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Case Study: Manufacturing

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To curb administrative bloat, meat processing company Smithfield opted instead for more efficiency. Today, employees are no longer hunting down documents. Now the information flows to employees - an essential building block for future growth.

Smithfield Foods, based in Norwich, UK is part of the American Smithfield Group, the largest pork processing group in the world. With leading private brands and numerous private label solutions, Smithfield generates total annual worldwide sales of 15 billion dollars. A highly automated document management system ensures orderly accounting processes.

The accounting department of Smithfield Foods receives more than 12,000 invoices each year. Prior to the introduction of the DMS, payment approval was completely paper-based: invoice data was compared with open purchase orders or forwarded to the responsible manager for approval. However, since the payment process only takes place every 14 days, invoices that had already been approved often had to be stored again. The final documents were placed in hanging files, while older documents were transferred to an external archive. But it wasn’t only space requirements that became a burden over time. Manual processes meant that different employees had to access documents – often multiple, up to four, times – and then had to file them again. So they looked for alternatives, drew up a list of requirements and looked at various software solutions. Together with a local Partner, DocuWare finally prevailed over other DMS competitors. After an analysis of the existing business processes, the solution was set up and ready to go within just four weeks.

United Kingdom

Thanks to our DMS, we aren’t wasting time on searches and filing. For our organization, this amounts to recapturing a good 85 hours per month - which is roughly the working time of a part-time employee.

Ralph Farrow
IT Manager, Smithfield Foods, Norwich (UK)

Push instead of pull

Smithfield's accounting department is now fully digitized: incoming invoices are sent to their electronic archive in different ways. Incoming invoices received by email are stored directly from Outlook. Paper invoices are quickly stored after scanning. In both cases, DocuWare reads important index terms straight from the documents. Access is then immediately possible, either via a search mask or directly from their DeFacto ERP system.

In the next step, DocuWare compares the invoice information with open order data to approve payment. If these match, the invoice is released; otherwise an automated approval process begins. The DMS sends a link to the archived documents by email to the responsible managers for approval. DocuWare even recognizes up to what amount can be approved by each manager in order to comply with internal guidelines. If the amount exceeds the limit, a higher-level colleague is included. For payment, the DMS then compiles the released invoices every 14 days in a digital file that is available at the push of a button.

Digital archive saves 85% time

The paper archive is now gone - documents are simply shredded after scanning. The 3,000 pounds of paper now saved annually for feeding the external archive is hardly insignificant, but there were many other benefits. Thanks to DocuWare, employees can easily access digital documents without having to re-file them afterwards. The company saves one thing above all else - a lot of time. Even escalation management is handled by the DMS. For example, tasks are driven through automated notifications or mobile access via smartphones.

As part of a study, the company was able to see that for approximately 100 hours previously spent monthly on search and archiving processes, their new digital processes have recaptured approximately 85 percent. This is particularly noticeable because employees can now concentrate on their core tasks - an essential building block for achieving the company's growth targets.


Smithfield Foods is a customer of DocTech, an Authorised DocuWare Partner in the United Kingdom.

Right from the start, I liked the combination of having a local DocuWare Partner as well as a global company that can offer support from elsewhere in case of an emergency. In this way we're really not dependent on just one company.

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