Leading Building Supplies Organization Bianco Uses Scanning And Document Management Software To Streamline Accounts Payable Workload

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Adelaide headquartered Bianco Building Supplies is currently introducing advanced scanning and document management software tools to substantially streamline the processing of its accounts payable operations.

Adelaide headquartered Bianco Building Supplies is currently introducing advanced scanning and document management software tools to substantially streamline the processing of its accounts payable operations.

With Australia wide operations, five separate divisions and a fast growing annual turnover, that currently exceeds $130 million, Bianco processes several thousand individual purchasing transactions every month. And as Group Business Administration Manager, Enzo Centofanti, notes, getting this work done with maximum efficiency, accuracy and speed is a major priority.

“Our business grew from very modest beginnings some 30 years ago. Our suppliers were very supportive of the new venture way back then and so today we have a policy to ensure we now support them, including the prompt payment of their invoices.

“We also regard good suppliers as a strategic asset of the company. When our customers need something our commitment is to provide what they want without any delay. This service objective is all the easier to achieve when our own suppliers are equally quick off the mark with deliveries to us. So fostering and maintaining good supplier relations is a must. Which, at least in part, again demands that we have an efficient and highly responsive creditors system.”

Customer service and supplier relations aside, Mr Centofanti also depicts the major problems that had been associated with the traditional processing of creditors at Bianco. “There was obviously a massive amount of paperwork associated with accounts payable which meant that being able to quickly find and reference a particular document was a very major problem. At day’s end we then had to store all of those records for possible future reference and to meet statutory requirements, and that was using large amounts of valuable storage space.

“With the number of transactions we have, there is also going to be a significant number of line items that we have to query. Perhaps because an invoiced amount does not agree with what was quoted and what appears on our purchase order. Manually tracking through all of these queries was a huge and time consuming effort. And when a supplier called to follow up a payment, it could take another eternity to wade through our records to determine why that remittance had been delayed. Perhaps because we were waiting on them to revise an incorrect invoice. Inevitably this also gave rise to some stress between our dozen or so purchasing officers – whose key task is to get product in – and accounts payable personnel whose responsibilities are quite different.”

To meet such challenges, Bianco elected, in late 2005, to undertake a major review and overhaul of its accounts payable operations.

As phase-one of this streamlining, it now has all relevant paperwork scanned into digital format. Original documentation is sent to the Scan Conversion Services (SCS) bureau in Adelaide once a week. With SCS validating and indexing this data and then producing summary electronic files that are emailed back to Bianco’s central IT system within 24 hours. A back-up CDROM is also produced monthly.

At Bianco, the scanned data is automatically entered into Dv TDM document management software developed and supplied by Practical Programs. This ensures that all relevant ‘raw’ creditors information is instantaneously available, on-line, to all relevant staff who can access files using a range of specifically defined search criteria. This, Mr Centofanti reports, has resulted in accounts payable reconciliation and payment work already being much simpler and faster. “Accounts and purchasing staff all have immediate access to any documentation that they need to reference and so there has been a very substantial time saving. We’ve virtually eliminated the opportunities to loose, mislay or misfile a document. And we are also investigating the opportunity to shred historical paperwork given that legislative requirements will accept scanned electronic records.”

With its scanning process having been in operation for some months, phase-2 of Bianco’s accounts payable upgrade is now being developed. Using the Dv TDM ‘Workflow’ software solution, this latter development will totally integrate the electronically scanned data into the company’s Movex ERP computer business system. Once complete, this will automate the posting of invoices into the business system thus removing much of the manual workload previously required. A fact, that along with other streamlining, means that additional accounts staff will not be needed nearly as quickly to handle the company’s continued growth.

It will also automatically trail all invoices and invoice queries through the entire payment process. “So, for example, when we get that supplier phone call to follow up an outstanding account, the relevant records can be immediately accessed and, while the person is still on the phone, we can provide a complete and total answer to their payment enquiry. This might, for instance, note that there is a dispute on the billed amount, that our purchasing officer raised this with their rep on such and such a day, and that we are currently awaiting a revised invoice.”

“Overall, the new approach has been all about eliminating the bulk, time consuming manual processes and focusing on the effective management of exceptions. This is a substantial improvement”, says Mr Centofanti.

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Richard Bates
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