Starbucks brews a better solution

Starbucks - which operates a chain of coffee shops -- has implemented a document management solution to help its local staff electronically distribute all forms of financial documents to the company's supply and distribution partners, eliminating the need for manual document processing.

The solution -- Pulse -- is worth around $20,000 and automates Starbucks' distribution of all financial documents like remittance advices, purchase orders and other financial statements to its Australian supplier network of 100 companies. This network includes organisations like Bunzl, which is a third-party logistics supplier to Starbucks, its shopfitter Shopworks, and Bakers Maison, the retailer's bakery goods supplier.

The software -- developed by Newtown (NSW)-based document solutions specialist Esker, which has its headquarters in France -- was customised to ensure it could retrieve text from any software platform and convert a document into everyday communication mediums like fax, e-mail or SMS (short message service), Starbucks IT manager Aram Dayeian said.

Starbucks implemented the software tool in September and it coincided with the introduction of an Oracle 11i financial system, because it needed a fax server to process documents electronically, Dayeian said.

The other driver for deploying Pulse was the company's massive growth from three people when the US-based coffee giant set up its Australian head office 14 months ago in the Sydney suburb of Frenchs Forest, to 427 staffers now across its head office and 21 stores, he said. Starbucks operates in NSW, QLD, VIC and the ACT.

Pulse was integrated with Oracle financials in around three weeks with no hitches, Dayeian said, adding that the solution has removed the need to manually fax and send financial documents, saving accounts staff half a day of labour. The use of Pulse has also increased the efficiency of internal communication between staff at head office and those at Starbucks outlets, and reduced expenditure on paper.

Dayeian said he expects to see a complete return on investment on the software within six months.

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