Denihan Hospitality Group

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Industry

  • Hospitality

Challenge

  • AP staff was spending unproductive time manually processing, managing, filing, retrieving, and sharing paper files
  • Paper documents being routed among several locations caused poor visibility into the invoice approval process
  • Responding to audits was costly and time-consuming as files stored off-site had to be shipped back to the office to be accessed
  • Inability to efficiently locate financial documents prevented departmental managers from performing month-end responsibilities in a timely manner

Solution

  • Mailroom services
  • Scanning and indexing of invoices upon receipt
  • Workflow automation software
  • Cloud document management software
  • Integration services

Impact

  • Mailroom services
  • Workflow automation software
  • Cloud document management software
  • Integration services

Executive Summary

The Denihan Hospitality Group oversees a privately held and independently operated hotel portfolio on the Eastern Seaboard, which includes distinctly recognizable brands Affinia Hotels, The Benjamin, The James, and The Surrey.

Because the company operates multiple hotel and office locations, their accounts payable department faced several logistical challenges. Their paper-based process made it difficult to track invoices as they were passed between approvers across multiple locations, and AP staff was wasting valuable time keeping track of them. There was also an underlying risk of losing or misplacing the invoices.

In addition, because Denihan stored archived files off-site, responding to audits was painful. Pulling the hundreds of files requested by auditors meant having file boxes located in storage and shipped back to the AP department from storage, which was time-consuming and expensive.

To simplify document access and streamline the AP process, Denihan turned to Digiscribe for document scanning services, implementation of document management software, and later, AP workflow automation software and outsourced mailroom services.

Challenges

Although the company’s financial department was partially automated with an electronic purchasing process, their accounts payable process was paper-based. AP staff was spending too much time manually managing, filing, and retrieving paper documents, which could easily be misplaced or lost.

These paper-related problems were compounded during the month-end reconciliation process when the AP staff was inundated with document requests from managers throughout the organization. The influx of requests curtailed AP staff productivity, as they had to interrupt core business functions to find and fax the requested documents. When documents couldn’t be found quickly, the delays prevented departmental managers from performing their month-end responsibilities in a timely manner.

Once processed, paper invoices were housed in off-site document storage which made it cumbersome for employees to access them, especially when it came time for audits. In fact, to access invoices from past years – as is necessary for year-end and state sales tax audits – AP staff had to have file boxes shipped back to them from storage. This proved to be time consuming and costly.

Tracking invoices through the approval process was also difficult. Denihan Hospitality operates multiple hotel locations, which meant invoices were often mistakenly sent directly to hotels instead of to the office where the AP staff is located. Because invoices were paper-based, they had to be rerouted to the AP department by mail, slowing down the approval process. Even correctly-routed invoices took a long time to process, as they had to be approved by individuals across various locations.

Denihan turned to Digiscribe because they needed a way to streamline the AP process, and ultimately free up employees to spend less time managing paper invoices and more time on more important work.

Solutions

Phase One: Document Scanning & Cloud Document Management

Denihan chose to address their pain points in two phases. For the first phase, Digiscribe provided a cloud-based, paperless document management system which allowed staff to easily store, access, distribute, and share processed AP documents throughout the organization directly from their computers. Denihan quickly saved thousands of dollars by eliminating the need for physical file storage and improved efficiency.

On a weekly basis, Denihan sent thousands of paid invoices, checks, and AP files to Digiscribe for prepping, scanning, and indexing at their secure SOC 2 Type 2 production facility. In order to ensure accurate and dependable retrieval, the documents were manually indexed by check number and reference number, then automatically enhanced with 14 index fields matched from Denihan’s accounting system such as vendor name, invoice number, purchase order number, or dollar amount. Document retrieval was robust and reliable as there were a multitude of fields that could be searched on. The automation of index values contained costs, eliminated unnecessary key strokes, and minimized the possibility of keying errors.

“In my experience, the hospitality industry can lag behind with technology because the focus is on the front of the house and service. It was time to become more efficient and more automated and to eliminate the paper.”
-Madaline Ansalone, VP and Corporate Controller, Denihan Hospitality Group

To allow for real-time access to information, Digiscribe integrated the document management software with Denihan’s existing ERP platform, Microsoft Dynamics SL. AP staff could instantly look-up supporting documentation for any transaction by using a simple keystroke directly from within the system.

Phase Two: Workflow Automation and a Digital Mailroom

Denihan was so pleased with their relationship with Digiscribe and the benefits of managing their paid invoices digitally, they decided to further streamline their accounts payable department by automating the approval and payment process with workflow automation software and outsourcing their mailroom to Digiscribe.

“We went paperless on the back end but we were looking to be more efficient on the front end. We were looking for workflow, and Digiscribe came through for us.”
-Madaline Ansalone, VP and Corporate Controller, Denihan Hospitality Group

With an outsourced mailroom, all invoices are mailed to a dedicated PO box monitored by Digiscribe, scanned and indexed, then loaded into workflow automation software for digital routing and approval based on Denihan’s business rules. This new digital approval process moves invoices along seamlessly to the appropriate person at the property level or in the corporate office for review. Valid PO-based invoices automatically flow into Microsoft Dynamics for automatic payment while non PO-based invoices go through an approval route first. Most importantly, all invoices are tracked providing management insight into the AP process.

The workflow automation software features real-time reports and dashboards that provide clear visibility into Denihan’s processes. Management and staff are automatically alerted to issues, process changes, and other areas that may require their focus. The data also allows management to better control expenses, eliminating the risk of understating, overstating, or recording them in the wrong time period. This makes annual budgeting easier and more accurate.

Since implementing workflow automation and a digital mailroom, the Denihan team enjoys faster processing, better visibility and controls, more accurate budgeting, – and it’s all 100% paperless.

Impact

  • A streamlined, highly efficient accounts payable process
  • Improved expense control and reporting, making annual budgeting simpler and more accurate
  • Better visibility into outstanding expenses and invoice approval progress
  • Improved data security and regulatory compliance due to audit trails, security logs, and utilization reports
  • Streamlined audit preparation and faster audit responsiveness
  • Enhanced staff productivity and morale
  • Ability to focus on value-added work such as improving processes and controls, not chasing paper
  • Reallocation of one AP staff member
  • No more lost or misplaced documents slowing down processes
  • No more manual data entry and related errors
  • Eliminated missed or late payments
  • Saved thousands of dollars by eliminating the need for off-site file storage
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Testimonial

In my experience, the hospitality industry can lag behind with technology because the focus is on the front of the house and service. We had already gone paperless on the back-end of the accounts payable process but we were looking to be more efficient on the front-end. We were looking for AP workflow automation, and Digiscribe came through for us.


Madaline Ansalone, VP & Corporate Controller
Denihan Hospitality Group
New York, NY