Bedford Borough Council reduces invoice processing time by over 60% with Proactis Invoice Capture

Executive overview

Profile

Sector
Public Services

No. of invoices
42,000 per annum

Objectives

  • Reduce costs while processing the same number of invoices.
  • Free up more time by improving the efficiency of the invoicing process.
  • Ensure full visibility of all invoices received into the Council.

How Proactis helped

  • Improved invoice handling, information and visibility for the organization.
  • Streamlined the processing of incoming.
  • Seamless integration with the Council’s Unit4 finance system.

Benefits

  • Invoice processing reduced from 72 to hours to less than 24 hours.
  • Achieved the Council’s cost cutting targets.
  • Full audit trail for invoices received.
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Profile

Bedford Borough Council looks after the Borough of Bedford, a unitary authority with a population of approximately 170,000 and over 75,000 households.

The Finance team is made up of 35 people, with the Accounts Payable (AP) side accounting for 5 FTE employees. This has recently been reduced from 7 FTEs as part of a new digital operating model. The Council processes over 42,000 invoices per year.

Objectives

This new model, which was introduced at the Council in early 2019, was introduced to reduce costs while processing the same number of invoices, and to free up more time by improving the efficiency of the whole invoicing process. This meant reducing the time needed by the AP team to process invoices.

“The time needed to manually index and register invoices was very time consuming, with more chance for errors,” stated Steven Rogers, Management Accountant (Treasury), Treasury & Technical Accounting, Bedford Borough Council.

How Proactis helped

The Council uses the Unit4 Business Software finance system and was attracted by the integration with Proactis Invoice Capture. “We were aware of Proactis’ relationship with Unit4 and how seamlessly the two systems worked together,” said Steven.

Proactis Invoice Capture was implemented in August 2019 and, in tandem, the two systems created clear lines of communication with suppliers regarding invoice status, and also ensure that both the information going into and out of the systems was accurate and fully automated.

As part of the implementation, Proactis worked with the Council to ensure that all incoming invoices are handled in the same way, so the Accounts Payable team now has full visibility of all invoices received and an audit trail is available.

Benefits

The addition of Proactis Invoice Capture has enabled the Council to achieve its targets of improving invoice processing time and reducing costs across departments. “We would not have been able to reach our targets with the old way of manually processing invoices,” continued Steven. “We used to work at a rate of 72 hours from receipt of invoice to it being on the system to approval. Now this time has been reduced down to 24 hours, if not less.”

The Council now works more closely with suppliers with improved communication through the dedicated query desk. This feature means it’s much easier to respond to suppliers and the Council has been able to reduce the number of non-compliant invoices as they can be
handled in a more structured and controlled way. This is resulting in benefits for both suppliers and the Council.

"The audit record provided by Proactis is extremely beneficial to the department,” concluded Steven. “If a query is raised about why an invoice isn’t on the system, we now have clear visibility and email trail. We can safely respond with details of when an email was sent."