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KEY POINTS

  • Accuracy and no duplication of effort
  • Reduction of administrative overhead
  • Utilising staff previously managing the overhead on quality functions within Finance
  • Measurable and demonstrable compliance
  • Increased budget and expenditure control
  • Time saved around the invoicing matching process, saving on headcount costs
  • Clear, auditable approvals

THE COMPANY

Raven Housing Trust Limited (Raven) is a registered social housing provider which owns and manages more than 6000 homes. Raven invests in homes and local communities to help to develop areas where people want to live.

THE NEED

Raven have a vision of a paperless office to free up space currently devoted to filing, thus enabling better utilisation of space and saving on costs. A procurement solution that integrated with Infor SunSystems, was scalable and web enabled was desired as part of this initiative.

THE SOLUTION

iPOS eProcurement for Infor SunSystems was the chosen solution through business partners, Sapphire Systems.

CHALLENGES

Raven required the solution to integrate closely with SunSystems and to be implemented in a short period of time. It also needed to be cost effective, due to the Trust’s status. There was also the challenge of replacing a manual system with an automated one, with the requisite change management required.

Raven's homes are divided into three neighbourhood teams with a head office in Redhill, Surrey. It is committed to providing high quality customer service to all its customers. Raven Housing Trust is responsible for the management of former Reigate & Banstead Council Housing stock, including rent collection, repairs etc. Raven also has homes in other surrounding local authority areas. Raven also runs a tenancy support service to help tenants manage their tenancy commitments and offers short term support to arrange services with other agencies, such as employment, leisure and advice.

Objectives were set from Raven's board to improve efficiency in the area of purchasing and to become a paperless office.

The existing way of working was inflexible and labour intensive. Antony Green, IT Manager at Raven, explained: "We had a paper based system that wasn't scalable, was resource intensive, not as secure as we wanted it to be and was susceptible to human error.

Additionally it was a concern that there were no active controls to ensure compliance - for example, individuals could sign off on larger amounts of money than they were authorised to."

It was not uncommon for the team at Raven to receive calls from suppliers chasing invoices, as there was no defined scheduling behind the processing of invoices and orders. There were also issues with chasing paperwork around the building - which was liable to get lost - and a large number of invoices were received without purchase orders.

Why was iPOS selected?

Following consultation with their business partner, Sapphire Systems, iPOS eProcurement fro Infor SunSystems was chosen as the solution of choice for Raven Housing Trust. iPOS solutions proposed met all Raven's requirements, including some specific needs around archiving and management of documents.  "We find Sapphire excellent and have a lot of trust in the company" stated Antony, "Nick Williams, our Account Manager at Sapphire was very good with helping us identify the right solution within our budget."

"We liked the fact that iPOS would integrate seamlessly with SunSystems and Vision", commented Antony Green, IT Manager, adding "The solution was price competitive and have been successfully implemented at larger organisations than Raven with more users, so we were confident the solutions are scalable. Also, as everything is web-based, if anything happened to the building, we would be able to carry on and nothing would be lost."

The implementation and roll-out were phased and everything was ready on time - some aspects even went live two weeks early. The system was implemented over two sites.

"I would recommend iPOS for its scalability, flexibility and seamless integration with Infor SunSystems. In addition, the quality of support we receive from Sapphire is excellent."

Ease of use and team training

Green says "Use of the system is very logical and it's relatively easy to train new users. An hour or so of training is sufficient for most users, with the administrative team requiring less than a day. We produced a user guide for internal use; the solutions are very customisable, so we wanted something specific."

Business benefits:

Green states "All the background information has been defined, expense codes have been fixed and who should have access to what is set. I'm very happy with the way things are working and it‟' good to have an accurate creditor list" said Antony. He also stated the following benefits:

  • It is no longer possible to raise an order against the wrong code or another team, accuracy is ensured and the scope for human error is much reduced.
  • Raven has been able to reduce the administrative overhead - previously time was wasted correcting codes.
  • Raven used to have a couple of people just doing coding; they can now focus on quality functions within finance.
  • Compliance is ensured, is measurable, demonstrable and therefore much more easily auditable.
  • With a focus on quality we are driving improvements in the quality of our financial situation, budget control and expenditure control.
  • Documents can be located quickly and easily - which is particularly helpful during audits.
  • Time will be saved on the invoicing process, filing paperwork and chasing up late payments - without having to add headcount.
  • Money will be saved on paper, printing and stationery.

Advice for others

Green advises that others looking to implement new solutions "do your homework and work out your key objectives." He also cautioned "If you don't think secure purchasing processes and is applicable to your organisation, do a study of the paper trail behind your finance systems. Make sure there is no room for fraud - though not a problem for Raven, it's a lot more prevalent than you might think and one instance can have extensive implications for the business."