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Learning Supply chain management Sustainability and ethics

Replacing Paper Docket with Electronic Ones

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Originally, our docket books were actually in triplicate! One copy for the client to keep, one for the bank, and one for us. But by my time, we were reduced to duplicate books. Still, a lot of paper to say how many bags we had collected when we visited a customer.

These were books of 50 dockets. So apparently, originally, 150 pages per book. As I said, by my time, 100 pages. 50 books per box. Don’t forget, after being used and recorded, we have to keep a copy, and the customer does as well. So everyone needs to find a lot of storage space.

We would be ordering a pallet of books at a time! So many books that we swallowed the cost of. We never charged clients for these books. And at approximately $10 per book, it was an expensive task. If we wanted our couriers to have a book on hand, we would post them there too. And of course, we didn’t pass on the cost of postage. It was cheaper to post a box at a time to a Supervisor interstate. There was also the postage cost we had to adopt for registered bags to be posted to the couriers to be able to send our dockets back to us. So they weren’t saddled with the cost of sending our paperwork back, we posted the registered post bags monthly.

Not to mention, it was a heavy task. I once had to collect the books from the printer. My poor little station wagon! It could barely manage the extremely heavy boot I suddenly subjected it to. Let alone my poor husband I brought along to help lift everything!

Then there was the space needed in the office to store the boxes until customers required any of them. Fitting a few hundred books in the offices with us took SO much room. As well as the aesthetics – it looked like a storage unit. Once the paperwork was posted, or brought back, to our offices, we had to store it again. So boxes were needed for the new books before being posted, and more boxes to store the paperwork afterwards.

We did end up ordering smaller books. For a time we had mini books with only 25 dockets per book. Wow, did we have to order way more often! It was much easier to lift the boxes, but if our client had three collections per week, or daily even, these little books didn’t last very long. The boxes still took up heaps of space, and for some reason weighed different amounts. We never knew when we posted them how much we would have to pay for postage.

We tried to bring our couriers into the twentieth century. We asked them to scan and email the dockets after they had deposited the client’s funds at the bank. Not always entirely successfully. For the most part, they posted them back. Again, not always entirely successful. They may or may not arrive, the envelope might have torn, or the dockets might have been posted weekly, or monthly. We might get the dockets at the end of the month, or some time down the track when they had time to post them all. If there were any queries, we had to call the Supervisor and they had to contact the courier to get the details. A very long-winded process that could take days.

Now we use eDockets! Such a time-saver, client-friendly, and I just don’t know how many trees we’re saving as well. This electronic docket contains all the information we had before, but has many advantages:

Our clients don’t need to fill out any more paperwork for us. They simply bag the funds and the courier scans the barcode on the bag into the app. As soon as the courier completes the details online, and signs off, the client (and our database) receives an email confirmation of the bag numbers collected and who signed for it. Then when the courier deposits the funds at the bank, again, scan the barcodes out, and an email is issued to the client, and us, telling us when, and where the bags were deposited. It even includes a map and GPS coordinates of the bank branch!

Now if there is a query about a deposit, the client already knows which branch to contact. They don’t need to call us, and we don’t need to call our Supervisors and couriers chasing up paperwork.

So many customers are happy to move forward and have us scan the bags rather than spend time filling out the forms. They appreciate the real-time tracking capabilities. And we have so much more space in our office again! We can let the light in! I couldn’t even tell you how many man-hours were used in posting docket books, travelling to the post office to post everything, following up when couriers hadn’t received their registered post bags, collecting the docket books and packing them up here. Then having to manually input all collection details from the returned dockets into our invoicing sheets.

It’s not just a matter of upgrading and going electronic. There are some things you don’t even stop to think about until you take the time to reassess. In the end, we found it’s the:

  • the cost we save on printing
  • the hassle and time the client spent on paperwork
  • the storage space required
  • the stress of time delay as information had to travel back to our Head Office
  • cost of postage sending the books to couriers and clients
  • time lost on travelling to Post Offices
  • trees! (We’re trying to do our part to help the environment)
  • I’m sure there’s more, but can’t realistically list everything we’re saving by reducing our environmental footprint

So, there have been advantages for us, for the client, and for the environment. It’s been a win-win. You just have to remember the outcome you’re striving for while transitioning!

Embracing Sustainability in Supply Chain

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