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Smith Dairy Optimizes Back-Office Processes

Running out of physical storage space and seeing the need to electronically manage content, improve business processes and save time and money, Smith Dairy, a century-old thriving dairy manufacturer, turned to an enterprise content management (ECM) solution.

Beginning as a two-horse operation in 1909, Smith Dairy has grown into a thriving dairy manufacturer, producing more than 100,000 gallons of milk every day. However, accumulating nearly 100 years’ worth of paper, Smith Dairy became overwhelmed with documents, including invoices, purchase orders, packing slips, employment forms and more. Smith Dairy was running out of physical storage space and administrative tasks became labor intensive, difficult and costly.

Seeing the need to electronically manage content, improve business processes and save time and money, Smith Dairy turned to an enterprise content management (ECM) solution. ECM technology helps Smith Dairy employees capture information electronically, securely store it in a central repository, easily access the data and integrate with existing systems to streamline business processes in accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR), human resources (HR), production, quality control, fleet maintenance and payroll.

Lifting Smith Dairy’s administrative offices out of the basement

Headquartered in Orrville, Ohio, Smith Dairy employs more than 500 people at three plants and eight distribution centers. It was critical for Smith Dairy to electronically store files in a central repository and build workflows to automate business processes across multiple departments and facilities. By implementing an ECM solution capable of scaling across the enterprise, Smith Dairy was able to save staff time and resources while also providing better visibility for management.

When a customer had a question about an account, a Smith Dairy associate would retrieve the file from the basement, fax the document to the customer and then return the call to make sure the customer received the fax. Because Smith Dairy processes between 1,200 and 1,500 orders per day, it didn’t take long for the AR department to become overwhelmed. Today, using ECM, when a customer calls with a question, an associate can electronically access the customer file and any related documents and instantly email the document to the customer. Instead of wasting time trekking to the basement and faxing the file, associates quickly resolve the issue without multiple communications, saving up to 20 minutes per inquiry.

After significantly improving customer service, Smith Dairy’s credit and invoice approval processes were next. Instead of mailing paper copies offsite, orders and invoices are electronically routed to a credit facilitator, who has full access to the accounts and greater visibility into recent transactions. Instead of paying late fees, Smith Dairy takes advantages of early payment discounts.

Integrating with the ERP system

Smith Dairy also integrated its ECM solution with its Microsoft DynamicsERP. The integration enables staff members to easily apply payments using electronic forms and upload that information into Dynamics. Once payment information is uploaded to Dynamics, the system automatically creates checks, saving staff time by automating a labor-intensive process.

Minimizing risk and complying with regulations

To meet regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be accessible so staff members can familiarize themselves with potentially hazardous products. Smith Dairy uses ECM technology to instantly make the MSDS available on every computer. Instead of manually updating MSDS binders, the information is updated once and it is instantly accessible to employees.

What to keep in mind when considering new technology

Smith Dairy wanted to maximize user adoption and value by implementing ECM in the departments that needed it most and where the technology would have the largest impact. Quality ECM solutions are scalable, allowing organizations to build the solution as they feel comfortable. Once the project is complete and employees are experiencing success, it will be much easier to expand the solution to additional departments.

Future plans for Smith Dairy

Because Smith Dairy implemented a flexible and scalable ECM solution, future plans include expanding to HR onboarding, tracking AP capital projects, and sales price changes.

In HR, ECM will help the department process applicants by routing applications to managers and creating employment contracts. It will also help train new employees, giving them access to training information and company protocols that will get them up to speed.

Smith Dairy is also creating promotion forms, enabling it to work with grocers and customers to promote products in a timely manner. By using workflows and automating the process, promotion materials are created and grocers can promote Smith Dairy’s products, increasing revenue and brand awareness.