Simple Mills is a leading provider of better-for-you crackers, cookies, snack bars, and baking mixes made with clean, nutrient-dense ingredients and nothing artificial, ever. The company strives to make healthy choices easy by offering foods that taste great and nourish in the long term. Above all else, Simple Mills is committed to positively impacting the holistic health of the planet and its people by pioneering the way the world eats, bringing others into the movement, and being a positive force on every part of the ecosystem.
A previous AP automation product comes up short
Simple Mills relies on a team of one to manage its entire accounts payable process: Cristina Vera, a Senior Accountant. Impressively, Vera today singlehandedly processes over 1,000 invoices each month, a high number that will continue to increase as the company grows. But when Vera and Maddy McGannon, Simple Mills’ Controller, first joined the company in 2020, they inherited an AP system from Bill.com that couldn’t support the needs of the growing company.
The first issue was the system’s lack of invoice approval hierarchies, a challenge that required extensive workarounds. “I had to maintain a separate spreadsheet with our various approval hierarchies by vendor,” remembered Vera. “I found that this required too much memorization and manual effort on my part. For example, if an invoice exceeded an approver’s threshold, I had to stop what I was doing to figure out who I should route it to next.”
Additionally, the previous AP system didn’t integrate seamlessly with Simple Mills’ NetSuite ERP system, resulting in issues with bills syncing over. This limitation required additional manual effort to ensure vital information was entered or updated for accounting accuracy and additional visibility into AP-related data.
Finally, McGannon and Vera realized that they needed more capabilities than what they had. This was critical not only to keep pace with a growing number of monthly invoices, but also to empower Vera and other team members to work more efficiently and gain better visibility by automating as much as possible.
“We needed a solution that could address the initial challenges we faced, but one that could provide even more capabilities to support our business growth,” said McGannon. “Fundamentally, we wanted a single platform that could support both invoice processing and payment execution.” Without the right solution, Simple Mills would have to add additional headcount in an attempt to keep up. Instead of trying to fix a sub-optimal process, Simple Mills decided to find a better AP automation solution.
The right decision: MineralTree
McGannon led a small team in the vendor evaluation and selection process. “We looked at many different vendors and AP automation solutions,” she recalled. “But when the dust settled, there was one clear winner: MineralTree.”
Simple Mills selected MineralTree because it was the only solution that could deliver everything on AP’s wish list. In addition to meeting Simple Mills’ requirement for full invoice-to-pay automation, MineralTree included must-haves such as automated invoice capture, flexible approval workflows, PO matching, two-way sync with NetSuite, and proven payment capabilities. Yet MineralTree delivered even more: a proactive services team committed to Simple Mills’ success and a virtual card payment option that would generate valuable rebates.
“We looked at many different vendors and AP automation solutions. But when the dust settled, there was one clear winner: MineralTree.”
Streamlined end-to-end process adds value to the entire organization
With MineralTree, Simple Mills’ entire AP process is faster, easier, and much more effective – for everyone involved.
The is especially true for Vera since she is the first point of contact and manages Simple Mills’ invoices. “We now use a dedicated email inbox for most of our suppliers, which minimizes the time and hassle required to process paper invoices,” she explained. “Rather than spending time manually capturing, coding, and routing each invoice, I simply review the invoices MineralTree has auto-captured and matched, and make sure everything is coded correctly. Once they’re ready, the invoices are automatically routed to the appropriate approvers and then approved invoices sync over to NetSuite.”
While this process has helped Vera eliminate the need for her approval cheat sheet, it has also helped the AP team improve collaboration throughout the business. MineralTree gives them the visibility users outside of AP need to identify anything that might not be billed correctly. It also lets them add comments to provide more detail or even reject an invoice – valuable controls to minimize costly errors, save time, and increase payment accuracy.
Once approved, the AP department uses MineralTree’s payment scheduler to pay invoices as they come due. “We created approval rules to give us more control for how we manage our payment queue,” said McGannon. “For example, if we’re paying by check, we need five days, but if it’s an ACH payment, we give ourselves two. MineralTree allows to make the right payments each day, all from a single workflow.”
“MineralTree gives me so many intuitive tools to quickly see where invoices stand and take the right action to keep them moving. This has enabled me to provide more proactive service to our suppliers and become a better business partner inside of Simple Mills.”
Achieving real ROI and low TCO with SilverPay
Simple Mills also benefited from its use of SilverPay, MineralTree’s virtual card payment method that rewards AP teams with valuable rebates for paying suppliers.
“What was really great about SilverPay was that the entire process was led by the MineralTree team,” remembered McGannon. “They went through our list of suppliers and identified those they knew accepted virtual card payments, contacted each one, and enrolled most of them in SilverPay.”
Not only did this require very little effort from the AP team, but SilverPay is starting to deliver a tangible benefit. McGannon reports that virtual card rebates are helping to offset the costs of the MineralTree solution and that they are continuing to work closely with the MineralTree team to enroll additional vendors to expand their use of SilverPay and generate more revenue.
Automation unlocks efficiency … and insights
Simple Mills is also able to use powerful analytics in MineralTree to look at important metrics such as spend-by-vendor and then model various business scenarios. “We look at what could happen if we extend payment terms or ask for early-pay discounts with certain suppliers,” said McGannon. MineralTree gives us the insight to analyze our payment data and use it to improve business decision making.”
The company also uses these analytics to review and manage approval thresholds. It’s an important advantage, especially as Simple Mills continues to grow. “Now I can slice and dice all the MineralTree data to see things like how many invoices we have that might be above certain amounts,” McGannon explained. “This lets us make sure our approval thresholds are meaningful and valuable and don’t bog employees down with too many approvals. This is another way that MineralTree has helped us increase user productivity, even for employees who may not work in AP.”
Impressive results, but more to come
As McGannon and Vera consider the progress they’ve made – and the benefits MineralTree has delivered – they are convinced they made the right decision.
From Vera’s perspective, MineralTree has enabled her to save time, increase productivity, and contribute the company’s overall success. “MineralTree is great,” she raved. “It gives me so many intuitive tools to quickly see where invoices stand and take the right action to keep them moving. All of this allows me to provide more proactive service to our suppliers and be a better business partner to other departments inside Simple Mills.”
McGannon agreed. “MineralTree has allowed us to manage a nearly 50% increase in invoice volume without adding AP headcount—all while ensuring our suppliers are paid on time. We’re looking forward to accomplishing even more with MineralTree in the future.”
“MineralTree has allowed us to manage a nearly 50% increase in invoice volume without adding AP headcount — all while ensuring our suppliers are paid on time. We’re looking forward to accomplishing even more with MineralTree in the future.”