The Medical Protection Society Automates Purchase & Invoice Processing
PROACTIS purchasing solution cuts manual processing and
increases efficiencies in Accounts Payable.
The Medical Protection Society Limited (MPS) is the leading
provider of comprehensive professional indemnity and expert advice
to doctors, dentists and health professionals around the world.
MPS was originally formed in 1892 and has over 265,000 members
in more than 40 countries. Employing nearly 400 staff, MPS has
offices in London, Leeds and Edinburgh. The main jurisdictions
where MPS operates besides the UK are Ireland, South Africa, New
Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, West Indies and Kenya.
MPS processes 40,000 invoices every year, 85% of which are for
costs relating to managing member cases (e.g. solicitors' fees) and
rarely have a purchase order. This means that Accounts Payable have
to go through a strict authorisation procedure, involving file
handlers (e.g. medical advisers), in order to ensure that invoices
are properly authorised before payment.
Prior to PROACTIS, invoices would arrive in the Leeds office, or
one of their other offices, and be distributed to the file handler
for authorisation, bypassing the Finance department. This
inefficient process meant that Accounts Payable were not even aware
of the invoice until after it had been authorised and sent to
Finance. This could take a substantial amount of time, which meant
they had no visibility of commitments and lacked control over what
were often high value invoices.
Suppliers would often call Accounts Payable to enquire about the
status of their invoice, but with no visibility that these invoices
had even entered the building or when they would be authorised,
Accounts Payable were spending valuable time handling these queries
and were not easily able to inform suppliers of when they would get
The authorisation workflow for approving invoices in MPS is
quite complicated and therefore time-consuming when conducted
manually. They needed a solution that would move away from
paper-based processes to a more streamlined, electronic approach
that would be readily adopted by all staff.
Although the main driver for the project was to streamline
invoicing processing in order to reduce time, costs and errors, MPS
also wanted better control and visibility of other spending (e.g.
admin, marketing costs) which a purchase ordering system would
MPS looked at a number of spend control solutions on the market
and PROACTIS stood out as a solution that would fit with how MPS
operates. Christine Chadwick, Processing & Administration
Manager at MPS explains: "Our business is quite unique in the
way we work and we have to undertake a number of complex coding and
authorisation processes before an invoice is paid. PROACTIS enables
us to automate this, easily and efficiently."
MPS receives a disc from a supplier (e.g. law firm) with up to
20,000 individual lines of costs. In addition to the standard item
fields (description, date, etc.) there is a unique identifier which
when imported into PROACTIS, maps the item to the relevant MPS case
and automatically codes the invoices.
Built-in authorisation workflows within PROACTIS use the unique
case number to assign the invoice to the relevant file handler/s
for authorisation. The system sends out an automatic email alert to
the relevant handler which directs them straight into the system.
With a few clicks, the invoice is authorised or rejected.
"Having a system that was easy to use was a key factor for
us," explains Christine. "It was essential that the system
had a good user interface. The kind of people that would be using
the system - lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc. - are very busy
people, so the last thing we wanted to do was provide a solution
that would be complicated for them to use."
PROACTIS was first rolled-out on a department-by-department
basis to manage the purchasing of indirect goods and services. The
next step was automating the invoice processing and approval
"PROACTIS has been very well received by the whole
organisation," says Christine. "Change management was
always going to be the most difficult part - convincing people that
moving away from signing your name on a piece of paper to
authorising electronically was the way forward. But once people
started to use PROACTIS, they realised it was making their job
easier and didn't detract from their other duties."
For employees that have to travel overseas, PROACTIS means there
is no delay in invoice authorisation. Users can log on to the
system anywhere in the world and access all the information they
need to authorise an invoice.
In Accounts Payable, the visibility and control that PROACTIS
has brought has really changed the way MPS works. By enabling
suppliers to bill them electronically, MPS has reduced the manual
input previously done by Accounts Payable by about 7,000 invoices
per year and these efficiency savings will grow as they increase
the number of suppliers that bill them electronically.
Christine comments: "PROACTIS has enabled our Accounts
Payable team to focus on more value-added projects than was
possible before, due to getting bogged down in endless mountains of
And the benefits extend beyond increased efficiency. Invoices no
longer get lost or misplaced, coding errors are reduced and fewer
duplicate payments are made.
MPS's suppliers are also reaping benefits. "Previously, a
supplier could have been waiting some time for a bill to get
authorised but now it's brought in electronically, the turnaround
time is much quicker so we're able to pay our suppliers sooner
which fits comfortably with one of our core values of
fairness" says Christine.
Even for suppliers that are not set up electronically, the new
system is still much more efficient than the previous manual
system. MPS scans the paper invoices into PROACTIS and most of the
coding is done electronically using the unique case number. The
file handler is notified and can view the invoice online.
Christine summarises: "We've shown you don't just have to
use PROACTIS as it comes out of the box. PROACTIS Group has done an
excellent job of understanding our business and configuring the
product to meet our complex requirements. It is a wonderfully
user-friendly system that has changed the way we work. I would
recommend PROACTIS to anyone."