Our client, a New Zealand Government Department, was aware that their accounts payable performance was inconsistent, involved significant re-work, and took too long, but they had little visibility of the process or where the weaknesses were.  


The economic downturn saw the Government encouraging departments to pay their bills promptly, creating pressure for our client to significantly improve their performance.  Our client recognised that they needed greater visibility on how the accounts payable process was being performed across its nine business units.  

Igniter was engaged to review and map the existing processes, identify areas for improvement, design a future process, and to present a plan to implement the recommendations.  

Igniter's approach:  

Igniter began by conducting interviews with Accounts Payable staff across all nine business units, and used the information obtained to prepare process maps that demonstrated how each unit was performing. A review of all the processes identified areas of wasted time and effort, over-handling, and high variability. 

Igniter used this information to present a set of ‘quick win’ recommendations that would have an immediate impact on the overall time taken to process invoices. 

Additional recommendations were made which focused on improving the efficiency of invoice processing through centralizing functions, improving invoice format and information, and by implementing a purchase order approach. 

To support these proposed changes and ensure their ongoing effectiveness, Igniter designed an additional process by which the client could actively draw upon key metrics identified as critical in measuring the performance of their Accounts Payable function.

Finally, the quick wins, recommendations and performance metrics were pulled together into a plan that presented the critical steps for implementing each change, along with a stakeholder communication approach to ensure the changes were effectively embedded.

Outcomes for our client:  

Presenting clear and measurable information allowed the client to understand the scope of the situation at hand, and to pinpoint where changes would have the greatest impact - an important factor in ensuring improvements could be achieved in a timely fashion. 

The inclusion of performance metrics ensured that the client was equipped with the tools to continue to operate their Accounts Payable function at maximum efficiency into the future and without the need for external assistance.

Through the help of Igniter, the client is now able to:

- centralise skills and expertise to a few key people

- make changes thathad an immediate and demonstrable impact on performance, and

- communicate, embed and manage the performance of their processes.