University of Essex extends its Proactis solution to regain control of its invoice process

Proactis, the spend management experts, has revealed that it is working with the University of Essex to streamline purchasing and invoicing processes, to drive extra value and improve efficiency.

“The process of manually managing purchase invoices and exceptions was very resource-intensive,” stated Philip Sweeting, Head of Procurement at the University of Essex. “We have 300 people around the University who are able to raise orders, invoices were not received and registered centrally and they were often received in departments with no PO number. Not only did this lead to suppliers sometimes being paid late, but there was no transparency of our financial commitments.”

The University already used Proactis’s Source-to-Contract solutions, resulting in the decision to use Proactis Invoice Capture to automate receipt and payment of paper and pdf invoices, and to introduce a process where orders would not be taken without a valid PO number. The ultimate aim was to regain control of the ordering and invoicing processes.  

“Our purchase invoices can now be scanned with the information extracted and automatically validated,” continued Philip. “This vastly improves our invoicing process and provides the visibility and control we need for financial planning.”

The Accounts Payable team is made up of five people who were having to manually manage and process over 30,000 invoices a year. Carol Saward, Head of Income & Payments at the University, added: “Invoices are now received centrally, scanned and automatically attached to the relevant purchase order. In addition we are able to accept electronic invoices now and suppliers can use the ‘PO flip’ functionality. This has streamlined the Payment Team’s turnaround time and enables us more insight into where invoices are in the payment process. This, along with the ability for us to pay on time has improved the relationship with our suppliers."

Working with Proactis, the University also identified that providing employees with a single online destination where they can quickly and easily find what they need from suppliers – all within established purchase authorization policies – was the perfect strategy. Proactis Marketplace was selected to host all supplier catalogs and punch-outs as required. “We have already received excellent feedback from our buyers that the Proactis system provides an easy-to-use online tool for them to quickly and easily find, compare and choose what they need, when they need it. All from approved suppliers,” concluded Carol.

About the University of Essex
The University of Essex is a public research university in Essex, England. It was established in 1963 and welcomed its first students in 1964. The University serves over 14,760 and employs over 800 academic staff.