Magazine Article | May 10, 2006

Use Customization To Sell Invoice Processing

This integrator’s solution for a food distributor leads to additional data capture sales.

Business Solutions, May 2006

Document Conversion Associates (DCA) is a systems integrator that doesn’t do document conversion anymore. “The business may have started out doing document conversion, but we moved toward providing complete document imaging and document management solutions,” says Wes Knowles, owner of DCA. Knowles and his team of 15 are based in New Jersey. Recently, DCA provided a complete document capture, OCR (optical character recognition), and document management system for Jetro Cash & Carry, the largest wholesale supplier of food goods and household products to independent grocery retailers in the United States. The DCA-designed solution is helping Jetro to process a larger volume of invoices with four fewer data input clerks.

Jetro, which maintains relationships with more than 5,000 vendors, processes thousands of invoices on a daily basis. Prior to the document management system, Jetro’s data entry clerks manually keyed all invoice information into the company’s account management system. While the data entry clerks were able to handle invoice volumes in 2005, Jetro set a growth initiative to add 10 stores to the chain per year over a three-year period. The rapid expansion would introduce new regional vendors and thousands of additional invoices into the process. Jetro needed a more efficient method of processing invoices. Lora White, director of accounts payable for Jetro, investigated technology options that could help alleviate some of the invoice burden. AnyDoc Software, one of the companies White discovered, makes a suite of document and data capture products designed to eliminate manual entry of data. AnyDoc directed White to DCA, a VAR for AnyDoc. Knowles says AnyDoc referred Jetro to DCA because of DCA’s experience with business process and invoice management.

Customize Your Demo For Maximum Customer Impact
DCA faced competition from other vendors, but no other VARs. According to Knowles, it was the personal touch and presales efficiency that won the business. The presales efficiency is what allows DCA to provide a customized demo for the customer. The efficiency comes from the breadth of experience DCA has in invoice processing. “Our experience is what led AnyDoc to recommend us,” says Knowles. “We gave Jetro a general demonstration of the data capture technology the first time. However, the process of providing a custom demo has always been a key to our success.”

Over the years, DCA has developed specialized invoice processing expertise in-house to produce customized proof-of-concept applications for its prospects. “For our next meeting with Jetro, we built a customized demo using OCR for AnyDoc software and some of Jetro’s actual vendor invoices,” adds Knowles. “This exercise helped give Jetro a better idea of how the technology would enhance its current invoice processes.”

According to Jetro’s White, that extra effort won the business for DCA. While impressed with the functionality of OCR for AnyDoc, it was DCA’s method of selling that influenced Jetro’s decision the most. “Both software packages we evaluated were very similar,” says White. “Both were compatible systems from well-known companies, and both had the same feature set. In the end, DCA just put us more at ease. DCA clearly understood our business problems and didn’t confuse us with a bunch of technical language. They explained the solution to me using terms I could understand, and I was very reassured by this.” Jetro’s invoice processing system consists of a Böwe Bell + Howell Spectrum 8000 Series document scanner, OCR for AnyDoc software, and ECM/Documentum ApplicationXtender document management software. As invoices are received, they are sorted into PO-based and non-PO based invoices. A single scanner operator scans PO-based invoices at the point of entry. Data fields designated by Jetro (i.e. PO number, vendor name, invoice number, invoice date, invoice amount, and freight) are then captured off the invoice. Document images are automatically indexed based on this information. The PO number and vendor name are cross-referenced with data already recorded in Jetro’s account management system. A match signals the system to populate the empty fields on the account management screen with data from the invoice. If the data doesn’t match, the images are treated as exceptions and routed to a data entry clerk for verification. Document images are ultimately stored in the ApplicationXtender repository for future access.

Jetro cannot pinpoint the exact amount of cost savings realized from the ECM project. However, the solution allowed Jetro to absorb the invoice volume created by the addition of five stores last year, using four fewer data entry clerks. DCA has won additional business by working with Jetro to expand the ECM solution to include other types of invoices, such as general ledger expenses and direct store delivery. Jetro will also add other imaging projects, such as the capture of information from customer membership forms and surveys. The scanner and ApplicationXtender components will be used by the human resources department to image and store new hire paperwork automatically.