NHS provider almost halves payment time thanks to Tradeshift partnership
NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) is a leading business support services provider to the largest healthcare organisation in the world; the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). It has been able to reduce the time it takes to pay its suppliers by more than half by moving to a cloud-based platform.
As a direct result of moving to cloud-based business platform, Tradeshift, just over a year ago, suppliers who use this platform are now paid in an average of 24 days instead of 42 – a 43 percent improvement in their payment time.
According to ABFA, UK SMEs are now waiting on average 72 days to get paid. The NHS has 175,000 suppliers, processes 7.2 million invoices a year, accounting for £170 billion of spend. With less flexible finances than their larger counterparts, smaller business suffer the most from late payments; by slashing the time it takes to pay, the NHS is in improving cash flow conditions for thousands of businesses of all sizes within its supply chain.
By transitioning from paper to cloud-based electronic invoices NHS SBS has also become significantly more efficient; less resource is required to push an invoice through the payment process, reducing the burden on NHS resources and allowing public money to be redirected to more valuable services.
Other successes achieved by the organisation since implementation of the Tradeshift platform include:
- The number of invoices electronically processed per month has increased, from 5,000 (May 2014) to 50,000 (October 2015)
- The average number of days from invoice date to available for approval has reduced from 14 days to 3 days – a 79 percent improvement. Accounts payable are now able to access invoice details and workflow straight away, instead of waiting for 3 days processing after it has been scanned
- Because of the e-invoicing process, there has been a 15 percent reduction in the number of query calls from suppliers because of upfront validation rules
Sharon Davidson, owner of Aresko, a consultancy provider for NHS clients’ said: “One of our main pain points is getting the money in – speed of payment of the invoices is absolutely vital to me and the solvency of my business. As a small company, I need to know that once I’ve raised the invoice that it’s going to be paid promptly.
What NHS SBS has done with Tradeshift is to enable that. Previously I would have to raise the invoice, send it in and sometimes chase it. Whereas now, I raise the invoice, it goes by the cloud system, and I have all the updates I need. Messages come in - signed off, paid and it’s perfect. I don’t have to make any phone calls myself, I get it all online. I’m delighted with it.”
Stephen Sutcliffe, Director of Finance and Accounting at NHS SBS explains the vision behind the Tradeshift partnership: “It’s important for NHS SBS to constantly strive to improve the quality of the NHS, not only to conserve our own resources and improve the relationship with our suppliers, but also to save public money. Managing the supply chains of over 300 NHS bodies is a huge task, which is why it’s so important to have back office processes streamlined and working as efficiently as they can.
Through Tradeshift we’ve been able to improve collaboration with our suppliers, which along with other LEAN processes we’ve adopted, has helped us conserve resources and is expected to help with our objective to save the NHS £1 billion by 2020.”
Christian Lanng, CEO, Tradeshift, said: “As we know from the regular headlines, late payments continue to be a huge problem in the UK. Roughly £26 billion is still owed to SMEs and four-fifths of those companies have to wait a month or more beyond the agreed terms. NHS SBS’ success shows it doesn’t need to be like this – its suppliers are now getting paid in less than two weeks. The technology now exists for businesses and suppliers to collaborate effectively, so there are no excuses left for firms burdening companies with late payments.”
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.