Speeding Up Claims Reconciliation For a Global Distributor

Our client, a large global distributor, wanted to make an arduous reconciliation process into a more efficient, automated process so that their highly qualified SMEs would have the capacity to do more meaningful work.

The Pain

Our client is a global distributor, supplying to resellers, retailers and end users. As the middleman in a complex supply chain, they manage preferential pricing for multiple vendors. Each month, they need to claim back for themselves various discounts granted to customers from vendors. Compiling this information is crucial to help our client calculate margins correctly. It also has a direct impact on their cash flow.

While dedicated software exists to process claims, their legacy ERP system doesn’t support this - resulting in an arduous, manual reconciliation process that involves exporting files from a core system and performing lengthy checking processes in Excel. It was taking a team of four people three weeks out of every month to complete.

How We Helped Them

1. Process documentation. We documented all the steps in a complex and manual workflow (we worked with all the SMEs to offload their organisational knowledge and record the business logic).  

2. Automation in Alteryx. We translated what we’d learnt into a workflow to be run in Alteryx. That included providing the output in the customer’s preferred format.

3. Creating an exception report. Checking and reconciliation are now done automatically. We set up the system in a way that flags anomalies above a given threshold (to exclude basic rounding errors) for further investigation.

4. Freeing the team to do value-adding work. The team of highly skilled commercial managers can now focus on pricing strategy instead of manual reporting.

The Outcome

•   Speed: Instead of taking a team of four people three weeks every month to complete, the entire process (including reviewing exceptions) is down to less than two weeks.

•   Cash: Our client can now accurately forecast margins, speed up the claims process, and improve cash flow.

•   Risk: It has de-risked the process and boosted reporting accuracy; plus, the process has been documented and automated, supporting business continuity; each time it’s run, an audit trail is created automatically.

•   Employee experience: The team of commercial SMEs are spending less time doing manual work meaning they can now do more meaningful work - improving their experience and providing value to the organisation.

•   Process automation: These benefits have been realised without the cost and disruption of replacing their entire ERP.

•   Presentation: This system automatically produces visually appealing claims mitigating the need for team members to engage in an arduous process of editing claims before sending to customers.

•   Mindset change: The initiative has helped demonstrate to the business the impact of process optimisation using Alteryx – making it easier for the data team to get buy-in for other improvement initiatives in future.

Process optimisation is rarely seen as exciting. But if you’re responsible for a complicated, manual reconciliation process that involves 1000s of rows in a dozen spreadsheets, there’s nothing more exciting than automation.

Laura, Commercial Pricing Manager

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