Business intelligence/analytics is the environment for monitoring, analyzing, reporting and decision-making purposes.

Solution Implementer: Florida Rock Industries

Solution Provider: Noetix Corporation

Business Pain

Florida Rock has three main businesses offering ready-mix concrete, block and rock and cement materials. Florida Rock customers are comprised primarily of pavers, commercial developers and residential home builders.

When Florida Rock receives a customer order, it assigns a ticket to each request for materials, which acts as the proof of delivery. Tickets are signed by the customer at the time the shipment is received and then scanned into Florida Rock’s Electronic Document Retrieval System. Once the ticket enters the system, Florida Rock adds the associated customer order to an invoice. Oftentimes, there can be a hundred tickets on an invoice, so tying the ticket back to the invoice quickly and efficiently is critical in terms of quality customer service.

Florida Rock is known for providing customers with superior value and service, and has been able to field hundreds of calls per week from more than 8,000 customers looking for information regarding their invoices. The process involved a customer maneuvering through a telephone answering service to be connected to the correct person, who would then access Florida Rock’s Electronic Document Retrieval System to obtain the needed information. This image or copy would then be emailed, faxed or posted to the customer.

Florida Rock recognized this process was extremely cumbersome for its customers and also saw the need to make it more efficient for its own credit and accounts receivables (AR) departments, who were spending dozens of hours a day just retrieving and supplying lost copies of documents.

Successful Solution

Traditionally used by executives for a comprehensive view into business operations, business intelligence (BI) dashboards have gained popularity as a critical component of corporate BI strategies. Florida Rock, at the forefront of technology in the construction materials industry, discovered a creative way to use dashboards from Noetix as a customer self-service tool. This was a joint project designed and delivered by Florida Rock’s sales, marketing, credit and billing departments (accounts receivables). The development period took about six months due to internal controls for securing our systems from the outside. Dashboard development took approximately two to three months.

Today, instead of having to call and wait for information, customers can sign on to a secure system that takes them directly to a Noetix Dashboard that is custom filtered specifically for them. It shows them their AR buckets, allows them to view their most recent 50 open invoices and all the tickets associated with each, plus view receipts or checks that have been posted to their accounts. In addition, the dashboard provides a list of local Florida Rock locations in the event that they need to do more business. Essentially, Florida Rock’s customers are getting a great deal of information about their business in a matter of seconds.

Customers can now link directly from their invoices to Florida Rock’s Electronic Document Retrieval System and securely download a PDF with the exact document image, or drill down into tickets from that shipment or particular invoice as well as make copies of their most current statements.

Innovation

This dashboard solution resolved a major source of contention in our industry in which our customers, through the basic business process of product delivery with third-party contractors involved, lose or never receive basic documents that they require in order to pay us. By providing this essential solution, the most critical factor in late customer payments has been solved. We have seen our days-sales-outstanding figure go down dramatically as customers are able to get any document they need, whenever they need it and pay promptly.

As previously mentioned, sales, marketing, credit and billing departments all came together to design and deliver our self-service dashboard. Each department gathered data in a Parato Chart format to identify the most commonly requested items from our customers. Based on this analysis, it was clear that 99 percent of our questions were on account balances (aging) such as needing a source document (delivery ticket, invoice or statement), needing to know if a check was received, or researching outstanding deductions. We then designed our dashboard solution based on the Parato Chart analysis, which was done over a two-month period.

Each department is involved in making sure our customers are aware of the new offering and, if required, have necessary information on using the product.

A solid partnership from our customers down to all of our service departments has been formed to use this solution and, over a period of time, take suggestions for improvement.

Quantitative Results

Florida Rock has a process we call "good to great." We are looking at all business processes in attempts to make the service the best possible. Moving to the Noetix Dashboard has led to a significant reduction in the amount of customer calls, and we expect to see a lot more as the application is rolled out to more and more customers. Currently, 95 percent of our customers' questions are answered with the use of this new dashboard.

More specifically, we have achieved the following results:

  1. Significant reduction in call volume asking us to provide copies of a source document; going from between 500 to 750 calls per week to just 20 to 30 calls per week, which amounts to a savings of $10,000 per year.
  2. Savings of approximately 50 hours per week of employee time in the AR department, which accounts for an annual savings of $110,000.
  3. Savings of an additional $100,000 per year in our Aggregates Business Line from using Noetix reports for various inquiries of tickets, orders and invoices. 
  4. Corporate credit department usage of the Noetix Dashboard accounted for a one-time savings of $250,000.

Qualitative Results

Florida Rock's AR department has been able to free up a significant amount of time not having to supply customers with copies of lost documents. We have facilitated a more efficient business partnership with our customers with the use of the Noetix Dashboard as well as created a state-of-the-art tool unlike anything now used in its industry, giving it a leg up on the competition.

Customers increasingly pay invoices on time and/or earlier than they did prior to using the dashboard application, and we believe there has been a dramatic rise in overall customer satisfaction.

Sustainability

We have between 6,000 and 8,000 customers as part of this initiative and internally agreed that we would not initially involve them in the design or prototype testing, as consensus on format and content would have been extremely difficult due to the high volume. Instead, we designed a very simple dashboard concept that met with our customers primary needs based on our in-depth analysis but also delivered great functionality and content.

From the start, all relevant Florida Rock departments had input into this process so that the initiative had the largest chance for success. We know that this dashboard helps our customers get the information they need on their own. We know that it saves our AR department time and costs associated with answering calls and delivering information. Also, because the product was so easy to customize, we were able to have very little impact on IT resources, which was a concern when we started looking at this as an initiative to take on.

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