Customer Stories

Florence School District One

Florence School District One simplified their paper-heavy purchasing process with Softdocs by creating a streamlined workflow at the school level, rather than placing it all on the district office.

Quick Facts

  • Softdocs customer since 2000
  • Implemented in Purchasing and Accounts Payable

Challenges

  • Documents stacking up and creating a huge backlog
  • Time-consuming, paper intensive purchase requisitions
  • Slow turnaround on paying invoices

Solutions

The Softdocs ECM Platform™

  • Electronic forms for decentralized purchase requisitions
  • Print customization and delivery to automatically fax purchase orders to vendors
  • Electronic document management with access at the school level to divide and streamline workflow

“We looked at other imaging solutions, but none of them would capture from our accounting system like we needed them to.”

Donna Bethea | Director of Data Processing Services | Florence District One

Florence School District One is no stranger to Softdocs or going paperless.

They first bought Doc e Serve,Softdocs’ Print Customization and Delivery solution, back in 2000, and it was a simple conversion according to the Director of Data Services Donna Bethea.

“[Softdocs] has always been a very positive addition,” said Bethea. With Softdocs’ Print Customization and Delivery, Florence One has been easily importing their print files into the application to customize payroll checks, direct deposits and other documents. But as time went on, it became clear there was a need for an imaging solution. “We wanted imaging in AP for a long time,” says Bethea.

“We looked at other imaging solutions, but none of them would capture from our accounting system like we needed them to.”

We already had a huge backlog and we couldn’t afford to add to it. Softdocs was the only vendor who studied our current processes to help us implement our scanning in the best way possible.” So in 2008 Florence One added the Softdocs ECM Platform.

Purchasing Simplified

Florence One’s purchasing process prior to teaming with Softdocs was bogged down with physical copies and lengthy waiting periods. Purchase orders were being printed and held in a physical folder until they could be matched with a vendor’s invoice. The invoices were then mailed to the original requestor’s school, where they could be approved for full payment, ratified or approved for partial payment under a blanket purchase order.

Once it was ready to be paid, the invoice and its related documents were stapled together and mailed or delivered to the district office, where the invoice information was then keyed into their accounting system. The checks were issued and then stapled to the original packet of documents and filed in a physical cabinet. In order to get these into the content management solution,  the clerks would then have to search for the file, remove the staples, and scan and index all the appropriate documents from the vendor’s folder.


Bethea knew there had to be a better way, so she and Kyle Jones, Florence One’s Technology Coordinator, teamed up with Softdocs to find a solution.

“Softdocs helped us come up with the idea to begin the scanning at the individual schools,” said Bethea. “The invoices start there anyway, so why shouldn’t we go paperless from the beginning of the document’s life cycle?”

With the help of the Softdocs Professional Services Team, Florence One was able to divide the workflow between each school rather than placing it all on the district office.

With the division of labor, the number of new paper documents produced was drastically cut and the backlog was much easier to handle. Two scanners per school were purchased from Fujitsu, Softdocs’s hardware partner, to help each school take charge of their purchasing process.

“We were very excited to start sending our purchase requisitions through Softdocs’ Electronic Forms solution. When employees can log into a central system and send their requisitions directly to the district office, they feel responsible for their own purchases and their requests get filled more quickly,” said Bethea.

Since the adoption of the new workflow process, purchase requisitions result in a purchase order much more quickly than before. According to Bethea, the items on a recent purchase requisition were able to be delivered less than an hour later.

At 11:30 AM, a teacher submitted the purchase requisition in the electronic forms solution, where it was automatically routed to the bookkeeper. Once approved by the bookkeeper, the purchase requisition was automatically routed to the principal, then the grant administrator, then the director of IT, and finally to Bethea.

Bethea archived the purchase requisition in the electronic forms solution create a purchase order in the accounting system, which automatically filed the PO into the vendor’s drawer. The PO was printed from the accounting system and captured by Doc e Serve’s add-on, eDelivery, which automatically faxed the purchase order to the vendor. Softdocs’ Content Management solution also filed the purchase order in the vendor’s pending PO folder.

At 12:14 PM, Bethea received a call from the vendor asking if they could deliver the product to the side door of the district office. Seven people at three different locations were involved in the process, and it was completed in a mere 44 minutes.

“We’ve eliminated unnecessary phone calls, emails, paper going back and forth, AP deadlines ... checks can be cut the same day now,” shared Bethea.
 

Seamless Transition to Accounts Payable

When materials arrive or services are completed, the packing list or receipt is scanned into the content management solution and filed in the vendor’s drawer. When the invoice is ready to be paid and closed, it is scanned into the content management solution and indexed by PO number, invoice number and vendor number.

The bookkeeper then completes an e-form to notify Accounts Payable (AP) to pay the invoice and archives a version into the content management solution. A notification is sent to AP to alert them to invoice the pending payment. Softdocs’ Electronic Forms solution also alerts the bookkeeper that the invoice has been received and will be paid in the next check run.

An AP clerk uses the scanned invoice to key a voucher in the accounting system and the check is issued. When the issued checks are captured and sent for indexing, the check automatically creates a new folder that matches all the corresponding documents. With a single click from the accounting software to print a check, Softdocs’ Content Management solution matches the check to its purchase requisition, PO, packing slip, invoices and approval form for easy retrieval.

“When a vendor calls to get the status of an invoice, the bookkeeper at each school has access to that information and can confirm a payment right away. Before, they would have to transfer them to the district office or take a message and call them back.”

Invoices now get paid faster and the schools maintain positive relationships with their vendors. The modified
 AP process works so well for Florence One, they expanded it to their Food Services department as well.

“The process has been very well-received,” said Bethea. “We’ve had no complaints ... our employees have really taken ownership of the software.”

Unfortunately, not all of Florence One’s experience with Softdocs has been without hiccups. Their upgrade to a new version of their accounting system created headaches for everyone involved.

“It was not the best time for us,” admits Bethea. But she insists that it was the way Softdocs responded to 
an initial miscommunication that made her a happy Softdocs customer.

“When we’ve had problems, Softdocs has been very helpful and quick to respond. They send people on-site in just a day or two to make sure a problem is resolved. Even if a problem got to the top, they made sure that I was well taken care of,” says Bethea. “We have had a lot of improvements made to the system and our processes simply because of Softdocs’ willingness to change.”

As Florence School District One knows, not every software solution works perfectly the first time it is used. But it’s how the software provider handles each situation and works with the customer to find an answer that truly makes the difference in a paperless world.

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