Distell’s Objective: Increase the vendor reconciliation base with a more efficient system in SAP

DISTELL’S CORE OBJECTIVE: INCREASE THE RECONCILATION BASE WITH A MORE EFFICIENT SYSTEM

Liana Barnard, Procure-To-Pay Manager shared her insights into the 2021 implementation of BEST Vendor Recons and Statement Reader Modules at Distell and the processing of Reconciliations by the Distell AP team.

Interview with Suresan Ellary, BEST Vendor Recons Product Manager on 12 September 2022. Download the full Distell Case Study here.

ABOUT DISTELL AND THE AP TEAM

Distell, a global business with roots in South Africa, produces and markets a diverse portfolio of award-winning alcoholic brands that have been crafted by extraordinary people across the world. Some of these brands include Amarula, Savanna, Hunter’s Dry, Durbanville Hills and Nederburg.

OUR MISSION:
– We craft distinctive alcoholic beverage brands, enhance memorable moments and inspire responsible enjoyment. The value we create enriches the lives of our people, shareholders and the communities within which we live and work.
OUR VISION:
– We are a proud African alcoholic beverages company with heritage, global reach, world-class people and the ability to do extraordinary things!
OUR PURPOSE:
– Creating memorable moments. Crafting a better future.

Accounts Payable is often referred to as a back-office function, but it is my belief that AP is a very important partner to all the different business units in the company. Essentially, not performing our operational duties effectively can bring the business to a standstill. It is therefore important that we understand the strategic goals of the business, especially when it comes to working capital and cash flow strategies, as this will guide us in our daily tasks. Performing vendor reconciliations assists us in this task – they are important to perform and we need to make sure that we have an effective software partner.

WHY BEST VENDOR RECONS?

– The key business factors that drove us to want to change from our current vendor reconciliation system:
– Our previous system, although working well, was difficult to navigate and it had a very challenging layout.
– We wanted a system with a SAP look and feel.
– Reconciliations should in essence be very easy to do, and the information should be condensed in an easy to understand format (for nonfinancial people).
– The audit requirements of increasing our reconciliation base was a main driver to change to a more efficient system.
– BEST stood out from other systems as easy to navigate and use.

IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT

BEST was implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic period in 2021. All work was done remotely. Whilst this brings with it some additional challenges, the project team was very professional and knowledgeable.

The project approach was according to the discussed plan and timelines and the Status Reports and Status meetings were very effective. The project started in October 2021 with Go Live taking place in February 2022.

Distell utilises the BEST Statement Reader to load Vendor Statements automatically. This has helped to contribute to the overall success of our BEST Vendor Recon Month End process given that previously statements were uploaded by the third party and this process was not working.

Having control and visibility over the statements that are uploaded directly into BEST Statement Reader really assists with the overall efficiency
and control of the full process.

INTEGRATION TO 3RD PARTY TOOLS

Distell also required BEST to integrate with two external 3rd Party Invoicing tools viz ReadSoft and Coupa, to be able to reconcile the vendor statements to data not yet posted in SAP.

This was critical in our selection of BEST as the correct tool for recons i.e. ensuring that the system can integrate the data from both SAP and Coupa. It is imperative that when completing the recons, the data is reliable and real time. This functionality makes that possible and contributes to ensure the reconciliations are as accurate as it should be at a specific point in time.

BENEFITS ACHIEVED

–  No more manual intervention is required – this was a very manual process previously.
– We are achieving time savings and doing more recon volumes.
– The system is real time.
– BEST is extremely user friendly.
– Lots of reporting options available – we had no reporting previously.

ADOPTION

Training was online so did create some challenges. However as we implemented other systems remotely we could take the lessons learned from that and ensure that we were well prepared. The Distell AP team was motivated as we ensured that we pointed out the benefits of implementing BEST. The AP team grasped the system quickly and are running with it. Only positive feedback has been received from the team.

The easy to view templates and the easy to understand methodology really makes this a solution that can be understood by all. The availability of information on SAP in real time is a real plus.

The Auditors accessed the BEST recon tool during our Financial Year end and were able to easily audit the reconciliations.

TIME SAVINGS & MORE RECONCILIATIONS

Previously we looked at aging to determine which recons to do, now we are moving back to reconciling for ALL vendors statements. We’ve definitely seen a reduction in time and the time it takes to resolve issues. Reconciliations have become less cumbersome to do and that then gives us the opportunity to ensure that we can do more of the smaller recons which previously were not being done.

Currently averaging over 740 reconciliations per month – on average 503 excel statements loaded per month, 225 via BEST Statement Reader and a few small statements via Copy/Capture.

Auto matching is really high (99%) and that also indicates that the system is working.

REPORTING & VISIBILITY

Implementing BEST has created capacity within the Distell AP team. When pulling reports from BEST we focus on our age analysis and reconciling items. We trust the information from BEST and we have done spot checks to ensure it is the correct information that is pulling through including VIM Documents, Coupa, PD and GRIR. It is important for us to continue to extract information from our various platforms in order to have full visibility.

AUDITORS ACCESS THE SYSTEM DIRECTLY

Being a listed company we obviously have very strict audit requirements. The Auditors accessed the BEST Vendor Recons tool during our Financial Year end and were able to easily audit the reconciliations. The fact that there were no comebacks from the auditors confirms that this is a tool that supports all our audit requirements.

CREATING CAPACITY OUR GOAL

Implementing BEST was about creating capacity as we always knew that the tool will give us the capability to do more reconciliations. We are on track to meet our required ROI which is very good for us.

Thank you to the BEST team – the project was professional, what we expected is what has been delivered.

Thank you Liana for taking the time to provide this Case Study input!

Find out more on how to automate your vendor reconciliations in SAP and contact BEST for a demo.