William Sinclair Case Study - Agricultural Machinery


William Sinclair grow their profits with Formate and infoRouter

William Sinclair


  “ The Document
     Genetics’ solutions
     have saved us
     thousands of
     pounds. Formate is
     a significant value
     to our business and
     has reduced our
     business risk. ”

                                                                                                                                                                                Simon Heyward, IT Manager


Formate takes output data from any of the AS/400 host applications and converts it into a variety of formats for printing, emailing, faxing or archiving. infoRouter was installed to handle the document archive. Read on to see how we achieved this.

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Established in 1850, William Sinclair now supplies approximately 1 million cubic metres of growing media and a range of horticultural products to both the retail and professional grower markets. William Sinclair stands for high levels of service and trust. Responsibility to care for the environment is at the heart of what they do. They are proud to have launched the industry's most advanced peat alternative, Super Fyba. With a reputation built on the provision of the highest quality and innovative products, combined with specialist knowledge of the horticulture industry, they are proudly known as the Professional Grower's Choice.


The Challenge

As a busy IT Manager, Simon Heyward faced a challenge – every month he wasted precious hours simply printing and distributing ERP documentation and reports. “It seemed crazy in the 21st century to carry on printing all the AS/400 ERP output, simply because that’s what we’ve always done.” Simon Heyward, IT Manager.

Simon ideally wanted a solution which would allow him to distribute documents automatically in an electronic form and integrate seamlessly with a variety of software platforms; these included the InForm manufacturing suite, Chorus Financials and a bespoke sales order processing system.

Simon Heyward engaged Document Genetics as they were one of the few companies who could rapidly work with their existing infrastructure without the need for costly program changes which guaranteed a fast return on investment.

The Solution

At the hub of the solution is Formate output management software. This takes output data from any of the AS/400 host applications and converts it into a variety of formats for printing, emailing, faxing or archiving. infoRouter was subsequently installed to handle the document archive.

Finance Reporting

The primary objective was to reduce the generation of finance reports and improve the efficiency of the filing and data retrieval activities that accompanied them. All finance and audit reports are now pointed at Formate. Formate converts the report data to a more readable A4 format, creates a PDF file of the report and publishes it to infoRouter. Using infoRouter, the finance team can view report details without the need to print them and can pass information easily to auditors at Year End with only the minimal involvement of IT support staff.

Payroll Reporting

As with Finance Reporting, the payroll reports are all directed through Formate so they can be automatically stored in infoRouter.

Remittance Advices

As electronic payments increased, there was an opportunity to reduce the postage costs for handling purchase payments. All remittance advice prints are now directed through Formate and are either faxed automatically, or printed and posted if fax confirmation is not appropriate for the supplier.

Wholesale Ordering

One awkward aspect of the sales ordering process was that certain clients would order directly from William Sinclair instead of via their wholesaler. Formate was set up to monitor sales order input for such clients and to fax a copy of the order to the appropriate wholesaler for approval automatically. A printed copy is also produced in the Customer Services department to prompt them to confirm order approval before it is released.

Marketing Mailshots

A simple process was created allowing the automatic emailing of marketing literature to specific client lists. Formate monitors a folder for a mailshot document and when it receives one it consults the appropriate mailing list, creates and sends the email messages automatically. By creating these individually the message is unlikely to be treated as spam, unlike most other bulk emailing activities and achieves much greater penetration as a consequence.


Each month a considerable effort was required to print, envelope and post customer statements. By routing print output through Formate, William Sinclair are now able to automatically email statements if an email address is present, fax statements if a fax number is available but no email address is present, or if neither are available, print the statement for posting.

Sales Reporting

Another organisation issue was to keep regional sales managers notified of the latest sales activity. By scheduling regular daily sales report production and routing them through Formate, the latest sales activity is reformatted and automatically emailed to the regional sales managers.

Purchase Order Prints

There are certain purchase order documents that need to be passed to an off-site member of staff so they can be checked on arrival. By passing purchase order printing through Formate, these purchase order documents can be identified and the printing routed to the remote site printer automatically.

Remote Site Proof of Delivery

Following on from remote site purchase order printing, there was a need for purchase order approval to be able to recover proof of delivery documentation to the central Finance team in Lincoln and this meant matching purchase orders to proof of delivery and returning them by post. By installing a scan station to handle the scanning of remote site proof of delivery documentation, the scanned input can be transferred through Formate to the infoRouter document archive automatically. This allows the Finance team to check for proof of delivery before processing a purchase payment.

“The infoRouter document management software, paid for itself in just a few months!” Simon Heyward, IT Manager.

“Many of our customers choose to implement our solutions to handle specific problems, but then pass up the opportunity to further improve their operating practices. William Sinclair successfully demonstrates just what can happen when our product set is implemented as part of the business systems infrastructure and utilised to the full.” Joe Hyde, Sales & Marketing Director, Document Genetics

About Document Genetics

At Document Genetics, we have helped countless businesses of all sizes to automate
their document processes – this cuts costs, improves customer service and delivers
many other benefits. We offer a wide range of software and services to address your need.

Contact Document Genetics on 01604 671177,
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or visit www.document-genetics.co.uk


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