Doncaster Council has saved £400,000 after implementing financial management and procurement software from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced). The Council expects to save a total of £2m by 2016/17 through the increased visibility and control of its finances and improved process efficiencies from using the system.
More than 1,000 people at the Council use the technology which includes finance management system (e5), procurement solution (eProcurement), budgeting and forecasting software (Collaborative Planning) and electronic document management and technology (powered by V1). The organisation implemented the software in September 2013.
The £400,000 saving has been achieved through improved controls around spending and procurement. The bulk of the anticipated £2m savings will come from the increased process efficiency an automated system brings, such as less manual data entry and reliance on paperwork. Savings will also be made through increasing budget holders’ responsibility for forecasting, allowing the financial team to focus on more strategic tasks.
A replica of the system has also recently been implemented at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, set up to run the borough’s children’s services. Both the Council and the Trust’s solutions are hosted by Advanced 365, a partner division of Advanced Business Solutions.
The savings being targeted by the financial management software are part of the Council’s wider strategic plan to save £109m by 2016/17. Prior to implementing the solutions, the Council relied on a heavily paper and Excel-based system with manual data entry.
Simon Wiles, Director of Finance at Doncaster Council, says: “The Council recognises the need to invest in technologies to release new savings. The new software from Advanced has really transformed our financial management, giving us much more visibility and control, particularly over procurement processes, and better economies of scale. We are now able to track orders and ensure the appropriate contracts, often with lower pre-agreed prices, are being used, which has allowed us to make significant savings already.
“Our processes are now much more streamlined and automated and we anticipate generating a further £1.2m in operational efficiencies. The remainder of our savings will come from empowering budget managers to take responsibility for their forecasting and monitoring and freeing up the financial management team to work more strategically.”
As well as reaping cost savings, the new software has contributed towards the Council receiving an improved final accounts audit report, largely due to the extra controls they now have in place, in particular matching their general ledger with bank statements.
By implementing the technology, the Council has been able to decommission several legacy systems, including a 20-year-old mainframe, leading to reduced licensing and support costs.
Later this year the Council will go live with an eSupplier portal from Advanced for suppliers to self-service, and an e5 upgrade. In 2016 it will implement further modules within e5, including inventory management, jobs billing and project tracking.
Wiles adds: “We are really looking to maximise the benefit of our investment in the software and increase the functionality as much as possible. This will help us to further rationalise the number of systems we use to maximise savings and increase control even more.”