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If a process was labour intensive, inefficient, and costly, what would you do? Replace it – and that's exactly what the Council of the Future Smarter Purchasing & Payments Project has done.

Since launching in August last year, the team delivering the project has modernised the purchase to pay process by:

  • Introducing an electronic invoicing system. 
  • Rolling out a new purchase card that provides the Council access to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Smart Data Online banking system.

Isabell Pitt, Project Manager and Business Support Lead – Financial Transactions, said: "Although the project is still in its infancy, it has already helped reduce processing costs and provided budget holders with improved control of spend. It also provides suppliers with more efficient ways of working with the Council."

Cutting down on paper

Even before the pandemic, Services were being asked to reduce their reliance on paper to cut costs and help improve our green credentials. Then COVID-19 hit and the need to embrace more digital ways of working ramped up a gear.

By replacing the traditional, labour-intensive invoice process with a streamlined and efficient electronic way of working, the project team has helped save employee time, reduced human error, and minimised the potential to duplicate payments.

“Teams have quickly embraced the new electronic invoicing system because the benefits are immediate - it just makes the whole process quicker and easier and speeds up payments to suppliers.”

Ringing up a discount

The introduction of a new purchase card system has also provided the Council with a more accurate analysis of what Services spend on goods and services.

In the past, all spend for purchase cards was inputted manually to spreadsheets. Now, thanks to RBS’ Smart Data online management information system, services can:

  • Quickly and efficiently see a breakdown of spend – including the who, where, when, how much, and what on.
  • Review/approve transactions at a touch of a button.
  • Generate comprehensive reports in seconds - including information for Freedom of Information requests.
  • Remain compliant and transparent.
  • Integrate all transaction information into existing accounting systems.

“The next stage in the process will be to consider which suppliers of goods and services can be paid by purchase card thus maximising the discount available from RBS - as the more we spend with them, the greater a discount we get.

“By the time the project is due to end in September this year, we hope to have the majority of suppliers either paid directly by purchase card or via e-invoicing. This will provide us with a full overview of spend across all Services, which can be accessed quickly and easily in one place.”