North West based housing provider, Onward manages 35,000 properties across the region from multiple office sites. By upgrading their MRI Housing Finance Enterprise integration to take advantage of the powerful features offered by eBIS, Onward have achieved significant efficiencies and cost savings within their Accounts Payable team.
Onward had used OpenAccounts for over ten years, but found that their outdated document scanning solution was becoming increasingly inefficient and unreliable. The team conducted a rigorous selection process to identify a more modern alternative, and after an in-depth demonstration and testing process, selected MRI Financials to integrate OpenAccounts with the wider business.
Operational efficiencies via automation
Onward Housing’s previous system required invoices submitted via email to be printed, manually date-stamped and barcoded, then scanned back into the system. This led to delays in invoice approvals and payments, as well as significant paperwork for the Accounts Payable team requiring them to invest in temporary staff to keep up with the workload.
With MRI’s V1 and eBIS systems, emailed invoices are now dropped into a file server and automatically scanned and read by the DB Capture system, which matches the invoice to a purchase order number, requiring only a simple approval from a team member before being processed. The system also allows greater control and visibility over purchasing behaviour within teams, as well as the ability to quickly set up one-off payment requests, for example for rent refunds.
Smooth implementation, training and ongoing customisation
A key reason for choosing MRI Financials was the direct integration available with OpenAccounts, and the ability to customise this to their requirements. Systems Manager Kyle Austin was impressed by the speed of implementation of the new systems:
“We already had a V1 integration, so the cost to implement was relatively small. MRI remotely dialled into our server and behind the scenes set up everything that was required. It was the most painless implementation I’ve ever done – it took two hours to migrate the system from test to live… it really was that fluid.”– Kyle Austin, Systems Manager at Onward Homes
As part of the launch, Onward took time to implement rigorous training procedures to ensure that staff across the company were confident using eBIS. By creating testing and training environments for new features, Onward were able to ensure that individuals who were affected by new features or changes in working processes were fully up-to-speed with the new system before it launched. Onward placed a high priority on ensuring that teams had everything they needed to get the most out of the new system, creating a suite of training materials including Webex and Skype training sessions, PDFs, and videos covering the most common tasks.
Benefits to Onward teams
Since implementing eBIS, Onward have significantly reduced the number of paper documents they process. With 80% of invoices they receive arriving via email, moving to fully digital processing has led to savings on paper and printing costs, as well as a reduction in the organisation’s carbon footprint.
Digital processing has also made it easier for accounts teams to access the data they need across Onward’s offices. Rachel Smith, Accounts Payable Manager at Onward, explains “eBIS allows me to manage the Accounts Payable function from any location. Whereas previously I’d have to be in the office with my team to see what their workload is, I can now log in from any location, and manage my team from any office”. Full visibility of invoices being processed allows Onward’s team to prioritise invoices based on due date, reducing time to payment.
The shift to Orchard V1 has also had a lasting impact on the Accounts Payable team’s day to day workload. “What we were using before was very labour intensive”, Rachel explains:
“Invoices coming in had to be printed and date stamped, barcode printed and scanned in before they could be sent out, so users could see the invoice image. There were lots of manual steps, but V1 has allowed us to automate all of that. This allows us a lot more free time to deal with statements, queries, aged creditors and debit balances. It allows us to be much more efficient as a team”.
Since implementing V1, the Accounts Payable team have seen a noticeable change in their workload, eliminating their average 1 week backlog in invoice processing. They also no longer have any requirements for temporary support.
Ongoing support and new features with MRI
A lasting benefit of MRI V1 and eBIS is the ability for Onward to continuously develop and customise their implementation to meet their needs, with support and advice from MRI’s team where necessary.
Amy Mould, Systems Assistant at Onward, says: “I love eBIS. It’s really sad, but tweaking eBIS is the best part of my job! If we don’t know how to do something, MRI will respond within a couple of hours. Pretty much whatever we can think of, we can get it to do, and whenever we’ve had a query MRI have been very helpful.”