About Lab Logistics Group GmbH
Lab Logistics Group (LLG) is the central organization of a cooperative of 33 privately owned laboratory dealers in Europe, Asia, and Australia. In recent years LLG has developed from a purchasing association into a holistic and powerful service provider for its partners, offering a range of laboratory consumables and devices, alongside efficient service.
Paper-Intensive Processes Rely on Manual Data-Entry
Fast, reliable and cost-effective product supply is crucial in the laboratory trade. LLG stocks over 14,000 items for its partners and delivers even small quantities fast and reliably to customers throughout Europe. It can make these efficiencies by purchasing from more than 500 suppliers and bundling orders for more competitive pricing.
Dealing with so many parties can create a paperwork nightmare, as Marcus Robichon, IT Manager for LLG explains: “We have an AS/400-based ERP system that keeps track of our inventory, movements in and out of the warehouse, and our invoicing and purchasing system. This has a text screen-based user interface where all information is entered manually. For instance, we have three people dedicated to processing approximately 3,500 invoices each month, ranging from simple 1-page invoices to complex 50-page documents with many variables and parameters. All details need to be entered manually and of course a human-led process can be error-prone too. It also meant that our finance colleagues could not work remotely as there was no easy way to connect to the ERP system. During COVID-19 times this was very frustrating and caused logistical challenges around social distancing.”
Introducing Web Services Integration with Verastream
Through an existing partnership with Micro Focus, the LLG team was introduced to Micro Focus Verastream Host Integrator. This would allow LLG to automate and improve the workflow of the ERP system and translate it into sets of web services. Micro Focus Professional Services was engaged to provide a proof-of-concept (POC) which successfully demonstrated the Verastream capabilities and the speed of implementation. “We already leverage web services to connect different systems and the potential of Verastream soon became clear through the POC,” comments Mr. Robichon. “If we could model our invoicing system through Verastream we could automate our invoice processing, eliminate our paperwork, and have full traceability directly in our ERP system. We were excited about the possibilities.”
Micro Focus Professional Services worked closely with the LLG team to create the web services automation, without any development requirements on the ERP system. The parameters were introduced in Verastream workflows and invoices are now processed automatically with Verastream flagging exceptions so that the finance team can just focus on those. “We built a great relationship with our Professional Services consultant,” says Mr. Robichon. “He has a deep understanding of our business requirements and, once the basic system was up and running, he was able to adapt the web service to add a delivery note to the invoices. We didn’t have this before, and it really added value to our team. We were able to concentrate on enhancing the front-end while he modeled the back-end workflow, resulting in a fast implementation time.”
Verastream Provides New Scalability and Flexibility
Now that the team can see the benefit of Verastream in its processes, it highlights other opportunities. Managing the warehouse is very paper-intensive with one person dedicated to entering all incoming goods into the ERP system. Verastream can integrate with a .NET app installed on barcode readers which can then be used to scan goods directly into the ERP system, without the need for manual intervention. LLG’s purchasing processes currently rely on paper-based stock taking and inventory management, with three people focused on different sets of suppliers. Working with Micro Focus Professional Services, LLG aims to move this to Verastream which can then auto-generate reports and create purchase orders based on stock level parameters.