Customer Appreciation Week 2020 – Automated Invoice Processing Enables Shelter Products to Capture More Early Payment Discounts and Improve Cash Flow

DocuWare’s third annual Customer Appreciation Week is here! July 16 is the next official Get to Know Your Customer Day but at DocuWare, we celebrate in June – and why leave it to just one day? Each day this week, we celebrate our customers. Visit our Modern Digital Business blog to read their DocuWare success stories.

shelter logoShelter Products, headquartered in Milwaukie, Oregon, distributes lumber, plywood and other building materials to clients across the US. The company specializes in just-in-time shipments for projects such as multi-family housing, assisted living and hotels/motels. The company has sales offices in six states.

IT Director Colin McDonell initiated the search for a document management system to streamline the company’s accounts payable processes. “We were interested in a proven solution with a long track record of success and a robust support system behind it,” Colin says. “We were also looking for a local partner who had ‘been there, done that’ and could address all of our questions quickly. We found that partner and then some with Authorized DocuWare Partner Solutions Yes.” In addition, DocuWare and Shelter Product’s internal order control system are based on the same SQL Server platform. This enabled a powerful integration between the two solutions.

During the design phase of their DocuWare implementation, Colin reviewed time-consuming processes, such as matching the bill of lading, which provides proof of delivery, with the invoice. Then with the help of the team at Solutions Yes, he decided which processes should be automated first. Now all inbound accounts payable documents are sent to a single email address, and DocuWare’s Connect to Outlook module automatically stores these emails to the system.

On top of that, automated workflows give staff instant access to the documents they need. According to Colin, the DocuWare implementation was very smooth and Shelter Product’s staff adapted well. "I get emails on a regular basis about how happy employees are with DocuWare” he says.

Addressing specialized business requirements

Shelter buildingDocuWare solves several industry-specific challenges for Shelter Products. “In the construction business, our customers get a draw from their bank loans once a month,” Colin explains. “Quick turn-around of invoices is critical. If we miss a cut-off by one day, we're not getting paid for an additional 30 days.”

Payment terms with their vendors are also on a tight schedule. The company has five to ten days leeway to take advantage of early payment discounts. They were missing discounts because paperwork was lost or routed to the wrong person. “The work is delegated to trader assistants who are mini-project managers. Each one oversees billing to a particular job and routing documents to the right approver,” Colin says. Shelter Products processes roughly 100 invoices a day. Using paper processes, it would take hours to get invoices into the hands of the appropriate trader assistant — now they get the documents in seconds.

“We recently put in an automated invoice approval process that replaced the need for sign off on paper. Because we process 2,400 invoices a month, it was a pinch point,” he says. Invoices are currently approved within three hours, rather than the invoice possibly sitting on someone’s desk for a day or two.

Automation prepares the company for unexpected changes in workplace dynamics 

“Transitioning our staff from working in the office to working remotely because of shelter-in-place orders was seamless with DocuWare,” Colin says. “We had been dependent on paper before and this would have been a big issue. The company had its biggest sales month in April. We could not have handled the volume of invoices we received so efficiently without automated workflow.”

Sharing access to a centralized database has also had unanticipated benefits. Shelter Products has offices in multiple time zones, and now employees on the East Coast can start a process, so that it is ready and waiting when people walk into the corporate headquarters on the West Coast. Workload can be rebalanced depending on who is busy and who is not, simply by reassigning tasks in DocuWare. And when someone is on vacation or sick, their role can be covered via automatic delegation so that their work doesn’t get stalled.

“DocuWare’s Workflow Manager has been transformational in the Shelter Products business. While not part of our initial evaluation, it has quickly become THE key piece of the puzzle,” Colin says. “We are only scratching the surface of what we will be able to do with document routing, approvals, and embedded business logic.” Because of DocuWare’s success in the Accounts Payable department, rolling out DocuWare to the Credit and Legal departments is the next step.

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