Moving with the times - and into the cloud

Editorial Type: Case Study Date: 2020-12-01 Views: 633 Tags: Document, Capture, Scanning, Cloud, Accounts Payable, Compliance, PFU, Fujitsu, EASY Software PDF Version:
Amey is achieving seamless Business Continuity in its HR & Accounts Payable functions throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, thanks to a combination of Cloud-based digital document management from EASY Software and Fujitsu scanning solutions from PFU (EMEA)

Amey plc is one of the UK's largest and best-known facilities management, civil engineering and infrastructure management companies, with a large project footprint in the UK public sector. Today there are around 16,000 people working for the organisation, though numbers can peak at much higher than that depending on the volume and type of contracts the company is managing at any one time. All of this adds up to a vast administrative workload, from both a finance and HR perspective.

In 2002, when Amey first implemented SAP as its finance and resource management system, it invested in EASY Software's SAP Packaged Services (Capture and Archive) to capture and manage incoming Accounts Payable (AP) documents electronically. With 12,000 invoices coming into the business each month, on average, Amey needed a means to capture, store and access these without reliance on paper.

When Spanish facilities management group Ferrovial acquired Amey the following year, this newly streamlined AP process helped support the move to a Financial Shared Service centre at Oxford Science Park. As further complementary companies joined the organisation, bringing in large government contracts, the business deployed EASY Capture in a number of regional offices.

Fast forward to today, and 95 per cent of all invoices come into the business digitally with progressively less reliance on an external scanning service to convert incoming paper documents into scanned files.

Even more transformational for Amey has been the use of EASY software for capturing and organising HR documents. Each time Amey takes on or finishes a new major contract, it has to bring in or phase out what might be 500 people at a time, involving a lot of red tape. "The nature of the work we do means there can be a massive turnover of staff, and extraordinarily high numbers documents to process under TUPE (transfer of undertakings) obligations as people come into our operations and leave again," explains Stephen Butler, Amey's Senior Application Support Manager.

For over a decade now, Amey has used EASY-enabled electronic document archiving to provide a HR document management solution that integrates with the company's SAP HCM (Human Capital Management) and vFire Case Management systems. This supports HR professionals in administering Amey's critical talent pool, providing ready access to confidential documents over a secure web client.

With content and process digitisation high on its agenda, and a cloud-first strategy now a business priority at Amey, the company implemented a significant upgrade to EASY Software's latest technology in 2019. As well as providing access to the latest functionality and features, this has meant that all software and records now run in the cloud, on a secure Microsoft Azure platform - supporting Amey's ambition to reduce reliance on its own on-premise data centre infrastructure.

Amey also took this opportunity to separate its HR and financials databases, so they could each run on their own server - for greater resilience and scalability. "Our aim is to move everything - all of our applications - to the cloud," explains Jono Cook, Amey's Applications Manager who oversaw the latest EASY upgrade.

The timing of the transition could not have been more fortunate. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 95 per cent of Amey's Accounts Payable documents and 100 per cent of all HR information was being captured digitally and made available securely via the cloud to authorised staff. This meant that these departments could continue working, uninterrupted, from team members' respective homes.

"Users can now simply 'Save to EASY' using their laptops or other devices from home, which meant the sudden call to work from home didn't affect their workloads," Stephen notes. "With the latest EASY software, we are not dependent on having people in the office to print attached documents and scan them into our core systems. I think a lot of other businesses will have been caught out without that facility."

End-to-end document digitisation boosts compliance with regulations like GDPR, too. "The risk of mis-filing or failing to shred documents is removed once you can capture the content straight to the intended secure system," Stephen explains. "In HR, that's invaluable. Each time someone joins the company they have to send in a copy of their passport, for instance. Now these documents can be captured without paper. When you consider that we operate a number of contracts for the Government, you can appreciate how important that kind of assurance is."

On the capture side Amey uses the predecessor of the Fujitsu fi-7600 scanner, which offers reliable and uninterrupted scanning of a wide range of documents. Fujitsu's impressive current range of production level scanners are capable of scanning up to A3 double-sided documents seamlessly and intuitively into business processes. The latest in feeding mechanism technologies include acoustic sensors, a skew protection that helps ensure enhanced operation during the scan process and a new stacking design that helps control the paper output.

Scan speeds of up to 100ppm/200ipm A4 landscape pages per minute are possible through the 300 sheet ADF. An adjustable ADF can dis-engage the rollers meaning booklets, filled envelopes and thicker material up to 413g/m2 can be effortlessly scanned to broaden the scanners capabilities.

The fi-7600 is bundled with PaperStream IP; a scanner driver that supports TWAIN/ISIS and allows for optimal image capture routines and PaperStream Capture for hassle free creation of profiles such as batch scanning and subsequent efficient input into workflows.

Anyone wishing to get hold of an evaluation or demo unit of any of the Fujitsu scanner range to try for themselves or at a customer site is urged to visit PFU's enablement platform at for more information.

The overall efficiency gains, meanwhile, have been so substantial that Amey doesn't even attempt to quantify them. "The fact that we can track down any document at any time and from anywhere is transformational, and made the difference between critical business functions being able to maintain continuity during lockdown or not," Stephen says. "That's on top of the saving we make on having dedicated people who otherwise would have spent their days scanning paperwork."

Having the people from EASY Software close at hand continues to be a huge source of reassurance, too, Jono says: "They are brilliant. There is always a quick turnaround if I ever need them; we're never left waiting in a queue for assistance. The software does everything we need it to do, it saves us money, and is very intuitive and easy to use - and the maintenance costs are extremely low."

"I can honestly say that we extract every bit of value we can from the system," Stephen concludes. "The fact that we can bring in documents digitally and view them on the screen without any form of paper being involved gives us end-to-end efficiency gains. Although we always consider competitive alternatives, we have never yet seen a reason to move away from EASY Software. They give us everything we need and support us fantastically. And to have achieved such a smooth upgrade and have had no issues during the peak of the lockdown - when HR had so many other things to deal with - is priceless."

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"The realisation that this low-code development approach can be applied specifically to content-based applications is particularly exciting for organisations emerging from lockdown. It paves the way for companies to create new content-based services at high speed. Whereas it might have taken up to 12 months to create a new customer or supply-chain experience the traditional way, development teams with access to a low-code development platform for delivering new content-based services and experiences, can do so within just a few weeks."