Reducing Duplicate Data Entries and Days Sales Outstanding at the Same Time
Trucking companies are in the business of connecting links in the supply chain. They haul freight from one point to another, connecting manufacturer to distributor, downstream supply chain provider, or directly to a customer. The best trucking companies make these connections on time, safely, and reliably—qualities that have long characterized the Louisiana-based ACME Truck Line. The company has a 60-year history of safety, on-time deliveries, responsiveness, and integrity.
Given this expertise in making connections, it’s ironic that one of the biggest challenges ACME faced was streamlining the manner in which it connects with customers. Like most companies in the truck transport industry, ACME had long relied on paper-based invoicing systems. This made a certain amount of sense because invoice processes and standards varied widely from customer to customer. However, it made for a great deal of work. ACME personnel had to enter all the company’s invoicing data—from Authorization for Expenditure (AFE) codes to well IDs and other key details—twice, once in its own accounting system and again in its customer’s invoice system. This double-entry practice doubled the risk of errors, delays, and rework in the invoicing process. It also had an adverse impact on the company’s customer onboarding process, making it unnecessarily cumbersome and complex to connect with high-volume customers.
So when a major oil and gas industry customer asked ACME to shift from paper to electronic invoicing, the request was greeted with a mixture of excitement and concern. On the one hand, an electronic connection to the customer would dramatically streamline the invoicing process and minimize opportunities for the introduction of errors. On the other hand, how could the IT team at ACME possibly replicate such a streamlined connection when other customers did not use the same invoicing systems or standards?
Connecting with Actian Business Xchange
ACME Truck Line engaged an IT consultant, Mike Bernard, to find an easy-to-use solution that could help the company improve invoice processing, accelerate customer onboarding, and easily scale with business growth. After reviewing the invoicing processes at ACME and gaining an understanding of the wide range of systems with which ACME needed to interact with on the customer side, Bernard recommended the Actian Business Xchange platform and Actian Bx SupplierConnect.
Actian Business Xchange (Bx) is a fully managed and engineered web-based B2B data exchange suite with services for both buyers and suppliers. Bx BuyerConnect and Bx SupplierConnect empower organizations to exchange and translate invoices, purchase orders, shipping notices, and other documents with trading partners—without regard for specific formats or requirements. Actian Business Xchange services are flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of each organization, its partners, and the formats in use. They’re cloud-based, so there’s minimal burden on an organization’s IT team. And they’re affordable, so all partners can take advantage of the speed, accuracy, and security of the platform.
For ACME, Bernard saw four key advantages in adopting Actian Bx SupplierConnect:
- “Anything to anything” transformation capability
- Automated invoice formatting
- Convenient web-based monitoring for high-volume customers
- Ability to scale services and keep pace with a growing and diverse customer base
Those advantages were clear to ACME officials as well, and the decision was made to connect into the Actian Business Xchange platform.
Ground transport facilitated by the cloud
Actian Bx SupplierConnect has dramatically reduced the friction inherent in ACME’s past approach to invoicing. ACME personnel submit a single invoice file to the cloud-based Actian Bx Xchange platform, and Bx SupplierConnect takes over from there.
“Actian Bx SupplierConnect validates the data before passing it on,” says Bernard. “When we know up-front that all the data is correct, we can count on timely invoice processing, reduced rework, and getting payment in the door faster. With the move to Actian Bx SupplierConnect, Acme Truck Line has reduced data errors and increased data quality, speeding time to revenue.”
ACME has also found that the Actian Business Xchange platform itself makes it easier to onboard new customers. “Actian Bx Manager provides a web form with all the fields needed to onboard the majority of ACME Truck Line’s customers,” says Bernard. “It doesn’t matter whether they want to use XML or EDI or something else. We simply fill out an electronic form and Bx SupplierConnect takes it from there. It does all the field mapping for us. The system is very efficient and easy to work with, and it has the connectivity options ACME Truck Line needs to get customers up and running very quickly.”
Bernard cites an instance where a new customer’s invoicing system had fields that were not already available in the Actian Bx Manager system. “We simply added the field and Bx SupplierConnect mapped it without a problem,” he says.
With streamlined processes for onboarding new customers and highly efficient electronic invoicing services that effectively eliminate duplicate data entry and the errors to which such manual processes are prone, ACME’s ability to transport that most important bit of freight—data—has dramatically improved. Invoice processing time has decreased, as have Days Sales Outstanding. The more customers ACME Truck Line connects into Bx SupplierConnect, the more the value multiplies. And because this managed system makes it easy for ACME to scale its business without invoicing friction, it’s easy for ACME to focus on delivering the services for which it is so well known: reliable, on-time delivery of important freight to whatever locations its customers desire.