As a wholesale distributor, Lipari Foods delivers a wide range of specialty products to retailers across the Midwest. Founded in 1963, the company has experienced tremendous growth and today employs over 900 employees servicing 13 states.
Lipari’s accounting activity was centralized at one location. However, document workflow was a manual process and paperwork was physically stored in metal cabinets. Time delays associated with research and retrieval affected customers, vendors and employees. With an objective to become automated, the company began its search for a document management solution. The new system would need to accommodate a large amount of users, hundreds of document types and allow for future growth.
After a two-year evaluation of different vendors, Lipari partnered with S4i for multiple reasons: S4i’s integrated solution was compatible with the IBM i platform, easy to deploy across all departments, and scalable as Lipari’s requirements evolved. The selected S4i solution includes S4i Express, Desktop Capture and DASD-Plus combined with Kofax and Planet Press software.
- Manual paper flow became electronic and automated
- 125 filing cabinets were eliminated by the paperless initiative
- All departments can share accurate documentation quickly and efficiently with customers, vendors and employees
Planning and implementation was coordinated by Michael Hegarty, Director ERP and CRM Corporate Strategy. “We were excited to partner with S4i. Our manual process was affecting productivity, and we were ready for a positive change. We began using Desktop Capture in one business unit and systematically expanded its use throughout the company.”
In the initial phase, Lipari focused on invoices and associated documentation required by the sales team, credit managers and customers. Operations and Human Resources followed with different file types such as receiving documents and receipt work sheets, job applications and employee paperwork. The current phase is focused on the Transportation department with driver logs, equipment checklists and DOT forms. With the solution fully implemented, a total of nine business units will utilize the S4i system.
Each department scans its own documents and indexes by the most relevant fields. Powerful scanners with intelligent cleanup software are utilized to improve image quality. The company also takes advantage of Desktop Capture’s OMR (object mark recognition) feature by adding barcodes to the first and last page of each document. All indexed files are then stored in the S4i Express Repository versus the company’s original spreadsheet method.
Today hundreds of people are using the S4i system on a daily basis. From Michael’s viewpoint, the reaction has been positive. “Our team is incredibly impressed. The paperless system is environmentally friendly and allows each group to be self-sufficient. They no longer have to wait for a document to be physically pulled from a cabinet. Now, proof of delivery or payment status is available with a push of a button.”
Lipari is working with the S4i development team to further customize the system. “We continually review our processes to see where we can ‘raise the bar’. Our latest efforts involve document reconciliation. At the point of capture, the system will tell us ‘does the document exist’. These custom enhancements take document management beyond the traditional three-step ‘scan, index and retrieve’. We now added ‘Did it occur’, ‘when did it occur’ and have special auditing and reporting mechanisms in place.”
“For example, if a product is reported damaged, we can confirm when it was entered into the system. A trigger file will locate and retrieve the item number, vendor name, broker name, and confirm if the customer has a deductible. The entire process is automated with no user intervention.”
S4i also enhanced the application’s barcode feature to fit Lipari’s workflow. The Lipari system generates reports which are captured into Express. Express adds a barcode to the first page of the document using PlanetPress PDF forms transformation. Express prints the documents, which are annotated by Lipari’s truck drivers throughout the day. Each driver then scans the documents with Desktop Capture. Desktop Capture uses the barcode data to automatically separate, recognize and index the documents, and the annotated files are captured back into Express.
The relationship between Lipari and S4i remain strong. “S4i is one of our best business partners. Their support team is available 24/7 to help with migrations. They are also willing to assist during off hours or weekends to minimize the impact on our daily operation.”