YOTEL replaces manual processes and delivers consistent reporting to support ambitious plans for expansion.
YOTEL was created by YO! Group Founder Simon Woodroffe OBE and YOTEL CEO Gerard Greene. The idea: create a 'First class experience at an affordable price.' YOTEL cabins are smaller than traditional hotels rooms but through great design offer a beautifully designed, flexible smart space to suit individual needs.
To implement a procurement solution to provide spend visibility and control that "understood" Infor SunSystems without the need for high maintenance.
YOTEL needed to replace manual processes and deliver consistent reporting according to international accounting requirements - a key step in supporting ambitious plans for expansion that are now based on full financial control.
The iPOS procurement solution was utilised to replace inefficient spreadsheet based accounts workflows with a unified system that could better support the franchise's ambitious plans for growth.
Founded by YO! Group Founder Simon Woodroffe OBE and YOTEL CEO Gerard Greene, YOTEL is a unique new form of transit hotel. With rooms larger than those in Japanese-style 'capsule' hotels, but with the same level of convenience for the busy traveler - fast-moving YOTEL offers compact, boutique accommodation in a range of international hubs, including London's Heathrow T4, Gatwick, and Amsterdam Schipol.
However, when Gemma Gowers, its new Director of Finance, joined the company in February 2011 she was concerned to see the team was still managing Purchase Orders and other key financials on Excel spreadsheets - a poor basis to support the kind of sustained growth the company was envisaging.
In response, Gemma has led a mission to equip YOTEL with much better tools to underpin that growth - plus enable her and other managers to never be without full details on the organisation's real-time fiscal position.
"We needed to improve the timeliness of the reporting," she recalls. "But as we grow, I wanted something to make the reporting process get much more automated."
YOTEL's city centre hotel model is based on accruing management and licence fees for its growing range of branded facilities, which have to be accounted for via standard chartered accounts for each account centre.
And as it is a fast-growing business, a procurement system able to help manage capital expenditure costs was also identified as fundamental byGemma. "We wanted a platform that made it very easy to tack on additional hotels to. And because we have a lot of Capex expenses when setting up a new YOTEL, I wanted to improve the controls."
An integrated approach
Gemma believed that if YOTEL could better integrate purchasing with the existing in-house back-end accounting engine, Infor SunSystems platform, via an electronic PO system, it would be much easier for staff to track expenditure as it was incurred. At the same time, such a system would be invaluable in helping senior staff better manage budgets.
After discussion with their business partner, Sapphire Systems, the decision was made to embed iPOS from Professional Advantage which is recognised for its tight integration with Infor SunSystems, to achieve these business goals. The work started soon after Gemma came on board and was not without some issues. The fact that the US office were also implementing Infor SunSystems as their new finance solution, at the same time as iPOS , presented a challenge. Gemma describes the implementation as 'smooth overall,' to a current international user base of over 25. The implementation was carried out by Professional Advantage, in partnership with Sapphire.
And the verdict so far? "It is easier to use than what we were doing previously," confirms one of Gemma's Finance Team colleagues, Mohsin Hasan, YOTEL Financial Controller.
For example, thanks to iPOS purchase order approval time has been cut down significantly - literally from days to minutes, according to Mohsin. That's a real bonus, as those long delays were not just tedious but also expensive and inefficient and often resulted in the team fielding needless amounts of phone calls and paper-chasing.
"It's the turnaround time," says Gemma. "You had to fill in a manual purchase order which then had to go to Finance for somebody to manually issue the purchase number - then that form would go back to the person who requested it, and it would it then go manually to the budget holder to sign off. This all now happens within minutes," she enthuses.
New levels of visibility and control
Additionally, iPOS has empowered YOTEL to fully understand all costs - be they actual, accrued and committed - to ensure the firm is totally on top of its finances.
The software has also ensured invoices always get matched to the PO, which guarantees costs are approved and invoices paid once (and on time), with this smooth process checked and measured by the system. Electronic procurement also helps release her team to do more value-add activities. "It has freed up time noticeably so people can contribute to other areas," she comments.
Meanwhile, systems performance has been robust, according to the team, with Hasan noting that now iPOS is operational, "in terms of soft benefits it has been very beneficial to us."
A good relationship between YOTEL and Sapphire has been one of the positive aspects of the project. Mohsin praises Sapphire's approach to handling of post-installation support queries: "Sapphire support specialists have always been extra helpful; whenever I call, I get prompt response and the staff there always makes sure that the query is solved there and then if they possibly can. In general, in fact, Sapphire is always really helpful."
The bottom line: success - and a real basis for growth
Without a doubt, iPOS has done 'what it said on the tin' and helped YOTEL streamline many previously cumbersome and paper-based processes, saving staff time, delivered seamless integration of invoices, greater operational visibility and true support for all its company-wide processes and reporting requirements.
But overall, "The most significant improvement has been to our control environment," concludes Gemma.