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Getting P2P under Control - Award Winners from SSCL

In conversation with PPN Award Winner, Lee Prosser, Accounts Payable Manager at Shared Services Connected Ltd

PPN: Can you tell us a little about your work with suppliers – I believe you’ve been instrumental in creating a smoother invoice and PO process. What did you do?

Lee Prosser: Yes, I took an improvement opportunity to complete my Six Sigma Green Belt qualification on non-transactional invoice queries. And from there I gathered data on Service Requests and identified our largest pain points. Which for us was No/Invalid PO invoice submissions. Once that had been identified, I made a point of contacting all our suppliers to educated them on the correct invoicing procedure and reminded them that the Home Office run a strict No PO, No Pay policy. And to be honest, the improvement benefits both SSCL and the suppliers. Fewer queries and double handling of transactions for us, prompt payment for them!

PPN: Yes, I can see that as a win win! What’s been the result of this improvement?

Lee Prosser: Well, happily we’ve seen a 10% decrease in non-transactional service requests and a decrease in non-compliant invoice submissions. This drives a more efficient turnover time for us plus better cash flow certainty for the suppliers.

PPN: Today we’re focusing on regaining controls on P2P and avoiding fraud and risk & it’s a very real threat isn’t it. Can you tell us a little of the fraudulent attempt that you discovered.

Lee Prosser: Yes, absolutely. For the whole time that finance is evolving, so are the fraudsters. We completed internal bank amendment controls and procedures with a supposed supplier and suspicions were raised about the validity of the request. We reached out to the Home Office requestor of services, who confirmed our suspicions that the supplier’s email exchanges had been intercepted by fraudsters. We reported the fraud to our fraud team who liaise with police and NCA.

PPN: What steps have been taken to control and prevent repeat attempts?

Lee Prosser: While we can’t eradicate fraudulent attempts, we can reduce their likelihood of success. Subsequent to the attempt we suffered, we held meetings with the Home Office to review process and agreed on further internal controls and procedures to ensure fraudulent attempts are mitigated in the future too. .

PPN: You’ve moved away from excel and more manual processes towards further automation – what sort of change management did that involve?

Lee Prosser: We’re always looking for automation opportunities to improve efficiency and customer experience. The change process that we went through involved liaising with key stakeholders both in SSCL and the client space to ensure all were happy with the proposal. We were clear in outlining benefits and cost savings and made sure the process included multiple rounds of testing to address any concerns or issues. We agreed a date and implemented into live practices.

PPN: This isn’t the first award that you’ve won is it – you’ve received various Home Office star awards – perhaps you can tell us what motivates and drives you to succeed?

Lee Prosser: My own personal development is important to me, I constantly want to learn and grow as a person and in my work. What motivates me is my kids. They’re my motivation behind what I do. I sort of fell into finance, but want to show them that you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to.

PPN: What’s the most interesting part of the job for you?

Lee Prosser: Looking at the bigger picture, how what we do helps government functions run as smoothly as possible. We pay invoices that support government operations, border force (boat maintenance, fuel), prisons (food, officer salaries), courts (judges, interpreters).

PPN: How important is the buy in of your senior management team to yours and the team’s success?

Lee Prosser: It’s extremely important, they set a strong and clear vision for SSCL. They review and provide input into continuous improvement projects. For the team, they set realistic targets so that everyone knows what is expected of them and why, with open visibility of SLA/KPIs. For my personal success, they allow me to develop constantly with support completing my AAT and Six Sigma qualifications, also support studying ACCA in the near future.

PPN: What improvements are you and the team looking at next?

Lee Prosser: We’re looking to drive down non-compliance in other areas, revamping our SLA/KPI reporting and looking for process improvement and automation to improve the customer experience.

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Avalara helps businesses of all sizes get tax compliance right. In partnership with leading ERP, accounting, eCommerce and other financial management system providers, Avalara delivers cloudbased compliance solutions for various transactional taxes, including sales and use, VAT, GST, excise, communications, lodging, and other indirect tax types. Headquartered in Seattle, Avalara has offices across the U.S. and around the world in Canada, the U.K., Belgium, Brazil, and India.