Exel Transportation Services - Datahaven™ and its advanced OCR features
Exel Transportation Services is a leading contract logistics, supply chain management, and freight management services company in the United States. Exel is a part of the Deutsche Post World Net Group and is a sister company of DHL.
Primary Lessons Learned
Adopting an enterprise-class enterprise resource planning (ERP) system like Microsoft Dynamics is a critical step for any organization. Implementing an ERP system without also addressing the documents and other content related to an ERP system’s transactions, however, only perpetuates the inefficiencies and risks inherent in paper-based processes. Even lower-end “paperless” technologies such as barcode recognition will break down in a production environment with relatively high transaction volumes. Embedding into an ERP system a complete ECM—enterprise content management—solution that includes optical character recognition (OCR) and electronic workflow not only reduces the cost of labor required to process high volumes of paper, it also mitigates legal compliance risks. Exel has reduced its accounts payable staff, cut its document cycle times in half, and estimates its OCR investment alone will produce a triple-digit return on investment. By using the Datahaven solution, Exel has achieved these dramatic results all-the-while processing—on a daily basis—over 6,000 pages of invoices and supporting documentation.
Datahaven and its advanced OCR features has enabled us to process over 250,000 documents every month while reducing headcount to less than five FTEs and cutting our document cycle times by half. By implementing the OCR functionality alone, we estimate we will generate a 218% ROI over five years.
--David Bailey, Controller Background
Exel Transportation Services is a leading contract logistics, supply chain management, and freight management services company in the United States. Exel is a part of the Deutsche Post World Net Group and is a sister company of DHL. With operations that directly or indirectly reach more than 75% of the world’s companies, Exel offers substantial value for its customers through its ability to provide sector-focused logistics services and the flexibility to customize these services to meet specific customer needs. Despite its use of a highly-automated ERP system and the ability to automate certain data entry processes with barcode recognition functionality, Exel eventually concluded that it needed to enhance its ERP system. More specifically, Exel required its ERP system to natively manage the paper, faxes, and other unstructured data that accompany its high-transaction environment and to do so with fewer resources. Exel turned to Torrential Data for a solution.
Exel was immediately attracted to the overall look-and-feel and intuitive navigation of the Datahaven™ solution not to mention its sophisticated document imaging and electronic workflow feature set. For example, users can take split pages of a document into multiple documents, merge multiple documents into a single document, add layered text, graphic, and security annotations (e.g., redactions of a particular area of a document containing sensitive information) on a document, approve invoices for payment, use manual or automated routing features to obtain additional approvals or clarifications, determine the workflow status of any content related to a transaction managed by the ERP system and find other important content by browsing the database-driven folder structure that automatically names and stores the content. Exel also realized the substantial improvement it could achieve with the adoption of the advanced OCR functionality available with the Datahaven™ solution. By applying advanced, rules-based business logic, the solution is able to apply a “fingerprint” to a vendor’s inbound invoice—whether received in paper form or electronically via email, fax, EDI, or FTP. The next time Exel receives that vendor’s invoice, the fingerprint is recognized, and the advanced OCR process occurs—often without any human involvement. The system further automates the data entry tasks by automatically extracting relevant data (e.g., invoice number, invoice date, invoice amount, etc.) from each invoice. Once the minimal amount of data entry is completed, Exel personnel have immediate, context-sensitive access to perform a wide variety of documentcentric workflow tasks on this content from any screen and can quickly view the content regardless of its file type.
Today, critical information moves effortlessly and intelligently throughout the Exel organization whether received via postal mail, email, or fax transmission. Its people have immediate access to supporting documentation for each vendor, including invoices, correspondence, and handwritten notes—all from directly within the familiar screens of its ERP system. The fully integrated functionality of Datahaven has created a high volume, fully-integrated solution with advanced OCR data capture functionality. Exel has reduced its administrative headcount to less than five fulltime equivalents, streamlined its document cycle times from 10 days to five, and estimates its OCR investment alone will produce a 218% return on investment. By using the Datahaven solution, Exel has achieved these dramatic results all-the-while processing—on a daily basis—over 6,000 invoices plus an addition 6,000+ pages of supporting documentation for these invoices.