A2B (Approval to Buy) – Virtual cards

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, North East and Yorkshire, Acute

The problem

Human resources (HR) need to be able to pay for VISA sponsorship applications for staff coming from overseas online using a purchasing card.

The challenges

The issue was that only one person had access to the traditional purchasing card and that individual was on long term sick leave.
There was no other way for HR to pay for these VISAs, which gave us the risk of delayed recruitments and additional agency costs. To mitigate this, a person from HR was having to travel 44 miles to the financial services department each time to enable the payments to be made, which was taking a lot of time, with additional travelling costs.
Also, during large international recruitments the credit limits on the card would not be sufficient meaning that interim payments to the bank had to be made to enable further visas to be purchased.

What were/are the outputs?

• We now have additional flexibility around online payments, whilst still adhering to the same controls as purchasing cards.
• Finance has been seen to be an enabler rather than being a blocker, by actively seeking out solutions.
• Reimbursement of ad-hoc payments have reduced as authorisation can be done up front, which in turn gives better control.
• The number of less controllable purchasing cards has reduced.
• There is greater transparency on transactions with additional mandatory fields to identify each transaction.
• There is a reduced risk of un-authorised transactions going through the system.
• Real time reports are available rather than waiting for the monthly statement to arrive.

What were/are the outcomes?

This innovation made it easier for the HR team to pay for VISA applications as they are not just limited to one person having a card. They can also book them at their convenience as they do not need help from finance at the point of purchase. As it is a virtual card system HR can make the purchases as and when they come up rather than saving large numbers of transactions to do with the finance team.
It has saved time for the financial services team because the output report is bespoke and can easily be uploaded via journal into the finance system, due to the mandatory fields put in place at the implementation level.
It has resulted in more detailed transactions being posted to the ledger, which has helped financial management and the HR team identify the spend.
Refunds automatically come through with the same reference, so they are easily identified.
Every transaction is assigned with authorisation controls and the expenditure now follows the same approval process as all other expenditure.

The Innovation

Read the full innovation on A2B (Approval to Buy) – Virtual cards

All documents and resources relating to this innovation can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of the page.

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What the peer-reviewers said

“The innovation clearly saves time and enables autonomy whilst retaining control.”

“The innovation provides financial control whilst expanding online purchasing to a wider cohort of individuals who need the access.”

“It is a significant improvement which has proven benefits including time saving, increased transparency and control, more accurate reporting and shorter processes for finance in terms of journal creation.”

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