Using digitization to make accounting child’s play
Making it easier for parents to spend more time with their children in everyday life. These are the guiding principles of Babymarkt.de, a leading online specialist retailer for baby and children’s supplies with more than 100,000 items to offer. Babymarkt operates in 14 European countries as well as on the growing Chinese market. The teams also personally assist parents and expecting families at six branch offices in North Rhine-Westphalia. Babymarkt has been digitizing and archiving its accounting with EASY SOFTWARE since 2021.
The time of digital transformation
Thanks to EASY, every billing process at Babymarkt only takes half as long on average now. What’s more, digital automation is less susceptible to errors than manual processes are.“
Nicolas Kadner, Head of Payment & Compliance
The digitization project at Babymarkt began the way IT departments all over the world want: the incentive for change came from the very top – straight from the executive board. It was working on answers to the following questions: How is the everyday work going there? Are there any hidden hurdles? Is there any potential for improvement to discover?
The accounting department struggled with long processing times for each process as well as heavy workloads from archiving the documents. The management, IT and accounting team all saw enormous potential for optimization by digitally automating the accounting system, especially in terms of accounts for costs, routes and goods.
“As professionals in the online retail trade, we are a digital company. So we asked ourselves: How can it be that our internal processes haven’t been digitized yet?” says Head of Payment & Compliance Nicolas Kadner, who then initiated the project launch.
The time for the digital transformation had come: Some of our colleagues in accounting had retired, so we needed to hire new people soon. This was another motivation to modernize the processes because skilled workers on today’s labor market expect structured digital working conditions. On top of that was the COVID-19 pandemic: Babymarkt wanted the entire staff to be able to work in the safety of their own four walls – and that was difficult as long as they still had paper invoices going around.
Collective decisions for a collective project
EASY SOFTWARE made it on the short list out of a large number of suppliers in a tender. EASY presented the EASY Invoice solution to a group of Babymarkt members from the management, IT and accounting departments at an early meeting. It was important for the people who would end up working with the software to take part in the selection process and pose their questions directly to EASY, as provider. The Babymarkt team was especially enthusiastic about the versatility of the software as well as its well-arranged structure, which promised easy use without a difficult learning curve.
After this positive impression and further negotiations for a tailor-made offer, the digitization project was launched with cost calculations at the beginning of 2021. The great challenge in projects like this is to discover any nuances in the targeted digital transformation at the earliest possible stage and to continuously introduce specific improvements: Which interfaces to other solutions are needed? How are processes which used to be handled on paper being reinvented in digital form? After all, transferring an old-fashioned paper process to a digital system without altering it is simply not good enough.
The immense benefits of a digital system have to be taken advantage of! Digital workflows control the individual steps, all participants always work with the original document; even external parties like suppliers can be directly involved in the digital process. Companies need to recognize benefits of this kind in their first digitization project and harness them for future efficiency.
Babymarkt created an interdisciplinary project team made up of IT professionals, who handled the technical issues, as well as the accounting department itself, which listed the professional requirements together with the purchasing department.
One thing the teams urgently needed was an interface to the ERP system in order to call up the master data of the items and goods receipts. EASY handled the task of seamlessly connecting the systems to the new invoice receipt solution to automatically work with the data from the ERP systems. Such integration technologies for ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 are an integral part of EASY’s portfolio.
A paper trail through the Ruhr region
One immediate effect of digitization that everyone not only sensed but saw was how much less paper there suddenly was going around in the offices, as Nicolas Kadner illustrated: “Before the digital invoice management system and archive were introduced, Babymarkt had been printing out about 160,000 documents a year. If you were to line up all of these pages end to end, it would make a trail leading from Babymarkt’s old location in Dortmund to its new one in Bochum five times over.”
But digitization not only saves on paper costs for printing, storage space and office supplies such as folders and shelves, it above all saves time, and thus precious resources in everyday work: “Thanks to EASY, every billing process at Babymarkt only takes half as long on average now. “What’s more, digital automation is less susceptible to errors than manual processes are. This is because the software controls the process and thus prevents careless mistakes or missed deadlines.”
The team was also especially surprised at how practical a digital, audit-proof archive can be: “We used to file everything in folders the old-fashioned way. And when it was time for an audit, the whole thing was sorted out somehow, but we had to leaf through thick layers of dust to find the documents we were looking for. In EASY Archive, you just have to enter a keyword and the original document needed immediately appears on the monitor in a legally compliant manner.”
Babymarkt’s accounting department appreciates the new digital way of working very much. Making the switch in the team could hardly have gone any faster – also because EASY tailored the software interface precisely to meet the team’s needs, so there was hardly a need for any learning processes.
Tip for other companies
Nicolas Kadner encourages other companies to also dare to take the step towards digitization and offers them the following tip: “It’s a huge help to compile a detailed spec sheet together with the supplier right at the beginning which includes and defines all of the requirements for the project. Planning ahead like that prevents users from only discovering certain improvements later on in the course of their work with the software.
Of course, people always notice something that could still be a little bit better, but with EASY we have a dependable digitization partner at our side to meet all of these requests. After our successful project, we are open to digitizing further processes and departments as well.”