The perfect formation in invoice management
Being more than 125 years old, Hertha BSC isn’t exactly a digital native. Even if the paperwork is hidden behind the walls of the stadium – there is more to a successful football club than just a squad of athletic players. Fortunately, the long-standing Berlin football club and first division team can rely on great help from beyond the pitch. To make its accounting even more efficient, the accounts department at Hertha BSC relies on a digital document management system.
Hertha BSC goes for EASY in its accounting system
EASY has allowed us to reduce the time it takes to manage the invoice receipt process by 40 percent, and the approval process works more smoothly than ever before.“
Sven Gebhardt, Senior Controller and EASY Project Manager at Hertha BSC
The desire for faster processes and a departure from paper first arose several years before the project began. The administration department at Hertha BSC has comparatively few employees; despite this, it is a broadlybased organization. Several different cost centers are spread throughout the club.
With so many different channels, it can be difficult to keep track of things: Where is the invoice that I need? Who had it on their desk most recently? A document can be passed from one department to another without taking appropriate account of this step, and chaos reigns. In the end, the business partner is left waiting for the payment of their invoice or a reply.
Even when everything was going smoothly, the conditions at Hertha BSC made it difficult to establish a routine: In the accounts department, key personnel left the club on a regular basis. Although the employees who filled the vacancies were no less talented, they all brought their own style for managing the invoicing processes with them. There were too many changes to allow uniform processes to be created. In the old days, the new staff found themselves drowning in mountains of paper. It was up to their colleagues to rectify matters.
Getting out of breath during the warm-up
The changes in the starting lineup were ultimately the key reason why the executive team at Hertha BSC decided to get in touch with the project manager, Sven Gebhardt: “Please find a solution to this problem.”
The search was completed without a call for tenders. Sven Gebhardt, who mainly works in controlling, looked into the standard providers of DMS and began contacting them. At one point, a colleague approached him: “Why are you making this so hard? We already have a great solution from EASY that we use for managing our contracts.”
Until then, Hertha BSC had only used its digital contract solution for added support and in the background. The advantages of getting all the document solutions from one single source immediately became clear, however. Moreover, it was found that nothing would stand in the way of using the existing contract management solution more extensively as soon as the corresponding work-flows existed in other departments. This meant that EASY went head-to-head with three other competitors. It ultimately became clear that the flexible offer with its many options for customization, the existing standard interfaces and the good experience over the course of the previous cooperation would best suit the requirements of Hertha BSC.
A change in the game plan
The responsible person for the accounts payable was already familiar with electronic invoice processing through her previous employer. On the basis of her experience, she hoped to reduce the time spent on each process at Hertha BSC by 25 percent. Both she and Sven Gebhardt were surprised when the processes turned out to be even faster in practice!
The huge time saving is easily explained: predefined sequences in a digital process enhance the organization. In retrospect, Sven Gebhardt is able to recognize the problem: “Whenever it came to the question of ‘Who is going to process this invoice?,’ we were always making exceptions. In the short term, that approach appeared to lead more quickly to the goal, but in the long term, it made coordinated working impossible. Clear, digital pathways automatically result in more discipline.”
In this respect, Hertha BSC started off simply, and with the work-flow that the system suggested to them. During this trial phase, there were no risks whatsoever, as even after the installation, Hertha BSC was able to configure small refinements to the process at any time.
“The fact that the tool is so straightforward to use is extremely important at the practical level. After all, if you ask people what they need from the tool before they’ve had the chance to work with it themselves, their answers aren’t very helpful: they simply agree to anything that sounds halfway reasonable. After a few weeks of use, however, we kept noticing little things that we were still able to optimize. Where do we need another step? Where can a step be omitted? Where should we change the sequences so that everything ultimately runs smoothly?”, says Sven Gebhardt.
Working at home: a home run
The implementation of a digital invoice management solution at Hertha BSC began in spring 2020 during the first lock down. All of the services provided by EASY were implemented without delay, even under such adverse conditions.
The time of the introduction was absolutely perfect: the employees were happy to be able to work from home without any problems using the digital processes. The familiarization with the new software took only a few hours, also from a distance. Since then, some 1,300 invoices have been processed using the digital work-flow.
In 2021, Hertha BSC is planning to convert its accounting system to digital processes and documents one hundred percent. For this purpose, the accounts department has asked all suppliers and vendors to submit future documents electronically only rather than by letter.
The employees in the accounts department are thrilled: “EASY has allowed us to reduce the time it takes to manage the invoice receipt process by 40 percent, and the approval process works more smoothly than ever before.”