We don’t think about it when we take our trash bins out to the curb, but garbage is a big deal. Toter Incorporated knows that. With more than 22 million of its carts in use, it is the leading supplier of the wheeled, rollout carts that municipal and private waste haulers use for curbside automated waste and recycling collection.
Tossing out Paper-Based Processes
Toter sells primarily to municipalities, but also to private haulers. That business generates a large number of documents in the form of bids, proposals and contracts. Warrantees associated with contracts can last for as long as 10 years. Consequently, the related documents must be retained for a considerable time.
In the past, most documents were created and stored on paper, which left them exposed to serious risks. For example, a fire, flood or other disaster could destroy them. And, being a physical medium, paper was expensive and difficult to back-up in a secure location. What’s more, being bulky, paper took up considerable space. In addition, the three-part forms that Toter used for some of its documents were very expensive. The company needed a more secure, efficient and cost-effective way to create, store and manage documents.
Cutting Costs by Creating Electronic Forms
Today, instead of printing invoices on expensive forms, Toter uses iForms to create electronic forms and emails or faxes them directly from its IBM i-based systems, without producing paper copies. Or iForms can laser-print invoices on plain paper for customers who insist on paper-based copies.
Toter also uses iForms in the shipping department. Documents that used to be printed on three-part forms are now emailed from the system, without ever touching paper. Those documents that can’t be emailed, such as bills of lading, which truck drivers must sign, are laser-printed with bar codes on three copies of carbonless paper. Then, when the bills of lading are returned with signatures, they are scanned into WebDocs document management system. WebDocs reads the bar codes and uses them to index the documents and associate them with the appropriate orders.
In addition, about 17 document types used by Toter’s customer service department are now scanned into WebDocs so they can be stored and managed electronically. And, as with invoices, the company’s systems can automatically email or fax customer service documents to customers, thereby significantly reducing printing and mailing costs.
The accounts receivable department also uses Webdocs to perform automated three-way matches among purchase orders, receiving documents and invoices.
Webdocs & iForms: A Winning Combination
Toter gains substantial measurable value from its use of Webdocs and iForms. For example, the company saves about $3,000 - $4,000 per year just by eliminating order acknowledgement forms. In addition, the elimination of paper invoices reduces expenses by about $2,000 annually. And that’s just paper costs. Those numbers don’t include the significant reduction in postage expenses of over $5,000 per year.
Other benefits are harder to quantify, but they deliver even greater value. For example, one of the primary reasons for converting from paper to electronic documents was to safeguard documents in the event of a disaster. Rather than relying on vulnerable paper files, Toter’s documents are now automatically protected using the company’s standard data backup processes.
Webdocs and iForms also help to make Toter’s operations more efficient. For instance, paper-based accounts payable documents used to be circulated manually. Today, Toter uses the workflow functionality of Webdocs to automatically route document images through the approval process. Even employees who may be traveling can log into the company network, pull up the Webdocs web based user interface, and approve the documents sitting in their Inbox. And, because document images are available on their desktops, employees no longer have to interrupt their work to pick up paperwork from their mail slots.
The hunt for paper that is lost, misfiled or sitting on someone’s desk is a major time-waster for many organizations, but not for Toter. Documents stored in Webdocs are always instantly available to authorized personnel. And, because the company integrated Webdocs with its ERP software, users can summon relevant documents with a click of a button from within the ERP application.
“Without a doubt, everyone in the company who was skeptical of the new system at first now truly likes what we’ve done,” said Martin Banish, IT manager. “And they love how easy it is to get at documents. User satisfaction is hard to quantify, but it is all good."
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