Science Warehouse recently interviewed Iain Dawson, the Head of Procurement at Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people, to understand how they achieved their transformational change through tackling their spend.
We wanted to dig into the reason of why the Housing Sector needs to get serious about eProcurement and as Science Warehouse has supported Anchor with eProcurement solutions (eMarketplace) for over 2 years now and has recently launched an eInvoicing solution with them, we couldn’t think of a better place to start.
In this blog we interviewed Anchor to find out about their transformational change and the approach they took to combat any challenges that stood in their way and what advice they would give to fellow piers.
Anchor is one of England’s largest not-for-profit provider that runs retirement properties and care homes to people over the age of 55. With almost 50 years of experience as a housing and care provider, having been established in 1968, Anchor has developed five values that define the way in which they work and were recently named best large provider in the independently run Your Care Rating survey.
What were the challenges and driving reasons for Anchor’s transformational change?
The driving factors were: to ‘Make Buying Easier’ for our colleagues, reduce internal administration overhead within our ordering and payment process and to assist with the consolidation of our support services function. It’s also about being more efficient: as a not-for-profit organisation any savings we make are ploughed back into the business so we can continue to improve our services for the older people living with Anchor.
How did Anchor approach this as an organisation?
Part of this project identified the requirement for an electronic catalogue to complement our existing ordering process, using a standardised coding system which could be applied to all areas of supply, supporting electronic invoicing through PO flip as a minimum with integration into our ERP platform. The solution also had to include a Supplier agnostic user interface, to simplify the ordering experience for our end users. We investigated a number of vendors in the field, spoke to a number of other organisations who had similar solutions and invited a number of best of breed Suppliers to competitively tender.
How long did the project take from initial discussion to implementation and was this as you expected?
Phase 1 (eCatalogue) took approximately 10 months from contract signature. This was longer than expected due to a number of factors. Our wider transformational project included extensive internal infrastructure change of systems, which took priority on our available technical resources. We further found external technical resource availability to be an issue as a number of organisations were undergoing similar implementations.
What benefits have you seen since the solution has been in place?
Our spend data is much more granular due to standardised categorisation. We have just finished implementing Phase 2 (eInvoicing), which will give us hands-free, per-line matching invoices for the Suppliers on the eMarketplace, with detailed purchasing descriptions on each line of the invoice. Around 64% of our front line goods and services ordering is made on the platform and we expect over 80% of invoices from those transactions to be automatically processed.
What feedback have you received from end users with regards to the new processes?
Our colleagues are better equipped to order the right product first time.
In terms of the future, what is next for you to achieve and what additional value will this deliver for your organisation?
In the future, we hope for further expansion of the solution with the addition of eServices and eQuotes as we are collaborating extensively to make sure we are getting the best we can from the eMarketplace.
If there was any top tips you could share with other organisations, who may be considering similar projects, what would they be?
My first top tip would be to engage very early with your Suppliers during the Supplier OnBoarding process, especially if they aren’t familiar with UNSPSC and working with a hosted marketplace. A second top tip would be to take the plunge and fully embrace level 4 UNSPSC as you will gain incredibly accurate spend data to support your procurement function and will greatly enhance your ability to have a truly hands-free eInvoicing, which your AP team can trust.
Science Warehouse has been supporting customers through their procurement projects for the last 17 years and has a wealth of experience in this area. We have, for a long time, been expanding our procurement services away from our traditional ‘Science’ background and we can now support organisations in delivering savings covering a wide range of sectors including Education, Government, NHS, and Housing.
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