Sunny Delight juice drinks are a national favourite in the United States, and as the company expands, its accounting team wanted to keep pace, ensuring efficient payment of creditors. With six facilities nationwide, the company needed to find a better way to manage the workflow around invoice processing and approval. It had recently centralised invoices to its Cincinnati headquarters, but workflow processes based on e-mail and spreadsheets were unsustainable with up to 65,000 invoices per year.
"Someone in accounts payable would e-mail an invoice for approval, but the recipient wouldn't see it, and the back-and-forth messages would delay payment," said Craig Eten, Global Accounting Manager for SDBC. "We also had the visibility challenge of our financial commitments. If I don't have visibility on what invoices are out for approval, it's hard for me to get an accurate picture."
The company chose SoftCo's Accounts Payable solution after analysing a number of AP workflow systems on the market. "Rather than just technically describe an issue, SoftCo knew what functional problems Craig had, and their business comprehension was impressive," recalls Shawn Roberts, Global IT Manager for SDBC."That really made SoftCo stand out."
Efficient invoice processing, approval and payment delivers rapid ROI The new, SoftCo R8 powered accounts payable process at Sunny Delight is delivering all the business benefits the company had expected. The new AP workflow system efficiently handles each incoming invoice, and offers improved visibility, shorter approval times, and big reductions in time required to perform monthly accruals:
Intelligent electronic capture of invoices: incoming invoices are captured and added to SoftCo R8, which automatically strips invoices from incoming e-mail. Intelligent optical character recognition populates the SoftCo R8 fields, including supplier name, date and amount due.
Invoice image permanently attached to data: SoftCo AP, leveraging the SoftCo R8 secure document archive, ensures that the picture of each invoice is permanently attached to its data. With one click, accounting staff can see the original invoice right from inside Microsoft Dynamics AX, the Sunny Delight ERP system, a significant timesaver which accounting staff appreciate.
Automatch saves hundreds of hours of staff time: SoftCo AP performs a three-way match of each invoice against a purchase order and a goods receipt. Invoices which are automatched are marked "ready for payment" and queued inside Microsoft Dynamics AX. Automatch now handles 50% of all AP invoices for Sunny Delight, saving hundreds of hours of staff time each year. Accounting clerks simply verify the character recognition has correctly detected information, and can batch release invoices for payment. AP staff are free to focus on exceptional rather than routine invoices, accelerating invoice approval time while reducing costs.
Routing invoices for approval is streamlined and trackable: invoices which cannot be automatched join the workflow queue inside SoftCo AP. All communications and comments with approvers are tracked and managed seamlessly. Approvers receive an e-mail prompting them to review the invoice; they can approve, decline, hold it for query, or reassign it to another colleague for review.
Instant visibility of financial status: SoftCo AP easily enables accounting staff to calculate the value of in-process invoices, supporting the company's drive to better manage its cash flow. "It's also immensely faster to complete monthly accruals than before," said Craig. "We just click to get a download of invoices from SoftCo AP, and it takes 10 minutes to run the report. That saves each of our accounting staff about a day a month, every month."
Sunny Delight says the close relationship it has developed with SoftCo is an asset to its strategic planning.
"From a partnership standpoint, they're one of the companies I work with most closely," Shawn said. "SoftCo doesn’t engage in high-pressure sales, but they stay in touch about what they are developing, and what we are planning, in case they can help."
"We'd like to see how this workflow can be applied to other areas of the company, like our R&D division," Shawn said. "Certainly the workflow it's given us for AP is essential to us now -- invoice centralisation doesn't work without it. Before, our accounting team was super lean, and we were falling behind. Now, our team of four can handle the invoice volume, and I know we could manage an increased invoice load and leverage SoftCo R8 capabilities even further. That gives us huge flexibility."
Craig Eten Global Accounting Manager