Janice Mosley, Accounts Payable Supervisor, explains the importance of having a cloud-based accounting workflow.
In late 2016, Cadence Bank embarked upon a company-wide mission to streamline invoice capture, expense reimbursement, and processing within the organization. An $11-billion in assets bank with 1,200 employees, Cadence has grown rapidly in the past eight years and needed a comprehensive, seamless approach to tackling these time-consuming tasks.
The seven-person accounting department at Cadence’s Birmingham, Alabama headquarters was spending a lot of time keying in invoice data, sent from their 65 branches in five states. Administration found it unacceptable to have an entry-level duty take up so much of its highly skilled employees’ work-week.
Cadence was already using BankTEL software to handle its companywide accounting duties—in 2011, it made the switch from Flexi—but Administration decided to upgrade to BankTEL’s latest package, the cloud-based ASCEND. This allowed the bank to make several innovative changes.
Because ASCEND has 203 different permissions, the first step was for Cadence to set up 1,100 different employee users, who were able to access vendor and invoice information to varying degrees. Now these employees are able to enter expense reports remotely, by phone, tablet, or PC, and management is able to approve reports the same way—even when they aren’t at their desk.
But the big time-saver for the accounting department is remote-scanning. In the past, when non-HQ employees received branch invoices, they would manually fill out a form, and scan and email it or physically mail it to HQ, where the accountants entered the invoice data into the system. (This process began in 2014. Before then, Cadence was filing everything on paper.)
Now the remote employees scan their invoices into the system, choose an approver from the pre-set list, and do their own data-entry and coding. All the accountants need to do is check the data and coding, and make sure all the invoices are coded correctly. This means rather than entering data, they spend their time checking for accuracy in vendor assignment, use tax, 1099 applicability, and other important information. Once the invoice is approved and/or modified by an accounting associate, the workflow process moves on to management.
According to Mosley, this saves the accounting department about 12 hours of work a week. “It was a constant, daily process, keying invoices, because you were getting them all day long. Now it’s much more efficient because our team can actually look at what’s been keyed in, but they don’t have to do the data-entry.”
These days, the accountants are able to spend their time on other department responsibilities, but they also have more time to go back and check the work of their co-workers in the accounting department. This flexibility allows Cadence to implement an extra protective step in the process, to guard against human error and fraud.
“At end of the year, most everybody takes vacation… but that’s also the time everybody puts in their end-of year invoices to be paid. So you have all these invoices from employees, and the managers are off, and we’re trying to get these invoices processed,”
says Janice Mosley, Accounts Payable Supervisor.
“With ASCEND, managers can go in on their phone and approve these invoices, and they don’t have to be in the office.”
Additionally, ASCEND has made it easier and faster for the accounting department to find documents and information as requested by their in-house auditors.
She appreciates the flexibility that comes with ASCEND.
“ASCEND stores everything and keeps a history of what you’ve done, so if you’ve missed something, you can always go back and recreate it.”
Before upgrading, “If there was something wrong, you’d have to call BankTEL, and they would have to re-run the report for you. Now, if there happens to be an error, you can correct your error in-office and go back and rerun your end-of-day. You have more independence and more control over the processing.”
Mosely appreciates BankTEL’s part in the evolution of the role of Cadence’s accounting team, and she’s glad they made the switch—both to BankTEL and to ASCEND.
“We do audit reports, add new vendors, and update vendors daily,”