Hercules Site Services are an established and leading provider of labour and site services to blue-chip clients in the infrastructure sector of the UK construction industry. These services include labour supply, civil engineering project delivery and specialist plant hire.
The Company prides itself in providing innovative “one stop shop” solutions to its clients, utilising its variety of added value services and a collaborative business culture. In its labour supply business, it is utilising digital technology to assist in the recruitment and “on-boarding” of workers for its clients, which they believe differentiates from traditional suppliers of labour in the sector and offers a significant competitive advantage. Hercules is further developing its digital applications to provide clients with data analysis tools including the monitoring of labour fatigue, workforce diversity and productivity.
As a busy construction company, juggling a vast number of suppliers and an even larger amount of paperwork, Emma Collins, Accounts Payable Manager commented on the invoice process, “I would spend a minimum of two days every week manually keying the invoice data into our system. We have hundreds of suppliers and have to deal with around 1000 invoices per month. These would then have to be approved by multiple departments within the business. The lack of audit trail of where an invoice was in the workflow would cause me tremendous issues and the whole process was incredibly laborious.”
With an increasing need to focus on more customer facing activities, Hercules looked at the potential to automate this time consuming task, and engaged with the Process Optimisation team at Toshiba. James Yorke, Toshiba Business Development Manager, talked about the scoping phase, “After our initial conversations with the finance team at Hercules, it was very clear that the key objectives of the project were: removal of manual sorting & filing of invoices, eliminating re-keying of data, speeding-up the approval process, and tracking invoices within the workflow. Following a thorough audit of how the business operates, we were able to map and recommend document management and workflow automation, with DocuWare software, ideally suited to companies wanting to take the first steps into digitisation.”
With sign-off of the detailed scoping document, the team at Toshiba began the implementation phase. Emma talked about the transition, “As project sponsor, I was consulted at each stage of the process and after full training and testing elements of the system, I could recommend tweaks and enhancements to work better for our business. The Toshiba team were patient and understanding, wanting the software to work to our specific requirements and making sure that we were all 100% happy before going live.”
The DocuWare platform has completely revolutionised Accounts Payable for Hercules. The process of managing the manual weekly invoice data entry into the system, normally taking up to 2 days is now completed in ½ a day. An invoice could be up to 2 weeks going through the whole approval process, this has been reduced to a maximum of 3 days. It’s not just the efficiency savings, the company has reduced its paper usage by approximately 4000 sheets a month, significantly lowering costs, and there is now a full audit trail of where each document is in the system at any point time.
Additional benefits of the new solution include reducing the time spent managing the month-end process and dealing with bulk invoices from large suppliers. Emma talked about how the implementation had freed up a considerable number of hours per week, to focus on the higher value tasks, “By automating the process, every element of my job is slicker, quicker and more efficient. I have complete visibility of where any invoice is, giving me the ability to prompt approvers where appropriate and spend my time dealing with the important queries. There is a greater level of accuracy, as there are no potential for errors due to manual processes, and with hardly any paper being printed, we have little need to store or file documents.” Emma concluded, “But what really sets the Toshiba team apart, is their willingness to go that extra mile, no request was too big or too much trouble, always done with patience, taking the time to understand what we were trying to achieve. They even helped me split bulk invoices so these could be uploaded straight into system, something I thought I would still need to do manually.”
So impressed with the enhancements in the Finance department, Hercules Construction are currently looking at other areas of the business where the Toshiba Process Optimisation team could help them improve efficiency and save costs through digitisation.