Nigerian gas leader gets smart about billing management
Seven Energy is a fully-integrated gas company developing, producing and distributing gas in Nigeria. Founded in 2004, Seven Energy is now the leading integrated gas company in south-east Nigeria, with extensive upstream oil and gas interests in the region. With a deep understanding of the domestic Nigerian gas market, Seven Energy has won market share supplying gas to local power generation and manufacturing industries, principally through its integrated processing and pipeline infrastructure. Seven Energy has 150 employees, the majority based in Nigeria, and it delivers gas to two power stations and a cement plant. The company is headquartered in London and Lagos.
Accountability is paramount to Seven Energy’s success. “We often have transactions for significant dollar amounts,” Richard points out. “Having vital business contract documentation stored away securely in a digital content management system means we never have to dig into cabinets of paper. It also avoids data duplication and promotes much better contract management all-round.
FULLY INTEGRATED AND ALWAYS-AVAILABLE
For the first years of its growth, Seven Energy had been using a US-hosted external finance system at its admin base in the UK and Nigeria, but this had ended up as less efficient than desired. All invoices were manually printed off and stored in folders, while documents for overseas approval were signed off by scanning a document and emailing. This disjointed process had ended up as an unwieldy workflow with extensive administration overhead, as well as being open to error.
As a result, Seven Energy’s leadership sought to replace the finance system and implement a purchase-to-pay system which would incorporate requisitions, purchase orders and invoices all with online approval. To back this up, they needed a fully integrated and always-available, central Document Management (DM) system.
Seven Energy reached out to EASY Software UK, through their partner TouchstoneEnergy, to see if the market-leading ECM (Enterprise Content Management) supplier could help. The company were able to make a decision based on two positive factors: EASY was a known and trusted partner for the supplier of its core finance system, Infor SunSystems, while its extensive references were another big thumbs-up, as they demonstrated how the vendor had a proven track record integrating and working on ECM finance and procurement software integration with similar enterprise clients.
It was clear that EASY SOFTWARE UK systems avoid data duplication and promote much better contract management all-round.
The solution that EASY has delivered has enabled Seven Energy to rapidly streamline its payment procedures, which now all adhere to strict payment terms and carefully set payment dates. “If there are any queries, users can quickly go into the system and look at the scanned image of the invoice, which is great for us as well as our supply chain,” adds Richard Ray, Group Systems Manager at Seven Energy.
Key to the solution is the use of a unique reference which is achieved using barcode stickers. The barcode references are entered into the procurement system when the invoice is registered, providing the link to the document in EASY. When the invoice is submitted for approval, the user can view the internal coding of the document but also view the original scan. Seven Energy has also implemented Infor BI (Business Intelligence) which enables users to drill down from a single balance to the individual transaction level and pull up the relevant invoices through the document management system, any time they want to.
“The beauty of this is it can be done from anywhere – London, Lagos or wherever there is an Internet connection,” Richard adds.
The new EASY DM finance documentation system has also enabled Seven Energy to get an overview of its often complex tax returns (due to the international nature of its business). With three different types of tax in Nigeria alone, that’s a real help, as it’s made it much easier to track tax enquiries right across the business, says Richard. Now, thanks to EASY, internal tax specialists can easily pull up invoices, terms and conditions from the document management system.
EFFICIENT DIGITAL CONTRACT STORAGE
Seven Energy also uses EASY to store contracts and associated documents that are held in a third party contract management system. Seven chose to store the documents in EASY as staff were already familiar with the software for invoices and the indexing and fast retrieval were also key to their requirements.
That’s because accountability is paramount to Seven Energy’s success. “We often have transactions for significant dollar amounts,” Richard points out. “Having vital business contract documentation stored away securely in a digital content management system means we never have to dig into cabinets of paper. It also avoids data duplication and promotes much better contract management all-round,” he says.
The document management system has also been extremely beneficial in managing one of the processes that has the largest amount of transactions within the organisation – travel expenses. “The ability to have all the necessary travel and invoice documentation scanned and always available has made things a lot easier for our travel admin and accounts payable teams, who deal with a high volume of travel requests,” he confirms.
All in all, Seven Energy says it’s formed an “excellent working relationship with EASY”, thanks to the success of the invoices and contracts deployment.
So far, Seven Energy has seen tangible benefits from EASY in terms of reduced administration overheads and improved efficiency and productivity. But the journey isn’t over yet, says Richard.
That’s because Seven Energy’s next step is to implement the scanning and archiving of all finance journal back-up. The plan: when a user posts a journal, it will be assigned a unique reference and that will be used to attach supporting documentation within EASY. This will allow the journal approvers to view the supporting documents directly in the document management system.
To put that in context, at present each journal that is posted, is printed out along with any supporting documentation. The approver will then manually sign the documents before filing them. The move will also help third parties, especially auditors. The idea is to give external auditors read-only access so they’ll be able to carry out their work without any need to find origins of a part or set of journals external to SunSystems. Seven Energy believes that once this new process is in place, it will reduce the amount of queries; deployment is scheduled for the first half of 2017.
”EASY said that once you get a document management system in a particular department and people can see the benefits, then the use of document management quickly spreads out into other areas.”
“I think that is what we would like to see,” concludes Richard. “We really are only scratching the surface here at Seven Energy with ECM and EASY.”