TUI Achieves End-to-End Automation of Financial Processes

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TUI Group is the world’s number one tourism group operating in around 180 destinations worldwide. The company offers its around 27 million customers, including 21 million in the national organizations in Europe, comprehensive services from a single source.

CHALLENGE 

TUI Group covers the entire tourism value chain under one roof. This comprises more than 380 own hotels and resorts with premium brands such as RIU and Robinson, as well as 17 cruise ships ranging from the MS Europa and MS Europa 2 luxury class vessels to the “Mein Schiff” fleet of TUI Cruises and the vessels of Marella Cruises in the UK. TUI Group also includes leading international tour operator brands, 1,600 travel agencies in Europe and five European leisure airlines with around 150 modern medium- and long-haul aircraft.

Consumer travel is a competitive and price-sensitive industry in which operators face constant pressure on margins. To ensure ongoing profitability while delighting customers and paying business partners promptly, TUI wanted to reduce back-office costs, boost the speed and consistency of financial processes through automation, and increase cross-border standardisation.

TUI had chosen to migrate its ERP financial system from Oracle to SAP, and wanted to achieve the same or higher degree of process automation in the new environment. However, the sheer scale, complexity and variance of TUI’s global business presented a significant obstacle.

Some five million incoming supplier invoices each year meant that Accounts Payable was a business-critical target for automation, but TUI took a more comprehensive view. Targeting the entire chain of financial processes across Purchase to Pay (P2P), Order to Cash (O2C) and Record to Report (R2R), the company set out to find a best-of-breed automation solution capable of handling the scale and complexity of its business.

The ultimate promise of automation at TUI was to enable country offices to work together more effectively, to help senior management better understand costs, to settle invoices accurately and rapidly, and to ensure that millions of vacations went as smoothly as possible.

Read: A Checklist for Developing a Future-Proof AP Organization

SOLUTION

TUI selected Kofax ReadSoft Process Director™ for SAP as its strategic platform for automating financial processes across P2P, O2C and R2R. “The Kofax solution forms a seamless element within our SAP landscape,” said Matthew Miles. “The flexibility of the Kofax technology, and the short timeframe in which we got the integrated solution up and running, met our needs well.”

Since Process Director actually resides within the SAP system, the solution eliminates the need for ongoing integration or exporting of core data, and provides a completely familiar interface for rapid and easy user acceptance. Most important, the solution is certified for compliance with SAP, ensuring full compatibility and reducing deployment risk.

Regardless of their format—whether fax, paper, PDF or EDI— Process Director uses advanced OCR combined with rules-based validation to capture all incoming documents across all channels. Fully integrated with SAP, the solution interprets and processes these incoming documents rapidly, efficiently and without the need for human intervention.

TUI uses Process Director across a growing number of process areas within finance—automating not only the receipt and approval of five million incoming invoices annually, but also Purchase Requisitions, Sales Order Processing, Master Data Management, Financial Postings, Reporting, and more besides.

After working with Kofax on the rollout to UK and Ireland, TUI was able to manage the rollout to its Central region without assistance, and will soon complete deployment to the Nordic region. This self-sufficiency extends to the customization of the solution: TUI is using Process Director as a workflow platform for automating other areas of SAP functionality, giving the company the freedom and flexibility to adapt to changing requirements in all geographies without incurring high costs for external consultants.

Crucially, TUI was able to roll out to these new regions without external support, as they quickly became self-sufficient in working with Process Director. In addition, new functionality to support custom processes that are specific to TUI have been automated entirely with in-house skills.

Process Director offers out-of-the-box support for country-specific requirements globally—including languages, currencies, taxation regimes, regulatory frameworks, and so on. The solution also gives TUI ease and flexibility in customization to meet organization-specific requirements in different regions or business areas. TUI has adapted Process Director to meet the demands of a number of specialized billing cycles and payment plans.

“With Process Director for SAP, we have automated what was a complicated deposit reclaims process between TUI and hoteliers,” said Matthew Miles. “The solution saves time and effort, and allows us all to avoid labour-intensive manual activities and focus on the core business.”

While Process Director is fully customizable to TUI’s needs, it also presents a completely familiar look-and-feel to existing SAP users. The tight integration between the two environments eliminates the need to manage business rules and master data in two different systems, and the storage of data (for example, images of invoices) in standard SAP structures and formats makes the solution easy to audit. Status information is available in real time, and fast end-to-end reporting meets TUI’s objectives as a KPI-driven organization.

RESULTS

By deploying Process Director as an integral element within its SAP landscape, TUI has significantly increased the level of standardization and automation in its P2P, O2C and R2R processes. The solution is a modular platform to automate a wide spectrum of financial activities, including Invoice Processing, Payment Approvals, Purchase Requisitions, Sales Order Processing, Financial Postings and Master Data Management.

“The regional TUI offices now uses Process Director, and the solution ensures that all incoming data is classified using the same shared accounting standards,” said Matthew Miles. “International collaboration is now much quicker and easier, as we no longer have to perform manual work-arounds to get everyone on the same page.”

The elimination of manual processing for incoming invoices also saves significant time and effort, while the enforcement of shared standards means that the company enjoys fast access to the consolidated financial information it requires.

“We now have a much more granular view of international operations,” said Matthew Miles.

Process Director has also increased the speed at which TUI processes incoming invoices from business partners. The solution automatically converts invoices in all languages, currencies, and file types into a single standardized format, presenting them to employees for approval with a single click. The majority of TUI’s invoices now pass straight through its systems with a final one-touch level of human intervention within the Payment Approval process. Process Director also helps by rapidly identifying and escalating those incoming invoices that are submitted too early or are otherwise incorrect, enabling TUI to handle these exceptions much more efficiently than before.

“With Process Director, most incoming invoices are now automatically receipted and can be approved for final payment through a genuine one-touch process,” said Matthew Miles. “The automation provided by the Kofax solution represents a significant time saving, enabling us to redirect administrative resources towards activities that add more value to our customers and partners.”

In the UK, large companies are now required to report on the average time taken to pay suppliers. By processing incoming invoices faster and simplifying the approvals process, Process Director helps TUI pay its suppliers on time, strengthening its relationships with them and supporting them in delivering great vacation experiences.

Using Process Director for SAP is helping TUI manage the vast scale and diversity of its financial processes efficiently and accurately, industrializing critical back-office processing and enabling finance staff to focus on higher-value activities.

“Kofax is helping us to drive greater value out of our investment in SAP technology,” said Matthew Miles. “Process Director has helped us streamline invoice processing and given us greater control over our international operations. High rates of no-touch automation have improved the speed and efficiency of our financial processes, and increased standardization positions us for better economies of scale as our business grows. Crucially, the solution also improves financial visibility and control, and ensures full compliance with our SAP environment.”

This article is sponsored by Kofax

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