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Case Studies

Hills Industries Accounts Payable

Hills Industries Limited Accounts Payable Solution

In 1946 when Lance Hill developed the Hills hoist it was more than a means of drying clothes - it was a very clever piece of practical thinking.

Today, Hills is much more than a manufacturer of clever clotheslines. Hills is a diversified manufacturer of a great many innovative Australian products and services which meet standards of quality and dependability people have come to expect and associate with the Hills brand.

Hills currently operates businesses in three industry segments: Home and Hardware Products, Electronic Security and Entertainment Products, and Building and Industrial Products.

Background

Headquartered in the Adelaide suburb of Edwardstown, in South Australia, Hills Industries is also an Australian name that is becoming increasingly familiar to people throughout the world. Its ladders are used in Hong Kong and throughout South East Asia. Its clotheslines are now used by people as far apart as London and Wellington. In New Zealand, children play on Hills gym sets.

With its size, product range and geographic spread, Hills Industries had come to face a large and complex process in the effective management of its creditors. Invoice reconciliation, approval and processing was time consuming. And the statutory requirement to retain such things as invoices, for a minimum of seven years, also imposed a substantial document storage overhead.

Consequently, Hills was determined to implement new tools and procedures that would:

  • Improve managers' access to creditor information.
  • Simplify document storage and retrieval.

Solution

To meet its objectives, Hills considered a range of options, finally electing to adopt an approach that included the use of Dv TDM document management software.

This approach was initially trialled as a small pilot project within a single company division. However following the success of this, the new creditors' system was then fully rolled out – across all Australian and New Zealand offices – some six months later.

At the heart of this new management of creditors, is the direct interfacing of Dv TDM to Hills' mainframe accounting system. As such, when an invoice is now received:

  • Its summary information is immediately logged into the central computer's creditor files with the same data being automatically transferred to Dv TDM.
  • Dv TDM then prints and records a unique barcode that identifies, and is attached to, each and every individual invoice hard copy.
  • Invoices are then batched and periodically couriered to an external document scanning bureau.
  • Each invoice is scanned and saved to file along with its identifying barcode reference.
  • Scanned information and images are then electronically returned to Hills, using standard FTP (file transfer protocol) via the internet.
  • Automated processes are then used to import and match all information and store it.

With this process in place, staff using the accounting system are able to simply hit a “hotkey” on their terminals with all documentation for a specific transaction then being simply and instantly displayed. For staff members, such as business managers who have initiated a purchase, with authorisation, but without access to the accounting software, the same documentation can be accesses through their internet browser.

Once a payment has been made, cheque details are transferred to Dv TDM. In this way admin staff can instantly call up all such information in response to creditors' enquiries.

Having achieved the objectives originally set for its creditor processing, Hills has now begun two new projects, using Dv TDM, which will further enhance its administrative work in this arena.

The first, will involve capturing a wide range of material which is currently output to microfiche.

With the second new initiative, additional Dv TDM facilities will be utilised to streamline, speed and more exactingly control the workflow associated with capital expenditure requisition. Central to this is the obvious need to ensure that appropriate approvals have been given and that all corresponding records have been maintained. And here Dv TDM will significantly automate the approval processes by providing an online system that:

Matches each requisition, what it is for and its value, to the specific approval process that is required. Thus different levels of purchase price will demand different levels of approval. With equipment acquisition often also demanding added sign off – for example computer purchases needing IT department OK.

Automates reminders to ensure that all specified data is collected before purchase approval is sought.

Benefits

With its use of Dv TDM Hills Industries reports that there is:

  • Now a single location at which staff can view all information for any creditor's transaction.
  • No need to manually file.
  • Much faster and more accurate document retrieval.
  • Better security, with the ability to automatically restrict access to creditor files.
  • No lost or misplaced invoices.
  • A more productive use of admin staff.
  • A streamlined level of support to office staff throughout the Hills' world. For example, regional offices can now access data online, irrespective of time zones and without needing the intervention of head office personnel.
  • An ability to secure confidential information between different operating divisions.

About Acumen Data

For close to a decade now, document and drawing management has been our business.

We've certainly come to intimately understand each and every problem that has to be addressed. And, even more importantly, we have developed an enviable reputation for delivering powerful, innovative and elegantly simple solutions to effectively meet all of those critical challenges.

Such solutions are now being used in some 31 countries, with private and public sector clients including:

  • ABN Amro
  • Hutchinson Telecom
  • GE
  • Philips TaTa
  • The United States, Australian and New Zealand Departments of Defence
  • ASC
  • Amtrak
  • Oxford University
  • Commonwealth Public Service Credit Union
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