PROACTIS Resources

P&O Ferrymasters

PROACTIS enables P&O Ferrymasters to improve cash flow & reduce invoice processing costs by over 35%
P&O Ferrymasters


P&O Ferrymasters is one of the leading European providers of tailor-made transportation and logistics services, specialising in the design and delivery of innovative and flexible supply chain solutions that add value to customers’ businesses.

Built from humble beginnings in Lancashire in 1953, P&O Ferrymasters today has a blend of pan-European capabilities and local knowledge. As a Dubai World company, P&O Ferrymasters has an unrivalled global network of logistics services and international port terminal operations.


In a competitive logistics environment, providing services of the highest quality at the lowest operational cost is pivotal. P&O Ferrymasters reviewed the existing Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable processes, with a view on how to reduce operational costs and remove any barriers to payment, thereby improving cash flow.

With an ever increasing number of purchase invoices across multiple sites, P&O Ferrymasters were finding that the process inefficiencies and labour costs were continuously increasing due to the need to have more people processing invoices.

At the same time, the need to evidence signed Proof Of Delivery (POD) was pivotal to avoid unnecessary delays in receiving payment and therefore improving cash flow. The existing paper scanning and document management solution was also proving unreliable and a cause for concern, especially since P&O Ferrymasters saw process automation as a means of improving both areas.

Following analysis, P&O Ferrymasters came to the conclusion that a solution that was robust and could operate across multiple sites, with specific benefits to Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable would be required. 

The Process

P&O Ferrymasters explored various options, including continuing with the existing provider of the document management solution. They also approached existing suppliers to see if they could recommend anyone. Through discussions with the current financial systems provider – UNIT4, PROACTIS was put forward due to the partnership and the existing integrations, including customers who were very happy with the combined solution.

P&O Ferrymasters highlighted two document areas as being pivotal – purchase invoices and Proof Of Delivery (POD) documents. In the area of purchase invoices, the need to scan and process paper invoices with the greatest level of efficiency was discussed. PROACTIS proposed a scanning solution that included advanced, “intelligent” invoice data capture technologies that would allow the solution to automatically extract invoice information at the point of scanning, thereby substantially reducing the manual keying effort. PROACTIS put forward how the solution could address any invoice exceptions as well as proving seamless integration into the UNIT4 CODA finance solution.

As the UK market leader for POD automation, PROACTIS also provided insight into how a POD solution across multiple sites, including the UK, Ireland and Holland, could help P&O Ferrymasters drive down debtor days; providing secure, instant visibility to the document at the simple click of a button.

“PROACTIS was genuinely interested in making a difference and working in partnership with us. They really wanted to understand our processes and then look at how a solution could be tailored to our requirements” said Stephen Walters, IT Director, P&O Ferrymasters.

The Solution

A two-phased approach was adopted. The first phase was to implement POD paper scanning at the Ipswich, Hull, Rosenberg, Amsterdam, Dublin and Fleetwood branches.

The scanned images would be stored in a central document repository in Halesowen, with instant access to the images through a standard web browser via a secure connection. At the same time, the solution would link to the in-house logistics solution.

Phase two was to implement the invoice processing solution at Ipswich, Hull and Rosenberg. All three sites would benefit from a paper scanning solution that included “intelligent” invoice data capture, validation and exception handling, with valid purchase invoices being released into the UNIT4 CODA solution. Any issues with the purchase invoices would be handled in the dedicated, web-based Exception Handler. Users of the CODA solution would also be able to instantly view scanned purchase invoices with the simple click of a button within the familiar CODA screen.

Following the implementation of the two phases, P&O Ferrymasters and PROACTIS continued to look at how solutions could positively impact the processes. Electronic purchase invoice receipt was adopted, allowing XML purchase invoices to be received and processed in the same way as paper, providing a solution for both paper and electronic documents. Further modules were also introduced to allow documents that have been received by email or fax to be automatically imported into the solution.

Looking Forward

Having implemented high levels of process automation within a short time, P&O Ferrymasters continue to look at where further cost reductions and efficiency improvements can be achieved across the business. Advancements in capture technologies also means that PROACTIS and P&O Ferrymasters continue to look at how the current solutions can be further evolved and improved upon, with specific focus given to operational efficiency and cash flow.

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