Northeast Treatment Centers (NET) is a Philadelphia-based non-profit which provides a continuum of trauma-informed behavioural health and social services designed to meet complex needs of all family members. The organisation has more than 800 staff and provides services for more than 10,000 consumers each year. NET has 15 locations throughout Greater Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and the state of Delaware and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020.
In this guest blog post, NET’s Controller, Robert Ferrandino, and Accounts Payable Specialist, Teresamarie Morris, explain how Chrome River’s expense and invoice automation solutions let business flow by enabling the finance team to focus on high value activities.
We started using Chrome River’s invoice and expense management solutions about a year ago. Before then, our manual, paper-based solution got to the stage where it really couldn’t cope any longer. The workflows were inefficient, there was potential for duplicate invoices being approved for payment, and approvers sometimes needed to physically be in office to approve. In addition, invoices were always imported in batches, so we could not approve and deny individual invoices within that batch. Ultimately this led to an unacceptable level of risk for untimely payments and mis-postings, which our auditors don't like!
On the expense side, one of the biggest challenges was mileage tracking. As many of our team members spend a significant amount of time on the road, calculating mileage reimbursements became a major time-suck for them, and verifying these amounts was also very time-consuming for approvers.
Read more: How Manual Expense Reporting is Killing Your Finance Team’s Efficiency
Bringing Chrome River on board has driven major productivity improvements for both end-users and the finance team, and has also enabled NET to more quickly and accurately process expenses and invoices.
Our employees love the ability to submit mileage simply by entering the start and destination addresses into the expense system. The mileage is then automatically calculated, with a map generated and attached to the expense for submission. This also makes it very easy for us to verify that each trip is valid before it’s approved for reimbursement, and improves our internal controls for the auditing process.
For the finance team, moving from paper to an online solution has brought even greater benefits. Invoices are entered directly into the system, with images of the originals attached to each record. This cuts out the time and also the space needed for paper invoices to be filed and stored by the team. We can also immediately see if any duplicate invoices have been entered as these are flagged within the system.
In addition, the workflow has been drastically improved. This means that invoices and expenses are automatically routed to the correct individuals, regardless of what the specific approval rules are for a given item. As a result, invoices are paid more quickly, and our team’s expense claims can also be reimbursed in a more timely manner, which certainly helps with team morale.
Accounting time to report financials has also become significantly faster and more efficient due to the capability of reviewing all transactions in one centralised location, without having to log on to multiple systems to view each type. Likewise with our credit cards, it is very easy to view and reconcile each purchase, as the receipt images automatically match up with the card issuer’s transaction data. This is both quick and easy to use, and allows us to finalise billing soon after the end of the month.
As NET is a non-profit, we must ensure that every penny that isn’t spent specifically on our customer’s care is used as responsibly as possible, and that unnecessary spend is minimised. Chrome River’s analytics reporting solution is a great tool to run various reports that allow us to easily visualise the organisation’s spend, so we can see where efficiencies can be gained. We run a lean operation, so any solution that we can use to minimise time and money spent on administrative work – both from our care professionals and our finance team – makes it easier for us to focus on our core mission of supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.