Mirror Group

Company: TranmitCustomer: Mirror GroupSubmitted by: BylineMirror Group Newspapers has replaced a paper-based purchasing system with a Notes-based workflow application from Tranmit that saves money, improves relations with suppliers and eliminates time wasted by staff in tracking down missing paperwork.Before the new system went in, purchasing was out of control. Staff would pick up the phone to suppliers on an ad hoc basis. The authorisation procedure for requisitions was cumbersome and paper bound.

There was no central point of collection for incoming invoices, and no way of tracking the status of orders and payments at each stage of the purchasing process. Invoices went missing or could not be matched against purchase orders. The process was frustrating for Finance staff, who were wasting time hunting forlost documents, and for suppliers, many of whom were being paid late.Mirror Group IT manager Andy Little says: “Invoices were going round in circles. It was an absolute paper chase.

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“After a long search, Mirror Group chose a solution based on a combination of Tranmit’s EDM and Sprinter. Deputy Finance Director, John Hemple, says: “We spent almost two years looking for a suitable product, but nothing we saw met all our requirements. One or two came close but using them would have meant making major changes to the IT infrastructure, which ruled them out on cost grounds. Tranmit was the only supplier to propose a cost-effective solution that did everything we needed.”Top of the list of criteria for the new system was that it worked with the existing Notes messaging software. “We already have 4,000 staff using Notes, not just for e-mail but for stock control, contributors’ payments, human resources, directories and a variety of other groupware applications.

Using Notes as the basis for the new purchasing system meant it would be faster and cheaper to implement and that it could be rolled out with the minimum of retraining,” Little says.The purchasing software would also have to integrate with the Mirror Group’s SunAccounts finance system to eliminate re-keying of data and keep management information up to date.According to Little, the ability to deliver the new system as a Notesapplication was a major advantage. “We needed to be able to make relevant information available to users, but giving everyone a copy of SunAccounts wasn’t an option. The system had to be familiar and easy to learn. We knew that if we presented managers with a series of unappealing green screens and made them undergo radical retraining, the software would never be used,” Little says.

Tranmit Sprinter software exploits Notes’ built-in workflow capabilities to speed documents through the purchasing process. A familiar Notes screen allows purchases to be authorised, approved suppliers to be identified, and copies of all relevant documentation to be automatically forwarded to Finance. Once orders have been made, Tranmit’s EDM allows incoming invoices to be scanned, indexed and stored electronically. Scanned copies can be viewed by Finance staff side by side with an emulation of SunAccounts, enabling the accounting system to be updated each time a new invoice comes in.Tranmit’s solution was chosen because it offered a combination of robust electronic document management (EDM) for the processing and matching of accounting documentation, with the workflow capabilities needed to handle sophisticated authorisation procedures and document routing.

Andy Little explains, “We did consider some third-party workflow packages, but they weren’t quick enough on the input side. Tranmit’s EDM had slick and powerful document imaging and indexing capabilities.”The new system has allowed the Finance department to regain control of purchasing and payments, and to centralise management of these processes at the group’s Canary Wharf, London, headquarters. John Hemple says, “After the project started, we acquired the Midlands Independent Newspapers group, but we didn’t want to run two accounting systems in parallel. The Tranmit software has given us a central point of control for purchasing across geographically dispersed offices.”John Hemple declares himself pleased with the results.

“We’ve put an end to the paper chase and got control of the purchasing process. We have lower paper storage costs and better management information. We have the ability to file and retrieve documents very quickly and efficiently, and to track payments wherever they are in the organisation. As a welcome side-effect of all this we have been able to turn around a reputation for being a financial black hole and are now regarded by the companies we do business with as a prompt payer.”