Purchase to Pay automation case study
Elmer’s Products makes more than 200 adhesive items, including glues for wood, school, and all-purpose uses, as well as the number one instant adhesive in the United States, Instant Krazy Glue®. Besides its sticky business, Elmer’s markets brands such as X-ACTO (knives), Bienfang (papers), ColorLoco (markers), GiddyUp (arts and crafts goods), and Scientific Explorer (educational kits). Products are sold by retailers worldwide and online.
With global sales in the range of $350 million, Elmer’s is very sophisticated in its use of technology to stay ahead of its competition and keep up with its consumers. Having implemented SAP, the internationally popular enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, several years ago, the company also utilized the electronic data interchange (EDI) method of receiving invoices wherever possible. However, Elmer’s still processed a few thousand non-EDI vendor invoices per month, and they set out to remove the remaining paper documents from their accounts payable (AP) process.
How DataServ Helped
Using DataServ’s standard Purchase to Pay (P2P) solution, Elmer’s has eliminated all of the paper from their AP department. Vendor invoices, statements and other documents are no longer sent to Elmer’s but instead flow directly into DataServ’s Digital Mailroom. Envelopes are opened, documents are prepped and scanned, the Invoice Processing Machine (DataServ’s specialized Software as a Service [SaaS] optical character recognition [OCR] for invoices) captures all required data, and this data is then fed through to SAP.
By capturing the invoices and the data upfront at DataServ’s Digital Mailroom, Elmer’s AP team can now spend their time working to further improve department processes and not be sidetracked working through the bulk of their transactions, which flow through without exception. Plus, the company’s AP staff avoids the cumbersome and time-consuming process of manually entering invoice data into SAP screens. Productivity has increased significantly, and errors are reduced.
Approvals, questions and any exceptions are processed through DataServ’s SaaS workflow, which utilizes Elmer’s existing email system, thus making the approval process much easier. This is perfect for approvers who are not used to SAP or do not have licenses for SAP. It also prevents lost invoices that can lead to late payments.
A Lasting Solution
SAP users often complain about its user interface, lack of flexibility, and that it is not user-friendly. DataServ reduces these complaints, as the interface to SAP required very little work from Elmer’s IT team. DataServ supports iDocs as well as EDI feeds and FTP uploads in order to get the data into your system. These same methods are used to provide data from SAP to DataServ, so the ongoing nightly process is very simple and easy to maintain. Upgrades to SAP do not affect DataServ since we do not customize a client’s SAP instance, and all DataServ upgrades are our responsibility as your SaaS provider.
With DataServ, Elmer’s users have complete visibility into their AP transactions at any point in the monthly cycle. At month’s end, DataServ reports are used to identify outstanding invoices for accrual, or to push approvers through processing invoices that are due for payment. Again, the focus is on the business process, not the transaction processing. Other reports identify bottlenecks and issues that can be corrected.
Finance and any other SAP users who have appropriate security can view AP invoice documents managed within DataServ by merely clicking on an embedded link within SAP. This link connects, logs in and retrieves the documents instantly from DataServ and displays them in a separate browser window overlaying SAP. No additional login info is required, and the viewer is so simple that anyone can use it without training.
Change management is often a concern with projects such as this, and getting a company’s internal staff and outside vendors to embrace significant changes to their daily processes is key to making the new program so successful. DataServ provided Elmer’s with our Rapid Adoption Kit, a structured, proven set of tools, including documents and templates that were easily tailored for Elmer’s unique business needs. These tools assisted in giving Elmer’s the best possible transition plan for the project.
DataServ also provided comprehensive training on all P2P capabilities to support this program. DataServ sent Client Support staff to Elmer’s headquarters to conduct hands-on training sessions. DataServ also provided full documentation to the users. These training sessions included:
- Process overview
- How documents get into DataServ
- DataServ site navigation
- Document retrieval processes
- DataServ Support processes
Additionally, periodic refresher training sessions also allow Elmer’s new staff members to quickly become proficient on the system and help existing users maintain strong skills.
Early in our relationship, Elmer’s provided much-needed feedback on our standard reports that required some improvement and adaptation on our part. This is part of the DataServ/client partnership and has led us to stronger, longer-lasting relationships, better products and new services. We really value Elmer’s collaboration.
DataServ has numerous other client success stories in the form of additional case studies and testimonials. A short phone call or quick email is all it takes to find out more. Call us today at 877-700-DATA (3282), email us at info@DataServ.com or visit us at www.DataServ.com to get started.
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Regardless of where you are at in your AP automation journey, DataServ will meet you there and help you evolve.