Rockford Associates Limited walks us through a challenge for Royal Holloway – University of London, remote cash recovery
During 2020, Further Education establishments faced unprecedented financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the identification, verification and recovery of any overpaid cash are vital to cash flow, ultimate “bottom line” profitability and balance sheet.
Royal Holloway – University of London (RHUL) is no exception. Formally incorporated as Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, it is a public research university and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It has six schools, 21 academic departments and approximately 10,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students from over 100 countries. It employs around 2,300 members of staff, including 534 academic staff and 132 research staff and is ranked in the top 300 universities in the world as published by Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2020. The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 also shortlisted the institution for University of the Year 2020.
In March 2020 as the COVID “lockdown” befell the UK, RHUL commissioned Rockford Associates to undertake a risk-free and independent review of its Accounts Payable Systems and Processes to ensure no overpayments had been made to its core suppliers and to validate internal systems were working well. Whilst many staff were furloughed and working from home, it sought a fully comprehensive review and a high degree of flexibility. The University themselves correctly identified some overpayments and required a Partner that would collect and recover those monies due whilst also undertaking the typical AP review process.
The entire end to end solution was delivered remotely. Rockford and RHUL extracted a full six years of retrospective Agresso Accounts Payable transaction data, a process made easy by Rockford, providing a standard data specification which ensures there is no need for clients to become involved with scripting or software development tasks. Data was speedily uploaded to Rockford’s secure share file site (Rockford is Cyber Essentials Plus Certified) and Rockford produced its AP Analytics reports by running the transaction data through its bespoke data mining software “Pathfinder”. A Senior Recovery Auditor was assigned to deliver a full end to end review by conducting an analysis of Rockford’s AP Analytic reports whilst concurrently delivering a seamless statement review. The entire solution was delivered successfully with access to a client email address and “read-only” access to finance systems with minimum disruption to the University Accounts Payable and Finance Teams.
Rockford retrospectively analysed over 209,000 payables transactions from the University Agresso Finance system and identified, verified and recovered only 29 exceptions. This provided the University with a positive reassurance that 99.98% of transactions were processed correctly by invoice volume and 99.99% of transactions were processed correctly by value. In addition to the return of a five-figure cash sum, this reassurance and positive validation is excellent given the University’s historic third party spend exceeded some £730 million. Rockford examined some 17,833 records from the University Supplier Master File with the University declaring 11,965 inactive and Rockford identifying a further 2,044 inactive suppliers. 78.2% of all University Suppliers responded positively to the impartial review during the challenging COVID “lockdown” demonstrating the AP review could be delivered entirely remotely and moreover, a testament to the positive working relationships the University AP and Procurement teams have forged with its suppliers. The Accounts Payable Review was complimented by Rockford’s documented Findings and Recommendations Report (FAR) detailing a breakdown of all recoveries, control observations with Solutions and Recommendations to minimise further future exceptions.
Daniel Barry MCIPS Chartered MInstLM – Head of Procurement said: “It is excellent Rockford managed to conduct the entire risk-free AP Review remotely during the challenging “COVID lockdown” and recovered a five-figure cash sum to assist the University’s cash flows. Works were delivered professionally, seamlessly and moreover with minimum disruption to the AP team who were either furloughed or working from home bases. Implementing the service was straight forward using the Procurement Compliant direct award procedure of the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Spend Analysis and Recovery Services Framework Agreement RM3820.”
Ray Dorney, Director, Rockford Associates Limited commented: “Rockford has delivered successful reviews with other members of the University of London and it was a pleasure to replicate this success with the Royal Holloway – University of London by recovering a cash sum of five figures. The challenge presented during “COVID lockdown” demonstrated Rockford’s proven AP review processes stood up to full scrutiny when delivered remotely.”
Rockford Associates Limited is a socially-focused and accredited Living Wage Employer. Since 2001, it has delivered over 700 Accounts Payable Reviews with its signature recovery techniques and recovered over £100M on behalf of Public and Private Sector Clients entirely “risk-free”. As a supplier of services under the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) RM3820 Framework Agreement it is aligned with industry best practice and procurement compliant routes to market.
Clients include commercial organisations operating in all market sectors, as well as County, City and Metropolitan Borough Councils, NHS Trusts, Housing Associations, Universities, Charities and Government Departments.
To find out more and how you would benefit from an audit completed by Rockford Associates, or if you would like to see more case studies of how we have assisted other organisations please feel welcome to get in touch. After all, it costs you nothing.
Rockford Associates Limited
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Rockford Associates – recovery audit specialists
Rockford Associates is a leading professional firm of recovery audit specialists, working across the private and public sectors.