TVHA Case Study for iPOS & XMPro

 


TVHA Case Study for iPOS & XMPro

At a glance

 

Solution Snapshot

Infor SunSystems iPOS eProcurement.

 

Organisation

Thames Valley Housing, a medium-sized housing association based in Twickenham. The Association owns, manages or takes care of loans for over 14,500 homes in London, Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Sussex. These include traditional rented housing, shared ownership, key worker and student accommodation.

 

 

Solution

Infor SunSystems iPOS and XMPro from Professional Advantage were selected.

 

Objective

Thames Valley Housing was being slowed down by a paper-based, manuallyintensive invoice handling process that was costly and impeding its service to suppliers.

 

Challenge

The organisation went to market to find an IT solution that would lessen the operational load on employees, improve the speed and responsiveness of invoice handling and sharply reduce the amount of paper moving through it.

 

Key Wins

  • All invoices are now processed within 24hrs of receipt and then settled
  • Purchase Order processing is now also being made more electronic, across the organisation, resulting in increased transparency
  • An end to 'maverick' purchasing
  • Provides access to hard and soft commitments as well as actual spend
  • The organisation reports a range of moves to curb the use of paper, from document capture to tight integration via iPOS with Infor SunSystems, which are starting to pay off in terms of efficiency and speed of response
  • Modern finance software is seen as crucial in helping the organisation deliver against its key goals of helping the communities it serves.

 

Thames Valley Housing Going Paper Free with iPOS

iPOS and XMPro from Professional Advantage are helping a busy South of England housing organisation streamline its invoicing process - leading to radically lower costs and a huge boost in productivity

 

Thames Valley Housing Association (TVHA), is a mid-sized housing association offering a range of services to its tenants - all the way from rented housing to shared ownership, key worker and student accommodation, with its aim to live up to its mission of providing "good quality, affordable homes," with an eye to invest in the communities it is helping maintain.

 

Delivering on its mission means a lot of hard work and a willingness to innovate; for example, in order to generate a profit to help fund its social purpose, the team also runs a market rent business and has a healthy partnership in a business to build housing for sale.

 

Underpinning all of its efforts is a sound, modern finance infrastructure, according to Thames Valley Housing's Assistant Financial Accountant, Adrian Hill - who says that much of the thanks for that goes to Professional Advantage, in particular the firm's iPOS e-procurement technology.

 

Out with the old and in with the new

The previous process was manual and caused issues around the management of paper invoices. Hill says, "We used to have two people in the team who used to sit with large piles of paper on their desk, heads-down, ploughing through them until they had gone. We also used to attach a form to each invoice, so there was the printing of the form and the stapling of it all together - it was a mini production line. It was becoming too out-dated a way to work".

 

Out-dated, but also expensive. The decision was made in 2008 to move to a digital approach, centred on an e-procurement platform to get rid of the paper chase and create new efficiencies. A number of market-leading products were evaluated before the decision was made to select iPOS from Professional Advantage, with a key point in its favour being the tight link the software has with the Association's main finance system, Infor SunSystems.

 

"Our FD said, 'Well, look, this one integrates directly with SunSystems, so go with that. That integration could really help us."

 

iPOS isn't the only tool from Professional Advantage the organisation is using. In parallel with the move to iPOS, for example, Thames Valley also purchased XMPro business process management solution, with a view to exploiting the latter's agile process functionality. Thames Valley is also utilising a document management system to further streamline working with invoices so as to strip out even more paper from its internal financial processes.

 

The benefits are really starting to mount up, it seems, from the decision to partner with Professional Advantage, says Hill: "Yes, it's great, we've revamped our whole invoicing process," he explains. "The first thing that gets seen by a team member is an invoice popping into our desktop 'work tray' in the document management system, which is a lot better in terms of time and efficiency than physically having to go off and collect a large pile of invoices, as we used to. Now, we just come in in the morning, log on, find what is there and just push it all through iPOS, as a nice, streamlined process."

 

Ease of use is just one aspect of this new iPOS based way of working. "My favourite thing about it is that we can just view an invoice directly from SunSystems, which is so convenient. It also means that from an audit point of view, we just literally perform a SunSystems enquiry on whatever the auditor is looking at, click 'View' and the invoice pops up on our screen - just like magic!

 

"I do have to say that the physical invoices could end up forgotten about for weeks and if there were invoices to be paid, we used to go and rifle through their tray to find them. Now, if the invoice is inactive for a certain amount of days, it reverts back to us, so we can see there is a hold up. It's definitely better for both us and our supply chain, this way of dealing with invoices."

 

 

So far this financial year, Hill's team have processed over 12,000 invoices through iPOS alone. A high volume of invoice handling, clearly - but also, it turns out, high process turnaround, too: "We turn all our invoices round in one day, as we've set an internal performance mark against efficiency in this regard," confirms Hill. "An invoice comes in, we code it up into iPOS, it goes straight out to the departments, and budget holders approve them - and back. It's a pretty fast turnaround." But what about the other side of the process - raising purchase orders? Thames Valley opting for a staggered iPOS rollout so that the invoice processing module was bedded down first and PO invoice processing starting much later.

 

"We didn't do the 'Big Bang' approach," says Hill, noting that handling change management within the organisation was a key goal. The overall verdict's clear; Thames Valley Housing now has a comprehensive picture of current and proposed spending, commitments and accruals, as well as radically improved financial control from its move from a paper to a digital way of working.

 

An end to 'maverick' purchasing

Invoicing is just one part of the financial process, of course. "There are lots of ways we're improving," confirms Hill. "For a start, it helps with the year-end accruals, as we can see what is on the accrual ledger and all our commitments (hard and soft). iPOS is also making it much easier for us to rapidly request and purchase what we need while preventing nonconforming behaviour and maverick spending - a great example is in stationery ordering, for instance, where people raise a bulk order and they just call it off each time they want something. A lot of the PAs who do the stationery ordering say they really like that way of working."

 

XMPro is also serving an important role bringing the same levels of predictability, efficiency and visibility as iPOS does to the procure-to-pay lifecycle. In Thames Valley Housing's case, it's incorporating invoicing from its separate, commercial arm, Fizzy, into iPOS; XMPro allows that team to set up suppliers in all the different business units, for example. Meanwhile, all housing development costs are now also going through XMPro across the whole subsidiary, and are therefore subject to the approval workflow instituted by iPOS.

 

"We have a universal housing module which does all the repairs for housing stock, yes, but everything else bar development contracts go through iPOS," says Hill. "That now includes multi-million pound contracts when we build a site. Everything runs off the same approval matrix that iPOS uses instead of the signature on a piece of paper right up until a few months ago."

 

A worthwhile investment

Another benefit of Professional Advantage's work at Thames Valley Housing has been the support and professionalism of the team itself, from the way it handled initial deployment to all on-going support and upgrade work - support which Hill is happy to characterise as "really good."

 

To sum up, iPOS and XMPro have helped this busy housing body speed up its invoicing process, slash to almost zero errors and omissions and  dramatically reduce manual data entry, resulting in a paper-free, straight through process that means suppliers get paid on submission of invoice. In terms of return on investment, was this a good idea? For Hill, the answer comes back almost as quickly: "Definitely, I'm a real fan."