Pioneering Payment Efficiency and Control in UAE
by Bernhard Solleder, Director Group Finance & Business Development, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, PJSC
The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) was incorporated in 2007 to provide high quality healthcare in Abu Dhabi. As a socially and financially responsible enterprise, SEHA is committed to using public funds in the best way possible, which includes streamlining processes to optimise service delivery and enhance cost-efficiency. As this article outlines, SEHA has embarked on a flagship project to automate and improve control over payment processes to reduce costs, optimise financial integrity and ensure the timeliness and accuracy of payments to suppliers.
SEHA has 10 business entities (hospitals and centralised services) each of which manages its own finance function (including cash and treasury management) independently. Each entity has four bank accounts, resulting in 40 accounts at a group level. Before embarking on this project, it was difficult to achieve timely, accurate visibility of funds at a group level or consistency over financial processes. All cash and treasury processes, including payments, were conducted manually, requiring up to eight physical documents to support each payment. The minimum time for approving an invoice was 10 days with no ability to track the status of a payment throughout its lifecycle. Troubleshooting errors or delays (such as incomplete or incorrect payment instructions, incomplete approvals etc.) was a considerable challenge, with a high incidence of late payments, potentially harming supplier relationships, increasing risk in the supply chain and creating reputational damage.
Devising a solution
Having identified the limitations in our existing processes, we made the decision to automate our procure-to-pay process by developing a custom workflow in our ERP (Oracle) that would specifically meet our requirements. This would be integrated with our banking partner, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) via a real-time, host-to-host connection.