South African Container Depots (Bidvest SACD) is an import and export management South African company with offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Its end-to-end supply chain management services include cargo management, container management and transportation logistics.
When South African Container Depots (Bidvest SACD) first purchased K2 software, no-one in the company could possibly have foreseen what an impact it would have on the business.
The company had just taken the decision to relocate its headquarters from Cape Town to Durban, 1,700 km away, but retain its IT infrastructure and development team in Cape Town. The IT team was concerned that this head office relocation may cause delays in approvals and acquired K2 initially to automate approval processes.
In parallel, the newly appointed Managing Director, Paul Cheall, had a vision for transforming the business by making business processes more efficient. In particular, he wanted to tackle the significant amount of paper used within the company and create streamlined, paperless business processes. K2 provided the ideal platform for delivering this business transformation.
Within just four years, Bidvest SACD has redesigned and automated nearly every business process within the company using the K2 platform. In total, the company now has over 100 K2-driven workflows and business systems created in K2, ranging from human resources and financial processes to systems for inventory and operations management. “Everything we do touches K2,” says Freddie Mayer, IT Executive at Bidvest SACD. “At least 70% of our business processes now run on K2.”
This enterprise-wide adoption of K2 has significantly improved the visibility of information about expenditure, materials, and assets throughout the company, enabling Bidvest SACD to improve its financial management. For example, the company has halved the amount of capital locked up in inventory by using K2 to monitor store inventory more accurately, reducing unnecessary stock holdings and ensuring that replacement materials are only ordered when actually needed.
The company has also made substantial cost savings by using K2 to better manage its expenditure. Using K2 processes, the company can ensure all expenditure is authorized in terms of the company purchasing authority matrix and everyone follows the same standardized processes. The K2 platform also collates data on expenditure across the whole company, enabling it to negotiate better pricing from its suppliers.
Alongside cost savings, the K2 platform has created considerable time savings by making information more accessible on demand. For example, it used to take a financial team of two people a week to complete a stock analysis of refrigerated container parts and value that stock, taking into account currency fluctuations. “Now this takes just two minutes using K2,” says Mayer. “At a press of a button, it’s all done.”
Further time savings have been achieved by the financial team in the production of monthly accounts. K2 now provides accurate, up-to-date information needed and eliminates manual processes, so employees can produce month-end accounts on the first working day of the new month. In total, Mayer estimates that two or three people in the finance team each save 8-10 days a month from the use of K2.
More significantly, managers at Bidvest SACD now rely on K2 to help them make better-informed decisions and improve operational efficiencies. One of the company’s K2 solutions is an operational cost model that pulls information from stores, purchase orders and workshops. At any point in time, managers can use this K2 solution to see the actual cost per hour of any machine, running in any region. They can then identify the machines with the highest operating costs and decide which machines to replace first. “Because K2 links into everything, all the information we need about any part of our business is available,” Mayer explains. “We can make informed business decisions based on real statistics.”
Certainly, K2 has played a pivotal role in achieving a paperless, efficient business. Bidvest SACD reduced its use of paper by 60% in just one year, and the company’s most paper-intensive processes are now fully automated. For instance, every single purchase order in the business is now raised and approved using K2 – that’s 390,000 purchase orders in four years.
Feedback from the company’s 350 computer users has been very positive. Human resource processes are much quicker and more convenient. Employees can use K2 to put in applications for study assistance or staff loans, as well as gain prompt approvals for travel expenses.
The K2 platform gives Bidvest SACD the ability to develop new K2 workflows or systems in an agile way to meet the needs of the business. The company created all its K2 process in-house, following some initial support from K2, to set up development, testing and production environments. “It shows you the power of K2 when you can develop automated processes with very little software development knowledge,” Mayer says. “It’s almost unbelievable how quickly you can develop new K2 solutions.”
Summing up Mayer says, “My motto is, if you can think it, you can build it with K2. I’ve yet to find anything in the business that I can’t improve using the K2 platform.”