Many of us are working remotely more often as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has brought about a shift towards more online processing for purchases. We are also purchasing more from overseas suppliers than we did a few years ago.
Some of the systems and forms we presently use were set up to deal largely with hard copy paperwork, predominantly from UK-based companies, rather than online transactions and electronic documents from global organisations. This can mean that processing payments can sometimes be complex and time-consuming.
These shifts in our ways of working also bring the potential for significant financial risk to the University. Over recent years fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated in the way that they target individuals and organisations. In fact, Loughborough has been targeted on numerous occasions already this year.
To improve the processes for the staff who use them and reduce the risk of fraudsters being able to target the University, the Finance Office has made a series of changes to the University’s policies and processes. For instance, they have:
- Improved some of the forms to ensure they are appropriate for electronic use and today’s risk environment. For example, the expenses claim form has been updated and simplified and the P1 and FP1 forms are being replaced
- Enabled purchase orders to be raised and invoices processed in a range of foreign currencies on Agresso (being launched in the coming weeks)
- Refreshed and simplified the expenses and purchasing card policies
- Merged the process for CAAF and supplier set-up to reduce admin
- Clarified the circumstances where it is acceptable not to raise a purchase order.
James Henry, Deputy Director of Finance, says: “We need our processes to reflect the changing way in which we all operate so we can work effectively, efficiently and safely.
“But alongside the changes we’re making, we still need staff to make sure they’re using the appropriate systems. Think carefully about which process you should be using to buy goods and services whenever you’re paying for existing or new contracts, one-off payments, expenses etc, and make sure your spend is within the parameters of the University’s policies.
“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be writing to all our suppliers to remind them that we won’t make payments if a Loughborough University purchase order hasn’t been raised, or if one of our policies has been breached.”
James continues: “These are significant changes, so we’ll be working flexibly with colleagues in the run up to Christmas as everyone adapts to the new systems. We’ve also launched our new finance website and set up some new email addresses to align with the new processes, so everything is more user-focused. Hopefully this will help to guide everyone through the refreshed processes.
“By working together in this way, we can make the purchasing process better for everyone, and make sure Loughborough is less likely to become the target of fraudsters.”
If you are responsible for purchasing items within your office, Department or School, there will be a series of Q&A sessions so you can find out more. These will be held at 10am on 4, 11, 18 and 25 November.
To book onto one of the sessions, please email Emma Burrow in the Finance Office.