Focusing on People and Quality
4 min read
G&J Pepsi, the largest family-owned and operated Pepsi franchise bottler, built its business on an unwavering commitment to customer service. In order to maintain that focus, the company has aimed to operate as efficiently as possible, digitally transforming much of its business in order to free up employee time for providing the products, solutions and services that exceed customer needs.
As part of this transformation, G&J Pepsi recently centralized its accounts payable operation. By using Laserfiche to streamline and automate invoice processing, G&J Pepsi has reduced managers’ repetitive manual work, enabling them to dedicate more time to strategic decision-making, oversight and interacting with customers. The new system gives the company tighter control over disbursements, supports regulatory compliance, reduces costs per invoice processed, and has increased efficiency across the organization.
An Accounts Payable Refresh
G&J Pepsi is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 13 locations across Ohio and Kentucky, and more than 1,600 employees. With thousands of invoices being processed weekly, the company recognized the need to centralize and automate accounts payable.
“Accounts payable used to be in four different buildings,” says Jeremy Harper, director of accounting operations at G&J Pepsi. “As we continue to grow, we knew it was going to be more difficult to process invoices if they were done in different locations, and they were done manually. We needed a way to make the process digital, collect what we needed, push invoices to managers for review and approval, and pull information later if we needed it.”
The legacy manual process involved invoices coming in through the mail, and being physically sorted and placed in managers’ mailboxes. Managers would sign off on the invoices, then the invoices were manually collected and matched up with relevant documents, such as packing slips. An AP clerk would then enter the information into the company’s AP system, Microsoft Dynamics GP; the documents would also have to be scanned into a repository.
“The volume of invoices was growing, and the company was looking at hiring another AP clerk in order to manage them,” Harper says. “The cost of manual processing would continue to grow.”
G&J Pepsi had been using another document management solution to electronically manage records for nearly a decade, so the company turned to Laserfiche Solution Provider Gordon Flesch for support on implementing a new workflow for invoices.
“In order to maintain its commitment to service and support compliance, G&J Pepsi needed a solution that would integrate with other core technology systems and improve efficiency,” says Bill Dermody, managed content manager at Gordon Flesch. “Laserfiche supports the company’s goals and has innovative process automation and reporting capabilities that G&J Pepsi can leverage as the business evolves.”
Today, invoice processing requires very little human intervention once invoices are pushed into Laserfiche. “Once invoices are pulled into Laserfiche we have a lot of workflow automation that kicks in and helps streamline the process,” Harper explains. “Metadata is added automatically, and then invoices are routed to different managers across the company.”
In the new Laserfiche solution, invoices are automatically sent to the appropriate managers. Once approved, invoices are routed back to the AP department for final review. As a result of G&J Pepsi’s integration between Laserfiche and Microsoft Dynamics GP, the solution automatically creates the invoice vouchers and, once invoices are paid, check numbers, dates and payment information are pushed back down to each Laserfiche document so all the critical information along with the image is stored in one place.
“It’s fully automated from beginning to end,” Harper says. “And we can pull any of these documents at any time to check them if we have questions.”
Invoice processing is now scalable, and the company has created a clearer separation of duties: Employees who post AP vouchers cannot process disbursements, and vice versa.
Transforming Operations: A Winning Recipe
As a result of the AP automation, G&J Pepsi has been able to centralize its entire accounting function by streamlining processes and giving the company more visibility into operations and control over invoice and payment information. The centralization has enabled the company to consolidate vendor payments, introducing new efficiencies and cost savings. G&J can also identify errors prior to posting payments through the automated workflow which performs a reasonableness check on dates, and verifies that the sum of distributions are equal to invoice amounts.
“Having to manually pass paper documents around introduces a lot of risk,” Harper said. “You’re not completely certain of who signed for it or when; you have to check whether a manager is authorized to sign for certain amounts; documents get delayed and sometimes lost. Once those documents leave your desk, you lose control over what happens to them.”
Now, automated workflows enable the AP department to standardize processing to eliminate issues like lost, duplicate or late payments. Audits—which G&J Pepsi undergoes each year to support compliance with industry regulations—are now much easier since all information related to invoices and payments can be found with a few clicks.
“We’ve gotten great feedback,” Harper says. “Managers that are tasked with approving invoices are very happy with it.”
The company is able to process over 1,000 invoices weekly with just two AP clerks. “As we continue to use the solution and process invoices, the process cost per invoices is dropping, and increasing the bottom line,” Harper explains.
One of the greatest benefits of the solution, however, has been reclaiming managers’ time for more value-added work that requires human interaction, such as oversight, monitoring and, most importantly, customer service. With a history that dates back to 1925, G&J Pepsi has grown from a small operation to the largest family-owned Pepsi bottler on its dedication to customers and ability to respond to their needs.
G&J Pepsi is now looking to automate more key processes, such as contract management, in order to support companywide digital transformation initiatives.
“Laserfiche has a ton of flexibility, and the integration with Dynamics was a big selling point,” Harper adds. “Laserfiche best fit our needs from the beginning to the end of the process.”
Want to learn how AP automation can give you a strategic advantage? Download this infographic and start tackling the challenge of invoice processing.