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A customized Data Extraction and OCR solution for full automation of the Lockbox process

A global group with a specific Lockbox problem to identify customer payments

Alamo Group is a leader in the design, manufacture, distribution and service of high quality equipment for infrastructure maintenance, agriculture and other applications. Founded in 1969, Alamo Group has nearly 3,000 employees and operates 24 plants in North America, Europe, Australia and Brazil. Their corporate offices are located in Seguin, Texas.

The headquarters for the Company’s European operations is in Salford Priors, England. Their products include truck and tractor mounted mowing and other vegetation maintenance equipment, street sweepers, snow removal equipment, excavators, vacuum trucks, other industrial equipment, agricultural implements and related after-market parts and services.

Challenge

Prior to the Cashbook implementation, Alamo Group were struggling with a number of issues:

Alamo Group use JDE as their ERP system, due to Data Protection issues, Cashbook did not have full access to JDE to update the completed automated results. This presented a challenge. Prior to the Cashbook implementation, Alamo followed the process below, which required a lot of time and resources within the group:

  • Needed many user actions to identify customers from the displayed images in the Lockbox files.
  • The users then had to assign these directly in JDE, individually or as a list, to a known customer.
  • The group’s customer numbers were then used to retrieve open invoices and match the monetary amount to the specific invoice amount manually.
  • Alamo had three main users applying cash, along with a manager and a supervisor.
Solution

Cashbook

Cashbook could automatically identify Alamo’s customers from the bank data/image, and match them directly with their specific invoices. Cashbook automated the Lockbox process for Alamo, which resulted in them being able to import check receipts, identify customers and to open invoices by using image views.

Added functionality allowed users to create templates over remittance images and link these to actual customers. Once a template was created, Cashbook stored this information and used it the next time that customer paid. The initial identification of these customers,using relationships maintained in Cashbook, assisted further automation of the Lockbox imports.

Increased Automation
  • Images are categorized as checks, remittances, envelopes or other.
  • Focus on remittances to extract invoice data as defined in the template(s).
  • Data preview allows corrections and saving as imported details.
  • You can run algorithms (matching rules) to allocate to one or many customers.
  • Customer identification can be supplemented manually using a variety of customer lookup entry points.
JDE Access Solution
  • A SQL Server was installed.
  • This allowed Cashbook to update the JDE system through the SQL server remotely.
Complete Automation of Accounts Receivable process
  • Cashbook worked with Alamo to examine the remittances from their top 50 customers.
  • Templates and matching rules were then built.
  • After thorough testing, these were then copied from Development to the Live environment.
  • Now more than 500 templates and 7,000 customer relationships have been put in place.
  • The OCR process now applies these automatically, removing hundreds of hours of manual processing each year.
4 hot folders to achieve the ultimate AR cash allocation:
  • Import: Lockbox with customer identification to create Journal and lines.
  • Extract: auto identify templates or create new ones with data extraction to find invoices.
  • Match: auto match imported details with customers’ open invoices.
  • Post: Remote submission of JDE jobs through a SQL server.
Cashbook’s Lockbox OCR functionality:
  • An automation process with very quick returns.
  • Initially, new journal line items require manual handling to identify new customers or to create new templates.
  • Within a few weeks, users swiftly build up a highly customized repository of templates and matching rules to auto identify and auto apply receipts.

RESULTS


Reduced Cash Application team by one employee, and reassigned them to Credit Collection activities.

Full automation of the Lockbox process, which can achieve levels of up to 95% of invoice automation.

Cashbook Software works overnight, so any Lockbox files are processed before the staff come in to work.

Cashbook has great two-way integration with our JDE E1 environment. We use their product to upload bank Lockbox images and once the customer/bank account relationship is initialized, Cashbook automatically identifies the customer going forward. We then go through a process of creating templates of the check remittance for each customer, which allows Cashbook to extract invoice data by way of their OCR functionality for auto-matching to our open invoices. Overall, Cashbook has listened to our needs and significantly improved the efficiency of our Cash Application processes.

Greg Sekula - Accounting Manager, Alamo Group.

CONTACT

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