Ferrero, a well-loved brand most known by its chocolates Ferrero Rocher, Kinder, and delicious hazelnut spread Nutella, started its story way back in Italy in 1946.
Today, the company has grown its global reach and is present in 55 countries, with its Asia Pacific headquarters situated in Singapore.
With the need to manage the entire flow of operations ranging from product management, planning and supply, logistics management, import and export, and customer service, Ferrero’s Supply Chain team, together with IT and Customer Service teams, have to deal with huge amounts of information that usually take the form of documents or emails.
In an interview, Mr. Au Yang Sian, Head of Supply Chain and Logistics, Ms. Julyn Chng, Customer Service Manager, and Mr. Ng Chee Soon, ICT Specialist discussed challenges faced in handling large volumes of paperwork and manual processes, and how Canon’s Therefore™ Document Management System has helped them curb such challenges and increase productivity.
Q: What are some of the common workflow challenges or existing challenges Ferrero has had before engaging Canon?
Yang Sian: As the company’s operations in the region grew, we were faced with a manpower challenge. Previously, most of our jobs relied heavily on manual processes – very laborious and mundane work. As a result, we had to hire more people to cope with the large amounts of manual paperwork.
Furthermore, as our staff climbed up the value chain, such manual paperwork could no longer be a priority as they had to focus on higher-level tasks.
We want to help them in their career progression and develop their capabilities in terms of future skill sets that will be relevant to the market needs.
By adding technology to the mix, you can remove the unpredictability and emotional aspect of work, and save a lot of management personnel time to focus on other parts of the business.
Chee Soon: When I initially joined Ferrero, I saw the team working manually with the invoices. So when Canon came to me with this solution, I thought it would be good to leverage on this technology and allow people have more time to do value-added work.
Q: How has Canon’s Therefore™ Document Management System helped to mitigate these challenges?
Yang Sian: I was very happy as I saw the potential to upgrade my staff’s skill set and redeploy the huge amount of time they spend on paperwork to something more productive such as joining business reviews with our key customers, working closely with the transport management team and even collaborating with the sales team to provide customised solutions to our customers.
We believe in investing in our staff, and the technological intervention that Canon has provided was the key to this.
It has also become a case study for us with regards to customer service and the kind of solutions we are able to deliver to customers.
I believe that at Ferrero, we don’t just sell products, but solutions, to our customers. With Canon on board, it makes it even easier for us to leverage on our expertise to serve them.
Julyn: My team uses the Therefore™ Document Management System and we find that it is really accurate and efficient. It helped us a lot, especially during festive periods when we are busiest, and has reduced 50% of our work involving paper documents.
Q: What do you like most about the Therefore Document Management System?
Yang Sian: What I like most is the accessibility of the technology. Once the documents have been scanned, it is digitised almost instantaneously and allows us to store our files neatly.
Besides this, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is also a powerful tool – gone are the days where we have to go to the Excel file, find the location, pull out the carton, go through the paper and so on.
We can simply retrieve information from the system directly. With the Therefore™ system, a simple keyword can retrieve any associated documents, saving us the manpower and time required to review all the paperwork.
While time is still needed to scan all the documents in, what used to be a five-day paperwork task is now shortened to less than three days, which, in the long run, is more efficient and productive for our company.
It saves us a lot of time as we don’t have to do as much paperwork, roughly improving our productivity level by 20%.
Therefore™ also helps us in reducing our carbon footprint. Instead of having to deliver physical paper from third-party logistics (3PL) to our warehouse, and killing more trees to do document matching, Canon’s technology makes our processes more seamless and sustainable.
This complements our mission to be a more environmental friendly company.
Q: Could you share some positive experiences you have had with the Canon team and your relationship with them?
Julyn: For me, I enjoy working with Canon because they provide us with solutions when we face problems. The IT team is very reliable and responsible in getting back to us immediately when we encounter issues.
Yang Sian: What I can see is that Canon has the interest of customers at heart, and in return their customers have trust in Canon.
It is reciprocal and a kind of mutual relationship that is important in today’s context. Today, everything is easily substituted, but the aspect of service makes the difference.
Canon has shown that they have that kind of connection with customers, which is very critical for future business.
Q: Having invested in Therefore™, what is your future roadmap to further improve the current system?
Yang Sian: Starting with the Customer Service team, we will champion this system in our company, demonstrate its productivity gains and that we are able to make use of our manpower more strategically.
With this evidence, our plan is to roll the system out to the Legal, HR and Finance departments in phase two as their work are very data and paper intensive.
The third phase would be to roll this solution out to the distributor. Today, we have many documents and everything is on email where it can be easily lost.
With the new system, distributors will be able to scan documents easily and send it back to us, allowing us to improve efficiency.
Chee Soon: There are many possibilities as I do get queries from our offices in China and Australia about the document management system that is used in Singapore.
There is a ton of opportunities considering the volume of China and Australia where a day for them equals to a month for us.