Whakarongorau Aotearoa (previously Homecare Medical) is a social enterprise owned by ProCare and Pegasus Health, two of New Zealand’s largest primary health organisations. The business has over 350 staff nationally and operates from premises in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and from home offices across the country.
Whakarongorau runs the National Telehealth Service, which delivers free 24/7 health and mental health advice, support and information. The helplines, running across seven different channels, include Healthline, Need to talk? 1737, Quitline and other specialist services. Whakarongorau also provides nurse triage support for around 60% of New Zealand’s General Practices, so patients’ calls are answered after-hours.
Tackling finance and procure-to-pay pains
Nick Davies, Whakarongorau's Head of Finance and Corporate Services, joined the company in early 2016. Back then, the organisation’s annual turnover was just under $30M and future financial goals were ambitious. Nick knew they needed a new finance system and a procure-to-pay solution to support their growth.
He had a clear vision of the business needs. “We wanted to automate our accounts payable process and introduce a finance system that would grow with us. Both systems needed to be off-the-shelf plug-ins that wouldn’t break the bank.”
The approve-to-pay problem
Whakarongorau Aotearoa receives around 1,000 paper and digital invoices every month.
With some invoices running up to 1,000 pages a month, there was a significant workload for the external accounts payables team of two FTE. Vast amounts of time were spent opening or downloading physical and electronic invoices. As well as manually entering the data into the finance system, each individual invoice needed to be coded, reviewed and approved for payment.
“We knew the huge amount of administrative time we spent on approving invoices could be used more efficiently elsewhere. Our process didn’t allow for people not being available to provide sign off, or invoices being misplaced or moved. We had poor visibility of what we had floating around at any one time.”Nick Davies, Whakarongorau Aotearoa’s Head of Finance and Corporate Services
“We also faced paying invoices late or incorrectly if they weren’t properly coded. We were spending more time doing the admin than thinking about the costs we were incurring, and why. Reducing our dependency on manual processes was critical for us.”