A passion for efficiency

Recology refines its efficiency and grows its impact

Commercial cultivation houseplants in a greenhouse Summary: Recology has a vision of a world without waste. The company combines waste collection, waste processing and recycled products into one sustainable ecosystem. To eliminate waste within its business, Recology worked with Grant Thornton to integrate a new solution that empowers efficiencies and helps reduce paper-based processes. The solution saves 1.1M sheets of paper and $173K each year for work orders alone, while helping Recology drive other resource and financial savings across the enterprise.

Challenge Every organization wants efficiency – but some pursue it with a passion.

Recology is an employee-owned company in San Francisco that delivers waste collection, waste processing and recycled product sales in one sustainable ecosystem. With revenues in excess of $1B, Recology has a “triple bottom line” strategy that drives results for the company, community and environment.

So, the company is passionate about using fewer resources and creating less waste across the enterprise. It had elements of the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system in place, but it wanted to upgrade and coordinate the system into an enterprise-wide solution for driving new efficiencies – starting with three key areas:

  • Work orders: To collect and transport waste and materials, Recology has a fleet of more than 2,000 trucks. Each year, the company processes 79,000 work orders for maintenance and repairs on its fleet. But work orders were being sent through a multi-step, paper-based procedure with hard-copy archives – so, any search on vehicle history was time-consuming and required access to the physical records.
  • Accounts payable: The Accounts Payable team was using an invoicing process that consumed a lot of material resources and time. The invoices required data entry time to track details in the system, and account reconciliation was another time-consuming task for the team.
  • Finance: The Finance team was spending up to 16 hours making entries, particularly for time-intensive allocations. The month-end close process was burdensome, and the team was looking for ways to further streamline paper-based payroll tasks.

Solution To help meet its goals for the company, community and environment, Recology wanted to pursue efficiencies across the enterprise with Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.2. A team from Grant Thornton helped the company integrate EnterpriseOne applications for:

  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Human Capital Management
  • Financial Management
  • Order Management
  • Asset Lifecycle Management

“We spent time getting to know them before we started,” said Grant Thornton Business Consulting Principal Greg Davis. “Then, we helped them start planning – and building a business case for the project.”

“When going through a software initiative like this, you want to get some business value out of it. We wanted to make sure that they were not only getting their software up to date, they were improving the business,” Davis said.

Initial optimization Greg Davis“We optimized and reduced a lot of their customizations, so they won’t have to rebuild or change them the next time they upgrade EnterpriseOne. Now, their customizations will just come over to the next version.”

– Grant Thornton Business Consulting Principal
Greg Davis
Once the project began, the Grant Thornton team analyzed business processes for efficiency, standardization and compliance. On the technical side, Grant Thornton handled the system administration and development for the EnterpriseOne upgrade, retrofitting the company’s forms, reports, interfaces, conversions and other enhancements.

The team even improved some of the company’s prior customizations. “Every organization is customized to a certain level,” Davis said. “We optimized and reduced a lot of their customizations, so they won’t have to rebuild or change them the next time they upgrade EnterpriseOne. Now, their customizations will just come over to the next version.”

Next, the team helped Recology take advantage of automations in three key areas: work orders, accounts payable and finance.

Work order automation Work order automation has led to The specialists from Grant Thornton analyzed the existing processes to determine where automation could accelerate efficiency without creating change management issues.

Using Capital Asset Management in EnterpriseOne Asset Lifecycle Management, the team designed an electronic work order process that automates repair orders. The new electronic work orders let mechanics review and complete work orders within the system, reducing paper consumption and administrative processing time. The electronic records also provide supervisors with real-time insight into vehicle information, boosting administrative productivity. The team integrated key automations, together with familiar points of interaction and limited paper processing, to drive successful adoption with a minimal change management plan.

Accounts payable automation Accounts payable automation has led to The Grant Thornton team analyzed the existing accounts payable processes and designed an EnterpriseOne Order Management solution that centralizes multiple functions and automates purchase order processing. The new solution replaces manual data entry with optical character recognition (OCR) invoice scanning and storage, electronic telephone invoice processing, and automation for account reconciliation and invoice uploading. The new solution’s work flow successfully integrated with the accounts payable processes, increasing both efficiency and accuracy.

“EnterpriseOne has an orchestration tool that Recology can use to automate other processes too,” Davis said. “We created some orchestrations to load data for them. So now, they don’t have to run batch processes to load data for automated processes – they can build on our orchestrations to automate order creation or other processes that will be driven by real-time data.”

Finance automation With EnterpriseOne Financial Management, the Grant Thornton team was able to automate and streamline finance and month-end close processes, reducing the required workload by more than half.

The new electronic financial entries let the company provide auditors with online access to necessary information, further reducing paper usage. The finance team even reduced its paper usage in payroll, using the new system to send critical information to the bank more efficiently and inspiring more employees to sign up for direct deposit.

User empowerment By automating and streamlining processes, Recology has achieved a significant overall reduction in paper usage, with improved resource efficiency. The Grant Thornton team helped Recology implement personalized forms, searches, watch lists and other tools to empower users, and even gave advanced users extra training for continuous efficiency improvements.

“In EnterpriseOne, there’s a whole module around Environmental Health and Safety, and Recology hadn’t been able to utilize it yet,” Davis said. “As a part of the upgrade, we helped them use that function to process a lot of work they were doing on spreadsheets before. Now, they’re tracking compliance in the system, so there’s more data integrity and accountability, and it’s easier to audit.” Plus, Recology plans to mine that data with a customized scoring methodology, tracking and reporting the company’s performance over time.

Benefits With a new solution that streamlines processes, automates work and reduces paper consumption, Recology has achieved a range of benefits that impact its triple bottom line – company, community and the environment:

Work order automation has led to:
  • 90% reduction in paper processes, 1.1M sheets of paper saved, $173K reduction in cost
  • 15% increase in administrative productivity from streamlining work orders

Accounts payable automation has led to:
  • 20% reduction in required resources, from centralizing functions
  • $2 saved per invoice, with electronic purchase orders and approvals
  • Eliminated data entry with OCR invoice scanning
  • Automated upload of complex Excel invoices
  • 2 hours of efficiency gains per day for a department of 10, with automated accounts payable account reconciliation

Finance automation has led to:
  • 15% reduction in required resources for the month-end close process
  • 88% reduction in time required for the allocation process
  • Approximately 5% reduction in department expenses, from automated entries and support
  • 50% reduction in paper, postage, and storage costs from increased direct deposit usage

Into the future Now, Recology also has a roadmap for future gains. “Every time we do an upgrade, we create an upgrade roadmap,” Davis said. “It covers not only what we’re going to do during the upgrade, but what they can do after the upgrade – even after we’re gone – to continue to improve their business. It’s a roadmap for continuous improvement.”

Building on its initial success, the company plans to replace paper-based truck fuel reports by installing IoT devices on trucks and using Asset Lifecycle Management to track fuel usage, throttle position, speed and even truck hydraulic systems. The company also plans to use EnterpriseOne to provide an outlet for mobile purchasing and payables approvals across more than 60 facilities. These and other sustainability programs can build upon themselves, empowering new business proposals that target fleet emissions, environmental purchasing policies and other sustainability performance metrics.

In the future, Recology will keep using this platform to support efficiency projects – and drive investment in resource recovery.

Greg Davis
Principal, Business Consulting
T +1 913 272 2720