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WOLF Manufacturing and Distribution

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software implementation results in immediate cost savings

WOLF, having been in business for over 170 years, understands how to manage productivity and expenses. Over that period, the company has risen to become the largest supplier of kitchen and bath cabinetry in the U.S. and a major supplier of building products. This rise to prominence has presented many challenges along the way, including the ever-growing accumulation of paper files.

The paper buildup was especially concerning in WOLF’s proof-of-delivery process. Serving over 3,000 independent dealers, WOLF has requests flying in at a staggering rate. On average, the company’s 50 customer service agents field 100 requests per week for some of the 350,000 proof-of-delivery documents they process each year.

“Looking back, I can’t believe how much time was wasted by manually searching through the paper copies for proofs-of-delivery just so we could copy and fax those sheets to customers,” says Kevin D. Jackson, WOLF’s Vice President, Process Innovation & Technology. “It was a very inefficient process.”

Jackson and his team contacted Quality Digital Office Technology, a DocStar (now Epicor) partner  reseller. With help from Quality’s solutions manager, Dave Blocher, it was determined that Epicor’s ECM system was the ideal solution.

“The team at Quality did a great job diagnosing our productivity issues and getting us through the installation and training process,” Jackson said. “They are a great partner to us and they have a great working relationship with DocStar [now Epicor].”

“Thanks to DocStar’s integration [now Epicor] with I-Buy, our customers can access their own proofs-of-delivery 24-7.” —Kevin D. Jackson, Vice President, Process Innovation and Technology WOLF Home Products

The implementation

Quality got to work in the first quarter of 2010 at revolutionizing WOLF’s proof-of-delivery system. Because customers are required to sign a paper copy in the field, the reduction in paper consumption was minimal. The solution, instead, focused on improving customer service and dramatically increasing employee productivity.

The result was nearly immediate cost savings. In just 90 days WOLF’s proof-of-delivery system was completely overhauled. The process was streamlined from document creation to the request for retrieval.

Epicor provided an integrated ECM with I-Buy, WOLF’s web-based ordering service. As soon as a document enters the Epicor system, the individual proof-of-delivery is accessible through I-Buy anytime, anywhere. The integration was made possible by providing a link to the delivery number in Epicor ECM.

“When we print our proof-of-delivery documents, we save an original unsigned PDF copy that gets filed automatically in DocStar [now Epicor] ECM,” Jackson said. “After the paper copy is signed in the field by our customers, we scan the paper copy, a bar code is read, and the documents are filed automatically by delivery number and customer number.”

Customers and employees are now able to find documents with a few clicks. Upon logging in to the company’s I-Buy system, WOLF’s customers can see the proof-of-delivery documents and save them to their computers. That quickly resulted in fewer calls to WOLF’s customer service lines and time savings for everyone.

“Thanks to DocStar’s integration [now Epicor] with I-Buy, our customers can access their own proofs-of-delivery 24-7 without having to ask us to provide them with a copy,” Jackson said.

ROI—Customer service productivity

Customer service is at the center of WOLF’s corporate mission. Prior to implementing ECM, employees and customers alike were frustrated by the amount of time it took to fulfill a request. After Epicor ECM entered into the mix, however, everything changed.

“Our customers often had to wait days for paper copies,” Jackson said. “Now the documents are scanned in at our distribution centers and available in hours—not days after being signed by our customers.”

“Our proof-of-delivery implementation saved time at all levels of the user base,” Jackson said. “The biggest gain was the reduction in time to retrieve the documents.”

Quality’s team, including Blocher, was pleasantly surprised by how quickly WOLF was able to realize that reduction in time. He noted that employees are no longer spending an inordinate amount of time re-filing paper documents, and have been able to shorten customer service calls by an average of five minutes per request. Not bad for an organization that receives 5,000 calls per week and needs to handle customer requests on two percent of those orders. Based on those estimates, WOLF is able to claim $10,000 per year in savings simply by reducing the length of time to complete a request.

In addition to productivity increases, WOLF gains assurance that their files will always be available. As Jackson points out, Epicor’s solution delivered “excellent results” by quickly and efficiently indexing documents without fear of them being misplaced. “DocStar [now Epicor] ECM is extremely reliable,” Jackson said. “Misfiled and lost files are a thing of the past. Any time we need a file it is available with a few mouse clicks. That kind of assurance is invaluable.”

An eye on the future

Thanks to Epicor ECM’s capable feature set, WOLF is extremely pleased with how things have progressed over the last three years. Jackson, who heads up WOLF’s technology roadmap and is proud to point out that WOLF has obtained an ISO 9001:2008 certification, says that Epicor’s other solutions could soon be implemented.

“WOLF seeks to be very progressive and has a culture of continuous improvement,” Jackson said. “As a result, I’m confident that DocStar [now Epicor] solutions will continue to have a place on our technology roadmap—especially with other paper-based workflows, like Accounts Payable.”

If and when that time comes, Blocher and his team will be ready to implement the new workflow. As he points out, the average firm spends between $20 and $40 to process each Accounts Payable invoice. With Epicor AP Automation, companies like WOLF can reduce that cost by 50 percent or more.