Earlier this summer we spoke to Carol Saward, our Head of Income and Payments, and Phil Sweeting, our Head of Procurement, about the Improving Purchase to Pay project. We caught up with them to find out how the project is progressing.

We’re making really good progress on the project and have just completed a phase of testing before we let real users test it. This has been really successful and we will start formal testing by end of August. This will cover the whole solution including both the ordering and invoicing elements. We have set up a User Group and members of this group will be involved in the testing.

Can you give an update about the marketplace?
The marketplace enables access to supplier “punch outs” and catalogues which will enable an easier customer experience when placing orders. Colleagues will be able to click a “go shopping” button in Unit4, which will enable them to access supplier’s websites direct, showing live stock levels and improved pricing. This will give people an Amazon type shopping experience. The marketplace will also compare prices across suppliers to help you achieve best value.

As mentioned previously we will be going live with Office Depot, Fisher Scientific and Bunzl Cleaning. We’ve also added two further suppliers who will be available at go live – Insight direct and Amazon for Business.

Tell us more about Amazon for Business
The University has many Amazon for Business and Amazon Prime accounts. We will be providing access to Amazon for Business through the marketplace so there will no longer be a need to have any individual accounts. The marketplace Amazon account will have the same next day delivery benefits as Amazon Prime and all Unit4 requistioners will be able to access it. We’d like anyone who is using Amazon Prime on behalf of the University or an Amazon for Business account to contact us, as these will need to be cancelled and in future the University will not reimburse Amazon Prime membership. This means that all future orders for Amazon will start in Unit4, which will help ensure the correct approvals are obtained.

Can you give an update about the invoicing?
All supplier invoices will be received centrally whether in paper, PDF or XML format, which will include scanning and uploading onto Unit4 to enable paperless workflow processes to be completed. This will improve our entire purchase to pay process, and will allow us understand our ordering commitments showing real time visibility of the accounts payable process which will improve supplier relationships. The new system will increase transparency and usability of expenditure data for budgetary control and forecasting by using Unit4 as a centrally managed and controlled system that is accessible to multiple users.

Will it work with our existing systems like Unit4?
Yes, the integration to Unit4 has been built and is currently being tested.

When will this all be launched? All at the same time?
We are aiming to go live in September. This will incorporate the changes to ordering, including the five key marketplace, as well as receiving all invoices centrally and the new Unit4 workflow associated with the payment of supplier invoices.

How will these changes affect me?
Purchase Orders must be raised in Unit4 before buying any goods and services with a supplier. The purchase order number must be provided to the supplier at the point of ordering the goods or services. Suppliers know that a purchase order number is required before accepting an order from us.

Some purchases do not seem to fit the core ordering process, like service contracts, standing orders, consultancy etc. We will provide further information how to raise these purchase orders on these non-standard purchases before we go live.

Suppliers will send their invoices centrally into an email mailbox, which we will confirm to suppliers when we go live. The supplier invoice will match to the relevant purchase order quoted on the invoice and show on the relevant supplier on Unit4. The Unit4 workflow will then determine if a goods receipt note and/or additional budget approval is required and distribute tasks to the requistioner/approvers to action.

Will training be available?
We will be running training sessions covering the new system along with any changes in existing processes. It is likely these will be through Zoom sessions. We will also have champions across the University who will be able to help with queries. We are also investigating other training options such as Moodle to give users as many opportunities for training as possible. A FAQs document will be provided too.

Do our suppliers know about this?
We have emailed all of our suppliers and are ensuring that the contact details for every supplier is up to date. This is important as it will ensure the correct contacts are receiving orders and remittances. Feedback from all our suppliers so far has been positive and they are pleased to have been contacted.

What is the impact on our suppliers?
We are implementing a “no PO, No Pay” policy – this means that every invoice needs to quote an order number – if it doesn’t we will reject the invoice. Suppliers support this approach as they know quoting an order number will mean that their invoice is processed easier and quicker.

How do I get involved with the project?
If you are interested in becoming a champion for your area, please contact Carol Saward or Phil Sweeting.