The Institute of Financial Operations Recognizes Recipients of Innovation Awards in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable

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The recipients were judged based on their accomplishments in business process redesign, application of technology, development of a new technology, and exceptional business performance.

This year’s awards were extremely competitive.

The Institute of Financial Operations has named two organizations as recipients of the 2014 Innovation Award — one in accounts payable and one in accounts receivable.

The organization named the recipients during a luncheon presentation in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month at Fusion 2014, the IFO’s annual conference for professionals in financial operations. The recipients were judged based on their accomplishments in business process redesign, application of technology, development of a new technology, and exceptional business performance.

“This year’s awards were extremely competitive,” said Michael Mallon, chair of the IFO’s board of directors. “The committee that chose the recipients said there were more entries than ever, and many of the companies that submitted nominations received high scores.”

The 2014 recipients are:

AP INNOVATION AWARD — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The LDS Church has 15 million members globally, with nearly 30,000 congregations worldwide in more than 160 countries. Its literature is published in more than 170 languages, and the organization processes about 1.5 million invoices annually.

“We realized that despite the fact that we had an ERP, we operated in so many countries that there were some disparate processes going on,” said Mark Seethaler, global payments manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We felt if we could pull something together that would simplify the processes and at the same time bring a greater level of control to the overall process of disbursing funds worldwide, that would be a great benefit to the church.”

The LDS Church was nominated by service provider Perceptive Software, a Lexmark Company.

“They were trying to rationalize and streamline their accounts payable processes,” said Charlie Kaplan, international marketing director for Perceptive Software. “It was a highly distributed organization with a variety of invoice types. They were looking for ways through software and process redesign to help capture the information off invoices with less cost, faster turnaround times, and more visibility into the information that was on those invoices.

The LDS Church interviewed several vendors before choosing Perceptive for its versatility in handling the AP operation’s global challenges.

“Perceptive Software was really the missing link for us,” said Shawn Fuhriman, global accounts payable manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We needed a product that would be able to extract data from invoices regardless of the language, the vendor type, or the vendor size. That’s what Perceptive Software has been able to do.”

Four finalists were also named for the AP Innovation Award. They were:

  •     Citi, with service provider APEX Analytix
  •     Kimberly Clark, with service provider APEX Analytix
  •     Mauser, with service provider Cambridge Mercantile Group
  •     UPS, with service provider Ariba

AR INNOVATION AWARD — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment had created mountains of paperwork when it changed its distribution model from 11 distributors to thousands of retailers. The company needed to reduce $250 million worth of outstanding customer deduction balances. By implementing a new solution and process, the company cleared more than 350,000 outstanding customer issues. It implemented a software-as-a-service solution that provided integrated data from both internal and external sources that was then linked across documents, allowing collectors to immediately access documents as needed to resolve customer issues. Sony was nominated by service provider DataServ.

“In 2006, we booked a bad debt reserve for possible unresolved issues of $26 million. That same reserve in 2014 was 500,000,” said Michael Schillo, vice president of finance for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “I want to thank DataServ for their partnering, their automation, their process improvement, and for helping us through the years get to the numbers and metrics where we are. And I want to thank my team for helping us drive the results. Without them we would not be where we are today.”

Jeff Haller, CEO of DataServ, explained why his company nominated Sony Picture Home Entertainment for the AR Innovation Award.

“It was really was the perfect a mix of a complex problem and an elegant solution,” Haller said.


The Institute of Financial Operations is a membership-based professional association serving the entire financial operations ecosystem, with a particular focus on the accounts payable and accounts receivable disciplines and the related fields of information management and data capture. The Institute grew out of the merger of four associations: International Accounts Payable Professionals (IAPP), International Accounts Receivable Professionals (IARP), the National Association of Purchasing and Payables (NAPP), and The Association for Work Process Improvement (TAWPI).

Based in Orlando, Fla., with affiliates in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, The Institute serves as a global voice, chief advocate, recognized authority, acknowledged leader, and principal educator for people in financial operations. The Institute has a community of nearly 70,000, which includes 9,000 members and customers, and an additional 61,000 financial operations professionals.

The Institute’s members have access to benefits and leading edge resources such as the award-winning Financial Ops magazine, a dynamic content-rich website, educational and networking events, online educational offerings, certification and certificate programs, career resources, and volunteer opportunities. For more information, visit

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