The Holy Grail of business process re-engineering is STP (Straight-Through-Processing) underpinned by the principle of building in quality rather than relying on inspection to deliver low processing error rates. Put another way, using an emerging phrase of relevance to growing businesses of any size, this approach is sometimes summarised as “high-volume, light-touch processing married to low-volume, high-touch exception management”.
OK, so why does this business consultant speak belong in a PSA blog? Well, it belongs here because we built Harmony with exactly this aim, not only to maximise the automation of invoice production but also, and more crucially, to deliver the correct balance sheet accounting without any manual intervention. Why does this matter? It matters because overhead money spent on a largely manual finance department contains money we believe you could be saving.
We live up to the first principle of building in quality by modelling fully formed product objects as early as the quotation stage. Harmony’s quoted products are fully self-describing in their business and accounting behaviours, meaning that once ordered, as much as possible of the invoice and accounting processes are automated. The idea being that once you have described the manner in which a product behaves on your price list, that is exactly how it will behave once purchased. All the sales person has to do is select the right product (or bundle), the back-office detail is already worked out.
So far, so perfect, except what we find is that the real world has other ideas. More particularly, the real world has real people behind the machines and they change their minds. Even if they don’t change their minds, they have an infuriating habit of making mistakes and then asking forgiveness, even in the face of clear “Are you sure?” warnings. In a machine world, this would not happen…
But in Harmony’s world it does, and this is where exception management and process repair thinking kicks in. You want everything to happen with the least intervention, but you also want to be able to undo almost every action, sometimes multiple actions back. This is remarkably hard to build in practice, in particular when you’re driving accounting entries that require certainty and clear posted state management. So, with the key exceptions of invoice and journal release, all Harmony process steps can be undone, enabling mistakes to be corrected without requiring additional accounting entries. We even allow un-approval of timesheet bookings at the booking level within a day, needed if another part of that day has already been invoiced when the mistake is discovered.
Purchase order processing is another interesting area where misunderstandings can occur. Our invoice matching process allows purchase item price repair and the addition of ad-hoc items (such as shipping charges) before matching and payment. Purchased schedules allow for re-initialisation to correct date range differences and taxation corrections at the line level.
It is this sort of attention to detail in exception management that marks the difference between software that appears to work and software that is fit for the real world. If you would like to learn more about how Harmony can reduce invoicing and accounting error rates and so save you time and money in your back-office please call and we will be pleased to show you.
About the Author: Harmony Business Systems Ltd (HBS) is the company behind HarmonyPSA, the most complete cloud PSA software on the market. Developed with functionality to cater for even the most complex needs of MSPs, VARs, ISVs and Professional Services organisations, HarmonyPSA truly is the next generation of PSA systems. HBS is an independent company based in the UK. Follow HarmonyPSA on Twitter