Swiss Life Netherlands Accelerates Invoice Processing
PROACTIS purchasing solution helps leading pension provider
reduce costs and improve control by automating paper-based
Swiss Life Netherlands (Zwitserleven) is a leading Dutch
pensions company serving individual, SME, and large corporate
clients. Zwitserleven is an operating unit of SNS REAAL acquired
from Swiss Life Holdings in 2008. It is also a member of the Swiss
Life network. Zwitserleven has over 700 employees and premium
income of more than €1.2bn. SNS REAAL is one of the major
bank-assurance companies in the Netherlands with total assets of
When Zwitserleven Finance Managers first talked with Black
Peacock Procurement Solutions, PROACTIS' partner in the
Netherlands, they were primarily looking for a way to improve
invoice processing. With over 10,000 invoices a year, they knew
there had to be a better way than the manual process they had in
place at the time. When invoices were received in Accounts Payable,
they were physically sent to the purchase originator for review and
approval, and the invoice was returned to Accounts Payable to
At least that was the theory. In reality, invoices often sat on
peoples' desks for weeks, and sometimes disappeared completely.
Opportunities for payment discounts were routinely missed,
increasing the cost of running the business. And the time required
by Finance and Operating personnel to track down and process
invoices was also adding unnecessary cost. Another problem with the
paper-based approach was that it provided very little in terms of
purchase history, making it virtually impossible to effectively
In addition to streamlining the invoice handling process,
Zwitserleven wanted to gain better control and visibility of
purchase commitments in advance of invoice receipt - especially in
the area of IT hardware and software purchases. Like most financial
companies, IT represents a significant percentage of Zwitserleven's
annual non-payroll expense.
Black Peacock had previously helped Zwitserleven implement their
CODA-Financials system, so already had confidence in Black
Peacock's advice on how they could address their current needs.
When Zwitserleven were shown the PROACTIS purchase-to-pay solution,
they could see right away that it would give them the tools they
were looking for to automate invoice processing and later address
the full IT purchasing cycle. When they also learned that PROACTIS
was integrated with CODA-Financials at a number of other companies,
it made their decision to select PROACTIS an easy one.
The PROACTIS implementation was accomplished very quickly.
Invoice processing was brought up in just two months. The full
purchasing process was then deployed within the IT department just
four months later. Today, about 150 people interact with the
"We were very pleased with how smoothly the PROACTIS
implementation went," says Ronald de
Kort, Zwitserleven Finance Manager. "Black Peacock helped us
configure the system to fit our organisation and desired workflow,
and guided the integration with our CODA chart of accounts. They
have provided very good support since going live as well."
Zwitserleven has achieved the results they were after with
PROACTIS. Now, when invoices are received, they are scanned to
capture an electronic image and immediately registered into the
system. Using workflow and authorisation rules established within
PROACTIS, invoices requiring approval are routed electronically to
the proper person for review. Authorised invoices are sent
electronically to CODA for cheque writing.
The process typically takes a day or two instead of the weeks it
often took before. Invoices are no longer lost and opportunities
for payment discounts are rarely missed. "As a manager,
PROACTIS has made my life much easier," says de Kort.
"I've set up my profile so that I receive an email from PROACTIS
once a day with links to all of the invoices I need to review. I
can approve payment with a single click or send it to someone else
with questions. I spend much less time on invoices than I did
PROACTIS has provided measurable human resource savings across
the company. It has enabled re-allocation of one full-time position
from the Accounts Payable department and has saved at least one FTE
from other areas because of the dramatic reduction in the time and
effort spent on invoices.
In the IT department, PROACTIS is now being used to manage the
full purchase-to-pay process. Purchase requests are entered
directly by employees who need to buy any type of hardware or
Using rules established in PROACTIS, they are either immediately
approved and turned into POs, or are routed to the appropriate
manager for authorisation. Like invoices, the entire process is
electronic, so employees and managers have full visibility of
request status at all times. The same email-based approach is used
for purchase authorisations as for invoices.
Most importantly, PROACTIS is making budget management much
easier for the IT Director by providing greater control of
purchases and increased visibility of commitments. Another key
benefit Zwitserleven has realised with PROACTIS is an improved
spend analysis capability. De Kort illustrates the issue with a
story: "At the beginning of the year, our CEO asked our new
Purchasing Director to produce an analysis of our spend for the
previous year. The Director had just started a month earlier and
was not yet familiar with PROACTIS. Based on his experience at
other companies, he thought that would take days or weeks to fulfil
that request. But, in fact, he was able to produce a comprehensive
spend analysis from PROACTIS in just two hours. He was amazed. The
CEO was quite happy as well."
When asked about Zwitserleven's overall experience, de Kort
states: "We are very happy with the results from PROACTIS -
we've greatly reduced the time and effort required for invoice
processing while significantly improving visibility and control of
what we're spending. That is a great combination."