AT A GLANCE
- Manufacturing and Construction
- Build a better quoting system
- Fuji Xerox implemented a solution that streamlined the storage and management of job documents used for the quoting and estimating process.
- The solution consisted of the Fuji Xerox multi-function device (MFD) AP5C4475S that performed as an on-ramp platform for digitising the hardcopy plans, and DocuShare content management solution for routing, storing and archiving of all documents used in the quote and estimate processes.
- Enable compliant records storage and retrieval
- Standardise capture process for all documentation
- Minimise paper wastage and precious storage space in the office
- Create easy to use document retrieval processes for historical records
- Improve staff productivity as the sales support team members no longer need to walk from building to building to deliver the plans
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The estimating department at Akarana Timbers provides trade and retail customers with free quotes for their frame and truss specifications. It’s a document intensive business, but with electronic document processing technology from Fuji Xerox New Zealand they have eliminated paper, while also improving attention to detail and reducing rework.
Akarana Timbers is part of the United Industries Group and is New Zealand’s leading independent manufacturer of pre-nail frames and trusses with 80 staff across Auckland and Christchurch.
Akarana generates an average 200 quotes for their customers every month, and previously used a paper-based process to manage this.
Incoming information includes PDF documents (building plans, specifications etc.) and usually a quote request form. Request forms are generated by one of Akarana’s seven sales reps, or if a customer makes a direct request to Akarana, then one of the sales support team generates it on their behalf.
Each incoming quotation request was allocated a unique, sequential job number which was recorded by sales support on a master spreadsheet, then sent to the estimator team.
Lisa Eastlake, Sales Support for Akarana Timbers, said the process of preparing the documents for the estimators was time and paper intensive. “We had to print out hard copies of the building plans from the supplied PDFs in full – every page – of every plan. Then print out an estimate sheet and attach it to a hard copy of the building plan. Then there was the huge paper trail of stapling the correct documents together. The more complex plans could take over half an hour just to set up, print and collate.”
Pass the parcel
The sales support team bundled the hard copy documents in manila folders and delivered them by hand to the head estimator in a neighbouring building on the Akarana site. Individual estimators reviewed the printed documents, making notes directly on the plans where needed, and generated an estimate on an Excel worksheet. A copy of the quote was printed out, then scanned, then saved in a Windows folder on the company server for the estimator’s own reference. The hard copy of the quote was added to the rest of the documents in the manila folder and put in a pile for collection by the sales support team on their next visit.
Eastlake and her team made several delivery trips each day to hand over the folders and collect finished quotes. Then they would scan the hard copy of the quote (again) and email the PDF to the customer or sales rep, then file the accompanying paperwork in a cabinet.
With around 200 new manila folders full of often bulky building plans and estimates processed every month the head estimator’s job box was piled high, and the sales support team’s filing cabinets were always at the point of exploding. To manage the filing overflow, the sales support team disposed of jobs over 6 months old. Should a quote need to be reviewed outside that six-month period all the documentation would need to be supplied – and reprinted – afresh.
Docushare, a simple but smart solution
The team at Akarana already knew they could streamline their processes by using Fuji Xerox DocuShare, because the document management solution is being used successfully by other companies in the United Industries Group. Fuji Xerox New Zealand simply had to organise some extra licenses and set up support specifically for Akarana’s quotation process.
The new process
Instead of printing out all the emailed PDFs of building plans the sales support team now save them into a custom named folder in DocuShare.
Any necessary scanned hard copies are directly routed to the right folder via the Fuji Xerox MFD (multi-functional device).
This is done by placing a scan cover sheet – created directly from DocuShare at the touch of a button – at the front of the documents to be scanned. The Xerox XeroGlyph (a form of barcode) on the cover sheet is unique to that job, and directs the material to the right folder without requiring any manual intervention. The solution is smart enough to recognise that the coversheet is superfluous and it’s not saved to the folder as part of the documentation.
“The cover sheet is very cool,” says Eastlake. “Before, you had to scan hardcopies to your email or to your computer and save them there. Then move everything to a new system folder and rename everything. It’s a lot easier now it’s automated and you just have to print that cover sheet!”
Once a folder contains all the necessary information, simply selecting a tick box generates an email link to the head estimator saying that the job is ready to be assessed by the estimator team. No paper is generated, and no physical files are handed over.
“The estimators sometimes still need print-outs when they do their quotes,” says Eastlake. “But now, instead of a whole set of plans – which may be 64 pages long – they just print the part of the document they need. Often only a few pages.”
“The Fuji Xerox solution has reduced a lot of time and paper waste. Instead of printing a whole set of plans – which may be 64 pages long – we just print the part of the document we need, often only a few pages.”
Lisa Eastlake, Sales Support, Akarana Timbers
The head estimator can visually gauge the queue of work by estimator, and reassign jobs to maintain a consistent work load across the team. Even if a job is passed around the tracking functionality shows who is currently working on it. Notes and alerts are added when there is a specific deadline, or to indicate if an estimate is urgent.
Once the estimator has reviewed the job, scanned any revised documents, and the pricing back into DocuShare, a link is sent to the sales support team so they know that the physical file can be collected.
The quote is then emailed directly to the sales rep or customer.
We’ve got you covered!
Variations of the clever DocuShare scan cover sheet can be generated for different uses with one click.
Because the cover sheets are placed in front of the hard copy of the quote and before the supporting material, feeding the document through the Fuji Xerox MFD lets the XeroGlyph identify when one type of document is different from another and saves them as individual PDFs. For example, the sales support team can easily distinguish which item in the folder is the quote by the file size. So they know which PDF to email to the customer or sales rep.
Now, not only is all the information for each job stored in easily-searchable folders, but each quote can be tracked from sales support, to the estimators, back to sales support and out to the customer. All the information is now in one place. Staff can quickly and easily locate, access, review and back-reference old plans as needed. The electronic audit trail shows clearly who’s holding the job at any point in time. The electronic audit trail shows clearly who’s holding the job is at any point in time.
Akarana plans to eventually eliminate another scanning step by saving the quotes directly into DocuShare as well. “If we can convert them directly into PDF format without producing hardcopies for scanning it will make the process even easier,” says Eastlake. “The whole system is quite new to our estimators and represents a significant change, but they can see the benefits. And because we’ve already cut down on the bulk of the paperwork, we’re happy to move forward at a slower pace now.”
The relationship between Akarana and Fuji Xerox New Zealand is a happy one says Eastlake. “Fuji Xerox provided us with a lot of support. They have a great attitude and are always there to help. Nothing is ever treated as a ‘stupid’ question. Any issues are sorted out within minutes by phone or the consultant calls by and resolves it on site for us. They are genuinely very good to work with.”