Since its founding in 1892, Scoular has been defining the global supply chain for agribusiness; they are the second-largest container exporter of agricultural commodities. Scoular has grown to over $6 billion in sales (FY21) and provides a diverse supply chain by shipping grain, seeds, and ingredients for human, pet, and animal consumption in 80+ countries. Scoular’s global headquarters are in Omaha, Nebraska, with 1,000+ employees globally and 100+ facilities in North America and Asia.
In 2021, Leslie Dieck, Controller, and Kurt Shinn, Director of Finance and Accounting at The Scoular Company, sought to bring efficiency, accuracy, and agility into their accounting function. While the company stands as a global leader in connecting agriculture supply and demand, they were challenged with processing variable cost freight invoices at scale.
Some of the challenges Leslie and the team were experiencing:
- Insufficient internal resources to manage manual processes
- Lowered employee engagement
- Inability to audit invoices before approvals
- Lengthy disputes and difficulty recovering overpayment
- Lack of performance metrics and spend data
Freeing the AP team from Manual Processes
According to Leslie, “Years ago, our merchandising assistants would receive an invoice and physically enter the information into our ERP system. When we initially looked into a third-party system to automate our payables with three-way matching, it did not meet our expectations. We also tried to build a solution in-house and found difficulties managing how our vendors would use the system. We needed a solution to unlock greater efficiencies in processing payables, and we wanted to avoid having our team review invoices daily. Manual reconciliation is not fun and does not promote strong employee engagement”.
Working to Eliminate Wasted Spend
The Scoular team was also having difficulties with recovering payment. “If we fall behind with ocean carriers, we could be faced with credit holds. This means we essentially pay up front and go to the vendor after to clawback any overpayment or duplicate payment, which is time-consuming and takes employee resources. It was a two-fold problem.”
During the initial onboarding period, the Scoular team worked alongside OpenEnvoy’s Customer Success team to outline existing challenges and establish KPIs to measure progress.
The OpenEnvoy team conducted working sessions to fully understand the reconciliation process (i.e., invoice receipt to ok-to-pay status), identified unique complexities, and worked with Leslie’s team for a continuous feedback loop. It was essential to ensure the proposed solutions were specific to Scoular’s reconciliation process and they aligned with Leslie’s expectations.
OpenEnvoy leveraged feedback from the Scoular team to build customized dispute functionality. The team was looking for ways to improve their ability to track and manage outstanding disputes with carriers. OpenEnvoy supported this goal by developing customized dashboards and reporting capabilities within the system. With this functionality, the Scoular team could track critical metrics and reference a single source of truth for their dispute information.
By streamlining the dispute processes, the Scoular team was able to resolve invoice discrepancies in real-time without having to increase headcount or exert additional resources.
OpenEnvoy has been a great business partner of ours. As we worked through integrating their product into our systems, they were quick to address issues and did not hesitate to work through any and all requests that we had. In addition, the OpenEnvoy team stepped up when it came to working through various IT issues we had and were always willing to help out.Leslie D., Controller
Investing in a real-time AP automation solution and partnering with OpenEnvoy allowed the Scoular team to capture tangible results in their payable processes.
In just 6 months, the team achieved savings through:
- Duplicate detection- The system allowed the Scoular team to identify $1,948,000 in duplicate invoices.
- Full forensic-level freight audit before approval– Between invoice discrepancies and duplications identified by the system, the team captured 105x return on investment.
- Increasing cash flow– The system was able to immediately identify and flag $3.7M in discrepancies for review, which allowed the team to resolve issues with their vendor in real-time and prevent credit holds.
- End-to-end spend visibility- Leslie’s team gained complete visibility into dispute tracking, won/lost results, total spend by the provider, and provider accuracy rate. With provider insights, the team was able to identify ocean freight providers as the worst offenders for inaccurate billing.
We are now able to concentrate on the issues rather than doing redundant tasks. Our staff can now focus on issues that OpenEnvoy highlights for us. Eliminating manual tasks is a plus for everyone.Kurt S., Director of Finance and Accounting.
With less manual work, Leslie was able to help her team boost employee engagement and free up time for needle-moving initiatives like communicating with traders to expedite dispute resolutions. By leveraging a full-forensic audit down to the line item level, the team can pinpoint invoice discrepancies or variances before payment, enabling them to connect with providers immediately and resolve issues in real-time.