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A Case Study: The Linde Group Streamlines Customer Invoicing with SAP-kiteworks Integration

Posted by Accellion Team
The Linde Group

The Linde Group is a leading global supplier of industrial, process and specialty gases and is one of the world’s most profitable engineering companies. Linde products and services can be found in nearly every industry, in more than 100 countries. With approximately 60,000 employees worldwide, the company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

The Linde Group’s pharmaceutical and medical gas products and services enable healthcare professionals to provide optimal therapies and treatments for a number of medical conditions. For every delivery of industrial and specialty gases made to a healthcare provider, Linde generates an associated Proof of Delivery (POD) document. It’s not uncommon for Linde to make over 1,000 deliveries to some customers in one month, resulting in the same number of POD documents.

In order for Linde to get paid for these products, Linde’s healthcare customers and their insurance payers need to be able to match a POD to an invoice.

“Some of our customers receive 400 deliveries a week that all roll up to one insurance payer,” said Bob Gentile, Business Process Specialist with The Linde Group. “There was a huge amount of manpower needed on our customers’ behalf to manage the billing and invoicing of our products and we wanted to make the process much less resource intensive.”  

Linde tried using a third-party service provider to scan and index delivery numbers and then print and mail POD documents to customers, but the process wasn’t ideal.

Linde decided to leverage its internal SAP deployment to streamline the POD and invoicing process, driven by customized business rules. The organization brought the POD process back in-house and began using an electronic capture and recognition technology to scan PODs and convert them to PDFs.

Essentially, once a POD image is automatically linked to a delivery record in SAP, custom code downloads the proof of delivery and associated invoice images from SAP for set periods of time and stitches both together into a multiple-page PDF document.

With this new process, Linde was able to provide 99% or more of its PODs to customers, up from less than 70%.

Linde then faced a new challenge: how to get the PDFs into the hands of customers? Not only were the documents massive in size—a single document might contain a thousand or more pages and therefore far too large for many email systems—but they also contained confidential customer and financial information. As a result, Linde also needed a solution that was compliant with HIPPA.

The Linde Group turned to Accellion kiteworks to enable their POD documents to be delivered to customers on demand, quickly and securely. kiteworks is Accellion’s private cloud content collaboration solution for sharing content securely while demonstrating compliance with rigorous industry regulations.

The Linde Group’s custom code places the POD documents and invoices into custom folders – one for each customer – using SAP’s “ship to” data. Leveraging the kiteworks desktop synchronization client, Linde is then able to automatically synchronize the folders’ content on kiteworks, mirroring the folder hierarchy Gentile has set up on an internal Linde server. Through this synchronization, kiteworks ensures that the latest delivery and billing documentation is ready for downloading by Linde Group’s customers.

“Now, our customers have access to the time-sensitive Proof of Delivery document they need and turnaround, on our end, is basically one day,” said Gentile. “Adding kiteworks to our extensive customer billing process has accelerated our revenue recognition cycle and positively impacted our organization’s bottom line.”

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To learn more about the Linde Group and its integration of kiteworks and SAP, download the full Linde Group case study.