May 10, 2016 – Terumo Medical Corp. recently decided to market the medical device products it manufactures through its own sales teams rather than go through a distributor. After doing so, the company quickly realized it did not have the appropriate system or staffing in place to handle all of the incoming orders.
Fighting the backlog
Many of Terumo’s customer orders are sent and received via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), but with a number of hospitals and clinics sending orders by fax or phone. Previously, the faxes would arrive in an email inbox as a PDF and have to be cleared everyday, which created a number of issues for Terumo’s Customer Care team.
“We were getting swallowed up by everything,” said Terri Calabrese, director of customer care and accounts receivable at Terumo. “A lot of calls were being dropped due to all of the fax traffic. We didn’t have enough resources to manage it properly; the order backlog was simply too much to get through.”
Searching for a new solution
Terumo had several requirements for a new solution to be chosen as a replacement for its manual process. First, the solution needed to automate elements of the order management process, like the EDI system using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and other integrated recognition technologies. Additionally, to avoid any compatibility issues, the new solution needed to coexist with the company’s existing ERP system (JD Edwards).
The initial thought was to have Terumo’s subsidiaries in India take over order processing, but the time and investment required to train staff members who weren’t familiar with the customers or products was too great. Terumo also explored the idea of leveraging solutions already in place within different departments in the company, but these ultimately lacked the level of stability and number of key capabilities that Terumo was looking for.
The decision to go with Esker stemmed from the solution’s “advanced capabilities as well as a successful proof of concept (POC) demonstration,” where Esker processed 100 sample orders for Terumo to show how the solution works.
“Esker’s upside was too big to ignore — the functionality compared to the other products we had experience working with was night and day,” said Calabrese. “We loved that it was an intelligent solution that could be taught rules to make it more customized to our specific requirements. Having the hosted option in the Cloud was also a big plus for us. We no longer have to worry about maintaining our own infrastructure or wonder how we’re going to get work done when the building is closed. Esker has really allowed us to be more versatile.”
Esker automates the entire order management process — from reception of an order to its creation in the ERP system to electronic archiving — which it says allows companies to “quickly process and track any order, regardless of format, with complete accuracy, visibility and efficiency.”
Esker’s adoption of the methodology for solution delivery promises for a faster, more engaged, and fully customized experience for a customer. “Considering the timeline we gave Esker, the implementation couldn’t have gone any better,” said Calabrese. “The Professional Services team gave us all the tools that we needed, and we were able to tweak the system along the way.”
Terumo measures various aspects of its faxing process on a monthly basis (e.g., what faxes are being processed, average processing times, etc.). Since implementing Esker, the company says it has seen a number of measurable benefits, including:
• Faster processing times: The time to process an order decreased by 60 per cent by keeping the workflow electronic with Esker compared to manually processing the orders through the ERP system.
• Better scalability and service: Even with the amount of inbound customer orders increasing year after year, Terumo says the workflow automation has allowed it to maintain its current staffing levels while still freeing up time for its Customer Care team to focus on more customer-centric tasks.
• Touchless processing: Terumo recently began leveraging Esker’s touchless process. Esker’s Teach functionality claims to help drive more effective automation throughout the process.
“We’ve pursued a number of new process improvement initiatives in recent years, but none have been as wholeheartedly accepted as Esker,” said John Pinto, Terumo CFO. “When I posed the rhetorical question, ‘What would you do if I took Esker away?’ everyone said they would be truly disappointed. It’s wonderful to have that level of support behind a new product like this.”
This case study was supplied by Esker.