Since winning the franchise in 1996, Chiltern Railways has been successfully running scheduled passenger services along the M40 corridor between London and Birmingham. As one of the franchises forming the UK’s National Rail network, they focus on providing passengers with a safe, reliable and value for money service offering a viable alternative to other modes of transport.
In 2002 Chiltern extended their operations as far as Kidderminster and in 2004 took over services between Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Having recently been acquired by Deutsche Bahn AG, Chiltern continues to strive to be the best passenger railway in the UK, offering a wide range of great value tickets and one of the most punctual and reliable rail services in the country.
Chiltern was keen to move to a paperless office. Every invoice going out needed manual authorisation, and there was a significant delay in payments to suppliers, as well as a time delay for invoices being returned from approval. “Historically, we had no overall control on the purchase authorisation process,” says Jill Teasdale, Chiltern Railways Finance Manager. “As the process was manual, some of the invoices were sent out for authorisation, and some were approved by individuals without the appropriate authority.”
Chiltern needed to bring order and control into their back office financial systems. Being a current Microsoft Dynamics® NAV customer, the logical solution at the time was to maintain the business process within the product. However, the Microsoft Dynamics NAV functionality didn’t extend to the purchase requisitions and authorisation process, and an alternative solution was needed.
“It was time consuming for a short period, but Tectura was supportive throughout the project, dedicating a significant amount of time. They were quick to sort out any problems and the overall implementation was a smooth experience.”
It was a logical step for Chiltern to continue working with Tectura, their implementation partner for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Tectura developed and sells an ISV solution, ReQlogic™, a leading .NET browser based procurement, requisitioning, vendor invoicing, expense processing and workflow application which seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. “As the incumbent partner, Tectura had a track record of success, and really understood our business,” highlights Teasdale.
Chiltern wanted to create requisitions with direct access to Microsoft Dynamics NAV. ReQlogic, allowed purchase requisitions to be created and approved, adhering to Chiltern’s approval accounting policies. “ReQlogic speeds up invoice processing,” continues Teasdale. “The invoices come in, and there’s a purchase order already raised and authorised. As long as the order is receipted, with no variations to the invoice amount, suppliers are paid on time.”
With many different scenarios to accommodate, Chiltern and Tectura worked closely to ensure that rigorous testing was carried out. The project didn’t go live until every scenario had been checked, and every knock on effect understood. The implementation team was responsible for setting up the system and carrying out small elements of development. “It was time consuming for a short period, but Tectura was supportive throughout the project, dedicating a significant amount of time,” says Teasdale. “They were quick to sort out any problems and the overall implementation was a smooth experience.” After a short period of fine tuning, Chiltern soon had a product that matched their specific purchasing business processes.
The impact of the new ReQlogic solution was not just internal to Chiltern’s processes, as they affected suppliers as well. The finance team had to write to all suppliers instructing them of the new system and the new business processes they needed to adapt to. Teasdale goes on to say, “We needed to improve our financial housekeeping. If a supplier didn’t have a purchase order, then we instructed them not to accept the order.”
ReQlogic provides Chiltern a cost effective addition to Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The application is very simple to use, with minimal training required. “The ReQlogic solution, with some customisation, fits with the Chiltern way of doing things,” highlights Teasdale. “An individual can now order against 15 different cost centres, with each one having a different authoriser.”
With over 60 users easily accessing the system via the Chiltern intranet site, they now have more control, changing the whole working culture. “Everyone can now only use authorised suppliers, as the ReQlogic solution is fully integrated with the approved supplier list set up within Microsoft Dynamics NAV,” says Teasdale.
Chiltern is gaining more efficiencies through more effective use of their suppliers. With over 500 suppliers, and processing around 460 invoices every week, the whole purchasing process is now more efficient. Chiltern manages its accounts and accruals more effectively with a proper purchase authorisation system in place. “ReQlogic is a comprehensive solution with no outstanding queries,” highlights Teasdale. With an accounts team enjoying more bandwidth to reconcile supplier statements and concentrate on supplier relationships, Teasdale concludes, “Chiltern has improved its purchase to pay process by 60%, and has made savings on late payment fees.”