RentWorks uses SAP to drive business optimisation

RentWorks, South Africa’s leading asset rental company, is completing a two-year process of implementing SAP, which is now beginning to pay dividends as the company realises the benefits that were envisioned. These include a single view of important information, no matter which employee or department is accessing the system, optimisation of the business, improved efficiency and an end-to-end view of each stage in the lifecycle of a deal.

Jane Cartwright, Operations Director at RentWorks, notes that the transition has allowed the company to move from using multiple IT systems to one, seamless and integrated system. “The system allows us the freedom to focus on the important things,” she says. “It gives everyone, from the sales person to the finance department, a single view of the truth.”

Of particular benefit is the optical character recognition (OCR) component that RentWorks decided to install. This has revolutionised the way invoice data is captured. “We no longer have to manually record supplier invoices,” Cartwright explains. “The system is able to improve recognition accuracy over time through continued use and identifies key fields beyond those normally associated with a traditional invoice. For example, we have set it up to pick up asset details, which may be quite complex and include model numbers or specifications. These details are then inputted into the system automatically, which improves accuracy, saves time and means that we can optimise our human resources.”

Scanned invoices are also compressed and attached to the SAP record so that the original is available for reference if ever needed. “We now take the ease of access for granted,” Cartwright says.

In fact, the implementation of SAP has been one of the critical factors in allowing RentWorks to expand into new countries and territories for the simple reason that it allows multiple currencies. It also automatically draws in up-to-date interest rate information from the banks and financial service providers per supplier, ensuring that contract information is current and immediately accessible.

Darryl Louw, RentWorks CFO, adds that SAP allows RentWorks to structure complex deals in a single platform. For example, in the yellow metal equipment industry, the company has been able to implement accurate capacity billing, tracking hours on a monthly basis and billing accordingly.

“SAP has also helped us to improve management of our warehouses,” says Cartwright. “Previously, if we needed to audit stock, we had to go to site. Now, we can do remote auditing, which means we can do cyclic auditing online and quickly understand the financial implications of what is sitting in our warehouse.”

Louw points out that SAP also allows for more efficient and thorough reporting and governance. “With SAP, we have a robust workflow process,” he says. “It accounts for transactions without the need for manual intervention, and transactions are also automatically flagged for review if they fall outside of standard terms and mandate levels.  It improves our management oversight and helps us to identify core issues.”

Cartwright adds, “We’re no longer relying on a staff member to do remember to action routine procedures, as the system can be set up to automatically carry out repeat tasks on predetermined dates and times. One of the many direct results of this functionality is an improvement to the accounts receivable position of the company, as well as cash flow management.”

The customer has also benefitted from the company’s move to SAP. “It’s improved our efficiency, accuracy and transparency,” says Cartwright. “We now have the ability to automatically send out a wide range of documents from invoices, statements, credit notes and notifications for assets reaching the end of the lease term. This improved efficiency has given the customer the ability to better manage their rental asset fleet through the use of a purpose built customer portal, which ties in with our value added partners’ asset tracking technology.”

In fact, Louw notes that there has been interest from various vendors in the financial services industry, who have enquired about the ability of RentWorks to manage their back-end processes based on what the company has already developed.

“This has been very encouraging as it can provide additional sources of revenue for the business, as well as increasing the initial return on investment expectations of such an implementation,” Louw concludes.