BlueScope futureproofs its finance function to achieve efficiency beyond costs savings

In partnership with Capgemini, BlueScope implements automation and standardized operations that deliver improved productivity in addition to lower costs.

Innovating within the steel industry

With its roots in the Australian steel industry dating back to 1915, BlueScope has built a strong history on the foundations of innovation, technology, and expertise, leading to expansion into a variety of global markets, including India, China, and North America.

Today, BlueScope is recognised as a global industry leader and the third largest manufacturer of premium branded coated and painted steel products. BlueScope maintains 100 manufacturing facilities across 18 countries, with 14,000 employees dedicated to delivering best-in-class services and products to its customers.

Supporting this commitment requires a constant drive to identify and implement new technology. As part of this effort, BlueScope understood the opportunity to achieve increased optimisation, enhanced efficiency, higher productivity levels, and improved cost effectiveness in its finance and accounting (F&A) operations. This fit with the organisation’s relentless pursuit of cost savings, improving its ability to serve both its customers and communities.

Developing a joint approach to efficient F&A processes

BlueScope was struggling to bring efficiency into its F&A processing. As an example, the organisation was operating on four different ERPs and had 73 different ways to pay an invoice within accounts payable (AP) processing. The inefficiency and complexity of its highly manual AP processes resulted in a backlog of 24,000 invoices, as well as incorrect, duplicate, and delayed vendor payments that were hampering its credit position.

BlueScope needed a technology-agnostic partner with an established history of supporting process optimisation and efficiency. Having enjoyed a longstanding partnership since 2002, Capgemini and BlueScope have delivered on a number of effective collaborative projects. This mutual trust and history of success led BlueScope to choose Capgemini as a partner to manage the centralisation and industrialisation of its F&A processes.

To minimise the impact on BlueScope’s normal operations, the partners adopted an ambitious eight-week schedule to align and standardise all F&A processes in three phases. As a first step, Capgemini and BlueScope planned to industrialise BlueScope’s AP processes with improved quality, efficiency, and effectiveness. This would also embed financial controls and processes in technology, and refocus the finance function on driving performance.

Delivering a customised F&A solution

Capgemini delivered a solution that leverages best-of-breed transformational methodologies to streamline and standardize BlueScope’s F&A processes before implementing automation:

  • ESOAR – a unique transformation methodology that addresses the underlying causes of inefficiency in business operations, before working on the actual symptoms.
  • Automation Drive – an “automation first” approach to understanding technology that delivers a unified, open, and dynamic suite of intelligent automation tools, services, and expertise, including the “Five Senses of Intelligent Automation.”
  • Digital Global Enterprise Model© – a flexible, platform-based methodology for business transformation and benchmarking that delivers a comprehensive approach for rapidly transforming business operations while minimising cost and risk.

As part of their effort to drive centralisation of F&A operations, Capgemini and BlueScope first established a central Command Centre from which all finance processes could be managed and consolidated. The Command Centre provides visibility into business KPIs, as well as a real-time view into health metrics such as the percentage of invoices paid on time and the amount of unapplied cash.

This enhanced BlueScope’s visibility into overall efficiency improvements by introducing a new set of business metrics for the organisation to track. It also enhanced BlueScope’s ability to identify new opportunities for future innovation and improved its decision-making processes.

Capgemini also leveraged a variety of tools and technologies, including spend analytics, cash forecasting, and robotics to fix asset transactions. Together, these implementations created a solution that reduced costs and drove efficiency, while enabling BlueScope to continue updating and standardising its finance processes.

Automating accounts payable

The partners then implemented Celaton inSTREAMTM, which utilises artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate and enhance BlueScope’s accounts payable (AP) processes for improved efficiency. inSTREAMTM receives and scans emailed invoices, using intelligent character recognition (ICR) to extract the core data from each document – while machine learning enables the system to build up a library of patterns that it applies to future invoices.

inSTREAMTM then categorises and verifies each invoice before checking for duplicates, assigning a priority, and routing the documents for final processing. To prevent errors, the system generates a query if it encounters an invoice it cannot fully comprehend. It learns from the human activity carried out to resolve the query, enabling the system to handle similar challenges on its own in the future.

On top of automation, the team also designed supporting processes such as audit control and compliance. They set up a process spanning an 18-month backlog to identify duplicates and recover the money. By mid-2018, BlueScope had leveraged robotic process automation (RPA) to implement continuous transaction monitoring for duplicate payments. This enabled the organisation to move from a detective to a preventive audit, identifying duplicate invoices worth 17 million Australian dollars and successfully recovering or preventing 99% of them.

Standardised operations and improved productivity at reduced cost

Through collaborating with Capgemini, BlueScope transformed its F&A operations, resulting in:

  • Increased optimisation
  • Enhanced efficiency
  • Higher productivity levels
  • Significant cost savings
  • 1.5 days saved due to direct interface to emailed invoices
  • 83% of invoices fully automated
  • 99% of duplicate invoices successfully identified and recovered
  • Greater preparedness for new interfaces, robotic processes, and advanced analytics
  • Improved vendor and credit position
  • Elimination of large manually maintained priority vendor lists
  • Greater preparedness for new interfaces, robotic processes, and advanced analytics
  • Improved vendor and credit position
  • Improved robustness and predictability in the cash flow leading to better planning

BlueScope now has greater control over and visibility into the performance of its F&A processes. With its best-in-class automated operations and new Command Centre, BlueScope is now better prepared for the future and has achieved cost reductions and improved productivity that will enable it to deliver greater benefits to its customers.

Through simplifying its invoicing processes with inSTREAMTM, BlueScope has improved its responsiveness and accuracy. The rapid delivery of the project ensured that BlueScope was able to integrate the solution smoothly without suffering major disruptions to, or delays in, its services.

The collaborative approach

Through their collaborative effort, BlueScope and Capgemini achieved a successful transformation that would have otherwise been difficult to accomplish. By combining BlueScope’s industry knowledge with Capgemini’s technical expertise and transformation approach, the partners created a customised, best-in-class F&A solution that has delivered short-term benefits, while also preparing BlueScope for the future.

BlueScope has once again demonstrated its commitment to innovation, delivering industry-leading services and products to its customers. Capgemini has added another success to its extensive history of impactful transformation projects and through its world-class approach has positioned itself as a partner for the future.

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BlueScope futureproofs its...

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