No more mountains of paper for Wolf Construction
About Wolf Construction
Wolf Construction’s reputation for wood framing, trim carpentry and roofing has propelled it from a base in West Des Moines, Iowa, to job sites and offices across the midwest. President Jon VanDis has steadily championed both the growth of the company and the digitalization of its processes. The company had made great progress digitizing most of its construction operations, but AP remained stubbornly paper-based. “We’re a construction company,” said VanDis. “We get excited about project management software because that’s our world. AP was an afterthought.” But this afterthought was causing real problems.
The Challenge & Solution
It wasn’t too long ago that every surface at Wolf Construction’s back office was covered in paper. Stacks of it cluttered desks, and filing cabinets groaned under its weight. This outdated way of managing accounts payable was more than just an eyesore—it was a genuine bottleneck that slowed down the entire operation.
Imagine the chaos of trying to keep track of countless invoices, knowing that a single misplaced or damaged document could send ripples through the company’s financial records. The company had 25-45 major projects going at any one time, which meant hundreds of vendors and subcontractors sending invoices and expecting rapid payment. Good accounting practices demanded that each invoice be checked for accuracy, but approval processes resembled a never-ending game of “hot potato,” as invoices were passed from one person or put on another person’s desk to await their return from the field. Even when everyone was in the same building, this was a challenge; when they were scattered across different cities, states and job sites, it was a veritable nightmare.
Jon VanDis, president and partner, remembers how hard it was to control accounts payable back then. “You didn’t know if you’re missing invoices. Something could have fallen out of a folder. It could be sitting on someone’s desk for days.”
Adding to the frustration, manual data entry meant mistakes were almost inevitable. Coding errors, misallocated jobs, and payment discrepancies all threatened to create costly accounting mistakes. Fixing these errors gobbled up valuable time that could have been spent on more productive tasks. If anyone wanted to validate an older invoice, they’d have to dig through bankers’ boxes, or call up vendors and wait weeks for them to dig through their own paper piles.
Worst of all, bad actors could take advantage of the situation to submit fraudulent invoices. Unfortunately, that’s not a hypothetical.
VanDis describes the transformation that Stampli created as “the end of drowning in paper.”
Gone are the days of cluttered desks and overflowing filing cabinets. Now, invoices are stored digitally, accessible at the click of a button. The once-arduous approval process has been streamlined, with stakeholders able to review, comment on, and approve invoices with ease—no matter where they are. This quick access to information meant far greater control over cash, as it was no longer a challenge to ask a question or confirm a detail.
VanDis marvels at the transformation: “Stampli just does all the stuff we did manually before, except I have an electronic paper trail of all of it and it’s much easier access. If we didn’t have Stampli, we’d have to hire someone to work on invoices full time. It saves us that much time.”
The platform enabled remote access for approvers across different locations, speeding up the approval process and reducing the risk of inaccuracies. This contributes to the company’s expansion in no small part. “With Stampli, project managers can pull out their phone right on the site, look at the past invoices they’ve approved and see how much they paid for their last job, without having to go back to the office.” The team fills the capacity they gained with more jobs and more projects.
VanDis appreciated key features of Stampli, such as how Billy the Bot populates fields automatically, customizable approval workflows, and seamless integration with QuickBooks Desktop. He also appreciates how much different his office looks now that he’s no longer filling several bankers boxes a year with printed invoices.
“I don’t want to even think of going back to the days of paper,” says VanDis. “If you know anyone who needs a filing cabinet, let me know.”
Hear it from the customer
We can see exactly who we’re waiting for, or where any invoice stands. Our controls are stronger today because it’s easier to find information.
Walking the payments tightrope
Subcontractors who want to get paid quickly, but general contractors who prefer slower payment schedules. This tug-of-war can result in strained relationships, cash flow problems, and a lack of transparency in the payment process. Stampli steps in to alleviate these issues by streamlining the accounts payable process, providing greater visibility into payment statuses, and accelerating invoice approvals. In other words, Stampli makes it easier to make everyone in the chain happy.
New offices, not new filing cabinets
As the company expanded to different locations, the paper-based system became increasingly impractical. Remote employees had limited access to invoices and the approval process, resulting in delays and potential inaccuracies. No longer constrained by physical paper, remote employees could easily access and approve invoices, speeding up the approval process and reducing the risk of inaccuracies.
Was integration really that fast? That easy?
Wolf Construction was pleasantly surprised by the deployment process, and especially the integration with QuickBooks. Often, integrating accounts payable software with QuickBooks creates compatibility issues, complex setup processes, and steep learning curves. It can even require third-party consultants. However, Stampli helped the Wolf team directly map over their existing AP processes, without requiring any changes to their QuickBooks setup. The team didn’t need to learn new workflows or overhaul their processes, and the whole process was complete in days — not weeks.
No more shortcuts
Manual, paper-based processes not only slowed down the approval of invoices but also compromised the integrity of the procedure. Jon said, “It’s human nature: with the manual process, you didn’t get the rigor of approvals or inspection because it was such a pain to do it.” By eliminating the hassles of handling physical documents, Stampli freed up time for a more rigorous and thorough approach to invoice approvals. The system’s automation features, like Billy the Bot, sped up the data entry and coding process, allowing employees to focus on reviewing and approving the invoices accurately.
Reduced risks of fraud
Every invoice now undergoes a thorough review by various team members, minimizing the risk of fraudulent activities or double payments. This digital scrutiny has effectively eliminated the vulnerabilities associated with paper-based systems. VanDis recalls a past incident when an employee stole money by exploiting the weaknesses in their paper-based accounts payable process. “If we had Stampli in place at the time, the theft would have been detected and resolved much more quickly — assuming it could have even happened at all.”