PHOENIX Group Case Study EDI

About PHOENIX Group

The PHOENIX group is a leading European healthcare provider. With operations in 26 countries and more than 39,000 employees, the company boasts a commercial presence unparalleled throughout the industry in Europe and makes an important contribution to comprehensive healthcare for all. The PHOENIX group sees itself as a link connecting producers and patients. All across Europe, pharmaceutical manufacturers, physicians, hospitals, health insurance providers, and patients benefit from the company’s services. As a pharmaceutical wholesaler with 161 distribution centers in 26 countries, the PHOENIX group supplies pharmacies and medical facilities with drugs and healthcare products. Moreover, the company owns and operates more than 2,800 pharmacies in 14 European countries and offers end-to-end value chain services for the pharmaceutical industry.

Client: PHOENIX group

Industry: Pharmaceutical wholesale, retail pharmacies, logistics and services for the pharmaceutical industry

Size: 161 distribution centers, more than 2,800 proprietary pharmacies, presence in 26 countries

Employees: More than 39,000

Website: https://www.phoenixgroup.eu/en

Main Challenges

In the pharmaceutical industry, traditional mail is still the most common means of delivering business documents. 

Project Goals

Exchanging documents electronically in the form of structured files is not only cheaper but also faster, more secure, and less error-prone. With e-invoicing regulations being continuously expanded, a general legal obligation to send invoices electronically is in the offing, rendering the digitization of document exchange inevitable in the long run.

Why Comarch?

The PHOENIX group was looking for a provider able to offer a comprehensive set of solutions for the digitization of a wide range of business documents in as many countries as possible. In order to ensure that all of the company’s business partners can be onboarded to the solution despite the significant technological and organizational differences between them, the new IT partner was also expected to cover the entire process of document receipt and dispatch with several different solution modules. As a beneficial side effect, the contracted IT expert would also contribute to the implementation of digital document exchange at the PHOENIX goup’s business partners. Comarch already rendered comprehensive consulting services during the tendering phase to help lay out the optimum project plan, thereby proving the company’s qualifications as a long-term strategic partner. This is what convinced the PHOENIX group to choose the international IT provider Comarch.

The Project

The companies of the PHOENIX group have been using Comarch EDI and Comarch OCR since mid-2020. In addition to these services, Comarch implemented a direct connection between the IT systems, enabling the electronic exchange of business documents between the client an its business partners. Such documents include orders (ORDERS - PHBEST), invoices (INVOIC), dispatch advices (DESADV), and remittance orders (UEWAUF). One important project goal is to move the client’s business partners towards digital document exchange and expand this line of communication significantly.

The first step of that process is the receipt of documents via email and traditional mail. After being sorted and scanned, the documents are read automatically by means of OCR technology. The data extracted is then validated and confirmed by a Comarch employee. Thanks to a built-in machine learning component, the OCR software keeps getting better at reading the documents correctly. 

This temporary solution is to be replaced by direct EDI connections, especially with partners exchanging large numbers of documents with the PHOENIX group and, of course, in cases where legal obligations so dictate. To that end, Comarch implements various interfaces and file formats for document exchange, enabling connections with the partners’ many different IT environments and ERP systems. Comach additionally takes care of informing the business partners about the project and ascertaining the technical parameters for onboarding, testing and go-live of the EDI connections.

A direct EDI connection may not always be possible or the best option. That applies especially when partners:

  • Lack the appropriate IT systems (chiefly small companies)
  • Create their documents in Word or Excel
  • Lack any appropriate interfaces
  • Have other project priorities and cannot spare any resources for setting up a connection
  • Exchange only a small number of documents (not enough to warrant a direct connection)

Such cases are what the Comarch WebEDI Portal is for. The web-based solution is designed like an e-mailbox allowing business partners to receive, create and send documents. One of its key features, the “turnaround,” allows partners to create new documents based on previously received or created ones (for example, orders), automatically filling in the existing information and thus reducing the number of fields needing to be filled manually. What is more, the PHOENIX group can use this feature to enforce its guidelines on supplier documents and reduce errors by defining mandatory fields, field restrictions, and selectable options. That brings benefits for the PHOENIX group and its business partners.

Comarch’s recommendations and best practices regarding the strategic use of the solution components for cost-effective and efficient project design influenced out decision significantly. It was important to us to follow this future-oriented path with an experienced partner, and we also see our sustainability standards fulfilled in digital exchange”

Gunther Schemitsch, Group Director Finance Germany

Benefits

As an IT provider, Comarch can offer a variety of tools to cover any business partner and possesses the expertise necessary to digitize document flows to the greatest extent possible, ensuring flexibility, scalability, and upgradeability with an eye to the future.

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