Produce World is one of the largest vegetable growers and producers in the European food industry supplying quality fresh vegetables to retailers, food services and food manufacturers.
As well as growing their own vegetables, Produce World also collaborates with a wide range of growers to ensure fresh vegetables are delivered to their customers across the UK.
Produce World employs around 800 people across four sites helping the business provide solutions aimed at meeting and generating customer demand and exceeding consumer expectations. To maintain this success it is vital that produce is delivered quickly and accurately. In the spring of 2015 Produce World took the decision to automate their Invoice Processing.
"This way of working is fantastic and has speeded up the whole process, there is no need to find people and ask why an invoice hasn’t been approved as all the information is on screen.”
Processes prior to Invu
Prior to the implementation of Invu, the task of processing invoices on a daily basis was very different to what it is now and involved a lot of touch points in order for it to be completed. Previously, a Purchase Ledger would be based at each site along with an account management team who would manage the ledger. Hard copy invoices would arrive into the business which would have to be manually logged onto the system, a paper copy of the invoice would then need to be approved.
Finally, once approved the invoice would then have to be manually coded and posted into the leger, with the paper copy filed away. This long process would mean any suppliers calling in to query or chase an invoice would require the business to physically search for the paper document and/or find the approver to obtain a status of the invoice. Not only was this process long winded but there were also instances where invoices would be lost. Svetlana Gallova, Purchase Ledger Supervisor explains, “Invoices would be handed to an approver and a few weeks later they would claim they never saw the invoice, this resulted in long delays that could cause problems with suppliers. It was hard to prove you gave the invoice to the approver.”
"We needed a faster and more accurate way of processing invoices, which would not only save us money but also give us the flexibility required at the time of a significant decision."
Criteria and Implementation
The main reason to implement the Invu solution was to cut costs, Svetlana explains, “Produce World is a large company and to be able to make decisions on the future of the business was important. We needed a faster and more accurate way of processing invoices, which would not only save us money but also give us the flexibility required at the time of a significant decision.” The company also wanted to cut the amount of time they spent processing invoices.
Although Svetlana was not involved in the initial decision process she was given full training on the Invu solution and was fully involved in the implementation. She is also able to give her input on any future changes which would further enhance the solution.
Since implementation all invoices are now sent to Head Office via email in PDF format. Once received they are simply sent to Invu. “There is no need to print copies off, meaning we are saving paper (the environment) and the associated costs.” Details from the invoice are added into Invu which is then sent to the approver via a customised workflow. A copy of the invoice is stored within the Invu Document Management system so it can be retrieved quickly if required. Invu Workflow has been configured to recognise the associated approver for the invoice which routes them accordingly. “Most of the time they are sent to the budget holder, which means they have a clearer picture of spending before approving the invoice.” Svetlana explains.
Before implementing Invu, Produce World had created a centralised payment system where Svetlana and her team were processing payments for the whole group, rather than each site individually. However, if there were any issues with an invoice or supplier Svetlana would have to contact the site in question and ask for a copy of the invoice to be sent over. “It was a long process which could take a few days to get the required information”, Svetlana explains. Invu has helped solve this problem by allowing the finance team at Head Office to quickly and easily access digital copies of invoices. “There is no longer a need to contact individual sites for any queries, everything we need is here at Head Office within Invu. It is all very clear and transparent.” Svetlana notes. Invu has enabled Svetlana and her team to deal with issues relating to both the purchase ledger and the sales ledger, all from Head Office.
"We supply most customers’ retailers such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Tesco and Co-Op. We have to make sure the process is as smooth as possible, we cannot afford any glitches.”
Produce World works with a number of suppliers and well known supermarkets such as Waitrose, Co-Op and Tesco’s, therefore the previous delays with invoices being approved and the time it took to answer queries was a concern for the company. Processes needed to be fast and accurate in order to maintain an efficient supply chain with suppliers, “We supply most customers’ retailers such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Tesco and Co-Op. We have to make sure the process is as smooth as possible, we cannot afford any glitches”, Svetlana adds.
One of the main benefits Produce World has seen is when suppliers call in to ask for payment the finance team are able to tell them exactly where the invoice is in the payment process. Svetlana explains, “It is easy to find out where an invoice is in the process and who has it. We can even find out if the invoice has been placed on hold or declined along with a reason why.” All users are required to add a note providing as much detail as possible explaining the reasons why the invoice has been held or declined, Svetlana continues, “This way of working is fantastic and has speeded up the whole process, there is no need to find people and ask why an invoice hasn’t been approved as all the information is on screen.”
The ability of being able to use Invu in other departments was something which Svetlana discovered while attending Invu training, “The training course opened my eyes to what Invu was capable of doing. We are planning to extend the use of Invu to other departments such as the Commercial and HR teams.”
Integration with Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Invu has been integrated with Produce World’s existing back office system, Microsoft Dynamics Nav, which allows those who do not have an Invu licence to view invoices if necessary. This search function, which was a key criteria in the selection process, was achieved by adding an option within Dynamics where the user can view documents stored in Invu. Svetlana explains, “The two systems are linked together, so if you are not sure about a cost you can use Dynamics to find the invoice within Invu. The invoice will then pop up in Dynamics making it easier to analyse costs and make sure all reports are correct, it’s a very good integration.”
Produce World also uses Dynamics for their purchase ordering. When an invoice arrives into the business the purchase order number is on the invoice meaning the invoice and the purchase order can be matched.
Working with Invu
The invoice processing system was live within a couple of months and despite a few teething issues at the start the system is now working very well. “I cannot say anything bad about Invu, I find it very flexible. If I or anyone in the business has an issue the Invu support team are usually able to resolve it within a day, it’s very good.”
Svetlana does advise anyone wishing to implement a similar system to ensure everyone who will be expected to use the system is involved in implementation and training. However, Svetlana and her team know that the Invu support package (InvuCare) they have allows them to contact the support desk for technical help or simply advice whenever they need too. Svetlana explains “I do not have a lot of technical knowledge so it’s great that the Invu support team are on hand to help. If I want to make a change I know Invu are there to advise me on the steps, we have a very good working relationship with Invu."
Benefits and Feedback
Invu has made the invoice approval process at Produce World much quicker and saved the business money. They are now able to organise, analyse and automatically post invoices for approval. “I find Invu flexible and a quicker way to deal with people. You also have proof of where an invoice is for approval.” Not only has Produce World saved money but they’ve also saved time, Svetlana explains, “We are able to process invoices within five minutes using Invu, so for us as a finance team and the company in general, Invu is a much better way of making business decisions and resolving any issues.”
"The two systems are linked together, so if you are not sure about a cost you can use Dynamics to find the invoice within Invu. The invoice will then pop up in Dynamics making it easier to analyse costs and make sure all reports are correct,it’s a very good integration."
Svetlana adds, “Personally, the greatest benefit to the business has been the flexibility which allows us to grow as a company. Invu can easily be adjusted to meet our needs and we are able to work with figures and make decisions based on the needs of the company much quicker than before.”
The solution has given Produce World precise control and the ability to report on the status of all invoices, as well as a Document Management system which has provided benefits to the business outside of the finance department.
Before Invu, Produce World would spend weeks trying to get invoices approved with no record they were ever handed out. Invu has given Produce World greater transparency of their processes. Not only is Invu deployed across all sites, including Head Office, but additionally key members of the business have been given Web licences (Invu Web Approval) which allows them to approve or decline invoices when they are away from the office. However, as Svetlana explains, “Some people were used to paper processes, so when the Invu system was put in place there were some people who found it hard to accept the change.” Never the less, training has been and always is available and users know they can get support from Svetlana and her team should they need help.
With this said the feedback from those using Invu has been very positive, Svetlana adds, “It is important that people realise that we have much more control of what is happening across the business. The whole process of going digital is more about changes in the attitudes of those within the business rather than the technical issues or requirements.” Svetlana continues, “You have to let those who struggle to adapt know that the new system will make their lives easier and the whole invoice approval process quicker.”
"Personally, the greatest benefit to the business has been the flexibility which allows us to grow as a company. Invu can easily be adjusted to meet our needs and we are able to work with figures and make decisions based on the needs of the company much quicker than before.”
Produce World continue to see the benefits of Invu and are utilising the solution as much as they can. The business plans to use Invu within the HR department as of next year (2017) where documents such as contracts and agreements can be stored and retrieved. In doing this HR will have more flexibility when accessing documents, as well as making it far easier to adhere to the various regulations that are in place. Svetlana and her team are also considering the possibility of using Invu to store contracts for direct debits.
"When asked if Svetlana would recommend Invu to similar companies… “Yes definitely, it is so much easier than our previous manual processes!”
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