Data2 is an RFID and barcode tag manufacturer that wanted to eliminate cumbersome paper-based workflows from its accounts payable department. It deployed an enterprise content management solution using KnowledgeLake software along with Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics GP to create a powerful system that is helping the company automate workflows while delivering greater visibility and controls over payments and financial planning.
Data2 provides innovative RFID and bar code identification product solutions in markets such as retail jewelry, tire manufacturing, libraries, healthcare and electronics to companies around the world. Data2’s value added solutions include electronic data exchanges, simplified online ordering, and automated manufacturing processes. National retail chains consistently turn to Data2 for solutions for managing point of sale and inventory processes.
The company began in the 1960s, and in the intervening years established various business processes that were based on paper documents. In the accounts payable department, this eventually led to the transmission of hundreds of supplier vouchers each month between corporate headquarters and two branch locations. Many of these documents required internal approvals prior to being entered into the company’s Microsoft Dynamics GP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Managers needing to approve them were often at separate locations, creating delays. Additionally, system-generated receipts had to be manually matched up to ensure accuracy, data was being entered multiple times, and there were no visibility of eventual posting accounts.
“While we pride ourselves in the efficiencies we bring to our own customers, our paper-based accounts payable process was fraught with inefficiencies, and was time-consuming both within the approval and document retention processes,” says Michael Borgna, CFO. “We needed a workflow and document management solution that could leverage the information already in our Dynamics GP ERP system. Ideally, it would provide pending notifications to approving managers, eliminate duplicate keystrokes, reduce potential errors caused by manual data entry, and be easily accessible from our enterprise platform.”
Data2 already had a Microsoft SharePoint intranet in place, so it also sought a document management solution that would integrate with SharePoint and other Microsoft products, enabling employees to access information stored in SharePoint from within their daily business productivity software.
To streamline its supply chain processes, Data2 deployed a KnowledgeLake Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution using several KnowledgeLake software products. The company uses KnowledgeLake Unify for SharePoint, which lets Data2 users search for, reference, and archive SharePoint-based documents from within business applications such as Dynamics GP, Outlook, and Excel. KnowledgeLake Imaging for SharePoint is used for searching, viewing, routing, and annotating documents. KnowledgeLake Capture works with the company’s Fujitsu scanners to digitize documents. KnowledgeLake Connect for SharePoint gives users the ability to upload documents into SharePoint directly from within business software without needing to open a separate application.
Data2 also deployed KnowledgeLake Accounts Payable, an AP automation solution designed to help accounting departments streamline workflow processes. It handles both standard and non-standard documents, provides automated meta-tagging capabilities, and offers tight document control functionality to help companies enhance compliance to internal and external policies and regulations.
Additionally, Data2 created custom Microsoft InfoPath forms for several different functions, such as credit memo requests and internal purchase requests.
By deploying a KnowledgeLake ECM solution, Data2 has been able to improve how it handles large volumes of accounting documents. The rich functionality of the solution is delivering benefits such as faster, more streamlined workflows. There is greater visibility, structure, and control with approval processes.
“The KnowledgeLake ECM solution has seamlessly integrated into our enterprise platform, creating more efficient and productive operational processes than we could have achieved with just our ERP system alone,” says Borgna.
More Streamlined Workflows
Borgna states the workflows for handling supplier vouchers is now much faster and more streamlined.
“Not only has the velocity of items routing through our workflow processes improved by at least 48 hours, the elimination of duplicate data entry has greatly increased the accuracy of our posting process.” said Michael Borgna. “KnowledgeLake definitely met our objectives of deploying a more efficient AP workflow solution that is tightly integrated with our ERP system.”
Greater Visibility, Control over Approvals
The faster and more automated handling of AP documents also gives Data2 employees greater visibility into-and control over-the approvals of supplier vouchers and other payables.
“Department managers are now more accountable for their departmental budgets…all workflow items they are prompted to approve now display the posting account that the transaction will be posted to once approved. There are no more month-end surprises,” says Borgna. “We also have dashboard metrics that provide information such as average workflow velocity, the average size of the document queue and percentage comparisons of type of documents such as PO vs Non-PO routed through workflow. These are actionable data points that provide insight into current workflow performance and potential areas for future improvement or additional resource allocation.”
Improved Planning Capabilities
The KnowledgeLake ECM solution also helps the company with its financial planning activities.
“Besides having visibility of workflow processes at any stage that provides an enhanced audit trail, we truly have real-time visibility of our outstanding accounts payable liabilities from the moment we receive a supplier voucher-not just what has posted into the system but also invoice amounts that are in the approval queue as well,” says Borgna. “It assists department heads in managing department expense budgets by letting them easily see the posting account during approval processes. This information lets department heads suggest different posting accounts or reroute information for additional research – they are more engaged in the process rather than just receiving a department statement at month end.”