Invoice workflow

Accounts payable

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, North East and Yorkshire, Acute

The problem

The trust and its subsidiary company had a high number of invoices outstanding, most of them were identified as invoices on hold. In most cases they either needed to be matched to an existing PO or to be sent out for approval. The latter was a manual process which had to be tracked by email. In addition to delayed payments, the trust was not meeting the Better Payment Practice Code, was receiving lots of queries, accounts were going on stop and staff morale was low.

The challenge

How might we speed up the authorisation process for those invoices that could not be matched to a PO and for those invoices that do not require a PO?

The process had to ensure that full compliance with governance procedures was maintained in line with the standing financial instructions and the scheme of delegation. The process needed to embrace technology to improve efficiency and contribute to an improvement in staff morale.

The outputs

The product is a simple system generated email that once received by budget holders can be approved or rejected. This is often undertaken with a very quick turnaround, sometimes by managers using their mobile phone. In all instances a copy of the invoice is shared for the budget holder to approve. If the value is greater than their delegated power, the invoice will escalate to the next budget holder in the hierarchy.

The outcomes

Key outcomes included, improved Better Payment Practice Code performance, a reduced number of invoices outstanding on hold and awaiting approval and improved staff morale. The budget holder experience also improved and reduced reliance on paper signatures or labour-intensive email trails. The system also maintains an audit trail assisting with approval queries and internal audit reviews.

The Innovation

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All the 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

“This is great example of implementing a simple solution to free up time, improve flow and speed up payment to suppliers. A wonderful use of technology letting it do the heavy lifting”

“This is a brilliant cost-effective way to help get the invoices processed”

“This is an excellent innovation that adds efficiencies through the use of electronic workflows. that it can be achieved through no additional investment is a benefit.”

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Here are all of the documents and resources related to this innovation

Innovation L4

Accounts payable invoice workflow