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e-Finance with finesse: SER and Atos team for Solectron solution

This article appears in the issue July/August 2003 [Volume 12, Issue 7]

Over the past several years, Solectron, the large provider of electronics manufacturing and supply chain management services, had been in acquisition mode and, thus, was faced with the need to develop an e-finance solution because of the multiple systems employed. By combining SER products with Atos KPMG professional services, Solectron achieved an intelligent data capture and document management solution for Global 2000 companies, and in so doing, significantly increased productivity and reduced its operational costs.

The result of the SER and Atos alliance gives Solectron the ability to:

  • analyze both structured and unstructured documents, sorting them based on the actual document content, without the need to rely on form or layout;

  • route invoices to the correct department for processing;

  • extract key data elements for use by downstream business applications such as an ERP system; and

  • electronically archive documents for immediate access.

Though Solectron chose not to comment on the implementation, SER and Atos did shed some light on the deal. Apparently, one of the biggest business requirements was to be able to extract line items from invoices, some of which run two or three pages long in different formats and languages, and in multiple languages.

To be able to accomplish all that, Atos deployed technology based on SERbrainware, including:

  • SERdistiller, a data capture and collection solution that classifies and extracts key data from both structured and unstructured documents;

  • SERsynergy, an integrated document management and archiving solution that manages access to and retrieval of business information; and

  • SERprocess, a comprehensive workflow solution that connects and manages all business processes from one centralized system.

SER explains that when a new document comes in, its technology can recognize whether it's an invoice, statement or a piece of correspondence. It then extracts the information that's needed, right down to line item, to then be posted to the ERP system.

Says Steve Britton, SER account executive in the United Kingdom, "Most of our competitors in the marketplace would try to solve that specific business problem by taking a forms- or a template-based approach. Therefore, you would have to geographically anchor each point on the document that you need to extract. So, when you've got a lot of vendors, there's an awful lot of subject work on the front end, and if any of that information geographically moves, then that approach is going to fail. We don't do that."

Adds Peter Kurtz, Atos' principal consultant in the United Kingdom, "In two weeks, we were getting 60% of the invoices through the system, and the peak rate of performance is about 150 invoices an hour, compared with one person able to do about 40 a day."

He adds, "Now the information is in their systems and they can track it within seconds of putting in the data. It's all sitting at the click of a button now, whereas it used to take an awful lot of time. I think they are also seeing savings in their procurement areas. Discrepancies in an invoice wasn't information readily accessible to them. Now, the procurement team has the invoice at the desk when they need it, and they can sort discrepancies out immediately."


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