Founded in 1937, Adams Beverages is a family-owned and operated beer and non-alcoholic beverage distribution company. They are an Anheuser Busch distributor with branches across Alabama and North Carolina in the United States. In its 75 years of service, Adams Beverages has grown to expand into seven warehouse locations with more than 500 employees.
Amy Mullen, the AP/AR Manager, leads accounts payable (AP) for all seven locations. In March 2019, when the company acquired three locations, Amy realized that they needed an AP automation software to manage the sudden spike in invoices. “We knew we needed help as we were processing almost 2,000 invoices per month and this did not include any product invoices.” Processing invoices in time was becoming a challenge with a great quantity of invoices passing through the company for approvals and archiving. The lack of visibility and control into invoice approvals was causing delays.
“The biggest issue was approvals. Multi-tiered approvals, tracking data, and documentation of approvals needed to be more organized.”
Having multi-tiered approvals is a good practice, but when these tiers are not centralized and visible, approval follow-ups can get slow and exhausting – as was the case with Adams Beverages. The approver couldn’t track data easily; they had to go through a trail of paper. This would take longer if the approver needed clarification or more information regarding an invoice. The AP department could not afford to get tied up in chasing paper invoices or signatures.
The next issue was documentation of approvals. How much time did an invoice take to get approved? How many follow-ups were made? What was the reason for the delay? With the growing number of invoices, it was becoming hard to keep AP running smoothly. The company was looking for a scalable process.
“We needed a system that would streamline approvals based on our workflow, which involved multiple levels of people. We wanted to be able to track and see who approved an invoice and when.”
Research and Selection
Adams Beverages went through a research and selection process to find an AP automation solution that would resolve their challenges with approvals. The evaluation process included technical features such as visibility and reporting on approval workflows, enhanced AP controls, and instant access to documents. “Beanworks had more to offer. It integrated nicely with Sage 100. The user interface is great…easy to understand and use.” More importantly, Beanworks gave the team the visibility and control they needed to fast-track approvals.
Remote access to AP
One of the core benefits with Beanworks AP automation has been remote management. Communication and collaboration with AP employees across all branches has sped up the approval cycle, which is exactly what they were looking for. Managers are able to access invoices instantly, and resolve disputes and questions by making comments on the documents in the cloud, without digging through files and paper. Once approved, invoices can be easily slated for payment.
“It’s been a huge advantage working remotely with Beanworks.”
The accounting team has been using the software for more than a year now, but during COVID-19 when staff was working remotely, they expanded their use of Beanworks features.
Managers were able to approve invoices easily through the Beanworks mobile app, and still continue to. The AP team member can process invoices from a kitchen table and have the manager approve from their smartphone, immediately. With phones being close to us all the time, there is no excuse to put off approvals.
Who needs paper?
Another enhancement is the elimination of paper. With AP Automation, the company receives invoices electronically. “There is little to no need for paper anymore.” Some vendors still send paper invoices but the majority are received electronically, directly into their Beanworks system.
“Beanworks has been fantastic. Thankfully, COVID has shown the paper-lovers the need to move forward.”
The team is now spending less time on data entry and manual tasks. “Non-automated systems require a physical presence. We have very little need to collect, mail, or scan documents.” Instead, that time is redirected towards more valuable initiatives that impact Adams Beverages finance department beyond accounts payable. Invoices are automatically captured, coded, and routed to the approver. From here they can be approved for payments directly.
Since implementation, Adams Beverages has been able to step out of the weeds, to create a collaborative AP management system. “Very little changed in terms of how we operate from an accounting standpoint during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s been an easier adjustment for those who were already automated. It will force everyone to get in the game.”