the strong growth - in addition to C.O.P., another new opening is already being planned - the limited capacities in the parent company could quickly have become a bottleneck. In fact, the opposite has happened: The financial management team has freed itself from manual, repetitive activities, freeing up resources for planning and analytical tasks that put the rapid growth on a healthy footing.
The challenge facing Vincent-Frederic Kotazka and his 2-person financial management team was, on the one hand, to process an increasing volume of documents with the same capacities. And on the other hand, to free up resources for the planning and set-up of the new companies. This would not have been possible with the invoice receipt process as it was set up until the beginning of 2020:
- Before the introduction of Finmatics, the documents were initially entered manually - after being received by post or electronically. This meant that the document data had to be typed out. Paper receipts also had to be scanned.
- Afterwards, the vouchers were stored in the folder structure of the BMD accounting system on the corresponding ASP server.
- The accountants accessed this folder structure in order to post the incoming invoices in the next step.
- The last step was control, payment release and transfer.
In summary, NENI had to deal with a highly manual workflow, which was not very demanding but very error-prone, and which also took up about half of the existing team capacity in financial management. Vincent-Frederic Kotazka was brought on board 2.5 years ago as Head of Finance to optimize just such processes. Together with Finmatics and BMD, he and his team have succeeded in doing just that: Today, 3 out of 4 steps in the incoming invoice process are virtually eliminated, as
- most of the invoices are now sent by the supplier to a dedicated e-mail address
- Finmatics can access these documents directly via the e-mail inbox
- the invoice features can be read automatically thanks to powerful OCR technology
- the integration with BMD makes preliminary account assignments possible directly in the accounting system.
Today, NENI only requires a visual check in document processing to ensure that the software has recognized all data correctly and that all document fields are filled appropriately before payment can be released. This saves NENI's financial management staff no less than half the time spent on each document. With 50 incoming invoices per day, the overall time savings are enormous. To be precise, thanks to the process optimization in accounts payable, the entire working time of a team colleague has been saved, who now deals with the planning, management and control of the company's divisions as part of controlling. Due to the improved database and the freed-up capacities, standardized reporting can be made available to the management in an increasingly high level of detail. This, in turn, enables a data-based, well-founded analysis and evaluation of factors relevant to decision-making, which leads to better decisions and ultimately also ensures the company's success.
Looking back on the start of the collaboration in spring 2020, Vincent-Frederic Kotazka says: "It is surprising how quickly the planning and implementation phase was completed. The one-two month lead time was sufficient to set up the system landscape in such a way that we no longer had to make manual bookings from one day to the next." NENI started with a standard configuration of Finmatics. Based on the success it has already achieved in the first few months, the company decided to take the next step and work with Finmatics to make some software adjustments to tailor the workflows even better to their needs.
When it comes to AI, some SMEs still think of complicated applications that require large investments. This is a fallacy that is costing many of them dearly. Because AI-based applications such as Finmatics manage to significantly reduce the workload in accounting - by up to 50%, as the example of NENI shows. Relative to the savings achieved, the investment in this case has already paid off since the first month. We are pleased about the successful cooperation and wish the NENI team all the best for their exciting future projects!
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Millstätter See Tourismus GmbH
After the digitalization of internal office processes, TREUHAND-UNION Klagenfurt also implemented digital invoice approval solutions with its clients. For example, with Millstätter See Tourismus GmBH.
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Digital accounting processes in the tax firm Bilanzwerkstatt with Finmatics
"There are a lot of exciting things we can do with our time. Typing up receipts is not one of them." Daniel Seigfried reports on the digitization of processes in the tax consulting firm.
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