Tradeshift and NHS SBS; e-invoicing innovation in the UK health sector

We mentioned last week the announcement that the National Health Service Shared Business Services operation announced that they are using the Tradeshift platform for e-invoicing.

SBS is a joint venture between the Department of Health and Steria, the French business services firm, and runs a number of back office services for the UK’s health service. Some parts of the health network are mandated in effect to use SBS; others, such as most hospitals, have the choice whether they want to use them or not. “We currently employ over 1,800 people who bring a unique mix of NHS and commercial expertise. We now process around £92 billion of NHS payments each year, pay 200,000 NHS employees and recover more than £14 billion of NHS debt for our clients”.

Invoice processing is one of the major service lines for the operation, and historically the OB10 (Tungsten) platform has been used by SBS, but less than 10% of invoices were received and processed electronically. (More on Tungsten tomorrow, by the way – last week wasn’t a bad one for that firm  either).

In  the press release last week, Simon Murphy, NHS SBS Director of Finance and Accounting, said: “We are constantly looking to make business processes as efficient as possible in order to derive maximum value from NHS resources. Tradeshift enables us to do exactly that. Implementing e-invoicing is an incredibly important step for us in simplifying and modernising supplier interactions on behalf of our clients, by allowing our organisation and our suppliers to focus on value-adding activities. We are looking forward to seeing the benefits throughout the supply chain. Tradeshift also gives us a brilliant platform for better collaboration, and will allow us to scale up and evolve with suppliers, as well as introduce innovative solutions.”

My colleague, Jason Busch, spoke to Murphy last week. He emphasised that  the Tradeshift platform being free to users is a key benefit, and that he believes that will be a major factor in driving adoption of e-invoicing. He talked about the benefits in terms of validating the invoice before it is presented, and also spoke about the potential to broaden usage of the platform into wider areas of collaboration around other elements of the finance and procurement process. There will be more detail  from Jason to follow.

There’s no doubt this is a major moment for Tradeshift. Remember as well that Steria won the contract recently to manage one of the UK central government’s two shared services centres. The potential for them to leverage this win more widely is significant, assuming the programme delivers as plans, and it is part of Tradeshift moving from being an “interesting maverick” to (potentially) a serious force in the e-invoicing business, and indeed more widely.

First Voice

  1. Sam Unkim:

    There is also an interesting side benefit to e-invoicing. Traditional paper based invoice processes are primarily concerned with the total ££ amount and getting it paid on time.
    A e-invoice though, is chockfull of data, just waiting to be used and interrogated. Imagine a HoP being able to view every single product invoiced in a year (with a consistent supplier derived description) regardless of if it originated as a PO….. No more dark corners & data cleansing
    Of course whether SBS choose to record, then allow access and reporting at this deep level, remains to be seen.

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