Accounts Receivable Automation Results in 100% Return on Investment in Less Than a Year.

The Situation

American Tire Distributors faced a serious problem resulting from recent mergers and a growing customer base. The amount of paperwork accumulated in the accounts receivable department and was increasing rapidly with no end in sight. After the merger the number of daily deliveries had grown and by 2007 would reach 35,000. As the number of customers and daily deliveries rose, so too did the number of aged accounts. As a result, the credit department was finding it difficult to process the documentation involved in accounting for collections from late payers.

To monitor late paying accounts, American Tire Distributors’ accounting system would output onto green-bar paper a weekly aging report of the accounts with overdue balances. However, because the invoices and signed delivery receipts were being returned by the truck drivers to the company’s distribution centers, it was difficult for the credit department personnel to verify that the merchandise has actually been delivered. To further complicate matters, information about each customer’s credit limit was not consistently maintained, nor was it immediately accessible to the credit agents.

Responsibility for resolving these issues rested on the Director of MIS at the time, Steve Peppard. Having implemented scanning solutions at his previous position at CBS, Peppard was familiar with tools used for automated data entry and document imaging. His intention was to install a turnkey system where scanning and automated data entry would be used to capture data from the invoices while storing and indexing the images into a central repository, thus making them accessible to the credit department.

Peppard enlisted the help of KeyMark, an image-processing specialist in Liberty, South Carolina, to evaluate several vendors and to design an appropriate solution that could be deployed expeditiously and economically. KeyMark’s onsite analysis included “walk-through” of the American Tire Distributors facilities, review of the credit department’s processes and forms, and evaluation of American Tire Distributors’ operating environment and accounting system. KeyMark proposed a straight forward solution that would easily integrate with American Tire Distributors’ existing infrastructure and would provide the credit agents immediate, online access to all of the information necessary to perform their jobs.

The Solution

The chosen solution consisted of OCR for AnyDoc — automated data entry software from Microsystems Technology — and OnBase — integrated document management software from Hyland Software. Using a Kodak document scanner, documents are scanned into OCR for AnyDoc. Using “zonal” optical character recognition, OCR for AnyDoc automatically identifies and extracts from the forms six key values that are posted into American Tire Distributors’ accounting system and used to index the images into OnBase. Read rates on these invoices are more than 97 percent accurate, greatly reducing the need for human verification. The images and index information are then captured by the OnBase Document Import process and imported into the OnBase system.

As a result of the above process, American Tire Distributors credit agents can now retrieve any invoice from their desktop PC using the searching capabilities of the OnBase Web Client.

The solution also provides quality checks to ensure that all signed invoices are present and accounted for in the OnBase system. The accounting system generates an output report that lists all of the invoices delivered in a given day, which is in turn processed into OnBase as COLD data. At month’s end the OnBase Exception Reports module identifies any invoices that are not yet present in the system.

The Result

Because OnBase offers more out-of- the-box functionality than any other integrated document management system, the American Tire Distributors solution was implemented without any custom coding. The complete solution was put into production 35 days from the start of implementation.

Prior to the merger American Tire Distributors, staffed 4 people to file and manage less than 7,000 signed invoices per day. The redeployment of personnel and the increased turnover in receivables provided American Tire Distributors-with a 100 percent return on investment in less than one year.

Today, the company relies on a staff of 2 plus Imaging Manager, Kathy Beaver to support each department (Accounting, Accounts Payable, Marketing, Procurement, Sales, etc.)and process 50,000 documents per day. 300 plus professionals within American Tire Distributors now have access to the OnBase web, providing them a complete picture of customer transactions and records.

About American Tire Distributors

Located in Huntersville, NC.

Since 1935 American Tire Distributors has supported the nation’s tire dealers, service repair shops, and automotive performance shops with prompt and convenient delivery of the products, tools, and programs they need to service a country on the move. Today, these same customers rely on American Tire Distributors to provide a complete package of tires, custom wheels, service equipment, shop supplies, and a full complement of business resources needed to meet the challenge of an increasingly demanding and competitive retail landscape.