permanent tsb delivers a new procure-to-pay solution of huge scale and powerful functionality.
“We have beaten our original mandated savings target, putting us ahead of the deadline. iPOS has been a big part of that success”
Gráinne Hennessy, Procurement and Supplier Relationship Management team, permanent tsb
permanent tsb (permanenttsb.ie), an Irish retail bank committed to a ‘back to basics’ approach to the market.
As part of its inception, the bank needed to rationalise and improve legacy procurement approaches left over from its previous identity. A related aim would be to up the profile of the newly minted central Procurement & Supplier Relationship Management function.
Infor SunSystems iPOS, from authors Professional Advantage, was recommended by permanent tsb’s business partner, Sysco, and after a market review, was selected. This technology was buttressed by solid PM skills and assistance to a crossbank, interdisciplinary team including Professional Advantage’s Services team, working in close partnership with permanent tsb and Sysco.
Irish financial services leader, permanent tsb bank, is a Dublin headquartered retail banking institution offering a range of Deposit Accounts, Current Accounts, Mortgages, and Consumer Finance across multiple channels to over a million customers.
In May 2013, as part of its creation process, the organisation set up a special Procurement and Supplier Relationship Management team as part of the bank’s transition from its previous heritage structure. The Procurement & Supplier Relationship Management Team reports to Group Operations and is targeted with better management and efficient use of €250m in third party spend, distributed amongst permanent tsb’s 70-plus Irish branches, and 330-plus internal cost centers and core office locations – spend that gets allocated across no less than 1,700 current suppliers.
As part of that transition, and within a very tight timescale, the team conducted a search to source and implement a new truly world-class Procure-to-Pay System.
Doing so would be something of a challenge; resources were limited, making cross-functional collaboration with Finance, HR, and IT essential. The team rose to the challenge, however, with the Project team drawing on the help and expertise of a range of internal leaders across the organisation, as well as the consultancy skills of Infor SunSystems partners, Sysco, and the software and technology capabilities of Professional Advantage.
Areas for immediate improvement
At the start of this process, Gráinne Hennessy, the team’s head, identified several areas of clear improvement within the spending and accruals process:
Hennessy decided the best way forward for the team was to implement a top-flight Procure-to-Pay solution as well as implement a raft of new procedures that would serve to radically shrink down manual purchases: it would reduce Accounts Payables and increase control on spending by mandating compliance to set approval guidelines and approved supplier listings, as well as increasing savings by providing greater realtime visibility of spend.
A side benefit would be to raise the profile of Procurement across the permanent tsb organisation, fostering greater collaboration and internal ‘buy in’ as a consequence.
“It was clear we needed a solution in the procurement area because it was clear there was scope for significant improvement to drive greater value for money. It was about more proactive control – making our people better understand the issues and the responsibilities they had to get best value for every euro spent.”
AN AMBITIOUS TARGET?
Hennessy and her colleagues began looking for the right technology and partner to deliver it. The Finance department had Infor SunSystems financial management in place, so after careful examination, it was decided that a complementary solution would offer distinct advantages.
Infor SunSystems iPOS from Professional Advantage is just such a product. “While we did look at some stand-alone procurement systems, we soon decided an integrated solution would be a much better route to go and promise us far more flexibility going forward,” she confirms.
permanent tsb started the project in January 2014, with a view to going-live in just a few short months (May). An ambitious target for this size of a project as it needed to hook up all 76 branches and multiple head office locations. Across all permanent tsb cost centres some 500 users are actively making regular purchasing decisions plus approving requisitions for over 2,000 individuals across the Bank.
Hennessy had full confidence the deadline could be met as the skills of the Professional Advantage professional services team were there right from the beginning.
“I called Professional Advantage and Sysco and the response was excellent,” she says, adding that Professional Advantage stepped up to ensure Procurement & SRM had the right resources available to help.
As a result, the new Procure-to-Pay iPOS-based platform went live according to plan, on time, and within budget.
Dramatic change and improvement
From a situation where procurement was handled in an unstructured and less than optimal way, the system has brought immense benefits to the group, says Hennessey: “It has achieved exactly what we wanted it to achieve.”
For example, all invoices are processed through the system – there is simply no longer a means to obtain goods or services and to have a supplier paid outside the system.
Now that pre-approval of all spend is enforced through iPOS, there is full, real time visibility of all spend for cost centre management and Procurement.
The new IPOS system also enables centralisation of procurement and the associated de-centralisation of purchasing, with full procurement visibility and support, and a proactive approval of supplier set-up firmly in place.
Another immediate benefit has been in making permanent tsb a better buyer. As there had been no tool for measuring savings, allied with a weak means of enforcing compliance to corporate contracts, there often wasn’t any opportunity for Hennessy and her team to offer cost-effective alternatives before spend was committed. In contrast, the system now enforces compliance to corporate contracts – a move that’s already saved over €3m year to date, a major win for the project’s backers. Indeed, it’s been calculated that a few short months in, there is a ratio of 9:1 savings to department cost. A related, significant win is the ability to challenge spend (both in Procurement and throughout the business), which has resulted in €6m cumulative reduction in spend year on year.
The system has also delivered improvements to the quality of management information about procurement. Previously, purchase orders were issued ‘on request’ which meant a ‘reactive’ authorisation of spend and paper-only invoice approval method of payment. These days, thanks to iPOS, there is a full audit trail for every transaction including date and time stamping.
For the first time the business can see when suppliers have been paid, while the fully automated journal entry process based on POs and GRNs means no more manual journals, and a saving of three man days per month in Finance’s workload.
Allied to automated sign-offs linked to matrix; a segregation of duties automatically throughout the system (e.g. requisitioners cannot approve their own requisitions); and as clear terms and conditions are attached to all purchase orders, a new Supplier Relationship Management culture has been put in place.
Finally a clear project goal, which has clearly been met, was to raise the profile of Procurement in this, growing bank. “This exercise has without a doubt raised the profile of our function right across the group, both in terms of what we do and what we contribute,” she notes.
Hard and soft benefits
So there have been clear ‘soft’ benefits, but in addition iPOS has helped the bottom line.
“We have beaten our original mandated savings target, putting us ahead of the deadline. iPOS has been a big part of that success,” she confirms.
In terms of future plans, permanent tsb would next like to make Expenses processing much more systematic, while another identified aim is to make iPOS more accessible, ideally via a mobile interface. The implementation of the iPOS e-invoicing module is also potentially on the cards.
“Managers being able to rapidly approve items on their iPhones would make a huge difference to us,” comments Hennessy. “We would like to move to a much more ‘paperless’ way of working, in fact.”
The impact of iPOS and the partnership of the implementation team, comprising Sysco, Professional Advantage, and permanent tsb, was judged so high that the bank was offered for external consideration by the Irish Institute of Purchasing & Material’s Management (IIPM)’s National Procurement Awards.
The verdict was hugely positive, with the project winning “Best Cross Functional Collaboration” category for 2014. According to Hennessey, “What stood out about the project, the judges told us, was that it was managed by a cross collaborative team while delivering business as usual at the same time.”
That’s a conclusion backed by the bank’s CFO, Glen Lucken: “Some teething problems were overcome by a genuinely collaborative approach between all stakeholders across the Bank – with this core system now stable and its benefits being realised.”