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Bright Horizons enjoys total visibility of end-to-end procurement and spend with Proactis

Executive overview

Profile

Sector
Education

No. of invoices
100,000+ p.a

No. of nurseries
320+

No. of users
700+

Operates in
United Kingdom

Customer since
2018

Objectives

  • Visibility and control of spend across the business.
  • Reduced invoice processing time.
  • Improved compliance and governance.

How Proactis helped

  • 60% of invoices processed without intervention by the AP team immediately after going live.
  • Ensured improved compliance and governance.
  • Ability to place orders, from pre-approved suppliers, from one system.
  • Flexibility to move to centralised procurement.

Benefits

  • Reduction in administration time required to process their annual invoice volume (100,000).
  • 52% overall spend managed by central procurement in a matter of months.
  • Widescale process improvement.
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Profile

Bright Horizons Family Solutions is the UK’s leading childcare provider. With a portfolio of over 320 nurseries and a 30-year history, the organisation has been trusted by many families to provide children with naturally inspiring, exceptional care and education for the early years.

As part of a wider business transformation project, the Procurement team at Bright Horizons identified a requirement to implement a secure Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) platform to facilitate the on-line management of purchasing and suppliers. “We originally had an accounts payable and procurement process that had limitations when placing purchase orders, with no ability for us to see our spend commitments and no way to view the invoices that came into the business,” stated Jen Moran, Head of Procurement at Bright Horizons. “So, we had 100,000 invoices on an annual basis which had to be manually managed by our AP and Procurement teams.”

Objectives

As part of the project, Bright Horizons not only wanted visibility and control of spend, but also process automation and to introduce governance across the business. Previously, when an invoice arrived, it would be recorded on an Excel spreadsheet, stamped, scanned, and sent out to the nursery, which would then have to print it, scan it, and email it back. “We wanted to move away from all of the manual processes that we had in place as a result of not having a front-end procurement system,” continued Jen. “With 100,000 invoices, and 320 nurseries with no set system to order from, there was a huge amount of administration.”

The aims were to reduce this across the business, improve visibility of spend and introduce more governance. “We also had nine different websites that our nurseries used to order from, so we needed to streamline this, while also having the agility to respond to changes in our business needs. You can imagine, we have 320 nurseries in the UK, we look after children on a daily basis, so some of the things that we are providing for our nurseries are pretty critical.”

The Proactis system was introduced in 2019 to transform Bright Horizons’ procurement processes.

How Proactis helped

Bright Horizons selected Proactis to enable purchase orders to be placed more efficiently and to manage the whole invoice process. Proactis Purchase-to-Pay, Invoice Capture and Marketplace are now used across the 320 nurseries, including integration with its Peoplesoft finance system.

“Due to the scale of the project, this represented a huge change transformation for our business. So, along with an outstanding Project Manager, we had representatives from every department, including finance, operations, procurement, marketing, IT, with the aim of achieving buy-in from all the key stakeholders.” This proved a masterstroke as when the system went live, 98% of users accessed the system in the first two weeks, with 11,000 orders raised across 15 spend categories in the first six weeks. “Subsequently, we received 12,000 invoices, and 60% of them were processed without any intervention required by the AP team. Additionally, nurseries were able to place orders, from pre-approved suppliers, from one system.”

Bright Horizons is subject to SOX controls and Proactis was also able to work with the team to implement processes and specific reports in order to adhere to these controls. “We have the ability to remove products within minutes if required.”

When COVID-19 hit, Bright Horizons closed a significant volume of its business and operated a hub set of nurseries. As part of this, the organisation wanted to ensure that these nurseries didn’t have to order anything themselves. “It was tough,” continued Jen, “but we decided to move our procurement centrally, so our Procurement team ordered every piece of food, PPE, hygiene products, and consumables - anything that they needed. The Proactis system allowed us to do this and move very quickly. As we moved back into reopening our business, we found that the system again supported us in ensuring that all of the nurseries had everything they needed to function.”

Benefits

“Overall, Proactis has given us total visibility of end-to-end procurement and spend across our business. This in turn has helped us remove the need to produce vast amounts of purchase orders which add no value to the business,” stated Jen. The administration time required to process the hundred thousand invoices and associated paper trail has been vastly reduced.”

Ordering food, hygiene consumables and any other products needed to function for 320 nurseries on a daily basis would previously have been a mammoth task for the Bright Horizons Procurement team, but Proactis has ensured that all the necessary orders are placed and scheduled for every single nursery.

“It is no exaggeration to say that we now have 100% management of our spend. I can confidently say that I know the percentage of purchase orders that come through our department versus our overall spend. I also know the number and value of invoices that come through without a purchase order. So, we have 100% spend visibility, and this also gives us a good way to establish budgets for the next financial year.

“We also have widescale process improvement. With the 100,000 invoices, we had a significant amount of paper administration required to process them. We now have the ability to do it all electronically, and to approve, see and do everything needed through the system.”

When the company started its move to central procurement in response to COVID-19, it had 29% of its overall spend managed by central procurement. Today, this figure is 52%, with the remaining to follow over the coming months.

“If we go back to before we implemented Proactis, and look at what we wanted to achieve - and our senior leadership team wanted us to achieve,” concluded Jen. “We have complete spend visibility, we have improved governance and compliance, we have reduced the administration for the AP and Procurement teams and our nurseries, and we have flexibility to respond to changes.”