Managing Data Through Food and Beverage Industry Corporate Transformations

February 2016, Manufacturing Business Technology Dr. Werner Hopf Recent high-profile mergers, acquisitions and divestitures in the food and beverage industry highlight the tremendous growth potential the industry has to offer. And while typically viewed as favorable strategies for achieving growth and improved profitability, sizeable business and information technology changes that accompany corporate transformations place emphasis on ensuring that data is protected and systems are running efficiently. The recipe for success in the food and beverage industry begins with a system that effectively handles high volumes of data, and is adaptable to ever-changing demand and regulation. Download_PDF

Managing Data Through Food and Beverage Industry Corporate Transformations

February 2016, Manufacturing Business Technology
Dr. Werner Hopf

Recent high-profile mergers, acquisitions and divestitures in the food and beverage industry highlight the tremendous growth potential the industry has to offer. And while typically viewed as favorable strategies for achieving growth and improved profitability, sizeable business and information technology changes that accompany corporate transformations place emphasis on ensuring that data is protected and systems are running efficiently. The recipe for success in the food and beverage industry begins with a system that effectively handles high volumes of data, and is adaptable to ever-changing demand and regulation.

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Data Archiving: The First Step Toward Managing the Information Lifecycle

Data archiving strategies are designed to improve performance and manage costs, moving static data from the online database to offline archives. Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) adds a new level to
the performance – cost dynamic: manage data in compliance with outside and corporate retention rules and business requirements; maintain ready access to data and documents; protect the organization from
legal and business risk.

This white paper discusses best practices for managing data in SAP systems and how data archiving can be used as part of an information lifecycle management strategy.

 

Managing Data During Growth And Change

Midstream Business, October 2015

Dr. Werner Hopf
 
The problems of Big Data are difficult enough to overcome on a daily basis— but many midstream organizations that underwent a merger, acquisition or divestiture during the modern big data boom actually found these headaches multiplied. What’s a chief information officer to do? Here are three missteps to avoid when considering a corporate transformation.

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Journal Entry Processing for Dolphin Process Tracking System

Improve Journal Entry Processing with Automated Input, Workflow and Document Management

Dolphin Process Tracking System for Journal Entry (JE) solution breaks down the silos of information that make it difficult to create, manage and control journal entries in SAP systems. The solution helps organizations:

  • Automate and track complex journal entry approval chains
  • Digitize and enforce the inclusion of journal entry supporting documentation
  • Quickly escalate journal entry approvals during critical financial close periods
  • Comply with fiscal regulations such as SOX
  • Report on and measure the efficacy of the entire journal entry process

For companies that want to ensure greater transparency and auditability of their financial close process, it provides a better way for companies to complete journal entry approvals and mitigate the associated risks. With this solution, organizations can create, track and report on journal entries directly in the system of record, SAP.

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Honeywell’s Flexible and Scalable Approach to Global AP Processing – One Process, One Solution

Honeywell International, a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, was looking to improve its AP efficiency with a solution that could be used across its six global business groups. Everyone, everywhere should be able to use the same process and the same solution, so the company could more accurately track and report on invoice status. The global and diversified nature of the business required a solution that was also flexible enough to allow the company to extend its common core process to accommodate local business needs and regulations where necessary.

Solution

The company initially rolled out Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable in 2006, at the same time the company was rolling out its global SAP system. At this time, the company used the Dolphin solution to provide a centralized view of scanned invoices received from across the company. Gradually, over time the company expanded the functionality of the solution in phases to include capabilities such as:

  • Increased electronic invoice capture, including OCR (paper, fax, or email) and EDI (large vendors or inter-company transactions)
  • Automated the processing and coding of non-PO vendor invoices (i.e., Utilities, Rent)
  • Configurable business rules to increase ability to auto-post invoices
  • Tight integration with SAP OM to support billing documentation requirements
  • Flexible document search and batch output to support internal and external inquiries and local document storage requirements

Separate phases and functionality were rolled out in 2010, 2011, and 2013.

Results

Now that the company is using one common process and one common solution for Accounts Payable, it has achieved many benefits including:

  • 40% auto-posting of invoices
  • Real-time view of invoices across all six business units
  • Ability to increase volume without increasing headcount
  • Fewer keystrokes required for invoice entry and validation
  • Faster processing of Non-PO invoices, such as utility invoices
  • Ability to support international documentation requirements quickly and easily
  • Compliant with EU payment directive and other regulations
  • Multiple shared service centers running on the same IT infrastructure

Collier County Clerk of Courts Implements an Audit-Ready Invoice Processing Solution

The largest county in Florida wanted to centralize and automate the processing of more than 7,000 invoices a month. The county had implemented SAP ERP more than a decade before and used the software for many of its financial processes; however, the AP department still relied on a paper-based invoicing process. Vendors mailed invoices to the county’s various offices and departments, and these invoices were then routed for manual approval. For an organization that manages massive projects like constructing roads and buildings, accurate financial planning is crucial. Also, Florida Statute requires the Collier County Clerk of Courts to audit these documents to ensure legality of payment, which can increase the timeline for processing invoices.

“We had manual processes in place for receiving and processing invoices,” says Jane McDonald, Senior Project Manager for Collier County Clerk of Courts. “Workers used email and interoffice mail and didn’t always send the invoices to the AP department right away. We didn’t have visibility into an invoice’s status until it was approved and entered into SAP ERP at the very end of the process. Because our projects sometimes continue for months, workers often had to search through file cabinets (files are kept on site for two years) or warehouse archives to locate older invoices.”

The Clerk of Courts management information system (MIS) and AP organizations knew it was time to research new technology that would leverage the SAP workflow. A cross-functional team was assembled and began to evaluate how much work would be required to build and maintain a custom solution from scratch. At the same time, they also considered third-party vendors that might be able to provide an appropriate solution. Key capabilities the county identified include:

  • Ability to integrate the chosen technology with the organization’s current SAP environment
  • Digital storage of invoices
  • Easy extraction of information for auditors

Solution

The county’s vendor selection team chose Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP), which went live in August 2012. The project involved instituting a new accounts payable workflow aimed at centralizing the AP process countywide. Key feature are:

  • Automated invoice capture, with scan and capture
  • Powerful InfoCenter to facilitate invoice processing and troubleshooting by the AP staff
  • Automated workflows to route invoices to the appropriate department that, in turn, can route it for additional approval(s).
  • Improved exception handling for If an invoice is rejected during that process, it can be easily returned to the vendor with a rejection code along, with any backup documentation to explain why it could not be paid.

“All of these steps in the invoice approval process have a predefined status within the system’s workflow,” explains Frank Bodino, Senior Systems Analyst at Collier County Clerk of Courts. “In this new process, all of the steps are visible. We know where each invoice is at all times, we know who looked at it, what notes they put down, and when it was approved. If the invoice was rejected, we know why.”

After the invoice is approved, the goods receipt is matched, and the AP audit is performed, then the invoice can be posted to SAP ERP. “All the information we need to post the invoice is there, so there’s no dual-keying or duplication of data,” McDonald says. “We just hit the button, and the invoice information posts.”

Improving the AP business process required changes across the entire organization. For example, since invoices now come into the AP department as the first step of the new process, the various departments within county government had to adapt to a new workflow where AP clerks scan the invoices.

While the new workflow for invoice processing is much more streamlined and intuitive, it did require training users on the new system and getting their buy-in on the updated processes. “Just like with any training, some people caught on very quickly and others struggled with the new processes,” says McDonald. “The project team created training documents to help explain the process in a way users could understand.”

Results

According to McDonald, the new solution has delivered all of the benefits advertised and more.

  • Easy access to and cost effective storage of invoice documents
  • Simplified approvals process
  • Ability to track how many invoices are processed in a given period is helping the organization measure its own performance.
  • Improved visibility both internally and externally.

“Now, we can provide our external auditors with invoice information, purchase order (PO) information, and backup documentation more easily than we could with the paper-based system,” says McDonald. “In the past, we had to go back to the paper files and dig out the invoice which was time consuming. A significant time and cost savings benefit was our ability to search by check number or the clearing document and instantaneously receive the information associated with the invoice.”

The improved metrics have also pinpointed any delays in the AP process. For example, the new process showed that many invoices are rejected because vendors don’t provide PO numbers on their invoices. Without the PO number, AP clerks were forced to try and find out which department and what purchase generated the invoice. By requesting that vendors provide the PO number on their invoices, the AP process has been streamlined even further.

According to Bodino, the county has become more efficient thanks to the new solution. “We have been able to fix and change processes that, while they worked, were cumbersome at best,” he says.

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SAP Auditing 101: What Every Organization Running SAP Needs to Know

To prepare for different, rapidly evolving financial, compliance, and regulatory audits, organizations must transform the way they do business. This white paper provides an action plan for aligning the multiple, sometimes conflicting, audit requirements to SAP® systems.

  • Importance of having Information Lifecycle Management
  • Challenges that organizations are facing as they create new roles and responsibilities and put new policies and procedures in place to address multiple requirements
  • How to leverage native SAP capabilities to flexibly support audit requests
  • Different add-on audit solutions for SAP systems that help optimize and automate audit processes

With the right plan and technology in place, organizations running SAP applications can respond quickly and accurately to audit requests.

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Global Aviation Electronics Company Retires Legacy Systems and Retains Data

During the initial go-live with SAP systems, a global leader in aviation electronics and communications for government and commercial applications, decided to move only its current master and transactional data over from its legacy systems. Legacy data, it was decided, would be kept in the pre-SAP legacy systems, so the company could comply with its long term data retention requirements.

It soon became apparent, however, that the license, support, and maintenance costs for keeping these legacy systems running were too high. As time passed, it was also becoming difficult for users to extract data from these legacy systems when necessary. The company was concerned that the knowledge of how to access the legacy systems and data would be lost over time.

Solution
Dolphin designed and implemented a Decommissioning solution that allowed the company to output critical information from a variety of legacy platforms in their native format. This framework allowed the company to retire multiple legacy systems and significantly save operational costs year over year.

  • Legacy information was converted to ASCII format and parsed for key attributes
  • Key attributes were then transferred to SAP and stored in the company’s Archive environment
  • Legacy information was linked to key information in SAP for easy user access

Results

The company has realized many benefits from retiring these legacy systems and retaining legacy data in a more modern, compliant archive storage, including:

  • Immediate and ongoing cost savings from reduced license, maintenance, and support costs
  • Easy access to all legacy information directly from SAP applications
  • No user training required, as the solution leveraged the company’s existing archive Required no training
  • Satisfies all retention requirements
  • Knowledge transfer to internal team to repeat process for “new” legacy systems

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Launchpad Demo

The PTS Launchpad provides users with a graphical dashboard that acts as a centralized reporting hub for reporting on Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales and Distribution and Finance and Administration processes in SAP systems. Users can monitor business processes from start to finish with the vast library of reports and key performance indicators that are available out-of-the-box with the Dolphin Process Tracking System. The Launchpad enables users to view any Dolphin, SAP, or custom report; group reports by categories; and save personalized report variants so they always have access to the information they need.
 

 

Archiving Big Data to Support GRC Initiatives

Enterprise CIO Forum, February 2015

While many organizations are racing to figure out the best analytical approach to extract business value from Big Data, most are still trying to determine how to deal with very practical concerns related to storing such large volumes of information. Further complicating matters is that much of this data is heavily regulated by numerous outside entities, each with a say in how long it must be retained and in what format it must be saved. While many CIOs and their teams remain unsure what role governance should play in their data archiving strategy, there are several clear benefits attained through archiving.

All too often, the concept of archiving still conjures up images of either IT or end users taking information offline to be stored away in a dusty basement where it might be safe from disaster, but extremely difficult to organize and ultimately, access. That’s not the case. Archiving today simply refers to the process of moving data from an active database to a more cost-effective storage platform. With a well-planned strategy, the data remains easily accessible to users.

To read the full article on Enterprise CIO Forum click here

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3 Key Elements to Bolster your Risk Management Strategy

SAPinsider, Oct/Nov/Dec 2014

Risk is unavoidable in your business decisions and operations, but it can be managed with the right technology and the right strategy. SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) enable organizations to manage risk and comply with highly complex financial, compliance, and regulatory audits. However, rapidly evolving audit requirements are changing the way that organizations do business, and merely implementing GRC solutions is not enough. By putting a comprehensive risk management strategy in place now, organizations can protect themselves from future risks. A successful risk management strategy incorporates three essential elements: roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, and technology.

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