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Cloud-based eProcurement proves itself to be a safe bet for the banking sector

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bluebay)

IT projects in large organisations are typically subject to an array of concerns over security and the recent ransomware attacks on the NHS show just why all businesses need to ensure IT security remains so high on the agenda. For those in the banking or financial services sector, security is always a top priority and when the Coventry Building Society (CBS) decided to automate many of its manual procurement processes, its zero tolerance approach to security-related IT issues had to be at the forefront of the deployment process.

CBS operates in a highly regulated industry and historically, all technology projects had been managed in-house. As a rapidly growing business, the need to automate and streamline many of its procurement processes became very clear. CBS turned to Source to Pay (S2P), best of breed cloud technology to transform its organisational-wide purchasing.

CBS is the UK’s third largest building society offering a range of financial products including mortgages, insurance, savings and investments. With 2,300 staff, it manages over £38bn on behalf of its 1.8 million members. It has 89 locations throughout the UK, from Sheffield to the West Country. 

As a growing business, manual procurement processes were no longer sustainable for the organisation and there was a clear need for CBS to automate and streamline many of these processes. Clear visibility on organisation-wide spend and improved supplier management were both considered essential.

CBS was keen to roll out an eProcurement system to its buying teams so that they could access the right products and services, from approved suppliers at an agreed price via a secure, online platform. Looking to move all of its procurement activity completely away from manual processes, CBS recognised that automation of orders and invoices would help save time and resource, and also help to mitigate user error. 

As the business was growing, so too were the number of suppliers it was working with and CBS wanted to improve management of its supply chain from initial tender process through to supplier relationships and risk management. 

Working in the financial services market it was essential that any new system being introduced to the organisation could meet its stringent security requirements and ensure a secure and robust integration between a cloud-based application and CBS’ existing IT system.

Eliminating the manual

CBS adopted cloud-based S2P software and it was rolled out to approximately 400 users across its six of CBS’s office locations. The system’s ease-of-use, its innovative functionality, and its ability to provide secure and seamless integration with CBS’s Oracle system were the deciding factors in the organisation’s decision to roll it out to its users.

The adoption of a new cloud-based system came as a bit of a culture shock to some of the buying team at CBS, who had, until the new system was introduced, been used to manually processing invoices and issuing tenders and responses. However, full training and the ease of use and functionality of the new system quickly helped staff get over any fear of change and as a result the user experience has been exceptionally positive.  

S2P is now used by CBS for all purchasing and is used to source everything from IT to property to marketing and HR. CBS’ purchasing team is now able to procure from an e-commerce catalogue environment, maintained by suppliers, enabling buyers to build shopping baskets of their selected goods and services. 

Automation of the whole procurement cycle has now eliminated the manual processing of all orders and invoices and includes 3-way matching, helping to eliminate errors and reducing overheads for the accounts team.

With approximately 1,200 suppliers, thanks to S2P, CBS is now benefitting from faster, standardised and more efficient tender processes. Thousands of suppliers are now registered within the system and are now trading electronically with CBS, from tenders and auctions through to full electronic invoicing, and over 1,500 contracts are now stored and managed within the system.

Now, with one single view of all sourcing activity, CBS is able to better control and audit all procurement activity and it is helping the organisation to make informed decisions about suppliers and purchasing moving forward.

Thanks to integrated S2P, CBS is now able to keep track of data such as supplier records, performance histories and contracts, offering its users immediate access to all information. This improved supply chain intelligence and management will help reduce potential reputational and financial risks. In the future, CBS hopes to also take advantage of web3’s Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) module to enable even closer control over suppliers.

Transforming organisations

In just twelve months since deployment, CBS’s S2P system has processed over £100,000,000 of spend and tens of thousands of invoices electronically and securely. 

Rachel Lasisi, Head of Procurement at CBS told us: “S2P is now fundamental in giving the procurement team a bird’s eye view of all purchasing at our fingertips. Access to this real-time data enables us to make informed business decisions moving forward and ensure our supply chain continues to offer us a quality service at best price.

“S2P supports our procurement processes from initial tender through to supplier onboarding, improved supplier information, risk management and contract management. We now have a genuinely joined up and secure view of all supplier data, relationships and activities.”

Cloud based S2P is enabling CBS is now able to enact with its suppliers electronically and has transformed its organisational wide procurement processes. Purchasers at CBS are now benefiting from a host of benefits delivered by eProcurement. These include the eradication of all manual ordering and invoicing processes; faster and more efficient tender processes; better control of all purchasing activity; clear visibility on all spend across all of CBS’s departments and offices; and access to real-time data to enable informed future decision making. In addition, CBS has improved supply chain intelligence helping to aid supplier management alongside an accessible and up to date view of all supplier activities and data.

With a zero to very low tolerance when it comes to potential security issues any concerns raised over adopting a cloud-based eProcurement system were soon quashed.

Daniel Ball, director, Wax Digital (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/bluebay

Daniel Ball is a director at Wax Digital, one of the leading spend management providers in Europe, streamlining purchasing processes for global organisations an intuitive, spend management solution – web3.