Logo of Ferdinand Eimermacher GmbH & Co. KG

Eimermacher group reduces time and sources of error when processing documents

“Many do­cu­ments, tem­pla­tes or files found them­sel­ves in our Win­dows fol­der sys­tem. This was not the ide­al case. We wan­ted that to be bet­ter, more ac­ces­si­ble, safer and fas­ter. Whe­re we used to have to brow­se through fol­ders, we’re now much fas­ter. We now have more time for hig­her qua­li­ty work. We used to have a lot of fol­ders and nee­ded a lot of head work. Now it’s hig­her qua­li­ty work.” 

Darstellung des Logos von Ferdinand Eimermacher GmbH & Co. KG
Con­ny Klemm
IT Ad­mi­nis­tra­tor at the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group

When the ma­nu­fac­tu­rer and en­thu­si­astic bal­loon pioneer Fer­di­nand Ei­mer­ma­cher met a tro­pi­cal doc­tor friend in 1930, he could not have known that this mee­ting would mean the bre­akthrough for Eimermacher’s com­pa­ny: The tro­pi­cal doc­tor brought high­ly ef­fec­ti­ve na­tu­ral balms from Peru who­se dis­in­fec­ting and germ-kil­ling ef­fect was ground­brea­king. Ei­mer­ma­cher used this ef­fect for a new mil­king oint­ment that set a new stan­dard for milk hygiene.

From this ground­work the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group evol­ved with se­ven com­pa­nies and a wide ran­ge of goods in the fiel­ds of cos­me­tics, oint­ments, me­di­cal pro­ducts, na­tu­ral skin care as well as pro­ducts for hy­gie­nic milk pro­duc­tion in agriculture.

To­day, the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group, a phar­maceu­ti­cal and cos­me­tics pro­du­cer with its head­quar­ters in Nord­wal­de near Müns­ter, em­ploys around 230 peop­le. The pro­ducts find their way to cus­to­mers in over 70 coun­tries. Com­pa­nies can be proud of such or­ga­nic, he­alt­hy growth.

Illustration of the company building of the eimermacher group

Paper-based processes cost time 

An­yo­ne who grows or­ga­ni­cal­ly will have to re­invent parts of their or­ga­niz­a­ti­on at some point, as re­qui­re­ments out­grow pre­vious­ly tried-and-tes­ted struc­tures. This also hap­pen­ed at the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group. For ex­amp­le, in the in­voice pro­ces­sing: “All re­ce­i­pts and do­cu­ments re­la­ted to sa­les and purcha­sing were be­co­m­ing less and less sui­ta­ble for tracking,” de­scri­bes Con­ny Klemm, IT ad­mi­nis­tra­tor at the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group, “and the through­put was ta­king lon­ger and longer.”

The Ei­mer­ma­cher Group is not alo­ne in this; pa­per-ba­sed pro­ces­ses are ta­king up time more and more time in gro­wing com­pa­nies. All the more so when so­me­thing has to be se­ar­ched for or te­dious­ly traced. For this re­a­son, fi­nan­cial or su­per­vi­so­ry aut­ho­ri­ties now also in­sist on elec­tro­nic, au­dit-com­pli­ant ar­chi­ving in many ca­ses. Espe­cial­ly as part of ac­coun­ting, se­ar­ching for de­li­very no­tes, in­voices or other do­cu­ments is of­ten par­ti­cu­lar­ly time-con­suming and grueling.

“We had our do­cu­ments in all sorts of va­ria­ti­ons,” says Ste­fa­nie Brüf­fer, pro­ject ma­na­ger at Ei­mer­ma­cher Group, “a lot of it was si­gned by hand.” Klemm adds: “Many do­cu­ments, tem­pla­tes or files found them­sel­ves in our Win­dows fol­der sys­tem.” This was not the ide­al case. We wan­ted that to be bet­ter, more ac­ces­si­ble, safer and fas­ter. We saw the need for ac­tion in or­der to re­main le­gal­ly able to act.”

In search of a partner for the digitization of business processes

With this need for ac­tion, in a first step, the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group tur­ned to edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag, a spe­cia­list for en­ter­pri­se con­tent ma­nage­ment (ECM) and do­cu­ment ma­nage­ment sys­tems (DMS) for the di­gi­ta­liz­a­ti­on of busi­ness pro­ces­ses. “It quick­ly be­ca­me clear that the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group would need a fle­xi­ble di­gi­tiz­a­ti­on so­lu­ti­on that of­fe­red many op­por­tu­nities for ex­pan­si­on,” says Frank Brey­er, Pro­ject Ma­na­ger at edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag: “In the field of qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment alo­ne, a lot of po­ten­ti­al ope­ned up. Ex­amp­le: In many coun­tries, the com­po­si­ti­on of phar­maceu­ti­cal and me­di­cal pre­pa­ra­ti­ons must be do­cu­men­ted down to the smal­lest in­gre­dient. This has so far been me­ti­cu­lous­ly tra­cked by hand and Excel.”

One re­sult of the in­iti­al dis­cus­sions was that a spe­cia­list for GxP-com­pli­ant soft­ware for do­cu­ment and qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment had to be brought on board: d.velop Life Sci­en­ces GmbH. Ex­perts use the term “GxP” to re­fer to gui­de­li­nes for good working prac­ti­ces in the phar­maceu­ti­cal sec­tor. “edoc so­lu­ti­ons ag brought us on board to set up a di­gi­tal QM ma­nu­al as well as other QM pro­ces­ses, di­gi­tal do­cu­ment con­trol and the CAPA work­flow,” ex­p­lains Frank Lau­mann, Head of Ser­vices at d.velop Life Sci­en­ces GmbH.

The ide­al ba­sis for the­se re­qui­re­ments is the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem. On this ba­sis, edoc so­lu­ti­ons was able to di­gi­ti­ze fur­ther busi­ness pro­ces­ses and di­vi­si­ons. The core sys­tem for this was set up wi­t­hin a few mon­ths. In the me­an­ti­me, 100+ em­ployees are working with the system.

Central digital business processes at the Eimermacher Group

With the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem, the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group de­ve­lo­ped a strong di­gi­tal back­bone con­sis­ting of the­se elements:

  • Qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment (QM) with the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem as a cen­tral client
  • Do­cu­ment Con­trol with di­gi­tal do­cu­ment cir­cu­la­ti­on, crea­ti­on, re­view, ap­pro­val and release
  • Con­trol­led QM ma­nu­al with over 600 va­lid re­gu­la­ti­ons such as work and pro­cess in­st­ruc­tions as well as ma­nu­fac­tu­ring documents
  • An in­de­pen­dent do­cu­ment ar­chi­ve for com­mer­cial documents
  • CAPA work­flow for Cor­rec­ti­ve And Pre­ven­ti­ve Actions
  • Re­por­ting tool for open and com­ple­ted trai­ning tasks
  • Di­gi­tal work­flow for in­co­m­ing in­voices with au­to­ma­ted con­nec­tion to the In­for IGF fi­nan­cial ac­coun­ting sys­tem as well as con­nec­tion to the In­for Blen­ding ERP sys­tem by edoc solutions
  • Au­dit-com­pli­ant sto­rage for documents
  • Con­tract ma­nage­ment for lea­sing, purcha­se and share­hol­der contracts
  • Di­gi­tal si­gna­tu­re for in­ter­nal use
  • Pos­si­bi­li­ty to de­ve­lop cus­to­mi­zed tools

And this is how it works in in­voice pro­ces­sing, for ex­amp­le: “If an in­voice co­mes in on pa­per, we scan it,” de­scri­bes Con­ny Klemm, “proofread it di­gi­tal­ly, make a preli­mi­na­ry ac­count as­sign­ment, for­ward it to the or­de­rer for che­cking, who then re­lea­ses the in­voice and thus en­su­res that the ac­coun­ting de­part­ment re­cei­ves it. This ul­ti­mate­ly clicks ‘Post’ and trans­mits the data to the ac­coun­ting program.”

Current standards and SOPs always on the table

The au­to­ma­ti­ons not only save Ei­mer­ma­cher em­ployees time, they also eli­mi­na­te sources of er­ror. This is par­ti­cu­lar­ly in­te­res­ting in the field of qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment (QM). Among other things, the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem sup­ports the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group in crea­ting, cor­rec­ting and re­leasing QM do­cu­ments such as work in­st­ruc­tions (SOP) or stan­dards. The­re are no more lo­cal shadow co­pies and, via full text se­arch, all em­ployees with QM ac­cess can ac­cess the files that are im­portant to them with just a few clicks. The te­dious se­arch through many Win­dows file fol­ders is a thing of the past.

“The em­ployees al­ways have cur­rent stan­dards or SOPs on the ta­ble,” says Klemm, “for our group of com­pa­nies, we have an or­ga­niz­a­tio­nal chart in the QM sys­tem, ever­yo­ne can click through and find their work area or that of their col­league. That has an ad­van­ta­ge when on­boar­ding new col­leagues, so we don’t have to keep re­inven­ting the wheel.”

If an em­ployee is absent at short no­ti­ce, a col­league from ano­t­her of­fice can seam­less­ly take over — in the vir­tu­al working en­vi­ron­ment of the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem. Klemm: “And if you can ope­ra­te a ma­chi­ne in pro­duc­tion, you can also pro­cess other pro­duc­tion or­ders. We used to have a lot of fol­ders and nee­ded a lot of head work. Now it’s hig­her qua­li­ty work.”

This works thanks to di­gi­ti­zed trai­ning tasks. For ex­amp­le, if the­re is a new work in­st­ruc­tion or a new ma­chi­ne is in­tro­du­ced, qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment can pro­vi­de the re­le­vant em­ployees with new in­st­ruc­tions and in­for­ma­ti­on via the sys­tem. Be­fo­re they can tack­le the new job, em­ployees must an­s­wer com­pre­hen­si­on ques­ti­ons and sign that they have ta­ken note of the new information.

Annual folder bundles information on business partners at a glance

For the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group, di­gi­tal do­cu­ments not only mean less sus­cep­ti­bi­li­ty to er­rors and quick re­trie­val, but also bund­ling of in­for­ma­ti­on in the right place at the right time. “Through the d.3 life sci­en­ces sys­tem, we also get a histo­ry for each busi­ness part­ner,” Ste­fa­nie Brüf­fer de­scri­bes, “which is an an­nu­al fol­der con­tai­ning all re­ce­i­pts, or­der con­fir­ma­ti­ons, de­li­very no­tes, in­voices, credit no­tes, co­ver let­ters and other in­for­ma­ti­on.” Klemm adds: “Whe­re we used to have to brow­se through file sys­tem fol­ders, we’re now much faster.“

This is also be­cau­se the­re are fe­wer pit­falls due to the di­gi­tal sys­tem. For ex­amp­le, the soft­ware au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly re­minds em­ployees to in­clu­de man­da­to­ry in­for­ma­ti­on in do­cu­ments — such as a customer’s name or a sub­ject line. Klemm: “Let­ters that can­not be as­si­gned to a cus­to­mer or sup­plier are a ma­jor mishap. In the worst case they en­ded up in some Win­dows file fol­der and could only be found again with a lot of work. That’s histo­ry now.”

The di­gi­tal work­flows also au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly catch things that are im­plau­si­ble. Such as dis­crepan­ci­es bet­ween purcha­se or­ders, in­voices and ac­tu­al goods re­cei­ved. In the time be­fo­re d.3 life sci­en­ces and be­fo­re edoc so­lu­ti­ons, the in­co­m­ing goods de­part­ment of the Ei­mer­ma­cher Group, for ex­amp­le, collec­ted all de­li­very bills in one fol­der. This fol­der had to be wal­ked to Purcha­sing to ve­ri­fy that the de­li­very bill matched the in­voice. “Now we com­pa­re the in­voice with what was ac­tual­ly de­li­ve­r­ed and or­de­red,” Klemm said. This is achie­ved, for ex­amp­le, by the in­co­m­ing goods de­part­ment coun­ting car­tons or weig­hing in­co­m­ing raw ma­te­ri­als, en­t­e­ring the in­for­ma­ti­on into the sys­tem and sen­ding it au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly to purcha­sing. Klemm: “This saves a tre­men­dous amount of working time. Be­cau­se all the in­for­ma­ti­on is in one sys­tem at a glance.” 

Economic advantages

The Ei­mer­ma­cher Group be­ne­fits from the­se eco­no­mic ad­van­ta­ges, among others: 

  • Save time when re­se­ar­ching and edi­t­ing documents
  • Au­to­ma­tic ver­sio­ning: time sa­vings through do­cu­ment con­trol — ever­yo­ne works on the same do­cu­ment, ver­si­on ping-pong via e‑mail is eliminated
  • Fe­wer er­rors in do­cu­ment pro­ces­sing due to man­da­to­ry ent­ries etc.
  • Save time with di­gi­tal text re­co­gni­ti­on and preli­mi­na­ry checks of in­voice amounts and other data from the system
  • Fas­ter pro­ces­sing of in­co­m­ing in­voices — more op­por­tu­nities to draw dis­counts
  • Ea­si­ly meet va­li­da­ti­on re­qui­re­ments through stan­dards such as ISO 9001
  • Make re­mo­te au­dits possible
  • Em­ployees al­ways have up-to-date work in­st­ruc­tions on the table
  • All Group com­pa­nies have ac­cess to the la­test standards
  • More time for hig­her qua­li­ty work

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Illustration of a notebook on which the document control of d.velop Life Sciences is displayed