What is ‘Dockets in Pockets Syndrome’? Here at Celtrino we use the phrase to describe a situation which any warehouse manager or other staff member working in goods receipt will recognise only too well. Dockets in Pockets Syndrome boils down to an incomplete paper trail which is a cause of major headaches and financial problems for buyers, suppliers and any other parties involved in the supply chain.
Essentially the whole situation tends to boil down to a couple of well-worm excuses to explain away missing paperwork:
- “I forgot”
- “I thought someone else had done it”
- “It’s not my fault”
Fundamentally the whole “Dockets in Pockets Syndrome” can be distilled into two words; “human” and “error”.
What causes the Syndrome?
We call the problem “Dockets in Pockets” because one of the major causes of supply chain woes is an important piece of paperwork, such as a delivery note, being thrust into a pocket and promptly forgotten about. Several days or weeks later, as the hunt for the paperwork heats up, the offender realises their mistake and wheels out one of the excuses above.
For the worker caught in possession of the missing paperwork, denial becomes the default position in an attempt to ensure self-preservation. As realisation dawns on the errant worker they begin to consider the long term implications of their oversight and ask themselves “what will happen to me if I admit my fault?”
The fact that a major problem can arise from a minor transgression immediately makes them fearful and means they never get around to asking themselves “what will happen to my business if I don’t own up?”
When can diagnosis begin?
In a business reliant on paper-based purchasing, it may take several weeks for identification of a missing document, and even more to trace where it went and why. Factor in the time it takes to resolve such a problem and there could be a significant impact on the purchaser in terms of penalties incurred for failing to meet payment terms.
The problem will go unnoticed however until the Accounts Payable department realises that an invoice cannot be reconciled against a matching delivery receipt. If the receipt is missing, so too is the required paper trail to prove delivery required for payment.
If paperwork goes missing, even infrequently, severe financial consequences can follow. Resolving a gap in the paper trail can be time consuming and extremely expensive. Someone at both supplier and purchaser must investigate the issue to identify where the problem arose and to whom responsibility must be assigned.
Unfortunately a few high profile outbreaks of “Dockets in Pockets” syndrome could be enough to permanently damage a company. The only solution is to implement some form of procedure which removes the chances for human error to impact.
To combat Dockets in Pockets, processes need to be put in place to ensure:
- Was this delivery received?
- Was it fully accepted, or partially accepted?
- Is the invoice an accurate reflection of what was accepted at the back door?
- Whose job was it to receipt it?
- Why wasn’t it receipted?
The majority of issues that disrupt the supply chain occur outside the accounts payable department, but it is usually left to accounts payable to resolve them. Effective supply chain management will ensure that these issues are identified and resolved long before the invoice hits the purchaser’s accounts payable department. In this example the non-return of an electronic goods receipt confirmation would have triggered a process within the supply chain notifying the various stakeholders that the failure has occurred and requires intervention.
The implementation of an electronic system to handle dockets will dramatically reduce the potential for human error. In fact a system like Celtrino’s Smart Admin is probably the only way to permanently prevent future outbreaks of Dockets in Pocket Syndrome.