PolyOne Corporation (formerly Spartech) is a leading producer of engineered thermoplastic sheet materials, thermoformed packaging, polymeric compounds and concentrates. With 23 acquisitions from 1993-2003, PolyOne had become highly decentralized, which led to redundancies in many of their business operations. In 2009, they came to DataServ to consolidate their accounts payable (AP) process after they developed a shared services department and didn’t want the hassle of scanning and storing the documents on their server. DataServ responded by providing PolyOne with a Software as a Service (SaaS) Purchase to Pay (P2P) automation solution to enable the creation of a new finance shared services center and in streamlining PolyOne’s payables process across the entire organization.
After implementing DataServ’s AP automation solution, PolyOne was able to decrease its workforce, provide increased visibility into payable obligations, and eliminate paper. Says Krista Van de Wiele, PolyOne’s Accounts Payable Manager: “Prior to implementing DataServ’s P2P solution, we had three different processing centers with about 10-15 additional employees. After DataServ’s solution was in place we managed to decrease the workforce to three processors and were able to keep up with the regular demands of the AP position.”
DataServ worked with PolyOne to understand their unique situation while also offering suggestions and ideas for integrating “best practices” into PolyOne’s workflow. “We needed a solution that was going to work globally and supply our plants and controllers the same visibility they had when the paper invoices were being processed at the individual account units. We were also able to implement best practices, which were attainable since all the AP invoices were being processed centrally.”
As Van de Wiele mentioned, by eliminating paper DataServ has provided her department with improved access to documents and information to give PolyOne better controls and audit responsiveness. “Everything is electronic,” she says. “You can create a temporary user ID and let the auditors look up the invoices. If you are not comfortable with that, it is easy to export a document and send it electronically to the auditors. It is far less time-consuming than fumbling through file cabinets and making copies.”
PolyOne’s automation solution has also greatly improved their month-end closing process. “Since all invoices are in one place, approvers receive reminders and AP can look up invoices quickly online and not fumble through file cabinets. This has also led to improved visibility into obligations and improved month-end closing, as we don’t have to wonder if the invoice is sitting on an AP processor’s desk or if it is lost in the mail. We are able to use the report to determine what needs to be accrued for the month.”
PolyOne’s AP automation solution includes the use of DataServ’s sophisticated Digital Mailroom, which uses optical character recognition (OCR) and a 5-step quality review to provide PolyOne with 99.9% clean electronic data and document images in a matter of hours of invoice receipt. This puts PolyOne in a better position to take advantage of supplier discounts. With the increased visibility that comes with DataServ’s workflow, PolyOne is able to identify those departments that don’t make payments in a timely fashion. “There are built-in reports that allow you to monitor those departments that do not respond timely,” Van de Wiele says. “There are ways to put them on the repeat offender list. Just like in anything, you have overachievers and you have those that will get to it when they have time.”
Training and Administrative Support
DataServ prides itself on providing tailored training, administrative and both first- and second-level user support for all its solutions at no extra cost to the client, and PolyOne has benefitted significantly from these services. “Working with DataServ’s Client Success team is always a pleasure,” Van de Wiele says. “When I come to them with off-the-wall ideas that would help my current situation, they are always willing to come up with a solution. They are very responsive and very accurate with their analysis and problem-solving. I provide the training documents to all new users, and they seem to be able to use it with ease.”
Van de Wiele appreciates the positive impact DataServ has had on her payables process, and she believes other organizations should strongly consider DataServ’s automated P2P solution. “I am a huge supporter and have recommended DataServ’s services to many,” she says. “DataServ’s largest selling point is that they are not an in-the-box solution. They can do it all just as a piece. Just like ordering a pizza…..cheese or deluxe!”
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