Named Southern Africa’s leading fleet management company five years in a row by PMR Africa, Avis Fleet Services prides itself on the strength of its customer relationships and its ability to rapidly evolve to meet both client needs and marketplace trends.

For Avis Fleet Services (AFS), backing its customer service with a strong technology platform is the key to responding quickly and efficiently to client needs.

Recently, the company rolled out new products such as Interactive Voice Reporting capabilities and a traffic fines management service to improve customer service and eliminate the bottlenecks of paper-based documents.

AFS’ business processes had been generating massive volumes of paper documents—about 85,000 per month just in accounting—and staff spent countless hours sorting paper. A lack of offsite document accessibility and bandwidth challenges in remote service areas of neighboring countries had increased the company’s operational costs while decreasing staff efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Doing business across a large geographical area means we have certain challenges. The road systems, the postal service and data communication infrastructure are below par in some places,” says Vijay Jugnarian, Development and Solutions Architect. “With paper, finding information was a challenge. Resolving queries was time consuming and costly.”

Strengthening Avis’ IT Infrastructure with Integrative Middleware

To solve these efficiency challenges and build a stronger IT backbone for its new customer service offerings, Avis turned to Laserfiche Rio 8.3, an enterprise content management (ECM) solution with a flexible, open architecture. By deploying Laserfiche as integrative middleware, AFS’ IT department could build new solutions on top of existing software applications and Websites, centralize data storage and streamline the company’s accounting, claims and traffic fine processing.

“We chose Laserfiche because of its suitability to a medium-sized company and the availability of local as well as regional support,” says Vincent Kelly, Analyst Programmer.

Kelly and his team started with a foundational integration between Laserfiche and the company’s AS400 Fleet Management System (FMS), the database that stores the company’s customer and vendor data.

“You don’t have to have a user key in twenty different fields from a document to make the document useable and searchable in the system,” says Kelly. “Based on just an order number, we can retrieve all of the related documents using this back-end integration.”

Streamlining Customer Service

Laserfiche’s integration flexibility allowed the company to build front-end solutions on top of this back-end FMS-Laserfiche process, a critical step to streamlining customer service.

Traffic Fine Payments: The first solution has accelerated the processing of traffic fines that customers receive while driving an AFS vehicle. Using a custom integration between Laserfiche, AFS’ new traffic fine management system and the company’s customer Web portal, AFS has greatly accelerated the generation of infringement notices and enabled customers to easily search, review and redirect the fine to appropriate drivers.

Accident Management: For customers who file an accident report with AFS, the company uses Laserfiche to manage insurance claims, quotes and supplier invoices related to the incident. Staff once put these documents in separate bins with folders based on incident numbers which was a time-consuming, inefficient management and storage procedure. Now, Laserfiche automatically routes documents through each stage in the claims process, giving clerks the transparency to see how many incidents a customer has incurred and what other steps need to be taken without switching between applications.

“In the past, it was difficult to immediately know the status of any incident when a customer called,” says Kelly. “With Laserfiche, our staff can easily see where a claim is in the process. Laserfiche has given our clerks many more reporting options that make their jobs easier.”

Powering Accelerated Accounting

The most robust integration, however, has created new accounts payable and receivable processes that save significant resource time. By integrating Laserfiche with the company’s FMS, Oracle Financial Database, PlanetPress Production Suite and online customer and staff portals, the company has enabled a document routing and approval process for customer invoices and payments that is transparent and controlled at every step.

Accounts Payable: When vehicles require maintenance, AFS bills the customer to cover the vendor’s service cost. The basic FMS-Laserfiche integration authorizes supplier invoices and attaches proof of service forms to the invoice. Clerks in the costing department can then retrieve documents from Laserfiche based on an order number search directly in the FMS system.

“Clerks used to run around to different departments to verify the invoice amounts. Now, we’ve linked all those documents up in the background, and they can just click on a link and open it all up,” says Kelly.

Accounts Receivable: Once these invoices are approved, an extensive custom workflow activity using PlanetPress, the FMS, Oracle and a customer Web portal allows the accounts receivable department to generate invoice statements and send them to customers online.

Enterprise Benefits

About 20% of AFS’ customers have opted to receive their billing statements online, leading to a huge reduction in overall operational printing and storage costs. More importantly, by using Laserfiche for data transfer and document routing, clerks can service those customers on the phone much faster. Over 183 staff across seven departments use Laserfiche both onsite and remotely over the Web to process more daily transactions, enjoying clutter-free workspaces and easy electronic file sorting.

“In most departments, productivity has increased and we’re completing more transactions without any additional staff. Laserfiche has absolutely made our business run more efficiently,” says Kelly. Kelly emphasizes that this productivity boost all derives from Laserfiche’s open architecture.

“Laserfiche’s integration capability is what helped us build business processes that ensure user efficiency,” he says. “We can create a process that suits each department’s unique business needs, but the high level overview of all the processes remains the same.”

For AFS, the ability to build these custom solutions helps the company maintain its reputation among customers, exceed industry standards and continue to pave the way for more innovative business practices.

“Our goal is to have Laserfiche implemented throughout the whole organization and to use it in as many of the business processes as possible to have our operations as paperless as possible,” Kelly concludes. “Laserfiche has worked beautifully for us so far.”

Mike Re, Chief Information Officer, says, “The Laserfiche DMS implementation has not only significantly enhanced the AFS business processes but it has also changed the way we at AFS do business, resulting in enhanced productivity and cost reductions including substantial contributions to the AFS sustainability initiatives through reductions in our carbon footprint.”

He adds that the DMS implementation has added immense value to both external and internal customers, saying, “Although the DMS process has done wonders for AFS thus far, it is far from reaching its potential opportunity threshold in the business.”

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