Gower College Swansea expects to reduce its invoice approval time from days to minutes when it goes live with a financial management system from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) in July 2015. The College will implement the time-saving technology in time for the start of the new academic year as it aims to reduce paper-based processes and increase efficiency.
Advanced was selected from a shortlist of three software providers to replace a finance system that is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
The College, which has 1,000 members of staff and 13,000 students, will be implementing Advanced’s financial management system OpenAccounts, electronic workflow solution eBIS and document management technology powered by V1. 60 people, including the finance team, administration staff and budget holders, will use the solutions.
Currently, with no workflow or automated approval procedures in place at the College, financial processes are manual. Sales invoices are created in triplicate by budget holders and sent to the finance team for inputting onto the system. Invoices requiring approval need to be posted to the relevant staff based at various campuses and then sent back to the team, which can take several days.
Advanced’s software means budget holders can input sales invoices and purchase orders directly into the finance system, where they can also be accessed by the finance team. Invoices will be automatically emailed to the relevant person for authorisation and budget holders will also have access to live finance reports that enable them to drill down to see source documents.
Mike Glover, Head of Finance, Gower College Swansea, says, “Eliminating the need to send invoices for approval in the internal mail will reduce the authorisation process from days to minutes. With a streamlined electronic approval system, suppliers will be paid quickly and paper-flow between campuses will be reduced, meaning less margin for error or delays.
“This technology will give greater visibility of financial information to budget holders and the finance team, meaning invoices can be more easily tracked. It will also allow the finance team to spend more time on value-added work rather than resolving enquiries and sourcing documents.”
The College will also benefit from the automated management reports within OpenAccounts. Currently financial information is exported into spreadsheets and then analysed and manipulated into the required format. With the automated reports package, this can be done at the click of a button, freeing up the finance team to spend more time on extracting value from data rather than producing reports.
Scanning invoices and storing them online will also deliver savings in terms of office space and off-site archiving.
Glover says, “With the right systems in place, staff can concentrate on value-added activities rather than battling paperwork. Automation is a critical part of a modern finance system and key to working as efficiently as possible in the back office, which is increasingly important to ensure as much funding as possible is available for education and learning.”