Duncan Industrial Solutions

Executive Summary

Duncan Equipment Company, Inc. was founded in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1948. Now headquartered in Oklahoma City, Duncan has prospered through many significant milestones throughout its history. Continued expansion in the 1980s saw new sales branches added in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Wichita Falls, Texas and expansion of the facility in Duncan. 

In the late nineties, Duncan made a significant commitment to become a leader in technology, as it applies to the industrial distribution market. The company sought out process improvements in all areas of their business. They installed a fully automated warehouse “pick to light” system at its  Oklahoma City location. In Finance this included vendor consolidation, driving more complete use of purchase orders and seeking out invoice automation through OCR and workflow with DataServ.  

Although Duncan Equipment Company, now doing business as Duncan Industrial Solutions, had a modest beginning in a small town in Oklahoma, today Duncan enjoys doing business with a large variety of regional, national, and international customers. Employing over 160 employees with sales over $100 million, Duncan has employees in 18 sales branches and/or integrated client worksites in seven states.  

In October 2010, BlackHawk Industrial acquired Duncan based upon its proven performance since it was founded in 1948, and will continue to operate the business in the same fashion going forward. 

This consistent growth drives their finance management team to find ways to continuously automate their AP process,  streamline their tasks and take advantage of document and process automation technologies to expand without adding additional staff.

Business Challenge

As a result of its growth, the company’s Accounts Payable functions had become overly paper-intensive and complex.  Moreover, Duncan’s AP staff was spending considerable time doing data entry, as opposed to the strategic analysis and process improvement work they were originally hired to perform. 

Duncan investigated a number of traditional/licensed software solutions, only to find them capital-intensive and risky. In addition to the software, the company would have to invest in hardware, consulting services, additional staff and other resources. With these considerations in mind, Duncan turned to DataServ’s SaaS Purchase to Pay Solution for help.

How DataServ Helped

DataServ’s Purchase to Pay Solution with AutoVouch™ and Invoice Workflow functionality for Duncan begins with receipt of vendor mailed paper invoices, or emailed files of the same, processed by DataServ personnel in our Digital Mailroom, opening, prepping and scanning each document, then capturing invoice header information from each invoice received. All indexed data is then validated for accuracy and imported into the database. 

Next, DataServ imports a matching data file from Duncan’s Prophet 21 ERP system and matches the invoice subtotal and the invoice total to the receipt total. If the numbers match within a user-defined tolerance, the transaction is AutoVouched and processed. If it doesn’t match, it is automatically routed to an exception queue for further analysis and resolution by the AP staff.

A Lasting Solution

Measurable improvements have been rapid. The AP staff is now able to be utilized for knowledge work, as opposed to clerical work. Over 70% of all invoices that could potentially AutoVouch are doing so, and are requiring no human touch to process for payment. And although it wasn’t a major driver of this project,  

overall department staff was able to be reduced through reallocation into other positions in the company, further reducing department costs and benefiting Duncan. 

The finance departments are not the only area of the company that benefited from the P2P Solution. Duncan’s IT team also realized the value in DataServ SaaS. Unlike a traditional in-house project, Duncan didn’t need to invest heavily in terms of software or hardware to run the system. The system is also easy to manage, and Duncan users have access to DataServ’s full  Client Support team that quickly responds to any client needs. 

Change management is often a concern with projects such as this and getting the internal staff, and outside vendors, to embrace significant changes to their daily processes is key to making the new program so successful. DataServ provided  Duncan with our Rapid Adoption Kit, a structured, proven set of tools, including documents and templates that were easily tailored for Duncan’s unique business needs. These tools assisted in giving the client the best possible transition plan for the project.  

DataServ also provides comprehensive training on all Purchase to Pay capabilities to support this program. DataServ sent Client Support staff to Duncan to conduct hands-on training sessions. Additionally, DataServ provided full documentation to the users. These training sessions included: 

  • Process overview  
  • How documents get into DataServ  
  • DataServ site navigation  
  • Document retrieval processes  
  • AutoVouch™ process  
  • DataServ Support processes  


Additionally, period refresher training sessions allow new Duncan staff to quickly become proficient on the system and help existing users maintain strong skills.

"In the distribution industry, transaction costs are critical, and are closely tied to our profitability. Due to the large number of our AP transactions, we focused on it as an area where we could uncover gains."

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