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Two years ago, Alltel Wireless was saving about $1 million annually by paying certain invoices by the deadline and receiving a prompt-pay discount. This year, the savings have climbed to almost $17 million, thanks to an automated document processing solution the firm implemented, according to Lynn Smith, finance manager for accounts payable (A/P). Now things happen quickly, and Alltel is no longer flying blind. “Before we couldn’t tell which invoices were for $5 and which were for $5 million until they had been manually entered,” she says. “We were always guessing about the potential impact on cash flow and working capital.”

Duplicate payments, once a problem, have been eliminated, she adds. Furthermore, Alltel cut its invoice data entrystaff from eight to just one-and-a- half and stopped paying overtime. Before, staff often worked 10-hour days and postponed vacations in the scramble to keep up. “Now we rarely have any backlog at the end of the day,” Smith reports. “What used to take us days or even weeks now takes just hours,” she testifies. An automated, orderly process means much less time spent fielding calls from unpaid suppliers, she adds. “Our help desk was flooded with calls before,” she points out.

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