Monday 11th June, 2012
The Scottish Forum was launched a year ago and has been an outstanding success with the quarterly meetings attracting attendees from nearly all of Scotland’s authorities, who have responded very positively to having an opportunity to meet and share ideas and best practice.
As the Forum approaches its first year anniversary, its Chairman Garry Stevens, Financial Services Manager at Aberdeen City Council, reflects on what has been achieved to date.
“During 2010 at Aberdeen City Council we started a journey of centralising our AP function and deploying AP automation technology. As part of this I was keen to gain insight from other Authorities on their experiences. Although initially this was time consuming, the discussions and input I had made me realise that a lot could be gained from creating a forum to enable the Councils to collaborate on issues facing all accounts payable functions.
With FISCAL Technologies’ direct help and sponsorship we were able to get the forum off the ground and the first meeting was held in June last year, attended by 29 out of the 32 local authorities in Scotland.”
The four meetings held during our first year have proven very successful, with many relevant topics being discussed. Feedback from attendees has also been excellent with many commenting that being able to meet with other people facing the same issues has made them feel they were not alone.
A conscious effort is made to ensure that the forum does not just turn in to a "talking shop" but actually produces some outcomes around best practice in AP, systems and processes. We are engaging with Audit Scotland and CIPFA around performance indicators and cost to process criteria. Working groups have been set up and reported back to the Forum on areas such as cost to process, purchase cards, and blocked invoices. The next forum meeting will include a round-table discussion in smaller groups on driving value and cost savings in AP.
An online knowledge hub has been set up where all attendees can access information from the forum, such as minutes, agendas, and also raise any issues they may have for discussion.
Each forum meeting includes a slot for supplier sponsors to present to the attendees, and this has included current automation software available in AP for invoice processing, IAPP accreditation, and fraud.
Looking back on the last 12 months it has been very rewarding to see the forum progress, contacts being made and outcomes starting to be delivered. We have a good momentum in the group with a willingness to share experiences both good and bad in AP. I am sure the next 12 months will be just as rewarding. A lot of credit has to go to FISCAL who put in a lot of work to assist in making the forum the success that it is.
Some other feedback from attendees:-
“I feel the Forum is well organised and does allow each member of the Forum a chance to explain how their own Council works and does give the opportunity for facts and opinions to be exchanged in a worthwhile and professional manner.” Gordon Smith, Edinburgh City Council
“The Forum so far has been very beneficial for me – I have found that the knowledge and expertise of the people who attend have provided me with a great deal of ideas and new innovative ways of moving forward with my own AP team.” Lynn Anderson, South Lanarkshire Council