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University of Sussex achieves end-to-end Source-to-Contract efficiency gains as part of digital transformation

Executive overview

Profile

Sector
Education

No. of suppliers
3,500+

No. of invoices processed
40,000 p/a

No. of staff
2,100

Customer since
2014

Operates in
United Kingdom

Objectives

  • Remove manual processes from Source-to-Contract tasks.
  • Unify disparate systems.
  • Focus employees on more value-add activities.

How Proactis helped

  • Removed manual processes from supplier on-boarding, contract management and invoicing.
  • Helped speed up the buying process, while making it more efficient.
  • Streamlined supplier relationship management.
  • Seamless integration with the University’s finance system.

Benefits

  • Efficiency gains and cost savings, as staff are channelled to negotiated suppliers.
  • Boosted quality of the three-way match between purchase order, goods received and invoice.
  • Once approved, suppliers can be added easily and each supplier is able to keep their information up to date.
  • Everything is accessible in the same place, from anywhere, even remotely.
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Profile

The University of Sussex is a leading research-intensive university located near Brighton in the UK. The University has both an international and local outlook, with staff and students from more than 100 countries.

The University had been relying on procurement processes that involved a lot of manual work, such as supplier on-boarding, manual contract management through spreadsheets, and using an eTendering solution that wasn’t connected to anything. The decision was made that the University needed to modernise, automate and digitise its processes.

Objectives

“It was identified that there was a need for an end-to-end solution that took care of the supplier side of things,” stated Ian McKee, Assistant Director of Finance. “This initially included supplier selection, through on-boarding, to contract management. And the key was to ensure that the system integrated with our finance system. The main goal was to get rid of data entry and manual processes.”

Ultimately, the University looked into solutions to modernise and digitise the Source-to-Contract tasks, and in doing so, speed up each process, and remove non-value-add activities and manual intervention. There was also a desire among the Finance staff and senior management to have better visibility and reporting of spend.

How Proactis helped

A team from the University looked into a number of solutions and Proactis was the best fit for its requirements. The University was already using Proactis’ Marketplace solution, and a relationship had built up over the years. It was a natural fit.

”We very much like how Proactis works, as a technology partner, rather than providing individual tools,” stated Ian. “Using Proactis’ expertise, we wanted to be as close to the front of the trend in terms of technology, with automated and digitised processes, as much as possible.”

The Proactis solution has streamlined and automated supplier relationship management (SRM), contract management and eProcurement processes. SRM is the area that people from across the University come across most, for example, when they want to add new suppliers. The solution has removed many manual processes, so staff can focus on more strategic, value-add tasks.

Due to the success of the Source-to-Contract solution, the University subsequently looked into what could be done about its Accounts Payable processes. A lot of paper and manual keying was involved, and, due to the relationship with Proactis, the University chose Invoice Capture to digitise the process. The Finance Team is now able to capture invoices, convert non-electronic data into eInvoices, validate accuracy by checking for a PO, duplicates and a valid supplier, and then transfer them into the finance system for matching and payment approval.

Benefits

If a member of staff wants to add a supplier, they no longer have to spend time gathering information and submitting a paper form; they now simply complete a supplier proposal and the supplier completes their details in the portal and has control of keeping the data up to date and accurate.

“The buying process has also been vastly improved, in terms of efficiency and speed,” continued Ian. “Buyers are channelled to the suppliers that we want them to use, for example, where we have discounts in place. The integration with our finance system means it is all done in one place.”

The University also now has access to key intelligence. Not only does this help with risk management and allows for better decision making, it has also helped shine a light on where there is room for improvement. Ian points out: “We know our processes are now solid, so any inefficiencies are around data quality and what’s coming in. A prime example is exception handling, which used to take up a lot of time. Our automated process now actively queries and blocks where there are discrepancies, and this really does expose where more work is needed, for example, making sure suppliers are providing all the correct information. The whole system has really boosted the quality of our three-way match between purchase order, goods received and invoice.

“Overall, the obvious, and most relevant benefit at the moment in the midst of the COVID-19 situation is that we can access everything, in the same place, from anywhere,” concluded Ian. “The Proactis solutions have been hugely helpful during the situation. We moved off site very quickly but we were able to do this with confidence that none of our processes would suffer as a result. Supplier and contract management, eProcurement and now all invoicing processes are digital.“