NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has transformed its supply chain, enhanced its payments processes, removed paper invoicing and improved payment times for its suppliers.
The organisation is a joint venture between the Department of Health (DoH) and business services provider Steria that initially set out to deliver £224m of savings for the NHS by 2015 – a target it claims it met 15 months ahead of schedule.
NHS SBS provides business support to NHS organisations in finance and accounting, employment services, procurement and primary care services.
To do this, it requires a network of external partners, suppliers and departments which used to lead to processing 30,000 paper invoices on a daily basis.
Using such a high amount of paper was causing a number of problems, the first being that paper invoices are not in line with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s challenge to the NHS to stop using paper in favour of entirely digital alternatives by 2018.
Processing paper invoices also took up valuable time and resources and often caused delays in suppliers receiving payments.
NHS SBS decided to seek out a solution that would allow it to eradicate the use of paper, ultimately reducing the burden on NHS resources and helping suppliers receive payments more quickly.
For Simon Murphy, NHS SBS director of finance and accounting, it was especially important a truly electronic system was found, not just a programme that would send PDF versions of paper invoices.
The organisation decided to partner up with global B2B platform Tradeshift to help reach these goals.
“We are constantly looking to make businesses processes as efficient as possible in order to derive maximum value from NHS resources,” claimed Murphy.
“Tradeshift enables us to do exactly that. Implementing e-invoicing is an incredibly important step for us in simplifying and modernising supplier interactions on behalf of our clients, by allowing our organisation and our suppliers to focus on value-adding activities,” he added.
The platform allows invoice data to be submitted, verified and tallied against 15 checks, which the supplier claims significantly reduces the margin for error.
Suppliers are able to connect and interact with clients of NHS SBS throughout the payments process, creating a process that is transparent for everyone involved.
According to Murphy, NHS SBS has seen some great improvements since the implementation of the Tradeshift e-invoicing platform.
He claims turnaround time for invoices has been reduced by 10-15 days, which is particularly good news for the SMEs the organisation works with because they often cannot afford to wait for long periods of time to receive their money.
The new platform is also much more efficient than the previous paper system because it does not allow invoices that are not complete to be sent off.
Tradeshift also delivers alerts to suppliers, which has led to a 15% reduction in the number of query calls.
“Tradeshift also gives us a brilliant platform for better collaboration and will allow us to scale up and evolve with suppliers, as well as introduce innovative solutions,” concluded Murphy.