IDB cuts admin costs and optimizes order-to-cash processes

April 5, 2011  |  Electronic Invoicing

Irish Dairy Board Cuts Admin Costs and Optimizes Order-to-Cash Processes with IBM Sterling e-Invoicing Solution

The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) is a commercial cooperative and the major international exporter of Kerrygold and other Irish dairy products worldwide, with annual revenue of ?1.8 billion ($2.4 billion). Established in 1961, IDB markets and exports the Irish dairy products produced by its member manufacturing cooperatives and dairy companies.

IDB had previously deployed the Sterling Commerce flagship B2B integration platform, IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, to streamline its supply chain. In 2010, IDB deployed the IBM Sterling e-Invoicing solution for customers in 14 of the 27 European Union (EU) countries to speed receivables collection, reduce administrative costs, and improve order-to-cash processes.

IDB realized not only the cost savings but also the compliance benefits of automation that come from implementing a cross-border e-invoicing solution. Businesses that trade internationally must deal with regional variations in tax and financial regulation, and the cost of noncompliance can be high. The solution provides up-to-date compliance data from local law firms and tax authorities as well as documentation of compliance processes and legal requirements. IDB can archive and revalidate any invoice at any time and provides summary reports when required by auditors for compliance checking.

Installation of the Sterling e-Invoicing solution began in September 2009. “We had a Sterling Commerce consultant onsite for three days to set up the server and perform the basic installation,” said Sean Flynn, IDB business analyst. “Two of us helped with the setup and received the basic training, which was pretty self-explanatory because of the interface.”

Independent auditors were brought in to make sure the solution met all the criteria of the EU directive covering e-invoicing. “We wanted to make sure we were operating at the very highest standards,” said Flynn. The Sterling e-Invoicing solution went live in March 2010.

The rollout proceeded in stages. “We started with a batch of customers, testing at each stage before going live with the next group,” Flynn said. IDB also conducted a review of its transaction processing from beginning to end. “Two components, e-invoices and e-statements, were very important to us.”

Before selecting the Sterling e-Invoicing solution, IDB evaluated competitive products but found them lacking. “We needed to provide both PDF signature authentication and EDI invoice processing to allow businesses of all sizes and IT sophistication to trade easily with us,” Flynn explained. “A lot of companies could provide an EDI solution, but not the PDF capability. Sterling Commerce gave us both, and its archiving solution was more user-friendly.”

Having Sterling B2B Integrator for customer orders, supplier invoices, and stock movements was also a factor in the selection. “The IBM Sterling ERP system integration was definitely an advantage in going with the company’s e-Invoicing solution,” added Flynn. “The ERP system provides the raw data for e-invoices and e-statements, and we couldn’t have done the same thing with the other solutions. Also, the support we received from Sterling Commerce was first class, so we knew we were in good hands.”

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