PostNord uses machine learning and AI to improve invoice pre-coding

PostNord uses machine learning and AI to improve invoice pre-coding

Hans Hasselgren
Hans Hasselgren,

As PostNord prepares its business for the future communication and logistics landscape, it decided to reengineer and transform its invoice process. The new touchless invoicing process, created together with Cognizant, contributes to PostNord’s focus on becoming a next-gen leader in communication, e-commerce distribution and logistics.

PostNord offers communications and logistics solutions to, from and within the Nordic region. The company operates on a market in constant change, where the digitalization of society together with changed communication and consumption patterns have a major impact on its requested services. Currently, they are in the process of developing the basis for tomorrow’s communication, e-commerce, distribution and logistics.

PostNord is leveraging the technology and tools to transform their internal departments and business processes, to meet the market requirements and customer needs. The Shared Services Finance team has joined hands with Cognizant to drive the improvements in their processes.

Cognizant handles F&A processes
The transformation of PostNord as a company is also reflected in the transformation of how PostNord is handling its financial and accounting services. PostNord’s key Finance and Accounting processes like Accounts Payables, Account Receivables, and General Ledger Accounting, have been performed by Cognizant delivery team from their offshore location. The nature of PostNord’s business makes solutions with purchase orders less attractive, and therefore PostNord and Cognizant joined forces and decided to make an efficient solution for invoices without a purchase order.

“In many companies, just like at PostNord, the financial and accounting processes are still designed upon a traditional paper-based procedure, only moved to different digital tools, leading to multiple manual steps across the process,” says Hans Hasselgren, Head of Business Process Services at Cognizant in the Nordics.

Getting away from manual interventions
PostNord receives around 450,000 invoices per annum through an electronic solution, email and even by post. Each received invoice must be validated and processed, resulting in heavy manual intervention for a majority of the invoices. Especially true during month-end closing, the team struggles with processing the incoming high volume of invoices, resulting in a risk of mistakes and plenty of reworks.

To combat these issues, PostNord and its F&A transformation partner Cognizant joined forces to achieve a higher degree of first time correct in the quality of pre-coding. Both the parties explored the opportunities to automate and implement a touchless end-to-end invoice process. PostNord’s ambitions included improving invoicing accuracy and metrics, reducing the manual effort and achieving overall efficiency improvements. Avoiding additional efforts during the month's close time was also high on the wish list.

“Having joined forces with our partner Cognizant for a couple of years in automation development of our processes using RPA, we are excited about the current development of using more intelligent automation. The non-PO automation is a great example of that,” says Kaj Nyman, Head of Shared Services at PostNord.

Well-suited for automation
PostNord invoice processing, with the manual validation of 14 different fields and precoding into ERP system, turned out to be an ideal candidate for automation.

Cognizant’s procure-to-pay team created a machine learning concept, together with the robotics team, where the robot validates data and pre-code the invoice in the system. Post approvals by humans, the invoice will be paid to a supplier as per the due date in the system. Cognizant’s delivery team will ensure quality checks and resolve any issues highlighted automatically by the robotics team.

Now, as the touchless invoice process is running, it’s learning and getting better each day. When the automation is fully implemented, PostNord expects that 70% of all incoming invoices will be received and pre-coded without any human intervention. The process will be highly automated and already now, PostNord experiences an increase in the quality of pre-coding.

The more complete information available in the invoices, the more will the robot’s work conditions improve. PostNord is aware of the required behavioral changes; firstly, PostNord’s employees and suppliers must provide knowledge about the required data on the invoice. Cognizant and PostNord monitor the progress and work with change management activities. Efficient processes, resulting in time savings and improved quality, benefit both the financial team and the business.

All in all, the new touchless invoicing process contributes to PostNord’s focus on becoming a next-gen leader in communication, e-commerce distribution and logistics. 

To learn more, please visit Cognizant’s Digital Finance & Accounting section of the web.

Related Publication

Study: The Work Ahead in Intelligent Automation

As businesses navigate the changes the pandemic has wrought, three watchwords stand out: complexity, resiliency and speed. This is where IPA comes in, according to our study with 4,000 executives.