How We Increased A.M. Ortega Construction’s Cash Flow by Over $4,000,000 per Month

February 05, 2018

Founded in 1974, A.M. Ortega Construction is a large, premier underground utility construction company in Lakeside, CA. With over 300 field employees and 50 accounting specialists, estimators, designers, project managers, administrative professionals and senior management roles, they have successfully completed over 9,000 projects in the past 40 years. With a growing team grounded in tradition, the switch to Paperless Environments couldn’t have come at a better time.

Name: Bruce Evenrud

Business: A.M. Ortega Construction

Title: CFO

Could you give us a brief description about your company and its main purpose? A.M. Ortega Construction’s primary focus is underground utility construction. We also have divisions that do paving and grading work.

When did you first start using Paperless Environments? We purchased Paperless Environments in August of 2015 and were fully functional with their APFlow program by the end of September 2015. 

Why did you make the decision to go with Paperless Environments? We made the decision to go with Paperless Environments for multiple reasons:

  1. First and foremost, it offered superior integration with our Sage 300 CRE accounting system over other document management systems we considered. 
  2. The software is extremely user-friendly which was very important to our management team. We knew from experience from other applications we had purchased that a major part of the success of implementing a new technology would be ease of use. 
  3. We could see that we could achieve immediate return on our investment with their accounts payable workflow program and that we could expand out to other areas of the company with the other modules over time.

Prior to your switch to Paperless, how was your company handling documents? Our documents were handled in a variety of ways. Accounts payable was an entirely manual process from routing invoices for approval to their final resting spot in a paid invoice filing cabinet with a copy of the check attached to the paid invoices. We process approximately 4,000 accounts payable invoices per month! 

The company performs a large number of time and material jobs for our utility customers. We have five full-time employees doing billing and the entire process was manual. We issue approximately 3,500 to 4,500 customer billings each month, and most of the invoices have multiple documents attached to support the invoice. This process was entirely manual including multiple trips to the copy machine.

All other project- and company-related documents are stored on our file server using Windows folders and subfolders to create a file system of sorts. 

Emails are stored in our Exchange by each user with no company filing system in place.

How has your process changed? The changes have been dramatic from the very beginning of our implementation. As I mentioned above, AP invoice processing was our first workflow to be automated with Paperless. Our main processor was very skeptical of going “paperless” and said it would never work. 60 days later she said, “I cannot ever think of going back to our old system!!”

All of our AP invoices are now automatically routed. No more manual routing of invoices. AP checks are scanned into Paperless after printing and no more making copies and stapling to invoices paid. 

For us, using the automated AP routing features had the most impact on our billing department. All time and material job invoices are routed to the billing person assigned to that job for approval. This assures that all invoices are captured on our client billing. Before Paperless, billing relied on the AP department to make copies of the invoices and put them on their desks. This process would take anywhere from three to ten days to land in the billing department. Today, that process has been reduced to under 48 hours from the time the invoice is received. 

AP changes also allowed us to reclaim significant square footage after we removed our filing cabinets that were no longer needed. 

Our payroll workflow processes have been changed significantly with Paperless. The changes in payroll also positively affected our billing department as well. Daily reports filled out by our foreman are both the vehicle for paying our field employees and for billing our time and material jobs. We process approximately 350 to 400 daily reports each week. Once the employee hours are entered, the daily reports then need to be routed to the appropriate billing person to start processing our invoice to our client.

Before Paperless, there was no process for routing the daily reports to the billing department. After payroll was complete for the week – usually on Friday for the pay period which ended the previous Saturday – the daily reports were given to the billing department unsorted and out of order and billing spent hours sorting them out. With this process, the billing for work done on a Monday would not be billed until 15 to 20 days later.

We now use Paperless document routing program for our daily reports. We added a custom field on our job for the name of the billing person assigned to the job. Using that custom field, we were able to create an automated document routing process that backfilled the billing person index responsible for that job once the job number index field was entered. The daily report is then automatically routed to the billing person to start the billing process. Using the Paperless Doc Route program and their advanced integration tools with our Sage 300 software has reduced the billing cycle start time from 15 to 20 days down to 2 days. This single process change increased our cash flow by over $4,000,000 per month!

What features do you use the most? Features we use the most are AP Flow and Doc Route. Their search tool has also become a staple for all our users. As an example, a user outside of the accounting department no longer has to ask AP for a copy of an invoice. They have learned to use the search tool which translates to more productive time for all. 

How has switching to Paperless Environments impacted your profits? Although I cannot measure the impact on our profits precisely, I can honestly say that our Time and Material jobs profits have increased about three to four million per year due the process changes described above. I am sure there are additional amounts such as reclaimed office space and efficiencies but these are harder to quantify.

What advice would you give to companies who are debating about switching to Paperless? My advice would be simple – if you are resistant to embrace this technology you will most certainly find your company’s profits deteriorating because your competitors have efficiencies that allow them to be more thorough and grow faster with less staff.