Established in 1989, Green Bay, Wis.-based AK Pizza Crust manufactures self-rising and par-baked crusts as well as frozen dough balls, which are used by many businesses. When Debby Berchem joined AK Pizza Crust as the CFO five years ago, the company had recently purchased another pizza dough manufacturer—just one way among several that AK Pizza Crust was growing, and with rapid growth came increased demand on its accounts payable (AP) process.
Although the crust company had a vision for how they wanted to improve their AP process, they struggled to find the right consultant to help. With an eye on improving financial workflows, Berchem saw opportunities to make the AP process more efficient.
“We weren’t under financial stress, but I knew that growth can hide things,” she says. “I wanted to address our AP challenges and streamline the process so that we could get our arms around exactly where all the cash was going.”
To that end, the company purchased FileBound document management software through a third-party consultant. Unfortunately, the vendor’s software support over a few years did not yield the kind of results Berchem had envisioned. AK Pizza Crust was still left with AP challenges such as finding an efficient way to reduce reliance on paper documentation; implementing optical character recognition (OCR) as a reliable means for automatically extracting data from scanned invoices; getting more use and value from the document management system they had already invested a lot of time and money in; and improving its overall invoice routing and approval process.
“I had all but given up hope that we would be able to use FileBound with invoices that were actually read electronically, routed for approval and paid,” says Berchem.
The company turned to The Priton Group, a document management firm based in Madison, Wis. An improved document management system has allowed AK Pizza Crust to streamline its AP process and reduced staff time on invoices, despite significant company growth and AP tasks nearly doubling.
Within a matter of months of working together, says Berchem, The Priton Group “completely flipped” a situation that AK Pizza Crust had been struggling with for years. “The transformation was amazing,” she says.
The Priton Group provided guidance for the right OCR tool to integrate with their existing FileBound system, made it easy to work together to develop customized solutions, and improved the existing document management system.
“They took our FileBound setup, which was really convoluted, and streamlined it to create a much smoother invoice approval process,” Berchem says. “They also helped us understand how to store documents in a much smarter way.”
According to Berchem, company AP activities have almost doubled due to growth, but she hasn’t needed to add employees. “In fact, I have one person where it used to take two,” says Berchem, “even though we have around twice as many AP tasks.”
Other benefits to a more streamlined AP process have included a near-seamless pivot to working from home when COVID-19 hit. “[Thankfully], we already had this exceptional AP process in place, one that gave us the ability to see, and process, invoices from anywhere. I don’t know how we would have functioned in the past year without it,” says Berchem.
Berchem says that better document management practices are being adopted company-wide. “We've incorporated 12 company projects into FileBound. This goes way beyond making us more efficient. As a CFO, I would say The Priton Group is helping us make sure we have internal controls built in for critical company processes.”