Frisian Water Board automates the entire ordering to payment process with Proactis

Executive overview

Profile

Sector
Utilities

Number of employees
634

Client since
2014

Objectives

  • Standardize and digitize the procurement process.
  • Establish an audit trail for all expenditure.
  • Better insight and control over procurement flows.

How proactis helped

  • Digital ordering from current contracts via one central platform.
  • Transparency and efficiency in the operational procurement process.
  • Better insight and management of expenditure.

Benefits

  • Direct insight into the status of orders, orders, contracts and invoices.
  • Better grip on budgets.
  • Fast and efficient authorization.
  • Company-wide transparency of the entire process.
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Profile

With over 600 employees, Wetterskip Fryslân (the Frisian Water Board) looks after over 200 kilometers of sea dikes, 5,600 barrages and 1,000 pumping stations. The Water Board also purifies waste water in 27 sewage plants.

Overall, the Water Board ensures that the inhabitants of the the northern provinces of the Netherlands has sufficient, clean water and safety behind the dikes. "As a public organization we handle the available resources with care", says Wilma Winands, Functional Application Manager at the Frisian Water Board. "That's why we ensure that what we spend, in terms of taxpayers' and companies' money, is transparent.”

Objectives

In 2014, Frisian Water Board changed to a process-driven way of working, in which the operational procurement process, from placing orders to invoice processing, was examined. The organization came to the conclusion that many employees did their own orders, their own way, often done without prior approval. Each employee had their own way of working and, as a result, employees or departments often placed orders outside of current contracts. This made it difficult to get a clear picture of agreements, the current status of orders and obligations. It was also not clear what and how much was ordered, or from which suppliers. This, in addition to the need to digitize the entire procurement process, was the reason for a complete review. Purchasers, orderers and other interested parties joined forces to create a joint blueprint for the best way forward.
 
The objective was to establish one uniform way of ordering and invoicing (Purchase-to-Pay) for the entire organization. By standardizing the operational ordering process and having all purchases from current framework agreements run through one central system, the Purchasing department expected to achieve greater efficiency and transparency in the purchasing process - and ultimately save costs. Any new way of working had to be supported by one integrated system in which contract management, order placement, approvals, the monitoring of budgets, processing of orders and purchase invoices could take place. For the solution, the Water Board did not want the complexity of an ERP system, but the flexibility of a best-of-breed solution that could communicate seamlessly with the existing financial system. Based on these requirements, a tender was launched in the market, with Proactis ultimately being chosen.

How Proactis helped

In collaboration with Proactis, the Frisian Water Board formulated an implementation plan and a solution was rolled out in phases throughout the organization. Links to the organization's existing systems required extra attention, but are now running smoothly. The Water Board previously had more than 180 people making orders, but with the new process this number has been reduced to about 35 people who carry out - within their authority - purchases for the entire organization. These employees can place orders directly from catalogs of pre-selected suppliers, which are linked to the Proactis solution. An authorization flow ensures approval of each order, and orders and deliveries are automatically processed and linked to the correct invoice.

With the seamless connection to the existing financial system, the process from ordering to payment has become much more streamlined and efficient. Approximately 30 percent of the incoming invoices are "read" with scanning and recognition software, with the vast majority handled digitally. This not only ensures ease of ordering, but also reduces the chance of incorrect orders and incorrect invoices. In addition to saving time, this also results in reduced processing costs and prevents unnecessary administration and paperwork.

Benefits

Kristian de Jong, Purchasing Advisor at Frisian, believes transparency and efficiency in the processes are important benefits of the new way of working. "The platform immediately gives us a complete overview of our orders, commitments and expenses, with a clear audit trail. We now have more control over budgets and can monitor the status of outstanding invoices much more closely. We are also now able to detect deviations, for example, we recently discovered that a supplier had inadvertently invoiced too much in a certain period of time and that this did not correspond to the agreed rates. As a result, we were able to reclaim a considerable amount."

It is estimated that over 10,000 orders and 20,000 invoices pass through the system on an annual basis and more than 300 contracts are recorded centrally. By standardizing our processes, we also gain access to strategic management information. This helps us to further optimize processes. With the valuable insights provided by Proactis, we can be better prepared for a tender," says De Jong. "Have we made good use of the possibilities offered by a contract? Or can we bundle specific procurement flows? With the answers we get from the system, I am now a stronger procurement professional, especially in negotiations with internal clients. As a result, as a Procurement department, we make a substantial contribution to the broader objectives we have as an organization."

Winands concludes: "Over the past few years we have succeeded in implementing significant professionalization in our operational procurement. We are proud that the Frisian Water Board is an example for other public organizations. They are impressed by the results we have achieved. The implementation of such a process affects a lot of people in the organization, so it's important to make sure you discuss it widely within your organization in order to create support. Only then will the project have a chance to be successful."