Smithfield’s accounting department receives more than 12,000 incoming A/P invoices annually. Before introducing a DMS, invoices were processed manually and on paper. After invoices were received, employees would compare them with open orders managed within their ERP system. If the amounts matched, invoice were marked for payment. Invoices that didn’t match a purchase order were placed in separate folders and manually routed to the responsible department. Since payments are only disbursed every 14 days at Smithfield, even the invoices authorized for payment were set aside in special folders. Once paid, the invoices would be stored in hanging folders in a different spot in their headquarters and then ultimately stored in an external archive for up to seven years to meet long-term retention schedules.
It wasn’t only a matter of space that made this approach untenable over time: “Our manual system meant that various employees needed to have access to every invoice at different times. Ultimately, documents were retrieved and re-filed four times on average,” recalls Ralph Farrow, IT Manager at Smithfield Foods. “The entire process was enormously time-consuming and problematic. For example, some documents were simply lost along the way or couldn’t be tracked.” Once the company’s management team announced new expansion plans, it was clear to Ralph Farrow that something needed to change – their existing processes had reached their limit. There was no way that their existing personnel would be able to handle this growing flood of documents.
Ralph Farrow began looking at different alternatives to manual document processing. He began looking at various document management solutions, compiling a list of requirements regarding storage, search and workflow features. Together with their local Partner, DocuWare rose above the competition. “The combination of having both a locally operating DocuWare Partner and a globally successful company, which is also there to provide us support when needed, appealed to me from the very beginning. In this way, we weren’t dependent on a single company,” explains the IT Manager. After analyzing their existing business processes, the DMS solution was installed and completely operational within four weeks.