Case Study

Central England Co-operative Society Rapidly Reconciles Supplier Invoices

60%-time reduction

to complete invoice reconciliation

Operational visibility

a complete view of all invoices and claims

Employees focused

on value adding activity

We’ve been using Blue Prism only a year and we’ve gotten approval from our Executives to ‘go forth and conquer’ a larger roadmap and increase the size of both our human and digital workforce. We are going to build more in the intelligent automation space and support the Society’s wider digital transformation strategy.”
Scott Worth Performance and Productivity Improvement Manager

From food stores to funeral homes, Central England Co-operative operates a diverse portfolio. While offering such a variety of products and services is convenient for its 250,000 members, there were opportunities to continually improve the services in the Finance Shared Service department. Sourcing more localized products to sell in retail stores and funeral homes meant the number of suppliers increased, leading to more supplier accounts needing to be reconciled. To help tackle the extra work, the Society deployed intelligent automation from Blue Prism.

Challenge

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retailers in the UK. Through its 400 trading locations, it offers members access to everything from food to funeral services, florists, fuel stations, masonry outlets, and even a coffin factory. Every month, the Society received around 1,300 supplier invoices and there was a need to reconcile the accounts on a more regular basis—instead of every six or 12 months, they wanted to reconcile accounts every four weeks for the top 87% of regular suppliers.

Making matters worse, when discrepancies arose about pricing or the difference between what was ordered and delivered, the Society needed a more efficient way to gain an overall picture of the problem. With a 90-day cut off for any invoice claims, the Society was at risk of losing money by not making claims fast enough, or even knowing if and when claims were being settled.

Solution

The Society deployed a Blue Prism digital workforce. Focusing on the top 87% of spend suppliers first, the digital workers are now helping the Society reconcile supplier accounts on a four-weekly basis (even every 24 hours if needed), reducing its reconciliation period from the previous 6-12 months. Since invoices are processed digitally, colleagues are no longer required to print more than 1,000 pages of paper. It’s a benefit that’s not only good for the business but also good for the planet.

Better still, when invoice discrepancy claims are made or an invoice is rejected, the digital workers can collate all the incoming notices, giving the finance department a clearer picture. They now know what needs to be claimed, the status of all current claims, and where claims are in relation to the 90-day cut off. What’s more, freed from all those time-consuming and repetitive tasks, the Society’s finance team has been able to refocus on creating greater value for the business like quickly answering customer queries.

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