Tim Nissen | Case Study: Enterprising ECM – Reducing Accounts Payable Costs and Improving Order’s Customer Service.
Here’s another company suffering severe paper overload internally. Misfiled documents, lost invoices and delays in answering customer requests were overwhelming. Their Accounting Manager states, “We were looking to improve processes to save time and money . . . how we dealt with customers and how we did our daily jobs. Our ultimate goal was to find a way to improve the bottom line, to improve profitability.”
The company’s solution search party asked their ERP provider for a document management automation solution suggestion. IntelliChief ECM was recommended to them, for its feature-rich capabilities and easy integration with their ERP system.
The next step was to obtain project approval. The CEO and CFO wanted real ROI – reduced costs encompassing labor, faxing, postage, check stock and paper. “Neither the CEO or CFO wanted to see any soft dollars. We were able to show there were big savings, which could be used to improve profitability and services, and those were hard dollars,” explains their Accounting Manager
The first challenge was the company’s Purchase-to-Pay process: purchasing, receiving and accounts payable. When creating PO’s, buyers printed them, emailed or faxed them to the vendor, stapled the confirmation receipt to the PO, and put everything in a basket to wait for confirmation, which took up to 4 hours on a good day…
All these cumbersome steps were eliminated with IntelliChief. When a PO is created, an electronic copy is saved. Quadrant Software’s FastFax (an integrated fax server for IntelliChief) then faxes or emails the PO in mere seconds without user intervention. Order Acknowledgments, received by fax or email, are archived in the IntelliChief database and linked to the appropriate PO. All of these documents can be retrieved on familiar ERP screens at any time by IntelliChief users.
Incoming products had Receiving Documents matched against PO’s, entered in ERP and filed. When invoices arrived in Accounts Payable (AP), invoices were matched against the receiving record in the system. If there was a discrepancy, AP staff needed to look for the original receiving documents, to determine if they had been incorrectly entered into the ERP, or if the invoice was wrong. “If the purchase had been made by one of our other facilities, I had to call them to send me a copy of the receiving documents, so I could match, review everything associated, and find out what happened,” says the company’s Accounts Payable Associate.
Today, after documents are matched in the warehouse and a receiving record created in the ERP, the receiving documents are scanned into IntelliChief, eliminating the need for hard copies and ensuring they are digitally available without the need to send physical paper to Accounts Payable.
Accounts Payable Results
Faxed invoices are captured via FastFax and archived. Mailed invoices are scanned. Emailed invoices are saved with the easy-to-use IntelliChief Print Capture application.
IntelliChief’s Workflow matches invoices against receiving documents and sends them to an electronic inbox (“Matched Invoices”); invoices without a receiving document go to an “Unmatched Invoices” inbox.
The impact? The Accounts Payable Associate comments, “Previously, every day I had to pull up the folder and try to match invoices . . . that was a big pain. . . With IntelliChief, the invoices are awaiting electronic matching with the receiver, as if they were saying, ‘Hey, here we are!’ It’s a tremendous time saver.”
Prior to IntelliChief, the huge paper trail prevented invoices that needed approval to be paid quickly. Copies were made by AP staff, sent to the appropriate manager for approval, and came back to AP for a voucher. The AP Associate explains, “When invoices make it back to us, I had to contact each person to verify they received it, approved it, and sent it back. Sometimes invoices were paid late, or we couldn’t take advantage of vendor discounts because we couldn’t make the deadline.” IntelliChief’s Workflow now electronically forwards invoices or approval to the correct person. They approve it with a click of the mouse. With IntelliChief’s automating workflow, the company has put an end to missing invoices, delays and unachieved discount savings.
When Accounts Payable wanted to pay invoices, the AP Associate again had to match paper documents. “I used to spend at least half a day every week manually matching up invoices and checks to be approved and signed by senior staff. This meant looking through filing cabinets for correct invoices and putting them in a folder with the corresponding check.”
IntelliChief saves checks as an electronic image and manages them via Workflow. The AP Associate describes how IntelliChief streamlines check runs and approval processes: “IntelliChief automates our check production; checks go via Workflow to senior staff, and they can simply click and look up the relevant documentation on-screen and either approve or void the check.”
Order Processing Pains
The second challenge was orders – coming via fax, email and postal mail. They were manually routed to the Traffic Group for review and carrier information access and logged before going to Order Entry. They were sent back to the Customer Service Representative (CSR) or manager with any questions, or when a discount required approval.
Their CSR Manager explains, “There was no way to know where in the process the order was at any given time, until it was put into the system. Sometimes we had to ask the customer to re-send, which you can imagine they weren’t very happy about. Then the workflow-by-hand’s a tedious process, having to constantly ask staff in various departments where the order presently is, and where it’s going next. It slowed our fulfillment.”
After the order was entered, an acknowledgment was printed, proofed, and compared to the PO. Once approved, a CSR made a copy, faxed or mailed it to the customer, and filed the copy with the PO.
Order Processing Done Right
With IntelliChief, order processing is efficient. Faxed orders are captured with FastFax, mailed orders are scanned into the system, and emailed orders are saved with IntelliChief’s easy-to-use Print Capture feature, all archived in IntelliChief’s database.
The electronic order is sent to Order Entry or the CSR via IntelliChief Workflow. The order is routed to Traffic, and then to Order Entry. IntelliChief creates and saves the Acknowledgment, which is faxed or emailed directly to the customer.
“We now have only 3 people involved in the process rather than 7 previously, and we always know exactly where the order is,” says the CSR Manager. “IntelliChief cut our order process time in half.”
When customers called with questions about invoices, CSR’s had to request a copy from Accounting. The Accounting Manager explains, “Prior to IntelliChief’s automation, the invoice had to be pulled from the files, which could take minutes or hours, and then logged.” The order history (original PO, any change orders, acknowledgments, and all related documents) is now electronic. “We can view order status through IntelliChief Analytics and see where any bottlenecks are. We can see if orders are not being entered. Invoices are emailed to customers, saving postage, labor, and mailing costs,” the Accounting Manager exudes.
IntelliChief provides the company both ROI and intangible benefits. “It helped decrease the stress level! Being able to really see what’s happening, to see where holdups are is incredible,” states the Accounting Manager. “From a management standpoint, that’s a measurable benefit to me.” An additional benefit is having everything electronic accessible for their auditors. “We can’t wait until next year when the independent auditors come in; we’ll provide them with a workstation accessing IntelliChief; they can do document searches without involving any of our Accounting staff.”
Implementing document management automation is admittedly a procedural shift. “The idea of not having paper anymore for some people was difficult to overcome, initially. They now understand automation is a real advantage for all of us, with how we serve our customers, and everyone realizes the competitive advantage it provides us,” the Accounting Manager states.
Realizing the advantages of automating document capture and workflow, the company plans to roll out IntelliChief to other high-documentation, workflow-intensive areas of the company, maximizing abilities of their ERP, while reducing costs throughout the organization, and serving customers faster and more efficiently.