The university’s finance department had been working with document process automation specialists Esker since 2003 after it installed a fax solution for use alongside the finance department’s existing SAP ERP system.
However, with its servers coming up to five years old and in need of replacement, the department had the option of making a significant investment in new servers, or considering a new option – in the form of an on Demand fax solution, developed by Esker, whose Northern European headquarters is in Derby.
After holding discussions with the technical team at Esker, the decision was taken to adopt their latest cloud based technology for the procure to pay cycle.
Sue Lee, manager of the Staff Information Services team in the University’s IT Services department, gives us the background to the project:
“We had enjoyed a successful working relationship with Esker since 2003 when they installed a system connected to our own SAP ERP system. However, we used to run this on the university’s own server and support it ourselves, which could be fairly problematic at times and wasn’t really a cost effective option going forward.
“After considering all the possible options, it made sense to migrate the whole of our procure to pay fax system to Esker’s innovative fax as a cloud service.”
Stephen Wynne Jones, Technical Director at Esker Northern Europe, explains the increasing popularity of Esker’s cloud based services:
“Esker’s ‘Fax as a Cloud’ service offers a cost effective and reliable service to businesses of all sizes - with no significant hardware or software investment. It is increasing in popularity thanks to the fact that it integrates seamlessly and securely with ERP applications such as SAP and offers real-time fax status notification and round-the-clock fax service availability.
“There are two ways that document can be processed. They can be transmitted to an Esker production facility using a secure SAP Remote Function Call (RFC) communication between SAP routers and received by a multi-tenant Esker server platform with SAP Certified Integration.
“Or, a certified solution transports documents directly from an existing SAP application to an Esker production facility through an authenticated, encrypted and secured connection. Once the fax is delivered to its recipient, a fax status is fed into the SAP system, updated in real-time and is visible to users.”
The implementation process went extremely smoothly for Sue and her team at the University of Leicester:
“We encountered no problems whatsoever with switch-over, which was imperative given the nature of our business.
“Prior to installation, the team at Esker carried out extensive business user acceptance testing. This enabled us to road test the system prior to implementation and identify any potential problems before the system went live.
“For instance, we were able to find out what would happen if the fax numbers that had been supplied to us were incorrect and could work to solve these issues in advance.
“We have already noticed tangible benefits, both in terms of time and cost savings.
“We have also eliminated the need to renew our servers, which would have been a significant expenditure.
“As far as return on investment is concerned, it is early days, but it already looks like the Esker solution will save time and resources for the finance department, as well as improving the efficiency and accuracy of our activities.
“At the moment, we are only utilising the Esker solution for the delivery of faxes, but given the success of the new cloud based solution, we are exploring plans to expand to a full procure to pay system at some stage in the future.
“The finance department is likely to remain the main user of the system, but we are keeping the solution in mind for roll-out to other departments at a later stage.
“Esker have always been extremely responsive – the systems processes are straightforward and we rarely have to phone for support – in fact, I wouldn’t even know the phone number of Esker’s support help line!
“We are delighted with the results and look forward to working with Esker going forward,” added Sue.
Esker is a recognised leader in helping organisations eliminate manual processes, gain process visibility and control, and reduce the use of paper by automating the flow of documents into, within and out of the organisation.
Founded in 1985, Esker operates globally with more than 80,000 customers and millions of licensed users worldwide. Esker has global headquarters in Lyon, France and U.S. headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.