One area where the organization was challenged was in their procure-to-pay process. By 2011, each invoice was taking approximately 20 days to process and had an average cost of $5.80, roughly 65 percent higher than the industry average. The AP department was decentralized and different plants in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico all managed separate processes. Invoice processing was 100 percent paper-based, resulting in a lack of process visibility and inefficiencies. Invoices often went missing and AP clerks spent an estimated 80 percent of their time searching for invoices and responding to inquiries. Auditor requests took weeks to fulfill.
To address these challenges, Bumble Bee began the search for a solution that would allow them to eliminate manual processes and standardize on and consolidate operations. Heading up the search was Farrah Goldberg, general accounting manager at the San Diego head office. “We were really lacking on the procure-to-pay side as far as technology. It was a very archaic process. We needed a third-party tool that would allow us to optimize processes and ultimately reduce costs per invoice,” says Goldberg.
Integrated solutions key to turnaround
As an SAP® user, Bumble Bee wanted to leverage their existing investment and find a complementary set of solutions that integrated tightly with their SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. After a lengthy review process, they selected OpenText™ Vendor Invoice Management (VIM) for SAP® Solutions (also sold by SAP as SAP Invoice Management by OpenText). The VIM solution integrates seamlessly with SAP and offers workflow functionality that enables users to easily manage and route invoices for approval. “We liked the fact that VIM synched so well with SAP. The screens looked very similar to what our AP group is used to seeing with SAP and so we knew it would be a smooth transition for the team,” says Goldberg.
In addition to Vendor Invoice Management, Bumble Bee wanted to leverage optical character recognition (OCR) technology to increase invoice volume throughput. OpenText™ Invoice Capture Center (ICC) for SAP® Solutions allows the organization to further extend the capabilities of VIM and completely automate the capture of paper invoices. The Invoice Capture Center solution, also sold by SAP, extracts invoice data and virtually eliminates human intervention in the invoice capture stage of AP processing. “The ICC product was a key factor in our decision to go with OpenText solutions. We really liked the OCR capabilities and the additional validation functionality that allows our users to easily capture and classify invoices. Some of the other software we looked at required users to have to hand-key items that didn’t get picked up by the OCR functionality. We wanted to eliminate human error and the ICC and VIM combination helps to automate almost every step of the process,” says Goldberg.
To store invoices that have been scanned into the system, Bumble Bee uses OpenText™ Document Access for SAP® Solutions. The solution allows the company to eliminate their paper filing system and archive all invoices digitally going forward.
To implement their suite of OpenText products, Bumble Bee selected Optima Consulting, an OpenText implementation partner. Bumble Bee went through a long planning process up front before meeting with Optima in order to ensure they had an executive sponsor and full buy-in from each affected department. With their framework for change in place, their next step was to produce a case study to ensure they could customize the VIM solution to fit into their AP process. “The onsite case study lasted about a week, and once we were confident in the design, the rest of the implementation went forward fairly quickly. The entire process from major design to actual go-live took around three months,” says Goldberg.