Skip to main content


Process management with EPflow

Partner: Esch & Pickel

Propulsion expert Schottel relies on modern process management

Strong drive for invoice processing

Innovative strength, international orientation and high development expenditure: These are all characteristics which determine the success strategy of the medium-sized Schottel group of companies from Spay am Rhein. In order to fulfil the modern orientation, improve administrative processes and reduce the effort for employees, the propulsion expert has relied on digital invoice processing since 2013. The EPflow solution from system house Esch und Pickel is based on the components of the Business Process Management Suite MR.KNOW – BPM (formerly BPM inspire). "With this solution, we have strong support at hand which helps us to develop further and work much more efficiently," reports Christian Weiß, Head of Organization at Schottel GmbH.

Development, construction, production and sales of all-round controllable propulsion and manoeuvring systems as well as complete propulsion plants with output of up to 30 megawatts for ships of different sizes are the profession of the Schottel Group. The primary goals of the company, which was founded in 1921, include growth and efficiency increases coupled with maximum reliability in the high-tech systems that it produces. In terms of future orientation, invoice processing therefore also plays an important role. For many years, incoming invoices had to be processed, forwarded, approved and archived manually. In 2012, it became clear: "If we wish to continue growing and working in a more well thought-out way, we need to digitalize the workflows around processing incoming invoices and streamline processes," explains organization manager Weiß. Schottel currently receives around 250 invoices a day ­ and the tendency is increasing. A special feature which the system also needs to address is that one third of all deliveries arrive without a fixed order that can be assigned in the ERP system.

Easier working and transparency required
An important requirement for the new solution was that it should map the individual circumstances of the company in an appropriate way and make smooth interaction with the proALPHA ERP system used by Schottel possible. "It should also be possible to check the invoices at item level and then forward them automatically," adds Axel Pickel, Managing Director of systems house Esch und Pickel, which was entrusted with implementing the project. The solution should automatically read out and check whether the ordered goods were also delivered correctly. An integrated archive was another important selection criterion.

And last but not least, electronic invoicing should also help to keep down costs. In a recent study, Swiss company Billentis concluded that digital invoicing brings cost reductions of 50 to 80 percent compared to paper-based processes. According to the study, more than one billion invoices are transmitted electronically in Germany. The total volume of invoices is between six and seven billion.

No expensive development work
The IT consultants and software developers at Esch und Pickel from Koblenz used the integration model from Inspire Technologies to offer process automation solutions for medium-sized companies with the EPflow product which is based on MR.KNOW – BPM (formerly BPM inspire). MR.KNOW – BPM integration allows IT service providers and software manufacturers to go to market with their own BPM suite without the need for extensive development work. "We chose the partnership with Inspire Technologies because the flexible adaptation options were impressive, among other things. The integration model is a product with a great unique selling proposition which was exactly in line with our requirements: Our goal was to be able to provide made-to-measure solutions for medium-sized businesses without having to develop a new process management engine from scratch," says Pickel. The integrated process-oriented electronic invoice processing EPflow includes and overall package with OCR and capturing, workflow and archiving, plus a comprehensive range of templates and preconfigured functions.

From the paper world to the automated future
EPflow helps small and medium-sized companies such as Schottel to speed up and automate their accounting tasks. "For us, this includes document capture , paperless distribution, simple further processing, postings and payment approvals, for example. We have a two-stage approach with EPflow. First, auditors take a technical look at the invoice: For example, are the quantity and the price correct? And then the invoice is automatically sent the budget manager, who has to approve it. This all used to take longer and was less clear," reports Weiß. He adds: "We came from the paper world. Before EPflow, our invoice processing was dominated by manual processes, files, a lot of paper and many comparisons. We would have reached the limits of our growth with such an approach. Sooner or later, every company today should and must think about digitalizing its document processes." All users (there are 50 concurrent users at Schottel) are very satisfied with the system, and praise the fact that it makes their work much easier: "At this point it is also worth mentioning that EPflow works with colours. This gives you a much better overview and noticeably improves the user experience.“

Adaptable and powerful process management
And why did the project team at Schottel decide on the solution from Esch & Pickel with EPflow based on MR.KNOW – BPM? "This tool can map an exceptionally high level of complexity and access our existing systems. All our individual specifications and special national features in international business are taken into account. EPflow, i.e. MR.KNOW – BPM , is also a very stable and promising tool that we can rely on", explains project leader Weiß. Not to forget the price-performance ratio and the competent, reliable advice, which impressed partner Esch and Pickel.

Christian Weiß is certain that more and more medium-sized companies will digitalize their invoice processing in the future: "Nowadays, every company has a duty to increase efficiency and constantly innovate. The process automation of daily but labour-intensive and complex processes such as invoice processing is no longer witchcraft. Process solutions have also now become more affordable and easier to understand. We don't want to do without our system any more."

About the Schottel Group
The Schottel Group with headquarters in Spay am Rhein is a globally leading manufacturer of drives and controllers for shops and offshore applications. Founded in 1921, the company has been developing and manufacturing all-round controllable propulsion and manoeuvring systems, complete propulsion systems with output of up to 30 MW and control systems for ships of all types and sizes for about 60 years. Customer proximity is ensured by sales and service locations worldwide. Schottel employs 850 people in Germany and has a total of 1,100 employees worldwide.

Write to us