John Cotton Australia embeds AP automation with Redmap

Around 500 invoices per month, automated
Australia's leading local bedding manufacturer
Spanning Britain, Poland, China, and Australia

The privately-owned John Cotton Group spans the globe with companies in Britain, Poland, China, and Australia. John Cotton Australia is the nation’s leading local manufacturer of bedding products and supplies to well-known local and international department stores.

A large portion of the company’s product range is made in their state-of-the-art factory in Melbourne, Victoria.

The automation dream

In 2018, the business implemented Pronto Xi ERP. However, recognising John Cotton’s focus on growth, improvement and efficiency, Pronto Software recommended that they look at Redmap’s seamless, fully integrated, and out-of-the-box AP (accounts payable) Automation solution to add more value to their technology overhaul.

Nadeesha Gunarathna is John Cotton Australia’s Management Accountant. As her busy role includes managing the AP function, she was keen to find ways to streamline and automate the end-to-end process. So, she was delighted to discover that Redmap would eliminate many of the roadblocks and efficiencies that she and the business had been losing sleep over.

Redmap implemented the AP Automation solution just as Covid impacted Australia in early 2020.

It was both timely and challenging for Nadeesha, who, up until then, had only been involved in face-to-face software projects.

“On one hand, the remote roll-out was a learning curve, but on the other, it meant we could expand our capability and capacity at a time when we needed it. And the project went very well; Redmap’s solution works perfectly.”

Manual processes, paper overload

At the time, John Cotton Australia manually processed around 500 invoices from both local and offshore suppliers a month.

“Every supplier invoice for stock items had to have a GRN (goods receipt note) from the warehouse manually attached to it,” says Nadeesha. “It was then matched against the purchase order and sent out for approval.”

Tired of sending out an endless round of daily emails to chase approvals, Nadeesha introduced printed invoice headers to speed up the process. “However,” she says, “I realised that I wasn’t solving the main issue. Trying to speed up approvals still required my time and input, despite having so much else to do.”

Additionally, the business used Excel to produce invoice accruals manually. And Nadeesha’s office was overwhelmed with paper.

“You wouldn’t have been able to imagine how many paper files we had,” says Nadeesha. “From the day I started, there were never-ending piles of invoices to be filed or archived. But we had no choice. They needed to be near at hand and accessible for end-of-month, tax time and audits.”

Sleeping easy with Redmap

Using Redmap has saved John Cotton Australia – and Nadeesha – a significant amount of time and effort while improving accuracy and invoice processing speed.

The solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and extract valuable data from incoming invoices. If the stock invoice matches the purchase order, it’s posted directly to Pronto Xi. Or if the invoice isn’t for a stock item, it’s sent to the right person for authorisation. Nadeesha handles any exceptions personally, but apart from this, the rest of the AP process is now largely hands-off.

Nadeesha no longer needs to wait for the warehouse team to deliver GRNs, nor spend time matching them to invoices. Plus, with touch-of-a-button accrual reporting, manual invoice accruals are now a thing of the past.

Likewise, the need for tedious filing and overfilled filing cabinets.

“There are no more archive boxes and no more time spent sorting and filing invoices,” says Nadeesha. “It’s simply something I no longer need to worry about.”

Producing invoices for end-of-month, tax time, and audits aren’t an issue either.

“If an auditor asks us to find an invoice, we can do so in seconds,” says Nadeesha. “They’re at our fingertips, regardless of whether we search through Pronto or directly in Redmap. And we can find them without needing to be in the office.”

A transformed future

While John Cotton Australia only uses the Redmap solution to process local supplier invoices at this stage, the ability to manage international invoices is on the near horizon. This capability will save the business from needing to hire another resource.

Nowadays, business-as-usual invoices flow smoothly through Redmap. Nadeesha only needs to help sort out AP exceptions (where an invoice and purchase order don’t match) and set up and train new employees to use the system.

“These days, I can’t imagine doing my job without Redmap,” says Nadeesha. “It has transformed my work-life!”

If an auditor asks us to find an invoice, we can do so in seconds,says Nadeesha. “They’re at our fingertips, regardless of whether we search through Pronto or directly in Redmap. And we can find them without needing to be in the office.

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