“The processes got better. The systems got better. By having Synergize in place, our order-to-cash is significantly improved. We have reduced our billing time down to four days from as high as seven.”
One of Challenger Motor Freight’s biggest challenges was getting shipping documents from their 1,200 company drivers upon completion of delivery, back to one of four different divisions (located in Cambridge, ON, London, ON, Dorval, QC and Aldergrove, BC) then into the document management system for use by three different departments. The different divisions had unique document requirements related to their specialized equipment. An early imaging solution fell short on a number of functions, including reporting.
Shipping documents in the trip jacket include the proof of deliver (POD), bill of lading (BOL), customs forms, toll receipts, scale tickets, fuel receipts, logs, safety violation notices, and repair check sheets. Once the trip jacket was returned by the driver, there was considerable manual preparation required to separate the documents for billing, payroll, and payables. Filing methods and retention requirements varied depending on the division and the document type, and it took an administrative staff of five people to manually process it all. In a typical week, over 27,000 documents have to be processed.
“Our challenge is paperwork. We have so much paperwork. Each department needs different information via a different workflow, often from the same document,” states Sue Peckford, Invoice Manager.
Synergize® was implemented in 2006 for three departments: Accounts Receivable, Payroll and Accounts Payable. Integrated with Challenger’s corporate AS/400 ICC Innovative IES® operations platform, Synergize receives documents by three different methods:
- Drivers drop off trip jackets at one of Challenger’s four division locations. There, the documents are manually prepped, scanned in and indexed.
- Via TRANSFLO Express® truck stop scanning whereby documents come in as emails with a specific subject line, and are then saved to Synergize.
- Via the TripPak EXPRESS® boxes from which that service picks up the documents, scans them, and sends electronically to be automatically ingested into Synergize.
Once in Synergize, documents flow through different workflow queues for the three different departments. For Accounts Receivable (AR), when documents come into Synergize, they are synchronized to the corporate ICC system to validate the data, and then billed from ICC. Different billers have different views and the ability to bill by customer code, by division or by geographic routing. Invoices can be sent to customers automatically along with the supporting documents that meet each customer’s unique requirements.
For Payroll and driver settlement, key documents in the trip jacket include fuel receipts, toll receipts and repair receipts. Challenger can also search in Synergize to determine if there was driver waiting time, which gets paid differently.
The Accounts Payable (AP) department uses Synergize to process vendor invoices. In instances where Challenger is over-volume and brokers freight to other carriers, relevant documents are scanned into Synergize along with the supporting material, then AP pays the carrier and AR bills the customer.
Integration with the corporate ICC operations platform allows Challenger to use Synergize for database lookups using as little as the document type and one indexing value to retrieve the relevant information like shipper, consignee or driver details. In addition, users can retrieve documents directly from Synergize through a hot-key combination which ‘calls’ files associated with the record that is onscreen, a significant time saver.
Even with the rapid growth that Challenger is experiencing, they are able to bill faster as a result of the process automation and document management that Synergize delivers. In an average week, Challenger issues over 4,700 invoices. They have been able to reduce their time-to-bill from as high as seven days down to four days using Synergize.
Digital document retrieval takes seconds now, compared to hours before when they had to search through boxes of paper that could be stored in a variety of locations. Storage space requirements have been reduced significantly.
The staff of five people originally dedicated to manual processing of trip jackets has been reduced to three, plus a part time person when required, allowing the company to utilize the remaining staff in different areas of the business. Growth can be managed without the need for additional administrative staff.
Retention requirements for certain document types have been reduced from as long as seven years to as short as 45 days, now that they can prove to auditors that they have a clear image in Synergize.