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Workflow reduces throughput times from days to hours

Partner: bpi solutions

With bpi solutions and the MR.KNOW – BPM (formerly BPM inspire) process management suite, fashion logistics company Meyer&Meyer was able to significantly speed up its invoice processing.

Meyer&Meyer was founded in 1902 as a freight forwarding company, and started to specialize in fashion logistics about 60 years ago. In keeping with the company's slogan "From Sheep to Shop", more than 2,000 employees at over 60 locations ensure that everything from raw materials to fine designer dresses reach their destination on time. The family-run business uses its wide range of experience to network markets, overcome distances efficiently, and provides all of the services to its customers in an individually thought-out manner. Meyer&Meyer is committed to the continuous further development of its services and technologies. In a company of this size, processing incoming invoices is a considerable challenge: A yearly total of about 120,000 invoices are distributed among the company's six German branches and 15 locations.

In the past, invoices reached Meyer&Meyer in paper form, with all of the typical associated disadvantages: Archiving challenges, distribution problems, and particularly delayed billing processes. "Only the person in possession of the invoice could examine it," recalls Matthias Wessel, project manager at Meyer&Meyer. "Depending on the process, this meant: If, for example, Controlling required information about an invoice, time-consuming follow-up telephone calls had to be made. Then, if someone was on holiday, the entire process could become bogged down." This was a particular challenge for fleet management, an important business area within the company. Fleet management included an entire series of invoices for the vehicles that were used. In order to be able to approve these invoices, regular on-the-spot checks were needed. "Of course, for the invoice to be approved, it had to be confirmed that the truck was actually there – and that could only be done by someone on site," says Wessel. After this check, the invoice was then sent by post to Osnabrück, where it was entered, paid and filed in the paper archive. In order to speed up these processes, Meyer&Meyer introduced an incoming invoice ledger at its headquarters in Osnabrück several years ago. Any employee could log in and examine the invoice archive via Virtual Private Network (VPN). "This was already a significant improvement compared to the previous processes, whereby controllers had to make regular trips to the archives," says Wessel.

Workflow for speeding up invoice processing
In order to improve the entire incoming invoice procedures, the IT managers at Meyer&Meyer relied on IT-supported process management. Key objectives of this project: To improve the communication between the six German locations as well as generally speeding up invoice processing. At the same time, the sign-off processes were to be made more transparent, and the auditing was to be documented in a better way. "We previously never had real up to date figures here in the building when we did our monthly billing," Wessel recalls. "Some of the invoices were still in transit on the settlement date and could not be taken into consideration." Software and consulting company bpi solutions from Bielefeld was selected to implement the project. Meyer&Meyer had already worked with bpi solutions since 2002, and was impressed by the proposed process management suite MR.KNOW – BPM from Inspire Technologies. Wessel: "MR.KNOW – BPM demonstrated the necessary flexibility and compatibility for being docked to the existing systems during the evaluation and still fulfil our requirements without problems."

Database detects the correct case handler
All invoices which are now received at Meyer&Meyer are scanned, recognised, classified and automatically forwarded to the responsible employee. The database on which the process is based matches suppliers and case handlers, therefore ensuring that the invoice lands directly on the right desk. This avoids manual, error-prone invoice allocation, and throughput is speeded up at the same time. The forwarding and subsequent workflows are automatically controlled and monitored by MR.KNOW – BPM – a significant advantage in view of the complex invoice approval processes.

"We have met all of the targets which we set ourselves without any problems with the new solution," summarises Wessel. "Invoices now run through the entire company within two to three hours. On the one hand, this gives us better insight into our figures, but we also fulfil the payment targets which are set more easily, and can benefit from discounts much more frequently."

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