Orchard Information Systems has completed the installation of an e-procurement system at Southern Housing Group. In addition to supplying the necessary software tools, Orchard was closely involved in educating SHG’s staff on the benefits of e-procurement and ensuring the new system was widely and correctly adopted by the relevant users.
As part of the pre-implementation planning, SHG and Orchard identified a number of key objectives. These included simplifying purchase-order processing, making coding easier, delivering automatic notifications, and ‘fool-proofing’ the system.
The backbone of SHG’s new system is Orchard’s OpenAccounts e-finance web and workflow solution. Information posted in OpenAccounts is then sent around clearly-defined workflows for approval and automatically posted into OpenAccounts Ledgers. The workflows include automatic notifications to let people know when they have work to authorise.
Better control & job satisfaction
Corinne Yates, assistant systems accountant, Southern Housing Group, said, “We now have almost every department using the system. Within the finance department, we now have much greater control over the process – we know exactly where an invoice is in the payment cycle and our job satisfaction has increased.
“The best advice I can give to anyone implementing a procurement system is to get the end-users involved early and plan thoroughly. We knew exactly what we wanted from the system right down to terminology and screen layout. We also spent a lot of time educating people on the benefits of a procurement system.”
Laxmi Patel, systems accountant, Southern Housing Group, said, “The time taken to approve an order is now just 30 seconds. Invoices are now paid faster so we have fewer queries from our suppliers. We used to get queries everyday but now we have more time to focus on our day jobs.”
SHG’s e-procurement project was recognised at Orchard’s 2010 customer conference. Orchard reported, “SHG worked in a true partnership to push the boundaries to ensure that its e-procurement process was vastly improved. This resulted in extra development work on the e-procurement forms for the good of all the group’s customers.”