Wandle Housing Association has overhauled its procurement systems to deliver tighter budgetary control, better financial reporting and faster ordering.
Wandle, which owns and manages more than 5600 properties in 11 London boroughs including Bromley, Croydon, Lewisham and Wandsworth, was hampered by an old and inflexible purchasing system. While Wandle’s accounting process was very efficient, with built-in error handling and consistency measures, details on its actual spending position sometimes lagged behind due to users being unable to log purchases that had yet to be invoiced, leading to purchase orders being raised after the invoices had already been received.
Gordon Taylor, IT manager, Wandle Housing Association, said, “The way our finance system works is that if someone raises an invoice or an order, then you are looking at something like 150,000 different items that they can choose from. We like to break things down into detail in order to be able to order most efficiently from our suppliers. People go on-site, manage contracts across multiple properties for things such as security, lighting and gardening, and also handle issues with tenants such as rent refunds and compensation claims.”
Wandle believed that better integration between the purchasing systems and its existing SunSystems accounting platform would make it easier for staff to track expenditure as it happened and also help senior staff manage their budgets better. At the same time, Wandle recognised that the old purchasing system did not provide sufficient granularity of product detail for its staff to use it effectively.
Wandle selected the iPOS procurement suite from Four as it was able to work with its own processes and procedures without causing disruption to the existing accounting platform, made it much faster to find specific items in the large database of purchase order items, and was more user-friendly than the old system.
Gordon Taylor said, “One of the benefits of iPOS over the previous system is the ability to create a template for ordering key items, and for that template to be used repeatedly to raise invoices for the same amount on a regular basis. We had a struggle with the old system because people had to re-key information, so there is an awful lot of time saved from a user’s point of view once they are able to raise an order for the same thing, over again, whenever needed.”
The procurement system has now been integrated with Wandle’s accounting platform as well as its housing management system, to bring repair, maintenance and contract requests into the system.
Wandle’s senior management now have better visibility of the organisation’s current financial position. Gordon Taylor said, “We can now see our budgets in real time – something that the old system just couldn’t do. From a manager’s point of view, I can see whether we can afford a suggested new item. For the next financial year, everything in the budgets will be placed within iPOS so we will know exactly how much money we have to spend, and how much is already spent.”
The system is popular and is being used by staff across the organisation. Gordon Taylor said, “The system is so flexible, fast and reliable that people know that when they are going to raise an order, they are able to do so quickly.”