Lost Paperwork: Indication of a Larger Issue
By: Erin Mahan
Have you ever been unable to accomplish something you set out to do because of a simple mistake or oversight? For instance, you plan a vacation to Mexico, but you forget to renew your passport. Often overlooking details can cause a lot of problems especially in business where details matter. Frequent mistakes can cost a company its time, its money, and its reputation. Therefore, it is imperative that all bases are covered and that there is no room for error.
So how do you pay attention to all the details and avoid simple errors? For paper converters the solution is a fully integrated network. This kind of terminology is used a lot, but it is often misunderstood and therefore, not emphasized enough. Complete integration is essential to every paper converting company so it is important to understand why that is and how it can be applied to everyday situations.
The practical application of a fully integrated network can be seen in every part of the converting process, specifically during the shipping and invoicing stage. For example, Debbie does invoicing for a paper converting company. She arrives at work on Monday expecting to the find the freight bills that went out Friday afternoon on her desk from last week’s orders, but they are missing. Without the freight bills, Debbie cannot invoice the correct orders without jumping through several hoops. She is a little confused so she goes to find Leon to see if he knows where the missing paperwork is. Leon is in charge of the shipping department. Usually after all the freight carriers have made their pick-ups, he takes all the freight bills to Debbie so the orders can be invoiced. Unfortunately, Leon is sick and no one else in the shop seems to know where the paperwork is. Poor Debbie is stuck not knowing who to invoice and in the short run cannot bill the customers
Benefits of System Integration
This scenario happens more than you would think, and although it may not seem like a big deal, in the long run it can be very costly. Debbie was unable to perform her job and so both time and money were lost. Also, the invoices were neither sent out nor received making the transaction inefficient and incomplete. The key to avoiding this is to integrate the shipping information with the invoicing system. If both components are one and the same then there is no risk of losing documentation. With the push of a button shipping orders are automatically posted and invoiced. All information is guaranteed to be there so there is no risk of losing documentation or being unable to perform a job. Paperwork is eliminated, making it a more precise and efficient process.
Benefits of Visibility
Integration of the shipping information and invoices not only cuts down on paperwork and errors, but it helps track information as well. In order to track this information it must be highly visible and accessible to anyone who needs it. Debbie would not of had a problem if the information she needed was on the computer. If she had access to it she could see what was shipped out and easily print and send the invoices without hassle. Visibility is essential not only to the shipping information, but to all information such as on-hand inventory and raw materials. It allows you to know where materials and goods are at all times giving you total control over the entire process. Debbie no longer needs to go searching for paperwork when she can easily pull the information up on a computer and send it out.
The Bigger Issue
It is easy for a company to overlook small problems within their business, but it is important that those problems are solved since they are often a sign that there is a deeper issue lurking. On the surface, Debbie’s situation appeared to be more of a hassle than a real problem, but in fact it was an indication of a severe lack of efficiency. This lack of efficiency was a result of a system that was not integrated and did not allow for any visibility to information, and as a result hindered Debbie from doing her job. Something as simple as misplaced invoices can be a great cost to a company, and is indicative of problems with the system itself. Fully integrating all parts of the converting process is the only way to have visibility to all information and activity and prevent avoidable mistakes.