Trident Housing Association Gains Improved Financial Control with PROACTIS
Social housing organisation streamlines purchasing and
Accounts Payable processes whilst strengthening authorisation,
audit trail and reporting.
Trident Housing Association (Trident) is one of the UK's leading
providers of quality residential housing, along with resident care,
support and community services. Trident was formed in 1965 and, as
a result of growth through several mergers, is now one of the
Midland's leading social housing associations looking after
approximately 3,000 homes, costing more than £90m to develop.
Annual turnover is approximately £20m and Trident processes about
10,000 invoices a year with nearly 400 suppliers in support of
approximately 530 employees and 138 different property schemes.
Many purchases at Trident are initiated by on-site personnel
located at the various properties, including such things as repair
orders with contractors, catering for events and maintenance
Prior to PROACTIS, Trident had a largely manual procurement
process where paper requisitions and purchase orders were
frequently buried on someone's desk or lost altogether.
Employees often just picked up the phone or sent an email to
order from a supplier with whom they were familiar. The
organisation had no formal record of many purchases until the
invoice arrived. Besides putting a large burden on the Accounts
Payable function, that environment made it very difficult for
managers to control budgets, and provided very little visibility of
the expenditure outlook for the Financial Director.
When Trident determined it was time for an upgrade to the
organisation's information systems, they turned to PROACTIS
partner, Touchstone Group, to help with that process. In addition
to upgrading core financial systems, deployment of a proper
purchasing system was a high priority.
Once Touchstone had helped with implementation of Infor FMS
SunSystems core financial ledgers, Trident turned its attention to
procurement. After considering the SunSystems purchasing module and
other options, Trident selected the PROACTIS purchasing
In addition to providing all the purchase controls and reporting
capabilities Trident were looking for, PROACTIS was clearly an
intuitive, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use system the project team felt
employees would embrace and use. The team knew they could only get
the results they were after if the new system was adopted
organisation-wide, so that was a key issue.
Today, the PROACTIS purchasing solution is being used by
employees across all Trident property locations and head office
departments for procurement of nearly all the goods and services
the Association buys. About 100 employees and managers use the
system on a regular basis.
"We're very pleased with the roll-out of our purchase-to-pay
system," says Ed Reed, Trident ICT Business Process Partner.
"Once people adopted the mindset of using the system, they
embraced it pretty quickly. They found out it's really quite easy
to use and that they get what they need much faster. They don't
need to think too much about the authorisation process because the
system automatically takes care of that."
Touchstone helped Trident with the PROACTIS implementation. When
the system was first launched, a half-day training session was
provided for employees along with a simple reference guide
developed jointly by Trident and Touchstone. A few property
locations had to have their Internet access upgraded from dial-up,
but otherwise, the system fitted smoothly into Trident's
Microsoft-based computing infrastructure.
The system is integrated with Trident's SunSystems ledgers and
Genero property management system. The property management system
automatically passes approved work orders to PROACTIS as purchase
orders for later invoice matching. PROACTIS templates and supplier
website punch-out capabilities are used to simplify common
purchases. Managers receive emails notifying them when purchase
requests need their approval. Everyone has full visibility of
purchase activity from request through to payment
Probably the biggest benefit of the system is improved budget
control. All purchase requests are now governed by PROACTIS
authorisation rules configured for Trident policies and procedures.
Some requests are approved and released automatically, while others
are routed to the proper person for review and approval based on
value and other criteria. Managers now have clear visibility of all
purchase commitments making it much easier to effectively manage
expenditures to budget.
The system has also made life better for the Finance department.
In addition to better visibility of the cost pipeline, PROACTIS
provides a full audit trail and standard reporting capabilities for
spend analysis purposes. "Our Financial Director considers this
a 'business critical' system and is very pleased with the way it is
Another important benefit of the PROACTIS system has been a
significant reduction in the workload for the Accounts Payable
function, allowing re-allocation of manpower to other activities.
Any such staff savings are valuable for a non-profit organisation
Summarising Trident Housing Association's experience with
PROACTIS, Reed says: "Our employees have embraced our
PROACTIS-based purchasing system as we had hoped. With
just about all purchases going through the system we now have a
level of financial control and visibility we never had in the