The ROTR Dairy Cooperative in Rypin has been using the SAP ERP system since 2009. Appreciating the business benefits and cost savings achieved by using IT tools, the company is implementing further solutions that support modern organization management, including Business Intelligence (SAP BW) applications.
Mariusz Trojakowski, CEO of ROTR, emphasizes: “The implementation of the ERP system and Business Intelligence brought the cooperative tremendous benefits and a great added value to the business. Many business operations were streamlined, but over time the business environment forced us to seek solutions that would help us cope with document management issues, since they accompany most of our business processes”.
The growing number of internal and external transactions, market requirements, and the desire to streamline back office processes became the main motivations for finding a tool that would optimize document-related processes involving individuals from different departments.
At the end of 2013, ROTR began looking for an electronic document flow system (workflow) that would allow documents of all organizational units to be comprehensively managed, and that would be user-friendly and would easily integrate with the SAP ERP system used already in the organization.
“The ERP system contains data that we use as a basis for our business processes and the integration of SAP and workflow was crucial for maintaining data integrity across the organization. We knew that with this approach we would eliminate many unnecessary actions in processes, such as duplication or control of information at various stages of the document flow. After reviewing the solutions available on the market, we decided to use the Enterprise Content Management platform, which, in addition to document flow management in integration with SAP would also allow us to archive documents. We chose the BCC ECM system because we liked the potential of this solution from BCC. Our positive experience from the cooperation during the implementation and development of SAP and the fact that BCC has been providing us with SAP outsourcing services for seven consecutive years were also important. We also appreciated the BCC ECM licensing model and the fact that a single proven vendor guarantees the hosting managed by themselves for the offered ECM system”, emphasizes Ryszard Piotrowski, IT Manager at SM ROTR.
BCC Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a comprehensive and flexible IT solution that supports electronic processing as well as archiving and flow of documents and information.
BCC ECM is a solution prepared at the BCC Software Factory. BCC provides a full range of services required to launch, develop and maintain ECM, including different models of maintenance and licensing (SaaS, IT outsourcing based on the organization and infrastructure of BCC Data Centers, a dedicated installation).
The distinguishing features of BCC ECM are:
– a single system handling both documents, archiving and document flow processes,
– an architecture that provides a high level of security,
– convenience of implementation and advanced authorization management,
– support of multilingualism,
– support of teamwork, substitutions, task escalations, notifications,
– a user’s work environment tailored to his individual needs,
– building workflow processes without programming knowledge – shortening the time of the solution delivery for business,
– integration with the SAP ERP system using SAP standards.
At the beginning, ROTR decided to implement the BCC ECM solution in the areas including:
- electronic flow of incoming and outgoing correspondence,
- workflow of invoices and orders,
- electronic archiving of HR documents (using the BCC ECM Content Management module).
Launching an ECM tool that forces employees to take a completely new approach to performing tasks is always a big change for the organization. Therefore, it was decided to introduce work automation gradually, dividing the implementation into several stages so as not to disrupt ongoing operations and to gradually accustom users to handling workflow processes that replaced the traditional paper document flow.
Incoming and outgoing correspondence
At the first stage of the implementation, it was decided to launch the electronic flow of incoming correspondence. The choice of this process was not accidental, since the pre-implementation analysis had shown that this was the optimal process to “pave the way” for ECM and familiarize all employees with the tool. The correspondence flow process was optimized and then mapped in this form in the BCC ECM system.
At present, each letter received by ROTR is assigned an internal number (associated with a barcode generated automatically from the BCC ECM system) and scanned. Thus, each of ca. 2,000 documents (monthly) is classified in one of 18 types. With this approach, full transparency in incoming and outgoing mail records was achieved, and the number of documents processed in each department (easily translating into the amount of effort) is clearly visible. The duplication of documents in redundant copies has been eliminated, original documents are recorded and do not circulate unnecessarily in the company. The entire organization uses electronic documents.
The full-text search feature allows any letter to be found instantly. All the user has to do is to type a search phrase and BCC ECM – according to the user’s privileges – will display the documents available to him electronically. In addition, managers have full insight into the flow of documents and decisions of employees related to handling them. The system also records outgoing correspondence.
Ewa Laskowska, Senior Controller and Project Manager for the implementation of BCC ECM at ROTR SM, says: “In the correspondence flow area, we save money mainly as a result of reducing the time of its processing. Routine but necessary activities are no longer time-consuming, and mail quickly finds its recipients, both internal and external business partners. We have full insight into the status of the document, we know where it is and whether its processing involves any current or outstanding tasks, who is the author and initiator of the shipment. We quickly discovered that we did not need so many internal copies, and since the launch of the system, the whole process has become easier to handle for our employees. In addition, we use less paper, which is beneficial not only to us but also to the environment”.
Flow of invoices and orders
In the next stage of the implementation, the processes related to the processing of financial documents were optimized. Two IT systems, BCC ECM and SAP ERP, are used during their execution, so it was important to integrate both tools. Due to the fact that the cost invoice flow processes naturally affect also orders, the implementation of BCC ECM covered both types of documents, i.e. orders and invoices.
Several types of orders were distinguished, including service purchase orders, material purchase orders, payment orders, technical orders and standing orders. The origin of this approach was the desire to capture all the expenses (payments) throughout the whole cooperative and to create the situation in which every expense (at the time of receipt of a document generating a financial liability) is assigned its source, justified and accepted by authorized persons. Each order type has a dedicated method of handling built in BCC ECM, with dedicated form fields that are filled in by various people at the proper stages of the document flow (process) associated with the document acceptance. As a result, each order has a full and analyzable history, and the superiors have access to comprehensive information about the planned expense.
The invoice flow process is carried out in the system in stages and its “rudder” in the BCC ECM system, as in any other process, is a graphical map that defines the stages, decisions, tasks, and people responsible for implementing them. In BCC ECM, all business rules (acceptance schemes) that govern the flow of a given financial document are also defined. If the result of the order fulfilment is a cost invoice (an incoming one), it is assigned to the order. This situation is mapped in the system by including a task to be completed in a list of active tasks of the person creating orders. When the invoice is registered in the ECM system, it starts to create a kind of “pair” with the order.
With BCC ECM we have gained control over expenditure and we have standardized the organizational and financial aspects of the process. The activities related to checking the data correctness have gained a new dimension, the risk of the process of handling invoices has been significantly reduced.
In addition, the data, including an order number and a supplier number, an order date and a cost center, is retrieved from the SAP system for incoming invoices. As any other document in BCC ECM, the invoice has its own dedicated form that describes it. This form is successively filled in by employees at the flow process stages.
For integration purposes, web services have been provided on the SAP ERP side. They are triggered by BCC ECM as background tasks run with the selected frequency. With such capabilities of BCC ECM, the integration process does not interfere with the users’ daily work with documents because it is invisible and unnoticeable to them.
“By combining SAP competencies and the proprietary workflow from a single provider, we have managed to reduce the number of third parties in the project. We perceive the number of providers as an important risk factor for the project, and its elimination has not only a positive impact on the pace of delivering solutions for business, but also allows us to quickly implement new ideas, improve the deployed applications, and release new versions instantly. It is also important that the maintenance of both systems, SAP and BCC ECM, is a task of a single provider. In this way, we have been managed to make a single company responsible for the operation of both solutions. We appreciate this approach now, after the go-live of BCC ECM and knowing how much integration work was necessary to be done”, emphasizes Ewa Laskowska.
After registering an invoice at the office, a relevant employee receives the invoice for approval in the BCC ECM system. If such a task is assigned to a group of employees, then after it has been taken by one of them, the other employees no longer see it in their list. Running of the task results in displaying the invoice document and forcing the entering of data that could not be provided at the document registration stage, e.g. a date of service delivery, an order or a purchase order from SAP, external receipt (an ER document image is attached to the invoice), a cost center, a description, a comment.
Then the invoice is sent to people in the finance and accounting department. Once the task is taken, the BCC ECM system displays the invoice and the employee verifies whether all the data and information is correct. If not, it sends the task (invoice) back to the user from whom it was received. Then, the invoice is sent to the chief accountant and a task to be taken appears in his/her list of active tasks. The invoice may be finally rejected at this stage (BCC ECM supports an exception of a non-approved invoice) or accepted and sent further for approval by the CEO. Upon final acceptance, an interface that preliminarily posts the invoice in SAP ERP is activated and the invoice status is changed to “preliminarily posted”.
“By implementing BCC ECM, we have gained control over expenditure and we have standardized the organizational and financial aspects of the process. We efficiently exchange data between SAP and BCC ECM, which makes the handling of cost documents far less problematic. The activities related to checking the data correctness have gained a new dimension, the risk of the process of handling invoices has been significantly reduced”, adds Ewa Laskowska.
The BCC ECM interface prepared for SAP supports the preliminary invoice posting in the SAP ECC system. Invoices with an assigned purchase order are posted using the MIR6 transaction. The posting can be made to a purchase order or an order and to general ledger accounts. When a purchase order has more than one item, all items appear in the preliminarily posted document. In the case of invoices in EUR posted to a purchase order, its items are converted at the relevant exchange rate. Invoices with no purchase order assigned but with an assigned cost center or order are posted using the FB60 transaction (posting to a technical account), fixed assets (ZA invoice type) are posted using the F-90 transaction. Advance payments are finally posted using the F-02 transaction.
In addition to the electronic document flow functions (workflow), ROTR also uses the BCC ECM Content Management module, which supports the archiving of corporate content. Currently, it is used in the HR area. BCC has helped organize the scanning of archival resources (by providing scanners and specialized scanning applications with OCR functions) and has designed an electronic archive. In BCC ECM, employee files are created with data imported from SAP: the first and last name, employee number and addresses. Scanned documents are automatically attached to employee files in BCC ECM, using an individual barcode placed on a given document.
As a result, it takes a few seconds to find any information for each of 1,500 employees (present and those whose data is archived) and involves several times fewer people than before. Employee files were divided according to a traditional archive model, i.e. into parts A, B and C. At the time of scanning the archival resources, each part was labeled with an individual bar code. The code is generated from the BCC ECM system and acts as a separator in the scanning process. It also makes it easier to find the document in the physical archive.
From the point of view of HR documents and managing them in electronic form, it was crucial to ensure an adequate level of security, both at the technical and organizational level. BCC ECM uses advanced 256-bit and AES encryption mechanisms. Physical separation of files from documents and metadata is conducive to achieving very satisfactory performance parameters. In addition, the hosting model used by ROTR, thanks to the BCC Data Centers infrastructure, guarantees professional maintenance of the system according to SLA requirements, including active administration, backup and recovery procedures.
Benefits of implementation
Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of implementing the system is transparency. Each document received by the company is recorded in ECM (in addition, this is done in one department, which reduces the risk of losing the paper form of the document), allowing it to be checked and viewed at any time. Individual register numbers for each type of documents entered and created make it very easy to find a document.
At the present stage of the entire organizational program, which aims to minimize paper work, ROTR is beginning to feel the real benefits of using BCC ECM.
Processes are carried out faster, and there is already the right proportion between the time needed to collect the information necessary to complete a specific task (a stage in the process) and the time it takes to complete the task itself.
The effects of connecting different IT systems used in the same business process are noticeable; many tasks and activities (including very complex ones) have been automated and there is no need to involve employees in them. Thus, the risk of distortion of information during its flow as a result of human error has become a controlled and manageable risk.
The system has also contributed to streamlining the organization of the cooperative, since the creation of maps of processes that are necessary for the correct execution of the workflow somehow forces their optimization, for example by explicitly assigning responsibility and accountability, defining document flow conditions, indicating paths for paralleling tasks and saving time that is so valuable in business.
More information: www.rotr.pl