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1 June 2014 | Will Green
Thurrock Council is hoping a move to e-invoicing will make a “significant contribution” to target procurement savings of £900,000 this year.
The local authority processed almost 70,000 invoices in 2012/13 but nearly two-thirds were for under £500.
Kathryn Adedeji, head of commercial services, said: “All those relatively small payments represented less than 5 per cent of the council’s spending with suppliers but the smallest invoice required as much processing time as one for a million-pound project.”
Under the new system purchase orders and invoices are generated in one place online, ending the need to re-input details and minimising the risk of invoices being lost or keystroke errors delaying payment.
So far 50 suppliers have signed up to the system. Using it has been a requirement for all new contracts since April, and it is expected that “within two to three years around 60 per cent of invoices will be paperless”.
Staff time will be saved and speeded-up payment times will “ensure the council receives all the discounts available for rapid payment”.
Ken Cole, director of projects and practice at SPS Consultancy Services, was project manager on the implementation of the Oracle i-Supplier system.
“Most organisations are clogged up with invoices,” he said. “Although they send electronic invoices most organisations regard electronic invoices as those sent in by email. It still involves re-keying information.”
Meanwhile, Surrey County Council says it expects to save almost £25 million in this financial year by “striking better deals with contractors”.
Around £10 million of savings are expected from negotiations with roads and property maintenance contractors, with more expected in the areas of IT, transport and energy.
Cabinet member for business services councillor Denise Le Gal said: “We’ll continue to work with our suppliers to find ways of providing goods and services more efficiently and by doing this we should save local taxpayers almost £25 million this year.
“We’ve now saved almost £110 million in the past three years through our negotiating skills alone and we’ll continue to focus on finding ways of ensuring taxpayers’ money goes further while providing excellent services to the people of Surrey.”