Over the past 20 years, NH Hotel Group (NH) has grown steadily through organic growth and acquisitions.
With these acquisitions came new sets of processes, systems and ways of working. NH knew it needed to tackle the resulting inefficiencies to improve margins and competitiveness and ultimately make its finance function a trusted partner to the business. It was clear that in the Finance and Accounting (F&A) area, they could standardize processes, better manage costs and improve productivity and service quality.
For example, NH was receiving an average of 20,000 payments, totaling approximately $70 million, each month for hotel stays and events. NH’s process of matching payments received to outstanding receivables was complex and inefficient—costing the company more than it should, not only in terms of time and labor, but also in customer satisfaction and service.
Strategy and solution
The team first focused on simplifying and standardizing F&A structures along with integrating automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics tools to improve visibility into NH’s financial performance across its 28 countries of operation.
Digital workflow platform
Improves communications – standardizing processes, improving cash flows, increasing compliance and efficiency and reducing costs.
Case management tools
Allow NH users to access their records, upload documents, monitor payments, make escalations and receive confirmations—all in real time.
Make it easy for users to monitor activities.
Cash application advisor
A new cash application advisor was created to better match the average monthly 20,000 payments for hotel stays and events. The advisor trained a machine to think like an agent to match payments to the correct invoice. The team integrated:
AI was applied to automatically ingest, read and extract unstructured information from bank statements and remittance advices across formats, banks and customers.
Complex matching algorithms
Complex matching algorithms were used that had client-specific rules to reconcile the extracted data with NH’s data.
Robotic process automation (RPA)
A simple dashboard was created for agents to validate and finalize transactions. RPA then automatically applied payments – dramatically reducing the time to apply cash while minimizing errors.
Using SynOps for Finance to combine AI, RPA, and talent, NH transformed its F&A operating model, establishing the foundation for continued growth. And now, NH applies incoming payments to the correct account and invoices in a timelier manner:
Increasing the number of monthly payments NH can match to invoices from 4,000 to 16,000 – representing more than $50 million.
Cutting down the number of times a transaction is handled across ERP, cheat sheet and workflow systems from more than 8 to less than 3.
Dropping the average handling time of transactions across multiple languages by 60% (from 5 minutes to 2 per transaction).
Reducing total number of payments not tied to an invoice from 25% to less than 17%
With this move to an intelligent finance model, NH is continually enhancing service levels, increasing compliance and reducing costs associated with managing the hotel company’s F&A processes, becoming a reference within the hospitality sector. Automation, AI and a lean organization structure have already improved productivity by 45%. Enhanced and timely reporting means the company can make better, faster decisions and identify areas needing improvement on a continual basis. Also, because it can scale quickly as the company grows organically and inorganically, the new approach to F&A is helping the company capture synergies from its acquisitions.
This new operating model provides the foundation to cost-effectively add new disruptive technologies. NH continues to work with Accenture to introduce innovative ideas that will continue to drive sustainable growth and enables NH to keep setting the path of what is expected from a mature finance function.