Leverages Document Automation with SharePoint and SAP (News - Alert) Platforms
In 2008, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) moved to a new, purpose-built headquarters at Sydney’s high tech heartland of Macquarie Park. The office complex is a gleaming showcase of all that is state-of-the-art in environmental design and construction. HMCA supplies cars to 150+ Hyundai dealers across the country, managing an extensive marketing program and warranty and spare parts for the leading automotive brand. Outside of the SAP ERP platform all invoices and accounts receivable items were processed manually. Excel was extensively used for reporting purposes. Invoice processing and purchasing at the time involved paper being ferried around multiple locations within the organization before approval, with manual coding and data entry required. All was set to change when senior management asked Balasundaram (Bala) Kothandaraman, general manager Information & Communication Technology, to implement paperless operations.
A digital online workflow solution was needed since 50 percent of HMCA’s 180 staff is mobile. With SharePoint as the corporate electronic content management (ECM) platform Bala needed an accounts payable (AP) automation solution that could integrate well. The organization restricts itself to only two technologies, IBM or Microsoft (News - Alert). An AS/400 platform had been in place before the SAP rollout.
Streamline and Monitor Printing Costs
To streamline printing processes at the new corporate headquarters, HMCA implemented Canon’s (News - Alert) uniFLOW Output Manager software and 11 new Canon image RUNNER multifunction print devices at the head office and regional offices. This server-based solution provided Hyundai with the ability to monitor and control its print fleet. The print release function is one of the solution’s key features whereby employees must swipe an identity card before the print job is released, with any queued print jobs being automatically deleted after a defined period. All printing and copying, together with the associated costs, can be tracked and reported.
For further efficiencies, Hyundai also integrated its ERP system into the Secure Print system allowing it to remove a number of extra printers used solely to service the ERP requirements. The solution included ‘Scan to Myself ’ e-mail functionality allowing users to quickly scan to themselves in a one touch operation, removing the need for address books.
Integrating Document Automation with Existing Technologies
Bala sought a document automation platform that was compatible with Hyundai’s existing technologies. “I am a firm believer that applications are not developed, they evolve so we knew we would need to add more functionality down the path,” he says. It also needed single sign-on on capability and to be compatible with SharePoint, as well as being easy to troubleshoot and maintain.
HMCA settled on SharePoint as part of its Microsoft platform. “Once a user learns how to operate Windows and Office they think they know everything about IT so it helps with adoption to give them something they feel comfortable with.”
Enterprise applications are standardized across the globe for Hyundai subsidiaries, namely SAP and other in-house systems developed for managing warranties and spare parts inventory. SAP is used for budgeting and payments to dealers and suppliers.
“There are many standard AP automation solutions but these are quite rigid and generally fit less than 50 percent of our process requirements,” said Bala. “I think implementing an ERP application like SAP is the only exception where you can change the business based on the process, usually you must modify the process to suit the business.”
Bala and his team began by separating the task into two separate areas, budget approvals and invoice payments. “We decided to outsource one solution and developed one in-house. By doing this you reduce risk by not having all your eggs in the one basket. Also skillsets in BPM in Australia are very scarce. We knew where we wanted to get to, but by doing it in phases we immediately reduced paper consumption and began our journey down the path we wanted to go.”
Kofax Total Agility was selected for invoice approvals and this process was implemented by an outside partner. Meanwhile, Hyundai’s in-house ICT team worked to implement budget approvals and purchase order workflow using AgilePoint for SharePoint.
Documents no longer arrive by mail or fax and instead PDF e-mail attachments are automatically scanned by the Kofax software and data is extracted into an SQL database. HMCA also has two Kodak (News - Alert) document scanners for any digitization that is required. The accuracy of scanning and extraction delivered by the Kofax platform is above 80 percent. Previously, there were two separate manual processes for PO or non-PO approval process that required data entry and manual general ledger (GL) coding, whereas now there is only one automated workflow for PO invoices only.
The workflow takes place within an SQL database and once an invoice is approved a file is uploaded into SAP and document records kept in SharePoint. There is no paper file retained. The system is programmed to send e-mails at 7am and 1pm daily containing links to invoices requiring approval, so these can be processed immediately each morning or at the end of a day
“It was an executive management requirement that no approval should take more than five days, and many of our regional managers are on the road visiting our dealerships across this vast country. Now all approvals are done within two days.” said Bala.
Approximately 28 months after first meeting with management to discuss implementing these new digital workflows, Bala has deployed two BPM systems using SQL server, blended with SharePoint and interfaced with external systems. Inside the first three months, Bala and his team were able to deliver enough functionality for the organization to be satisfied in the value of the exercise.
“Once people got a taste of the efficiency that these systems were able to bring to business processes they began asking for more and more functionality and the project was extended. With the BPMS technology we can add any approval process to the platform as all of the approval hierarchies are the same. We now have eight approval processes that have been automated with individual InfoPath forms customized for the end user.”
The project to roll out the paperless operation has not been undertaken in isolation, as HMCA has also dealt with the implementation of three major ERP upgrades in the past 12 months.
“When you introduce these processes you need to carry the business with you,” said Bala. “In my case I knew I could rely on executive management’s strong support throughout the implementation phases.”
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Edited by Brooke Neuman