A £2.2bn global organisation growing 37.9% a year, automation has been instrumental to their rapid rise.
Handling a diverse portfolio - from end-to-end e-commerce provision to owning countless beauty brands - over 12,000 suppliers must be reconciled.
Xelix spoke with a Senior Finance Controls and Governance Manager, who is no stranger to statement reconciliation. Having worked in accounts for over 30 years, she’s used many different systems.
During eight years at this retail company, she endured two ineffective statement reconciliation systems, both fraught with problems. A challenge for effective automation. Would Xelix succeed where others failed? It appears so.
Striving for efficient automation
The company was founded as a 2004 British start-up providing white label e-commerce for leading household names. Today, it’s a global powerhouse. They also support other major businesses known worldwide.
“We’re global – from the USA to Australia. Eight years ago, I came into a business of 500 people. Today, it’s 12,500!"
We continue to grow at breakneck speed. More than 12,000 suppliers create around 600,000 statement lines a month. Such huge numbers and rapid transformation demand automation wherever possible.
“Automation for statement reconciliation creates efficiency. We don’t want to increase our team size in line with our growing invoice volumes. We want to be more efficient. People should complete value-added tasks, not mundane keying,” said Senior Finance Controls and Governance Manager.
Where previous statement reconciliation systems failed
They have unintendedly discovered Xelix’s Statements module, Senior Manager recalled:
“We were looking for a new duplicate invoice checking tool when we stumbled across Xelix. Then I discovered Xelix had a Statements module and asked for a demo.”
She had good reason to light up at the thought of more efficient statement reconciliation. The company was on its second system, and it fell short.
She explained: “It wasn’t automated. For example, we weren’t automatically firing over a fresh ledger every morning. Worse still, we could only have one feed into it. Because of our rapid expansion and diversity, we needed at least two – Sage and our own system. Statement format was also a headache. The system only accepted Excel and most of our suppliers provided PDFs. They could be converted at additional cost, but the system provider wasn’t keen to develop a workaround for us.”
After seeing Xelix in action, she was keen to invest. But she had to overcome an internal protocol first. The company will not invest in alternative software if they can write it themselves.
“I almost jumped through fire to bring Xelix in. We needed it now. And whilst our tech team could create statement matching software, it would potentially be in a couple of years given, their focus right now,” she explained.
And so, they chose Xelix. Set-up was straightforward and fast. “It was easy, just easy,”.
Xelix enables better efficiency, visibility, and better relationships.
After two months of Xelix statement reconciliation, there were many efficiency gains at the said company. Whilst the volume of reconciliations more than doubled, further benefits were evident.
Before Xelix, we only managed to reconcile 400 statements a month. Having used Xelix for two months, we’d reconciled 1,849 statements.That’s over 900 a month – more than double"
“Previously, we targeted each team member to reconcile 80 statements per month. Now, we’ve increased their targets to 160. As a result, every supplier can be reconciled quarterly,” said Senior Finance Controls and Governance Manager.
While impressive figures in isolation, she went on to explain the wider benefits of using Xelix for statement reconciliation.
“Increased visibility of our data enables us to be proactive instead of reactive. We can identify missing invoices and process them quickly, instead of reacting when the supplier is chasing us.
We can prevent issues becoming a recurrent problem, draining everyone's time. Fundamentally, we're more efficient and getting more value from every person."
She explained how Xelix meant better relations with external auditors and suppliers: “Our external auditors often have specific requests. Such as a report on the top 20 suppliers by value at a specific time. Previously, we collated this information manually and it would be time-consuming. But now, Xelix quickly does it for us.
As for our suppliers, they’re getting the attention they want from our company. They now appreciate how important our statement reconciliation is and how it can help us both become more efficient.”
For those in the company using Xelix every day, senior finance manager sees a further benefit: “Our Procure-to-Pay team hated the previous statement reconciliation software. Many would have rather done a tick and bash exercise than upload a statement into it. But with Xelix, it’s a different story. They love its usability and ease of use. We know getting buy-in from the team is crucial.”
Perfecting the system
An innovative business, the retailer is always looking to get the most out of everything and expects its system providers to do the same.
“We’re the type of company that forever wants the next thing. There’s always something to change in the company – we’ll constantly aim to go that step further. So, we need this attitude from any system provider we invest in. With Xelix, we have it,”.
In fact, her team has identified several opportunities to make the tool even more effective for their business. And she’s delighted at how positively the Xelix team welcome - and act on - their feedback.
“Little things make a huge difference for us. It’s the output people see, not what goes into the software. And we need that output in the format everyone expects. So, the team at Xelix is tweaking the software to our way of doing things,” she said.
Justifying the investment in Xelix
SaaS tools such as Xelix are an investment. As such, it’s important to ensure sufficient return. They must deliver far more than they cost.
For this retailer, senior finance manager is confident of this: “My boss recently asked me for feedback on Xelix. Whilst that’s a hard question to answer, it’s clearly about value- added. Xelix enables us to identify and reconcile items from a supplier statement in a couple of minutes. We can then clearly communicate with suppliers, highlighting missing invoices and what’s cleared for payment.
I asked Sue (the lady who worked on the project with me) how long it would take to manually reconcile 250 statements. She said 25 working days. In those same 25 days - using Xelix - we’re reconciling at least 665 statements. That’s a 266% growth in productivity. Coupled with the value-added, it’s why I can justify Xelix for our company.”
When a statement reconciliation tool has more than doubled your efficiency, it makes perfect sense to embrace it widely. And that’s exactly what this retail giant is doing.
“Our next step is to widen our automated statement reconciliation via Xelix, incorporating areas of the business not currently fed through Sage. We’ll either move them onto Sage or create additional feeds straight into Xelix.
Xelix has enabled a huge step-change for us. We can complete this resource-sapping task significantly faster and more thoroughly. We’ve also freed up endless staff hours for value- added work.
I’m confident we’ve now got the efficient automation we need for our statement reconciliation. Today, with 12,000 suppliers, and in years to come as this innovative organisation continues to expand at an astonishing pace.”
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