Automation: The Cure for Pharma and Biotech Transformation

As an industry under extra pressure to demonstrate the value of its products and meet rising customer expectations, pharma and biotech firms struggle with optimising internal and external productivity. In this blog we outline how moving towards digitisation and automation eliminates manual, repetitive tasks and delivers 100% visibility to adapt to market changes and drive continued growth.

Adopting automation to drive efficiencies and control

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries face unique challenges that affect the way they approach accounts payable automation technology. Due to significant growth, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions, companies are struggling to keep up with growing invoice volumes and accommodating demanding production schedules – all while keeping the environment and sustainability in mind. With pressures to develop groundbreaking vaccines, treatments, and medicines, it becomes vital for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to have the tools necessary to deliver it all globally.

According to a 2020 Deloitte survey, 52% of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical executives believe the transformation of functions using digital technologies will be a top priority over the next 5 years. As the reliance on physical paper and manual processes significantly slows the payables process, supply chain disruptions are inevitable, resulting in non-compliance with global regulations that can lead to supply chain risk and penalties.

By implementing a centralised platform, like Basware, you can remove manual tasks associated with aggregating data from different sources and create a central hub for all your data. This allows your AP staff to make more strategic, data-driven decisions and focus on value-added activities such as supply chain resilience, mitigating risk, and supplier satisfaction.

As pharma and biotech professionals predict more consolidation and restructuring will continue, it is critical for companies to have short-term and long-term automation plans and create an automation roadmap for today, tomorrow, and the future.

Touchless processing and global compliance with Basware AP automation

With return-on-investment (ROI) top of mind, immediate gains from automation need to be recognised quickly. One way to achieve this is with electronic invoicing (e-invoicing). By removing paper from the equation and providing touchless processing, e-invoicing solutions like Basware’s seamlessly support remote working, while delivering complete visibility across suppliers and spend.

By eliminating decentralised operations and outdated processes, operations continue flowing as usual – regardless of what’s happening in the global economic climate. Leveraging automation eliminates tedious, manual tasks that slow down processes, run up costs, and impact productivity. For pharma and biotech companies, advanced automation specifically supports:

  • Configurable business rules and logic for invoice routing, matching, approval​

  • Workload management and balancing ​

  • Ability to handle additional costs, shipping, freight, taxes, tolerances​

  • Ability to support custom fields on documents (eg: batch tracking)

By automating AP processes with Basware, a business could process nearly all their invoices, 95% or even higher, without human intervention.

For example, these 4 invoice processes can be fully automated to get your company well on its way to a touchless utopia.

1. INVOICE RECEIPT: Consolidation of the receipt of all invoices in any format from suppliers – including EDI and XML electronic invoices, emailed PDFs, and even paper – in a central system

2. DATA EXTRACTION: Processing of all invoices to extract the needed information (including OCR for paper invoices) and store the data in your centralised system

3. VALIDATION & APPROVAL: Confirming that the extracted data is accurate against the document and reference data (e.g. matching invoices against POs and goods receipts), then routing for coding and final approval

4. SETTLEMENT: Issuing of payment to supplier or raise an issue (like a duplicate charge) for correction before the release of payment

(Read more in our report “Backing In’ to Improve Procure-to-Pay (P2P) ROI”)

From a global compliance perspective, invoice receipt, processing, archival, and taxation​ is organised in a secure, but easy-to-access, digital invoice repository. Making it easy to gather information for forecasting or potential audits. And with Basware’s ability to integrate with 250+ ERPs and financial systems, such as SAP, you can accurately capture 100% of your spend data for company-wide spend and supplier visibility.

In a recent Deloitte study, 63% of executives in the biotech and pharma industries rated R&D a top strategic priority for the next five years. To maintain margins to support continued R&D, companies are doubling down on innovation and looking to technology to drive efficiencies. By achieving complete visibility over spend, companies can quickly quantify their ROI, allowing them to plan for future R&D efforts and investments.

How Basware customer, API, achieved corporate-wide spend visibility

API is one of Australia’s leading health and beauty companies. API’s pharmacy business provides wholesale distribution and business and marketing services to community pharmacies across Australia. The Retail division is a leader in the health and beauty market through its retail brand ‘Priceline’ and their consumer division is a niche player in over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and based in New Zealand.

Before partnering with Basware, API was using manual methods to annually process nearly 1.1 million invoices across its stores and warehouses throughout Australia. The AP department would manually process about 40 boxes of invoices each week. The boxes included invoices and related materials such as claims, proof of delivery, and purchase orders. This process was laborious, painfully slow, and time-consuming. It was not only very costly but also made it nearly impossible for API to have visibility into its invoices or control over their AP operations.

By turning to Basware, API was able to transform its accounts payable processes, gain significant cost savings, and benefit from corporate-wide spend visibility. Basware’s solution seamlessly integrated with their existing ERP systems to handle payment for all their invoices. Now, less than 30 percent of PO-based invoices require human touch to review and approve. Similarly, non-PO-based invoices that fit within the tolerances of API’s contracts also flow automatically through the system without human intervention.

”API was able to achieve payback of its investment in Basware Invoice Automation in just 10 months, and we were able to reduce the manpower required for invoice processing by nearly 25%.”

 Raymond Walker, Group Accounts Payable Manager at API

(Learn more in the API case study)

Download Brochure: Basware solutions for Biopharma firms

Gain faster time to value with Basware. Start with paperless invoicing and AP automation to ensure compliance with global regulations and to increase processing efficiencies. Future proof your finance operations with advanced automation and touchless processing and leverage analytics to drive spend control and supply chain resilience. Read more to explore the benefits of Basware solutions.

National Account Executive