Confectioner AUGUST STORCK KG boosts resilience through process-automation
Like the cogs of an intricate timepiece, digitalization solutions must slot together seamlessly to ensure smooth running for years to come. Yet relying on SAP alone will result in a half-finished, semi-intelligent solution. The missing piece: An ECM system that integrates flawlessly with SAP to offer flexibly combinable building blocks as the basis for solutions that will stay the distance. AUGUST STORCK KG used this approach to automate its purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash processes and thus safeguard long-term business continuity.
The last couple of years have revealed that when it comes to digital transformation, many companies have plenty of catching up to do. What they need are intelligent strategies and solutions for digitalizing information and processes. Solutions that not only generate quick wins, but also establish the resilience they need to withstand the pressure to change. One company that has long-heeded this philosophy of built-in resilience is AUGUST STORCK KG. For over 25 years, STORCK has been using SAP in combination with Doxis, SER’s enterprise content management platform, for its business processes.
AUGUST STORCK: Uniform, transparent processes — worldwide
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Sustainable digitalization strategy at STORCK
Confectionery manufacturer STORCK has for many years been committed to ensuring not only that production receives prompt, complete deliveries of raw ingredients and supplies, but also that retailers receive the correct quantities of finished goods on time and in the expected quality. More than ever, suppliers and retailers must overcome the obstacles of working together in the face of physical distance. Fast, flexible processes are a key part of the equation and essential for reacting promptly to changes. This would be a huge challenge if STORCK were only running SAP! While the ERP platform can handle purchase orders, customer orders and invoices as digital SAP documents, the associated originals — like inbound price quotations, delivery notes and invoice forms — cannot be first filed or processed digitally. For this reason, way back in the mid-1990s STORCK added an enterprise content management (ECM) platform to its SAP solution.
With the ECM platform Doxis, STORCK makes the right information — from both within and outside of SAP — available on demand and in the right process context. It simplifies decision-making for employees and automates time-consuming manual activities. “As a long-standing SAP and SER customer of several decades, AUGUST STORCK KG has handled and evaluated numerous ERP and ECM trends,” says Dirk Stentzel, IT Project Manager in Cross-Functional Application Management at AUGUST STORCK KG.
When they started, the big question was how to integrate SAP R/2 with the electronic SER archive. After migrating to SAP R/3 at the start of the new millennium, STORCK widened its focus to more than just audit-proof archiving. The question became how to manage processes company-wide on the basis of digital information: “Since rolling out SAP R/3 we have been able to keep using the SAP interfaces to Doxis and the SAP business workflow during the entire process of digitalization. It’s been a reassuring constant throughout. We enhance these with the Doxis platform. Its strengths lie in areas such as the extraction of information from inbound communication channels for further processing in SAP, or the routing of documents without an SAP reference,” comments Stentzel.
Inbound invoices & more in the purchase-to-pay & order-to-cash processes
STORCK tackled its process automation starting with inbound invoices. In SAP, the focus is on posting information document by document. As such, it lacks key functionalities like invoice verification and release. This is where Doxis Intelligent Invoice Automation for SAP in combination with the SAP business workflow comes in: with fully automated posting for these steps. It’s both quicker and it cuts out manual work for the accounting team. Doxis uses AI-based technology to pinpoint relevant information on the invoice. By comparing this against existing data in SAP, the software solution is able to recognize key parameters for downstream processing even before posting takes place.
The benefits for STORCK include better leveraging of early payment discounts and the prompt payment of suppliers to cut down on the number of reminders. After seeing how well invoice processing works following automation, STORCK has further expanded the system to include more elements of its purchase-to-pay process: “We have gradually transferred more and more of our inbound-triggered business processes to Doxis, which has sustainably boosted productivity in accounts, purchasing and merchandise management, and improved process reliability,” says Stentzel.
With Doxis, all centralized inbound channels (paper, email, EDI) activate automated postings, for instance of invoices in SAP FI, order creation in SAP SD, and purchasing documents in SAP MM. Comprehensive routing rules ensure the necessary releases or revisions are made available to the person responsible in seconds, which substantially reduces the departments’ workloads: “Clerks become process and change managers: Now, they manage and optimize their processes rather than simply handling input and execution,” comments Stentzel.
And STORCK didn’t stop with its P2P process — it has also streamlined the way it works with retailers. Payment advice notes and customer complaints are now handled via Doxis with automated, AI-assisted workflows. As a confectionery manufacturer, STORCK must also comply with stringent rules and regulations, including documenting the sustainability of raw materials, the safety of its ingredients and much more. With Doxis and SAP, all of these compliance requirements can be fulfilled as necessary. The entire P2P and O2C process chain is supported across all relevant departments, managed intelligently and flexible to adapt as necessary. With AI and automation as integral components of the Doxis ECM platform, STORCK can replicate complex processes — both with and without SAP — adapt them on the fly, or introduce entirely new ones. Dirk Stentzel sees this flexible integration as the basis for sustainable digitalization: “STORCK, SER and SAP: three pillars of strength driving digitalization.”
This article originally appeared in the German-language magazine blaupause 3/20.