Women's Pioneer Housing - Improving control over spending

Improving Control over Spending

Women’s Pioneer Housing wanted to improve their level of control over expenditure and their ability to process supplier invoices on time. They turned to Invu Purchase Order Processing to achieve these goals.


Women's Pioneer Housing - Improving control over spending

Summary

Women’s Pioneer was founded in 1920 by women and men who understood the link between providing women with good quality affordable accommodation and the wider fight for women’s suffrage and independence. They operate almost 1000 properties in 8 boroughs across West and North London.

Women’s Pioneer Housing found themselves both dissatisfied with the level of control exercised over expenditure and their ability to process supplier invoices on time.

They recognised the importance of exercising control at the point of making a purchase commitment, rather than at the point that a supplier invoice is received. They, therefore, implemented the purchasing module of their finance system.

This did not solve their problems primarily because the module did not provide the ease of use for staff, both raising and approving transactions, that is necessary for a purchasing solution to enjoy the level of employee engagement that makes it a success.

They looked for a Purchase Order Processing (“POP”) application that more closely met their needs. They implemented Invu POP in October 2020 and are now happy to report both better control of spending and more timely processing of invoices.

 

“Before the implementation of Invu POP, our process was manual, time-consuming and had duplication of work.”

 

The Need: A simple easy to use Purchasing system

Having efficient purchasing systems was a key challenge for Women’s Pioneer Housing. As is quite common with many organisations, Women’s Pioneer Housing tried to implement their finance system’s purchasing module. Whilst this worked it was not simple to use and required a user to be comfortable with using busy and complex screens. This was fine if you were in the Finance department but not for the normal user, who just wanted to raise a purchase requisition or approve an invoice.

After realising the user adoption was failing, Women’s Pioneer Housing decided to implement a simple “self-service requisitioning solution” from Invu.

 

The Solution: Invu POP

The solution was to implement a simple but effective purchase requisition-to-pay process that was easy to use. The Invu POP module offered a simple and intuitive user interface with a familiar Amazon look and feel to manage the purchase requisition process. It meant users could raise their own requests, knowing budgets were being kept to, with the approvals happening prior to an invoice arriving for payment.

For the past 5 years, Women’s Pioneer Housing had already been using Invu’s Document Management and Accounts Payable system to streamline and improve the efficiencies of their non-PO Invoice processing. These existing components work alongside the new Invu POP module to provide a complete solution.

 

“The Chief Executive and Senior Staff were supportive of the system because of the enhanced budgetary control. We also saw the benefits they could achieve with the efficiency savings.”

 

Ease of Use and Improved Service

The simplicity of the system was endorsed when a new part-time Finance employee started earlier this year. It didn’t take her long before she was competent in using Invu POP and meant tasks were being completed faster and more efficiently than before. It allowed her to focus on other areas of the business.

A comment from Mark Cole, Director of Resources at Women’s Pioneer Housing, highlighted how a new member of his team quickly learnt to use Invu POP. This then gave her more time to focus on managing the Suppliers:

“This has given us a significant increase in our customer service capabilities. As we can now process information more quickly, we can respond to staff or supplier queries in an efficient manner.”

 
Women's Pioneer Housing - Improving control over spending

Simpler and Faster Processing

The original process for raising and managing PO’s was extremely time-consuming and manual for the finance staff, who process 6,000 invoices a year. The new Invu POP system ensures all PO’s have been approved, coded and the budget checked prior to an order being raised. This makes the processing more efficient as the majority of invoices received, now match the PO, which enables straight-through processing, speeding up the whole process. Mark Cole said:

“In the time it used to take to register 10 invoices, the new system can cope with registering 100.”

The Finance Team are now able to manage PL invoice payments based on the agreed payment terms held in the finance system as the invoice data is current.

Atrik Gadoya, Finance Manager at Women’s Pioneer Housing, added:

“Before the implementation of Invu POP, our process was manual, time-consuming and had duplication of work. Since implementation, the system has improved the requisition process for Women’s Pioneer Housing and has made the processing of invoices far more efficient, allowing the Finance Team to focus their resources in other areas of the business.”

 

“In the time it used to take to register 10 invoices, the new system can cope with registering 100.”

 

Improved Budgetary Control

Women’s Pioneer Housing have seen significant improvement in their budgetary control. Mark commented:

“The system reads the level of budget available and informs the officers how much they’ve committed, how much spend they have left and allows managers to make more informed judgements.”

This is used by every department across the association to ensure any purchases are within budget.

And it’s not only Mark who sees the benefits of the system. He added:

“The Chief Executive and Senior Staff were supportive of the system because of the enhanced budgetary control. We also saw the benefits they could achieve with the efficiency savings.”

 

“The system reads the level of budget available and informs the officers how much they’ve committed, how much spend they have left and allows managers to make more informed judgements.”

 
Women's Pioneer Housing - Improving control over spending

Working with Invu

Mark found the implementation process smooth and described the Invu Professional Services Team as going above and beyond what he had expected. He stated:

“They were absolute stars. Not only did they implement the scope of the requirements, but they were also able to suggest enhancements that benefited us further. They were able to design the automated export into the system where we just press a button and the system pulls the invoice in.”

The Invu Support Team were also very useful when it came to learning how the system worked. Mark exclaimed, “they were very good at identifying any teething issues and helped us with getting used to the system.” Despite this, he and other staff found the system very easy and simple to use.

 

A Fully Automated Process

Now, Women’s Pioneer Housing have fully automated their Purchasing and Accounts Payable process from start to finish for Purchase Order Invoices and Works Order Invoices as well as non-PO Invoices through to automated data entry into the finance system.

Uptake among senior executives and other senior staff at Women’s Pioneer Housing has also been high, with Mark noting that they use the system for final sign off and approval of larger orders and invoices meeting their level of delegated approval. This helps senior staff stay in control of the outgoings of the association.

Overall, the system has been extremely beneficial to Women’s Pioneer Housing, and has helped them achieve efficiency savings whilst further improving their financial controls.

 

“This has given us a significant increase in our customer service capabilities. As we can now process information more quickly, we can respond to staff or supplier queries in an efficient manner.”

 


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