How do we tackle digitization? This is a question that worries many people responsible for process management and corporate governance. The last Bitkom digital office index clearly shows that the German SME sector is overall in the middle when it comes to digitization, but the transport and logistics industry brings up the rear in the industry comparison. On the basis of feedback and experience with customers from the logistics industry, Kendox has compiled a list of five starting points that show why digitizing document-based processes is an ideal first step towards digitization and which functions a corresponding solution is specifically designed for use in the logistics industry.
Logistics industry: digitization of daily business processes
“In contrast to many other industries, logisticians have not suffered from a loss of sales due to the Covid-19 measures in the last year and a half. But on the contrary. The trend towards online and mail order business meant that many of our logistics customers had to concentrate on handling the increased inquiries, ”explains Didier Hunn, an expert in logistics solutions at Kendox. “It has been shown that the digitization of invoice processing and other documents for daily logistics processes – summarized under the area of document management – offers a suitable starting point for making the first digitization step a lot easier.”
Status quo of digitization in the logistics industry
So far, the processes in many logistics companies have been very paper-heavy, so they have to be processed manually. For each shipment transported, there are an average of three to five documents. Typically, this includes waybills, container notes, if necessary track & trace information, papers on damage, customs documents and more – and that for every delivery. If you add this up for all shipments and working days, even typical medium-sized logistics companies have thousands of shipment documents to be processed per week.
If users still process the majority of the documents manually, this is not only very resource-consuming and time-consuming, but the lack of transparency also makes the correct assignment of documents and legally secure filing more difficult. Automated and intelligent digitization of documents and corresponding processes can make work enormously easier and at the same time significantly reduce the administrative processing costs per shipment. However, such a solution must meet specific requirements. A document management system for the logistics industry must meet these five requirements:
1. Logistics industry: digital shipment files or shipping files
Challenge: With manual document processing, connections, such as comments in the waybill, can quickly be lost. In retrospect, it is time-consuming to restore the relevant assignments. Corresponding corrections also mean that, for example, invoices have to be canceled and reissued, which additionally increases the workload.
Solution approach: With the help of a document management system (DMS) optimized for the requirements of the logistics industry, documents, information and processes are logically summarized. Digital files contain descriptive properties (data fields), have a predefined internal structure or arrangement, and offer the option of defining data protection rights. A shipment file contains defined structures for shipment documents, customs documents, warehouse documents and many other documents such as customer orders, container slips, track & trace information, etc.
2. Digital process management for the logistics industry
Challenge: The manual processing of documents, such as the assignment of the shipment number to the correct shipment dossier for later billing, is both time-consuming and error-prone. Media disruptions make processing even more difficult. Because while many documents still arrive on paper, other documents, such as customs clearance documents, import / export certificates, assessment orders for VAT, etc.) are often delivered digitally. All of these documents need to be brought together and then processed as quickly as possible. Particularly in the case of cooperation within transport chains, for example, the documents that document that the orders have been delivered must be kept and made available for a certain period of time. In the event of seasonal peaks – such as the Christmas season – many logisticians cannot scale their processing capacities accordingly.
Solution approach: Many DMS solutions have a so-called “workflow engine”, a process manager with which operational processes based on electronic documents can be defined and partially carried out automatically. In this way, all document processes can be mapped. The standardization and automation of routine processes makes work considerably easier as well as transparency and acceleration in the process chain. For the logistics industry, the following processes should be integrated into the solution: Automated processing of shipment documents such as POD and waybill etc .; Deviation management processes in the event of damage or differences in containers; Invoice verification processes (P2P) for general costs and shipment costs (such as external driver costs with validation for the order) as well as the option to add further processes.
3. Standardized scanning and capturing
Challenge: A particularly time-consuming and, at the same time, error-prone process is the manual scanning, recording and assignment of documents. Especially under time pressure, such as the aforementioned provision of documents for transport cooperations / associations or with seasonal order peaks, many logisticians still have to use personnel resources in additional shifts for this step in order to cope with the work in the required time frame.
Solution approach: A DMS should also have a convenient solution to automatically and quickly capture, classify and index documents in paper form (intelligent document data recognition), to store them in the DMS shipment file and, depending on the attributes, to trigger processes automatically via the workflow system. In this way, entire stacks of documents can be automated in one operation and processed gradually with an integrated learning mode with almost no human resources. The essential characteristics that a solution for scanning and capturing must meet are: The processing of several thousand documents per day; automated receipt recognition with intelligent learning mode; standardized document profiles such as delivery notes, PODs, CMR bills of lading, AWB’s, warehouse receipts, invoices and container notes; as well as transfer of receipts from e-mail inboxes or file storage.
4. Legally secure document storage and archiving
Challenge: In a case of evidence as well as within the framework of new requirements of the EU supply chain law, companies must store and provide documents such as order, shipment document, invoice, etc. within a certain period of time.
Solution approach: When choosing a document management system, it is very important to ensure that the managed information can really be archived in a legally compliant and audit-proof manner. In particular, if companies have to present digital documents as evidence in a legal dispute, proof may also have to be provided that the digital document actually corresponds to the “original” and has not been tampered with – intentionally or unintentionally. In order to ensure that the archiving is legally compliant, it must also be ensured that archived documents can only be deleted from the archive after a specified period (which can vary depending on the type of document) has expired. This can be done with the help of so-called. Implement retention periods.
With the help of a suitable DMS solution, the entire checking and approval process can also be logged and stored as a processing log in the electronic archive and in the context of the approved invoice. This means that it is transparently documented who made which decision or approval and when. In addition to comments and decisions that users have made in the course of the process, the processing log can also contain account assignment information and other information on the respective payment.
5. Integration into systems and solutions in the logistics industry
Challenge: Digitization does not take place in the green field. The newly digitized processes and documents are usually related to other process chains and systems. For comprehensive digitization, simplification and acceleration of the processes, it is therefore important that documents and document data can be seamlessly transferred from the acquisition and processing in the DMS to the subsequent processes and systems (own systems, customer systems, cooperation system).
Solution approach: In order to enable integration with existing solutions, when choosing a DMS solution, it is advisable to ensure that it provides the appropriate interfaces (Web APIs – Application Programming Interfaces) for customers and partners. In this way, seamless integrations with existing applications and industry solutions can be implemented much more easily. Standardized APIs and web services that should be covered for logisticians are integrations with forwarding solutions or customs systems. There are also cooperation systems, financial accounting solutions and software solutions for transport, warehouse and corporate control.
Document management supports digitization
Document management covers part of digitization and is a very good start and entry point for many companies to grow easily and efficiently into this world. “The digitization of documents and the consolidation in digital shipment, customs and billing documents or higher-level shipping files can, with a suitable DMS solution, alleviate many challenges in daily work processes in the field of logistics,” summarizes Didier Hunn.
“Many of our logistics customers were able to get through digitizing the document-based processes Significantly shorten processing times – in some cases by more than two thirds. This saves resources and the clerks can concentrate on other important areas of responsibility. At the same time, sources of error can be continuously reduced and security with regard to loss, failure and legally secure filing of documents can be increased. A DMS is an important lever for every logistics company because it provides the ideal basis. And often it also offers a starting point for the modernization of logistics processes. ”
Kendox is a solution provider for digital document management and for the automation of processes in offices and administration. The solution provider with many years of experience and its own technology specializes in customers in industry and production, trade and e-commerce, services and logistics as well as public institutions, schools and universities. The software solutions meet the current requirements for technology, security and GDPR conformity. (sg)
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