Shaun Carroll

Shaun Carroll

CPO at Mitie Group

CPO at Mitie Group Shaun Carroll explains the rapid benefits of the digital transformation of procurement

When Shaun Carroll arrived at Mitie Group in 2021 he met an organisation undergoing a large digital transformation of its procurement function, but is now feeling the benefits of a fit-for-purpose solution.  

Mitie Group is the UK’s leading facilities management company, offering services across engineering, cleaning, security, landscaping, waste management, energy management,

decarbonisation services and telecoms. The business supports world famous brands, iconic landmarks, public sector bodies and government agencies.

What were the main challenges Mitie’s procurement operation was facing?

When I joined Mitie in 2021 the business was still going through its transformation programme, which included implementing its digital strategy. This meant that many procurement processes were less efficient than they should be, or even being managed manually. This made it extremely difficult for us to access real-time data and information about our third-party supplier base and associated spend. By digitising and standardising these processes, we’re now able to access this data and provide more strategic support to our colleagues in the business. With the improved visibility of data, we are now better able to identify areas of ‘non-compliant’ spend, for example where our preferred suppliers aren’t being used, giving us better control and visibility of which businesses we are transacting with.

What specific issues was the procurement function facing?  

Previously there wasn’t a standardised purchase to pay (P2P) solution available across Mitie, which caused a high reliance on the manual processing of invoices. Since implementing our solution, Coupa, into the Mitie business we’ve been able to overcome this.

Eighty-nine per cent% of purchase orders are now electronic and we’ve eliminated more than 270,000 generic order emails being sent unnecessarily — as well as the time and efficiency benefits for the business, this has also meant we’ve saved 54 trees worth of paper and by digitising our P2P processes.

How did you go about starting the digital transformation?

Our first step was to implement a single digital platform for all our procurement processes, leveraging technology wherever possible to remove unnecessary manual tasks and create a more efficient, quicker procurement system. This has included migrating our systems and data to the cloud, rolling out smart devices and using data analytics to better inform and adopt our procurement strategy.

As a provider of specialist services ourselves, we understand the importance of bringing in external support for areas outside of our own expertise. After a vigorous tendering process, we chose Coupa as our digital supplier platform across the organisation to help us with the problems that we had identified. As with any transformation project, it’s important to get buy in at all levels — our original business case was approved by the Board, but we also worked with colleagues throughout Mitie to get their support in rolling out Coupa to our colleagues.

What have the main benefits been to the company?

Implementing a digitally-led procurement function has helped us streamline our operations, giving us access to all our real time data. This includes being able to quickly see whether our purchase orders (POs) are being assigned to the right suppliers, that they have had the appropriate internal sign off and that a PO is in place before the work has been done. 

With this data sitting in the cloud, it’s available to all our teams across the UK, as well as our external suppliers that provide procurement support.

This digital approach has also enabled us to implement straight through processing, making the end-to-end source-to-pay process much more efficient. As well as making the process quicker and easier for colleagues across Mitie, it has also helped to alleviate the administrative burden for the procurement team, who can now focus on more specialist and strategic work.

Having all our supplier information in one platform also provides us with a clearer view and control over supplier payment terms, ensuring we’re keeping payments on track. Not only does this help us manage our working capital more easily, but as a leading British business, we take our responsibility to pay our suppliers in a timely way very seriously, particularly for smaller businesses and social enterprises. 

Coupa is also helping us in our journey to consolidate our supplier numbers. Prior to the transformation we had a combined supply chain of 15,000 suppliers, now we’re working with around 7,000 suppliers. 

With this tool we’re also more easily able to see how much is being spent with our preferred suppliers, which is now tracking at about 58% of our total spend. By supporting the business to work more with our preferred suppliers, we’re accessing better value for money, ensuring a consistent standard of products and services across the business and have assurance that these companies meet our stringent health, safety and environmental standards.

In a nutshell, having all of this data in one place gives a much higher level of visibility and control over who our suppliers are and how much we are spending with them.

Do you have any specific examples of early successes?

Implementing the change has helped us save £2 million (US$ 2.6m) in the first half of Financial Year 2023, with us on track to deliver £10 million (US$ 12.7m) in savings by the end of Financial Year 2024. Since going live in March 2022, Mitie has implemented P2P across more than £650m (US$ 828m) (around 50%) of our third party spend, with over £1 billion (US$ 1.27bn) spent through the new system. We have achieved ‘touchless electronic invoicing’ for 98% of invoices as well as reaching 99.9% PO-backed invoices, stats we are really proud of. The requisition approval time is now just three hours, compared to what used to be several days, in part this is thanks to our high levels of ‘straight through processing’.

We’ve also had positive feedback from our suppliers, who can now benefit from online visibility of POs, quick and easy invoice creation and real time access to the status of their invoices.

What have the benefits been to clients and customers?

While facilities management is traditionally a low margin industry, we believe that investment in technology is the best way for us to work more efficiently, generate financial savings and provide a better service for our customers. This is true for every part of our business, from an operational level, right through to our ‘back office’ functions. By investing in our procurement systems, we’re also helping our suppliers by removing many of the frustrations of a slow billing and payments process.

How do you feel you can continue to improve?

The deployment is one part of a wider finance transformation journey, which includes working capital improvements through both accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR). Coupa fits into our AP working capital improvement programme, which also involves working with a specialist external supplier for back-office finance transactional activities.

We’re currently in the process of transitioning to this supplier and expect to complete that in Q2 of Financial Year 2025.

After its initial implementation, we also want to take the solution to the next level and use it as a platform to analyse data, harnessing all the information we now have at our fingertips to support better, more strategic decision-making.

How much of a personal and professional challenge has it been?

As with the implementation of any new technology, the biggest challenge is often bringing colleagues along on the journey with you — and for an organisation of our size, that is no mean feat. While some colleagues may have initially been hesitant to move away from the systems and processes they were familiar with, once they realised the efficiency and simplicity of the platform, they really embraced the system. I have been very proud to hear the positive feedback from all over the Mitie business about the improvements we have made to our processes.

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