While its business may be beverages, Major Brands, Missouri’s largest wholesale distributor of wines and spirits, also has to manage an enormous quantity of a commodity that is anything but liquid: paper.
State regulations require the company to keep signed invoices for the deliveries it makes to its grocery store, restaurant, night club and other retail customers. With more than 10,000 customers, that amounts to a lot of paper. The company’s St. Louis office alone had two rows of filing cabinets—60 to 70 cabinets in total—that ran the entire length of the office.
Space costs money, but that usually isn’t the biggest document management expense. Paper is a very inflexible medium. It has to be searched for, copied, filed and retrieved manually, all of which can consume considerable time. And, if a customer calls with a question, the time required to retrieve the necessary documentation can lead to customer frustration.
Going Digital with Webdocs
Major Brands found a way to tame the paper beast with Webdocs, from HelpSystems. Webdocs allows the company to scan and electronically store, manage and distribute paper documents, faxes, PC files, emails and other computer-generated reports.
Documents can then be accessed by using up to 10 search keys. Those keys are entered manually or automatically extracted from barcodes or textual data appearing within the documents. Once loaded into the system, authorized personnel can use a standard web browser to access the documents from anywhere in the world.
When the company implemented Webdocs it added a barcode to its invoices. Now, when a signed invoice comes back into the office, it’s scanned and Webdocs automatically recognizes the barcode. Those scanned invoices are then instantly available to authorized staff from within their existing applications.
Beyond invoices, Major Brands also uses Webdocs to manage images of related documents, so a click of a button can now display not just an invoice, but also all supporting documents such as bills of lading and authorizations for returns.
The Benefits of Automated Document Management
Because image copies of invoices are sufficient to satisfy government requirements, Major Brands no longer has to store the original versions, greatly reducing paper costs and freeing up space previously occupied by filing cabinets.
Webdocs also helped Major Brands improve customer service and employee productivity. Document management is now automated, and information that used to be retrieved manually is available instantly. Customers who call with account questions get the information they need quickly, and can have related documents emailed or faxed to them while they’re on the phone.
Major Brands is so satisfied with Webdocs that it is expanding its use to other areas. It recently brought the purchasing department on board, which has allowed the company to eliminate paper purchase orders. POs are now sent via email or fax at the click of a button. The accounts payable department is next.
“We haven’t found Webdocs’ limitations yet,” said Linda Vermeiren, customer service manager at Major Brands. “The more departments we get on board, the more departments that are interested.”
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