SUBMITTED BY DataServ

It’s no secret – retailers deal with some of the highest volumes of invoices. How do you make sure those invoices are handled correctly, while keeping your AP team efficient? 

As one of the largest footwear retailers in the U.S., Rack Room Shoes felt that pain. After struggling with a high volume of manual processes, Rack Room turned to a SaaS AP automation solution. 

View the webinar to learn how a phased AP automation solution was tailored to give Rack Room Shoes a right-sized fit, resulting in less time handling exceptions and more time focused on process efficiencies and cost savings. 

Click the link below to view the webinar, or scroll down to read the transcript.

View the "Walking a Mile in Rack Room’s Shoes: An AP Automation Story" webinar

Webinar Transcript

>>[00:00:05] Tom: Hello, good afternoon or perhaps good morning or good evening, depending on your particular time zone. My name is Tom Fischer, I’m the Director of Marketing here at DataServ. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to our webinar today. We’ve got a fantastic topic teed up for you, we have Keri Morgan with Rack Room Shoes here today to share a little bit about her story on how AP became a more automated process at that organization, and we think you’ll find some nice takeaways and some best practices that you can then take back to your own respective organizations to keep things as efficient and clean as possible.

With that, we will start and look at the agenda. Really our agenda is broken down into three main areas today; we’ll talk a little bit about the problem, what the solution was, and then the outcomes. As part of that I’ll give a brief introduction of who’s on the line today, and then we’ll have questions and answers at the end. I encourage you at any time, if you have a question, to enter, to type that in online and then we will do our best to answer those at the end as time permits, but I’m sure we’ll get to those, we built that in for us.

Onto our speaker introductions; as I mentioned, we have Keri Morgan on the line today. Keri is AP Manager at Rack Room Shoes. As you can see from the bullet points, she’s been at Rack Room for quite awhile. She has long-term experience both in her role, and also at the company in general. Keri supervises a staff of 9, you’ll see that she’s certified as an IOFM Accounts Payable Manager, and you’ll see some impressive stats about the accounts payable department. Keri is going to talk a little bit more about the specific team in the accounts payable department later in presentation. But, for now, that’s a quick snapshot of Keri. Keri, welcome and thanks for joining us.

>> [00:01:55] Keri: Thank you. Hello, everyone. 

>> [00:01:59] Tom: All right, next up we have Jeff Haller. Jeff is the CEO of founder of DataServ. You’ll see that he founded DataServ back in 1994, so for 24 years he’s worked with our clients, with many clients, and drawn on great experience and expertise from each of those, and applied that to the clients that we serve on a daily basis today. So, we’re really drawing on what we’ve seen work, and avoiding what we’ve seen not work. Jeff, welcome to the call.

>> [00:02:25] Jeff: Thanks, Tom. Nice to see you and Keri, and looking forward to talking with everybody.

>> [00:02:31] Tom: And finally, last but not least, we have Tony Mattera online with us. Tony is our Solutions Consultant at DataServ. Tony works closely with Keri and Rack Room as part of their account and has helped with initialization to get Rack Room up and running with the IPP Automation Solution that DataServ offers. Welcome, Tony.

>> [00:02:52] Tony: Hey there, everybody, anxious to get started. Thanks, Tom.

>> [00:02:56] Tom: All right. As promised, I’ll give you just a little bit of information about the companies themselves. Rack Room Shoes; many or most, or as all of you are familiar with Rack Room Shoes as a retailer. It’s been around for almost 100 years, has a significant and sizable presence of retail stores across the United States. The brands are kind of fun to note, I think if Rack Room Shoes is not familiar to you, certainly the brands of Converse, Vans, and Timberland and all those listed on the side are offered through Rack Room. Their mission is to be a family footwear retailer of choice by consistently providing quality products, great styles, great prices, and a sincere respect and appreciation for the customer. So, we’re really pleased to have Rack Room Shoes as one of our clients, it’s a great organization and you’re going to learn a lot more about who they are.

A little bit about DataServ; what makes DataServ unique is that we offer best in class practices as part of our standard solution, so we build all the good things into what we offer. We have also helped to tailor our offerings so that it fits the clients that are using it, so if we don’t start with total customization, and we don’t have an out of box solution; we have something right in the middle. We’ll talk about that later as well. Our main services are Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Human Resources. We are a global organization, based on mostly U.S.-based clients. You’ll see that we have about 60 thousand logins on a monthly basis to our solutions, so it’s heavy users, and whether they’re AP roles or approvers or anywhere in-between, they’re logging in very regularly. Part of our, “Why,” is that we believe that software solutions should simply deliver fantastic results so that you can focus on what is most important. We hope you can relate to that, and just try to make your job easier so you can get to all the other more pressing things that perhaps you need to.

One last slide, just to give you a sense of the type of organizations that use the services with our AP Solutions and AR Solutions and HR Solutions. We have a significant number, we have what we like to call a "10-year rule" with our clients, and they’re certainly not limited to ten, but any new organization that joins us as a client, it’s our goal to keep them for a long, long time. So, you’ll see that we’re heavily invested in being a good partner with our clients, and we have a number of them who have been with us for almost as many as twenty years. So, we’re excited about our 10-year rule, we always try to exceed that, but once you’re here we like to consider you family here to stay.

Let’s start with the audience poll number one, we want to get a sense of who is here, so we can tailor our comments and our thoughts to who you are. So, in order to do that, we’ll go onto a little poll, so if you can see on here, I’m going to ask the question; how automated would you say your AP process is today? If you could take a look at that and answer the question; who feels best describes who you are. Would you say you’re not at all automated, somewhat automated, or fully automated? We’ll give you a chance to enter all of those.

>> [00:06:24] Jeff: No shame either; we’ve got clients that come to us from all these different places, so if you’re very highly automated, that’s great to hear and we’ll be happy for you, and there’s people who are a little nervous about saying we have none at all, which is really nothing to be embarrassed about. Some people just haven’t gotten there yet.

>> [00:06:41] Tom: All right. I’m going to close this up, last chance to vote. And then, publish our results. It looks like we have about half the folks on the line are somewhat automated, and then about an equal number of folks who are not at all automated, or are fully automated. So, about half of our audience members are in the, “Somewhat,” category, so that kind of helps us to know who’s online and we appreciate your participation in that vote.

>> [00:07:10] Jeff: I think it’s very indicative Tom of what we’ve seen across the industry too, just in terms of that distribution because people have been working on this or working towards this for quite a long time. As Tom mentioned in the beginning, we’ve been doing this 24 years already, and there’s still a whole bunch of people we met along the way that hasn’t figured it out, or maybe they started with a piece, that’s a very common idea, around here we call it, “Bite sized chunks,” and so taking a small piece and moving up a chain towards a future state is a great way to go about it, so not surprised really to see people in the, “Somewhat automated.”

>> [00:07:47] Tom: Thanks, Jeff. At this time, I will turn the floor over to Keri, and Keri will talk a little bit about the challenge faced at Rack Room, and a little bit about her team specifically. So, Keri, take it away.

>> [00:08:01] Keri: Okay, so our department, as Tom mentioned, we process about 560 thousand invoices annually, and going into our project here with DataServ, we already had about 90% of our invoices that come in via EDI, and so we felt like we were somewhat ahead of the curve, but the problem was with the last 10%, took half of our full-time employees, so out of our nine folks, five of them were handling a lot of paper, and only 10% of our invoices.

We have a fairly diverse vendor network, we have small-owned businesses like window washing companies, and repair vendors all the way through to our large vendors like Nike and FedEx, and so we kind of handle it all when it comes to our payables, from all of our locations.

>> [00:09:14] Jeff: All right, that’s an excellent point, Keri, you would have classified yourself back then as somewhat automated, even though 90% of the invoices were automated, and I think that’s the interesting part about it.

>> [00:09:27] Keri: Absolutely.

>> [00:09:30] Tom: Keri, I apologize, I think my slides are incorrectly showing on the screen there, so I’m going to try to resolve that here very quickly, but yeah, the next slide we’re on would be the picture of the boxes.

>> [00:09:44] Keri: Right, having stacks and boxes is not what our office actually looks like, it’s more what our offsite facility looks like. We have 7 file cabinets just slammed full of invoices, and we wanted to find a way to reduce that footprint. So, we’ve gone a long way to help reduce all of this paper. We went from 7 file cabinets to 2 file cabinets of invoices, so that’s fantastic.

>> [00:10:27] Tom: Can you tell us a little bit about the Rack Room before scenario?

>> [00:10:31] Keri: Sure. Before of course, like, many AP shops, there was paper, lots of paper, manual processing, lots of touching of invoices. It comes in from the vendor, then you have to send it to an approver, and then it comes back to AP to touch again, so we were trying to figure out a way to minimize that. Lack of visibility was really the driver for us. We simply just couldn’t see what was out there, what Rack Room was obligated to pay, and it made it very difficult for month end accruals and just keeping up with where we are in the process.

Part of that was decentralized invoices; various departments wanted to own the invoices, but for whatever reason, there was the delay in getting them to accounts payable, so that was a real issue for us, and we wanted to figure out how to make that better.

Of course, file storage is a bit deal, and we felt like 10% of invoices shouldn’t take 50% of our staffs’ time, but that was the reality; that was the reality that we lived in.

>> [00:12:06] Jeff: Yeah, that’s gigantic, and it’s a good analysis too, a lot of people don’t do that analysis up front, they just say, “We don’t have automation, we don’t know where to start,” and I think sometimes you just need to look a little closer, and then when you figure out a statistic like that, you say, “That doesn’t make a lot of sense, we should be spending equal amount of time across the board here on this stuff.” So, that’s brilliant, Keri, I think that was the big revelation, right, that caused the organization to take some action? That’s what we often help clients figure out; what is that piece that you can digest and get done that’s going to help the most? Where’s your biggest bang for your buck? And, you found it.

>> [00:12:45] Keri: Correct, yes, we did.

>> [00:12:48] Tom: Yeah, and Keri, just a quick technical note, I apologize to you and to the attendees on the line; I think we fixed our screen issue, and hopefully everyone is just seeing the regular slides now. Thanks for your patience on that, we can continue forward.

>> [00:13:01] Tom: Anything else you want to cover on before Rack Room slide, Keri, before we go to the next one?

>> [00:13:06] Keri: I don’t think so, I think that pretty much covers that.

>> [00:13:12] Tom: Okay, great.

>> [00:13:17] Keri: In this particular slide, it really does highlight the pain points, and I do feel like folks can relate to this. Inefficient audits and document retrieval issues really were a pain point for us. Throughout the year, we go through sales tax audits, we also go through our annual audit and the biggest part of that is pulling an invoice; they want to see the paper or they want to see that everything is being charged appropriately, everybody understands what the audit process is like, but we were always a little nervous that we wouldn’t find the invoice that we needed. Where do we find it? Is it here on site? Is it offsite? Is it misfiled? And misfiling is a really big deal, and so we wanted to find a better way to handle that.

The low visibility into payables process; you know, who’s desk is it on? There’s an invoice, the vendor is calling, we have no record of this invoice, where is it? Where were the bottlenecks? Is it from various departments? A certain person? Is there a way that we can work with this department or person to improve that process? Those were the key pain points for us. Obviously too much paper; everybody wants to try and get away from that. And, lack of approval matrix, some companies are very structured. This is the way it’s done, here’s the policy, and there’s no deviation from there. In our company, we don’t have that luxury, so we had to figure out a way to manage that process as well. It could be very complicated, trying to determine whose approval is required.

>> [00:15:43] Tony: Thanks Keri, those are a lot of good tips. Go ahead?

>> [00:15:46] Keri: And this process has helped us look into these issues and resolve much of those issues.

>> [00:15:54] Tony: Thanks, Keri. When it comes to inefficient audits, having access to audit information on an invoice by invoice basis, is something available within the solution. You can see who did what to a document, when they did it, to kind of help understand where maybe gaps might exist within your process. Do you find yourself using that?

>> [00:16:15] Keri: Yes, actually we do. It’s critical; one of the big things, one of the areas that we found that this helps then is in our fixed asset or capitol items. We had to keep so much paper because we needed all the paper approvals, and all these stamps, receipt stamps, all kinds of things associated with that. And, it was just a lot of paper also there, and really it was basically copies of what AP had in their system. Now they’ve digitized all of this information, and have been able to do away with paper in the accounting area as well, so that’s just one benefit to handling the inefficient audit part.

We also too found that it’s easy to provide an auditor with access to DataServ, so that we don’t have to provide them with the images; they simply pull those images up themselves, and satisfy whatever needs they have.

>> [00:17:29] Tony: That’s great to hear, Keri. We find that document retrieval is really a benefit. I mean, all you need to know is what you want to look for. And, when someone is on a search and they know what to look for, just typing that into the search engine to retrieve those results offers an easy avenue to get the information and the documents that you are looking for.

>> [00:17:55] Keri: Yes.

>> [00:18:00] Tom: All right guys, we’ll move onto the next slide, which is actually our second audience poll question; so, we’d like to hear from those of you on the line which of the following would you say most impacts AP costs in your organization? So, let’s launch that, and the polls are now open, so you should be able to see the options that we have there for you. Looks like votes are coming in, we’ll give them a few seconds. Quick while you can, please.

>> [00:18:37] Jeff: Snappy responses there people, good work. Numbers are changing quick.

>> {00:18:42] Tom: It looks like most of you have finished, so we’ll give it two more seconds and then we’re gong to close off the poll. Then we will share the results. It looks like our answers are pretty evenly split; looking about 36% of the folks are saying staffing or number of full-time employees, and then 27% are saying volume and cost of invoices, and then 36% mix of direct versus indirect. Those are the results we have, so thank you for participating in our poll. Any comments on that Tony? Keri, is that what you were expecting, or any surprises there?

>> [00:19:22] Keri: Not really, not from my perspective.

>> [00:19:25] Tony: Sometimes it could even be a couple of those options, so it really kind of depends upon the organization and your methodology and current approach.

>> [00:19:36] Tom: Okay, great. So, Keri, tell us a little bit about why you acted?

>> [00:19:43] Keri: Sure, you know, this is kind of a tough question because I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong answer. Some companies are driven specifically by cost, or they’re looking at certain KPI’s that might drive them to make these decisions. Our primary reason for automating was to improve the process. We knew that the process was somewhat broken, and like I said, while the KPI’s and cost are important to some, it was not the driving factor for Rack Room. So, I do think that it’s important to understand some of these factors. We just felt like it was time as the company grew, and we already had so much automation in place that it was time to kind of close the loop.

>> [00:20:46] Tony: Those are great points, Keri. And that’s kind of a typical approach to going the solution route, or the automated route. There’s a lot of companies out there who use KPI’s to drive those types of decisions, but it seems like your company is as well as you worked together interdepartmentally that it was more of a feeling, you felt like it was inefficient, it could be better and that improvements could be made, although KPI may not have supported it. So, when you have a trust up that vertical chain, then it allows you, it’s a great benefit for you to have access to those ears and those decision-makers to help put improvements in place when it’s more of a feel-type situation than it is more of a metric-driven situation. Although, some of that might be available to help those types of decisions, if it’s a feeling, it was felt across the organization and you acted on it.

>> [00:21:47] Keri: That’s correct.

>> [00:21:49] Jeff: I find it fascinating too that it’s very common for us to see people who have 90% of their invoices electronically somehow or through some system that they feel is pretty good, pretty successful, and it’s hard to get management’s attention to look at the rest because they say, “Well, it’s working really well.” If they look at the whole cost of the whole AP process, they would say, “It’s not bad, it’s not bad at all. We look good to compared to our peers, and we look good compared to our budget,” but I think in this case, as we said earlier, Keri was able to identify the subset of that data. It wasn’t just the 10% problem, it was really the 50% of the staff working on 10% of the documents that made it clear, and that seems like a good enough reason to change that or fix that, and I thought that was a brilliant inclusion on Rack Room’s part.

>> [00:22:38] Tom: I agree. So, we’ve heard a little bit about some of the problems now Keri about why you acted, so let’s talk a little bit about the solution, Tony and Keri, and talk a little bit about how that was defined?

>> [00:22:50] Tony: Sure, so one thing we want to do is make sure we’re centralizing those invoices, so if they’re on desks or in e-mail boxes or wherever they might be, you don’t have the access or the visibility, so centralizing those gives you access to bring those invoices up whenever you need to, or to see where any of them are within a current workflow. Just having that access at your fingertips is a great benefit. And then also, you don’t have to worry about the retention. The thing in your organization and your retention policy, it might be as typical as 7 plus 1, 7 years plus the current year. But, depending on how you want to retain those, some people want to keep them longer, and I don’t know if that’s actually a benefit or not, it might introduce more risk, but that’s certainly available. To have those invoices available and not only at your fingertips, but potentially even the vendors as well, they also can have access to invoices if necessary. I know we didn’t go that route with you, but there are options like that to provide visibility not just to your organization, but your vendors as well.

And also like we spoke before about that audit access, having access to understand what’s going on with these invoices, where they are, why they’re changed, who changed them. To understand the user behavior, to help understand maybe how things got to a particular state, to kind of help improve those long-term. So, like you said before, where we were identifying where the gaps in the process might exists, so having visibility into invoices is not all benefit, but adding visibility into how invoices got to where they are is also important for improving those processes long-term. And then, we also have on here reporting capabilities, so just having access to reports to the information that you’re looking for at your fingertips, and easy for you to find, use, then help make decisions from there based upon those. So, if your vendors are sending in invoices incorrectly, you can identify who those are ahead of time, and understand who you need to address to improve that moving forward.

And, the dashboard. When you log in, there’s a snapshot of what is going on, where invoices are within the workflow. And, that allows you to understand, well, where do I need to dedicate my attention? How do I need to prioritize my day? Maybe I need to identify how many invoices are in this queue of reject invoices say. So, a bunch of invoices were rejected for whatever reason, maybe I need to investigate that and act on those. Or, if there were a transfer there, or if there to monitor invoices throughout the day to make sure that the outstanding invoice volume is shrinking and we’re pushing those invoices along through that workflow.

>> [00:25:50] Jeff: Did we also automate the first route Tony; the first route is always very painful for people?

>> [00:25:55] Tony: Yeah, the first routing can be a pain, so there can be options such as initial routing where we can incorporate specific bits of information, if it’s a vendor and a location combination, that’s something that, Keri, I think I touched on recently by introducing something like that that your team would benefit from. If we know who needs to get a particular invoice, that we can just immediately route that to them and pull AP out of it there if necessary. But, how do you find, yourself, using the platform when you log in from a dashboard perspective?

>> [00:26:32] Keri: Well, because I really don’t process the invoices. My primary focus, and this is why I use the dashboard a lot is; I kind of want an overview of everything and then where they are in individual buckets. You know, I want to see my daily 200 new invoices reduce almost to nothing by the end of the day. A new invoice either needs to be processed, or routed for approval. So, I just kind of monitor the progress throughout the day. I try to see how many invoices we actually push over to Oracle Payables, which is what we use. But, it helps me figure out still where the bottleneck is. If my invoices that are pending approval continue to grow, and they’re growing for a particular person, I need to find out why. What’s the hold up? Where are we in the process? So, it just gives me, like I said, a very high-level throughout the day, and then if I need to drill down into more details, then I do so.

>> [00:27:54] Tony: Thanks, Keri, that’s great. And what we find is a way to kind of nip that, so when invoices are pushed along to certain people that will be approving those invoices, sometimes they may not act on them as quickly as you might prefer, so at any point in time if you feel that maybe people are sitting on these invoices too long and you want them to get processed quicker, we can incorporate an escalation rule. So, if it’s in someone’s queue for say four or five business days, whatever that might be, whatever is appropriate, we can escalate that to their managers, or the next person in the approval hierarchy. Then, what we find by introducing an escalation rule like that is that it kind of nips that behavior. If someone is not really reacting to these invoices and improving them, as soon as their manager starts getting forwarded these invoices with the understanding that it’s because the other person didn’t approve them, then that person can then directly impact how that approver would approve those invoices in the long-term, so we kind of introduce some behavioral decision making with that end.

What we have here is an example of what we see, a lot of prospects and a lot of our clients, how their AP department is. So, you’ll notice there’s a kind of a tangled web of processes, not really a flow to this. This is pretty basic, there’s multiple streams of information and documents, there’s e-mails going back and forth, what is going on and who is doing what is not centralized and it’s not visible to other people they deal with in a department. So, in this tangled web it’s possible that some of it might work for you, other parts of it might not work for you. But, centralizing that can really improve your process in the short term as well as long term. Keri, maybe you could expand upon how you would relate to this, and basically the before scenario?

>> [00:31:12] Keri: Yeah, when I originally saw this slide, it struck a cord with me because it is indicative of what things used to look like, just paper everywhere coming in, and then we have to try and figure out; does it even belong to AP? Where does it need to go? Does it require a purchase order? Does it have a purchase order that’s already approved? You know, that type of thing, so all those little jumbled up strings out there certainly are a good picture of what we looked like at one time.

>> [00:30:58] Tony: Thanks. So, this is what we transitioned to here, and this is after we went live with DataServ. I know eventually it’ll be done here, but just to preface it, we don’t have a whole lot of automation built in there for you for PO invoices, there’s some workflow that’s built into it, but mostly what we’re doing is we’re addressing your non-PO needs. And, we did that my incorporating a PO box that the invoice could be delivered to. I believe we set up a fax number for you as well in case you still needed it, in case you needed to fax an invoice, that’s still supported technology. As well as of course e-mails. So, regardless of how the invoice gets into the system, there can be different channels that they can go through. Ultimately, they’re going to go into our digital mailroom here where those invoices are scanned, and we are pushing it through the digital mailroom where that OCR technology exists. So, that’s the optical character recognition, and a lot of people might hear that term a lot. Really what we’re looking for is a specific field on those invoices that are pertinent to your process; capturing your vendor information, invoice information, whatever you deemed as important for your solution, that’s the information that we’re capturing off of those invoices using that technology.

And then, using that technology alone isn’t good enough just to stand on. What we see in some of the best OCR that exists out there is about 60% accurate. So, that’s where we are incorporating multiple levels of human validation to ensure that we are getting to a point where we’re in that 99% clean data. So, those are users at DataServ that would do that work to ensure that the data that’s captured from those invoices is in fact valid before we push it into the solution and allow your team to begin working on them.

So, once that invoice has been digitized, and we have that invoice metadata, we can then push that into the system and into a particular workflow, so that’s where we can incorporate rules based upon vendor or ship-to information if necessary to get those to the right people, or, in your case, it’s AP that handles those initially. Once those invoices come in, those are then coded by the appropriate personnel and then routed through the approval chain. So, if an invoice comes in for, a utility invoice for example, a certain person would handle that. We can understand who those people are based upon the vendor type. So, the vendor master really helps out quite a bit there. This is not something that we’re just pushing the invoices through a system and capturing information; we need some help and integration with Oracle as well, so that vendor master data from Oracle allows us to recognize who those vendors are, and get it into your AP’s hands and your approvers’ hands so they can be worked, coded, and approved. Then, ultimately after that’s all been completed, that information is then pushed in a file and imported into Oracle overnight so that you can affect payment from there.

Like we said before, there is a vendor portal option as well, and that just gives visibility for the vendor, so Keri, I don’t think we’ve done this with you, maybe you’ve heard about it in the past where the vendors can then basically log in DataServ and access their invoices specifically to understand where those are within the workflow so they’re not spending your AP’s time reaching out to them, asking them where invoices are, when they should expect them; they can just log in and see that information.

We went from this tangled web of AP before automation was put in place, and then we went to that much more cleaner approach where we have a single stream of invoices just to get into the solution, where it’s much cleaner, and there is more visibility into where invoices are. Management, audit, so on and so forth about it. But, getting there requires a partnership, so what we had to do was, we flew out to meet Keri and her team as well as, I think procurement was there, the CFO, a couple of different departments that were involved within this conversation, but what we really had to do was take a deep dive into what AP does today, and how we can improve it fully and making sure we’re making a business decision with Rack Room and incorporating all the affected teams. So, what we want to do is, we want to take that deep dive with you, understand those pain points, those problems, and understand where we can incorporate best practices, where we can mitigate risk, where we can automate as much as possible. That way, really what we’re doing is we’re trying to minimize human error, and maximize what computers are good at, which is calculating and following rules.

>> [00:36:39] Jeff: Tony, that’s a great point you’re making about partnership. I sometimes think of that as what we’ve seen over the years, the one single thing that holds people back the most, companies back the most from automating is this fear of change that Tony is describing there, and I think Rack Room embraced it and jumped on it right away, but not every client is like that. Many times, we go to talk to a company that have been thinking about this for five years or ten years or trying to get it done and it doesn’t happen. We find that the biggest hold up is just, “We’re not sure we can handle the change.” So, in our model we spend a lot of time on that because it very truly could kill the project, it could drive the success of the project; that kind of partnership. So, we just join the team with our clients and become part of that chain, because it’s required. We’ve gotten really good at it, it’s helped our clients do better at it too.

>> [00:37:26] Tony: Definitely. And really, what it comes down to is it comes down to comfort and confidence. We want you to be comfortable in working with the system before you go live with it, so we’re not just turning it on one day and then all the sudden, “Hey,” like trying to force you to ride a two-wheel bike or something like that because you know we’ll push. No, we’re going to be there and be by your side to make sure you’ve got your balance and everything, so we do that during testing and make sure. We have thorough testing so that your team is comfortable and confident in the system, the solution, and understand how to use it before we let you go off on your own.

>> [00:38:03] Tom: Great, thanks. So, you’ve heard us talk a little bit about the problem, you’ve heard us talk about the solution, so we’re going to move into some of the outcomes that Rack Room experienced. As we do that, just a quick reminder, if you have any online questions, feel free to type those into the Go To Webinar and we will answer those in just a slide or two.

>> [00:38:27] Tony: So, we spoke about best practices before, and when we’re speaking about best practices, ideally, we could pull invoices, regardless of your vendor type, so for example Keri, you’ve got some utility invoices, utility vendors. Ideally teams could be cross-trained on those, and anybody and everybody can handle them, and in case that particular utility invoice expert is out of the office, then someone else can cover that for them. But, in your case, you stressed the importance of those utility invoices, yes, people are cross-trained regardless, but you still prefer certain people to handle those. Even though we are talking about best practices, maybe that wasn’t the best fit for your organization, so we’re very flexible with what we can do there. So, we just want to make sure that your team was comfortable, like we said before, was comfortable with that, and so we made sure that those utility invoices were available for those appropriate users in your AP team.

>> [00:39:32] Keri: Right. We have various areas of expertise within our AP group, and we needed to find a way to be able to handle that, and basically assign a specific invoice to a specific AP processer. And, DataServ worked very closely with us to figure out how to do that and that way people can track what invoices belong to them, and where they are in the process, and it has worked fabulously, so we’re really happy with that. But, it is one of those things where DataServ worked with us to make sure that our needs were met. In this particular slide, we did gain visibility over the payables processes. I thinks sometimes we kind of lose sight of all the specifics on how to process the invoices, where exactly this particular type of invoice goes, for what type of approval, this helped us kind of learn that again I think. And in doing that, were we doing the process correctly? Could we save time doing it other ways? So, it really opened our eyes to a lot of things.

It allowed us to cross-train staff, because we did not go into this looking to have a reduction in our staff. We wanted to basically, I’m trying to think of the right word, allow them to do other things. So, getting people to document their processes, that reduces tribal knowledge that sometimes people, they keep it all in their head, but if they’re out, who do you process their invoices? So, that’s another benefit to what we’ve gained with DataServ. Other than the obvious, if you look hard enough, you’re going to find things that will surprise you in the automation process.

>> [00:42:13] Tom: That’s a good point, very good points Keri, I think that’s a great story. People forget about those parts.

>> [00:42:19] Tony: Right. I mean, you have the human intelligence, that tribal knowledge or just understanding how to work invoices, and then you have, there is also AI, so you have artificial intelligence, that’s where we can incorporate data, and we incorporate more of the machines and the calculating and the routing and so on and so forth, so what we can do we’re blending the artificial intelligence with the human intelligence to basically promote collaborative intelligence, which is where we find AP to work in the most optimal way.

>> [00:42:51] Keri: Right. One thing too I might mention is; going into this we had our 90/10 split between electronic and manual invoices. We’ve reduced that in the two years we’ve been working with DataServ, that our manual invoices are down to 3% and that 3% really consists of travel and confidential invoices, and some things that are going to require a little work, but we still intend to work to the DataServ platform. So, ultimately, we are very happy with the outcome when it comes to reducing our manual process.

>> [00:43:38] Tony: Thanks, Keri. And there’s a great deal of gratification from our side to hear something like that. I mean, that’s why we do what we do is to make sure that it’s felt on your side and whatever is expressed is of course appreciated. So, thank you. And through those lessons that we learn, there’s an evolution versus a light switch approach. We can turn something on, a solution on for you after we’re comfortable with it and that can be what you want to use for a period of time, or there can be some type of a staggered approach. That solution can evolve over time as well, so that’s where you can take bite-sized chunks. So, if you want to go live with a smaller sub-set first because change management might be one of your primary concerns, then we can do that and kind of wade into the water instead of just jumping off the diving board of the deep end.

And, that partnership is key throughout that process. There’s that trust that exists between both organizations in order to understand that this is where we’re going to be today and where we’re going to be tomorrow. In order for that to work, we have to understand timing; the timing has to be right, and like we said before about the change management and how we wanted to make sure that you’re comfortable with what we’re introducing to your organization on day one, before that actually is the case.

Keri, perhaps you could touch on the timing of it, and how you handled it from a change management perspective?

>> [00:45:09] Keri: Thanks, Tony. The big thing is; don’t expect perfection from day one, because you’re just setting yourself up for failure really if you do that. Tony is right, it’s an evolution of a process. You know, it took you a long time to get to a certain point, it may take you a long time to kind of get to where you want to be. But, just be patient, because it does happen. We’re still working now with DataServ to tweak things here and there to improve our process. Partnership is key, internal and external, and I’ll tie change management into that, and that’s one lesson that we did- you can’t make everyone happy. Most of our internal customers are very happy to not see the paper anymore, they’re very happy with an automated approval process. There are a few that still want the paper. And, those are the ones you have to continue to work with and try to help them evolve.

And finally, on the timing piece; make sure that when you decide to do this, you have the time and resources necessary to devote to it. Don’t try to push this into production to fit into a window when you really don’t have the time to focus on the details. Because, then you have to kind of work after the fact to fix things when really if you had been a little bit more patient, things might have been a little easier.

>> [00:47:10] Tony: Patience is hard, Keri, but that’s good advice, that’s very good advice. Some people are not patient, and it’s hard. And also, just to add to that, just getting started matters. When I think about timing, I think you addressed this quickly. We first met you, it didn’t take very long for your time to come to the conclusion that they should get started. And I think, to your point, we were patient after we started to make sure it was right, it was done right, and I think that’s really smart, but I think the harder part is people are sometimes patient with getting started, and I think there’s two different things there; get started because you will get some benefit even from not being done, and you will get a lot of those things you mentioned; visibility and ability to look at your procedures, review the process and redundancy and staff knowledge, all those kinds of things that you mentioned would start happening as soon as you get started, not necessarily when you’re done. So, it’s a journey, it’s not a destination. I think people sometimes want it to be done tomorrow, and that’s just not realistic.

>> [00:48:09] Tom: Thanks guys. Great, as we move into our Q and A section, we have one last poll for the audience. These results of Rack Room Shoes shared are needed at your organization; can you give us a sense of what you’re facing, what you’re looking at? That would help us out a lot, and Keri can maybe share some thoughts there, or Tony as well, based on his experience. I think you should be able to click on multiple if you’d like, so give that a try. You don’t have to limit it to one. I see the votes coming in.

>> [00:48:49] Jeff: It would be rare to have only one of these be necessary.

>> [00:48:55] Tom: All right, we’ll just give it five more seconds, so make your clicks quickly. Thanks, everybody. We’re going to close this up, then we will share the results. So, we’re looking at the big winners were; improved controls, 64%, and also 64% of reducing tribal knowledge and chaos. Not far behind, 45% reducing paper, and then towards the lower end would be the additional bays of visibility at 18%, also at 18% reducing stored space. Keri, any surprises, any thoughts on what you’re seeing in the polls?

>> [00:49:37] Keri: I don’t think so. I am glad to see the reduce tribal knowledge and chaos is something that other AP folks recognize as well.

>> [00:49:48] Jeff: Yeah, even when it’s not a large percentage of your volume, that’s the thing; it’s a disproportionate amount of pain caused by small subset of the process. One of the things we hear all the time, I talk about this every day around the world and I feel like everybody has the same issue, which is that the paper is never going to go completely away, the paper pain never goes completely away, so it’s an interesting dilemma, because I in our model, DataServ takes on that front end and eliminates that paper from your shop, which Keri said earlier, but the difference is that variety of formats and locations and questions that come up and all that stuff never goes completely away. Rack Room is a great of example of that; they put as much stuff as they could through EDI, it’s very standardized and they got the 90%, but the pain still persisted on the 10%, and so that’s a very common lesson that we see and it seems like that’s what people are saying here as well, Tom, so good poll, good questions, good results, thank you everybody for participating there.

>> [00:50:49] Tom: Keri if you had to pick one, what would you pick?

>> [00:50:57] Keri: Improved controls probably.

>> [00:51:00] Tom: Yeah, okay. All right, so that takes us to the end of our presentation. We are officially open for business with any Q & A that’s coming in. I do have a few questions but don’t let that stop you if you have others. First question, Keri probably for you or Jeff, you can answer on behalf of the other clients. How do I build a case study to help sell my management team? Can you talk a little bit about your up-fishing process at Rack Room, what that looked like or didn’t look like?

>> [00:51:37] Keri: Well, for us here at Rack Room, I had been looking at automation for probably two, three years, and really, I think the biggest driver was our parent company had basically started digitizing their invoices, and then as I tried to go over what I had in my mind, I think it was a surprise to our CFO of how the workflow could help us as well. It wasn’t just a matter of images of invoices, it was the whole package. So, once he realized what was available to us, he became very intrigued, he was very active in our search for a company to help us with this, so I was very fortunate with that.

>> [00:52:35] Jeff: So, get upper management involved early is what I hear Keri saying there and that’s what I see across many other industries, many other clients that we’ve worked with, to kind of get that early buy-in, and I think business case wise, you’ve got to work with your partner to come up with stories, because I fell like that’s the best way to do it. If they have stories of history and experience doing this, they’re going to have a lot of ammunition for your business case. But, I think Keri also is an example of what we see a lot too, the person over AP tends to have a lot of that knowledge in their head, and our job became sort of extracting those issues out of Keri’s brain so that we could put them into the business case. I feel like that was the good part about working with Rack Room, and other clients too.

>> [00:53:24] Tom: Thanks, guys. Here’s another question, Keri; what does the implementation or the training, what did the implementation or training look like for Rack Room Shoes?

>> [00:53:36] Keri: The implementation was- the training part was the easiest of everything. Using DataServ is very intuitive, which is fantastic. The implementation, you know, probably like everybody else, we had our ups and downs, and a lot of it just depends on your shop and what the expectation is, and how many rules you have and how many special scenarios you want DataServ to try and help you with. So, I think overall, it was a fairly painless process.

>> [00:54:28] Tony: Thanks, Keri. It was a pleasure to work with your team, they’re very easy to work with, easygoing, and provide us with a lot of information to kind of make it easier from our side as well, so that’s something that we want to do not just before the implementation of course, but also afterwards. So, once we go live with that solution, that ongoing training is really key. So, we find that there’s a certain percentage of retention with any training, and once you go live. And people might become accustomed to working in the solution a particular way, because they find that comfortable. But then with ongoing training, say a quarter, 90 days, 180 days later, that there are other options that are available that maybe you’re perhaps not using and would benefit from, and incorporating that is just, like we said before, more of an evolutionary approach to working with the next solution.

>> [00:55:26] Tom: All right everybody, thank you for that. We’ve got time for one more question. So, the question came in, Keri, about fraud; does this solution help with any fraud, whether internal or external that you have any experience of how that’s worked? Or, Tony, anything that you’ve seen from other clients?

>> [00:55:47] Tony: Go ahead, Keri, you can go ahead and start.

>> [00:55:51] Keri: Yeah, I think from my perspective, I saw an interesting statistic the other day that said that somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of invoices coming in to accounts payable are duplicates, and I never really thought that much about duplicates before, but when you start using DataServ you realize just how many times a vendor will send an invoice in, so it does help us highlight those, and they’ll come through and you’ll see that someone submitted a duplicate invoice and whether it’s clerical errors on a vendor’s part, or if it’s just them trying to submit again. I don’t really know, but it does help you work with those vendors to understand their processes and work with them. In terms of actual cases of fraud, we’ve not uncovered any at this point by using DataServ.

>> [00:57:00] Tony: Thanks Keri. I think that’s great. What you want to do is you want to cut off those potential duplicates upstream, as upstream as possible. So, rather than having multiple work those duplicate invoices and then waste that time and not be able to get that back later, and then all the sudden you realize that you have duplicate invoices in your system right before you pay it. Well, you can’t recapture that time back, so identifying those upstream is always a benefit. As well as getting invoices in from vendors that maybe don’t exist in your vendor master data, so sometimes people, there’s these phishing scams where they’ll be pushing invoices in, and what they’re trying to do is get you to pay for something, but if they don’t exist in your vendor master, we can bring that forward to let you know that, “Hey, we couldn’t identify who this vendor was,” so you can understand, “I don’t want to pay this because this isn’t a vendor in our vendor master, this is in fact a fraudulent invoice,” which we’ve seen on more than one occasion.

>> [00:57:53] Tom: Thanks so much, one more question, we have one, kind of a multi-part question from Matthew. Matthew, if we can’t get it all here, we’ll get Keri send you the outcomes, but it says; when you reach out to customer service at DataServ, do you get a quick response, and where is the customer service center located for DataServ? Whatever you can’t answer we can, but Keri, can you speak to that?

>> [00:58:17] Keri: We do get a fairly quick response. Sometimes DataServ has to dig into the details, so it might not always be as quick as we necessarily would like it, but there’s more to it sometimes than we think about. But, we always get a bounce back, we get comfortable with the folks that we get responses from, and it certainly makes it easy for us to pick up the phone or send an e-mail and say, “Hey, we have a problem, can you help?”

>> [00:58:55] Jeff: That’s good to know, Keri, and I would add just that we are based in St. Louis, and all of our support is U.S. based in St. Louis today. We run two very broad shifts from here; we’re kind of in the middle time zone for U.S. support or North American support, but we also support a lot of clients in Europe. We have users in some 48 countries today, so we get inbound support all around the clock, and we handle that today.

>> [00:59:25] Tom: Excellent, great. And with that, we are officially at the time of the hour, so we are out of time, so Keri, on behalf of DataServ, we greatly appreciate your willingness to share your story with all the attendees online today. Great job, and Jeff and Tony, thank you for your time as well. We hope everybody has a great afternoon.

>> [00:59:45] Jeff: Thanks again, Keri, see you later.

>> [00:59:47] Keri: Thank you.

[END 0:59:51]

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