How Banijay Benelux automated and improved their expense management process with Klippa
A talk with Leon Backbier, IT Manager at Banijay Benelux (formerly Endemol)
Media & entertainment
Banijay Benelux, formerly Endemol, is a widely known production company responsible for tv shows and series such as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Temptation Island and All You Need is Love. Many people work there, spread over multiple projects, who submit expense claims in all kinds of ways and for a variety of purchases. This requires a specialized expense management process, a process in which Banijay found Klippa as a partner. We discuss this with Leon Backbier, IT Manager at Banijay Benelux (BBNL).
Problems with the old process
Many transactions with business cards
How did BBNL handle the expense claim process before they partnered with Klippa? “Our biggest frustration was the variety and volume of claims we were dealing with. There were a lot of small transactions with corporate debit and credit cards.”
As a result, receipts were piling up at our colleagues’ desks. Generally, claims are submitted quickly when it comes to own money advanced, but when paid with a business card, the need to claim feels much less urgent.
Complicated and time-consuming submission process
In addition, the submission process required too much effort: the receipts had to be copied, cut out, pasted together and manually entered into the financial system.
“We also saw that because of the many choices of project codes, people often decided to book the claim on “other”. The finance team then still had to classify the transactions correctly.” That cost a lot of time, money and ultimately accuracy.
“We also didn’t have time to teach everyone to use complex systems like SAP or Microsoft Dynamics. The system had to speak for itself and you shouldn’t need a manual for it.” Simplicity was key.
Complex and many changing dimensions“In our search for a standard application that could solve this for us, we quickly ran into the problem that our processes are not standard. In fact, we have a fairly different booking process.”
Companies tend to use cost types, cost centers and projects as dimensions. “We often go three to four dimensions further, which sometimes change daily, and also have a much more flexible approval process.
By setting all of that up in a standard application, we kept running into the same problem: that it felt very rigid and awkward.” Of course, we had to find a solution for this problem.
The introduction to Klippa
“Our partnership with Klippa has grown organically. We are a fairly straight-forward company, so we can decide quickly and go for it. That’s why we decided to develop a back-end process ourselves first.”
This back-end was built within the low-code environment Mendix. Next. the intention was to find an OCR solution to extract the data from receipts and invoices automatically. This way, employees are maximally relieved in the process.
High OCR recognition
“Initially we started with Kofax, a pretty pricey product, but it ended up achieving only a 30% OCR recognition rate. So our employees were still retyping receipts.”
Over time BBNL experimented with Google and Azure, but they weren’t very happy with the power of the OCR software either. Then a Data Scientist discovered Klippa by coincidence: “He said, ‘Leon, just take a look. Klippa’s accuracy is already 80% without us having done anything ourselves.’ And that triggered us.”
The OCR solution turned out to be a hit, and the cooperation went well too. Enough reason for BBNL to see if the collaboration with Klippa could be expanded. After all, Klippa also offers a front-end, back-end and API for expense management.
BBNL then investigated how Klippa could be fitted in for the entire expense management process: “And they quickly succeeded in doing so!” In addition to the front-end, the Klippa API was eventually integrated seamlessly as well. This expanded the collaboration between Klippa and BBNL from one to three Klippa products.
Why does BBNL choose Klippa?
Easy integration, also with third-party systems
Klippa’s front-end is easy to integrate with many third-party systems. As a result, Klippa’s API can communicate with BBNL’s Mendix back-end, the identity management platform Idaptive, the financial system Unit4 Coda, and with SurePay, which is used for IBAN and CoC number checks.
“That workflow with our own intermediate layer, actually a kind of Middleware, works very well.”
The variety of project codes and dimensions is now incorporated into a layered dimension structure. “We can use dimension limitations to limit the number of project codes for certain staff members, making it a lot easier to categorize a claim.”
So, for example, if you select project A, subcodes A1 and A2 can be selected, while for project B, subcodes B1 and B2; in this way, we help the submitter to provide the right information. This gives the finance department more insight and control over the entire process.
Pure simplicity of useThe simplicity is not only in the layered structure, but also in the fact that employees can get started right away without a complicated manual.
An employee takes a picture of the receipt in the app after the purchase. The app automatically reads the data and with a push of a button the claim can be submitted. “You can see that nicely in the photos as well: you see a pair of jeans with a rip and on top of that a receipt from McDonalds. Wonderful!”
Also, employees who need to make a certain claim for a longer period of time can now enter it in one go. This contributes to the simplicity of the process and therefore to the motivation of employees to submit receipts and invoices.
“Because of the simplicity of Klippa, we now save 90% in turnaround time!”
Complete control and insight
From a process that was very dependent on how employees submitted receipts, BBNL has moved to one that offers complete control and insight from the administrator side.
“When you see everything clearly added up, it quickly leads to other actions that drive your efficiency.”
To keep the project-oriented workforce processable, there is now convenient user synchronization and single sign-on’s that enable efficient user management.
“We can specify exactly who can do and see what, which keeps it controllable for us and manageable for the employee. That internal control is very important to us.”
Error and fraud preventionAnother important aspect is error and fraud prevention. For example, it could happen that receipts were submitted twice. These duplications are now flagged automatically, without costing administrators time and effort to recognize them.
“We now know at what time and at which place a transaction has been made and it is easier to filter out suspicious transactions.”
Automatically assigning the status of a claim is another improvement to the process. Should a claim not contain all the necessary information, for example due to a missing project number, the status is automatically set to incomplete.
This way it is always clear at what stage a claim is in and it is easier to see what can be done to complete it.
Open and progressive collaboration
In the end, the mutual ambition and way of working together was the deciding factor for Leon. “I think it’s important in a collaboration that we are open to each other and listen to each other’s wishes. We found that immediately in Klippa. The cooperation with Klippa’s developers and management is fantastic!”
The disadvantages of the old process
The desired solution
All in all, BBNL was looking for a solution that could be applied specifically to its own complex situation. You don’t find one just like that. A number of selection criteria were defined for the desired solution:
The benefits of Klippa
“It is extremely pleasant to work together with a party that is as ambitious as we are. The willingness and speed with which Klippa implemented specific modifications for us is impressive.”
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