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Visibility and control

Audit report prompts charity to introduce paperless process for requisitions and purchase orders based on M-Files information management system

Integration with SAGE means documents can be stored and managed in M-files
Integration with SAGE means documents can be stored and managed in M-files

Hollybank Trust, a registered charity based in West Yorkshire, has been providing care to adults and children for more than 60 years through a special school, residential homes and daytime activity programme.

The charity was initially introduced to the M-Files enterprise information management (EIM) solution in 2014 to meet a requirement for a document archive for its finance department. The trust was impressed with M-Files and was interested in making use of the system to tackle other challenges within the finance department.

The opportunity to do so arose when auditors warned that the process it was using to manage requisitions and purchase orders was open to abuse and needed to be addressed.

When making a purchase on behalf of the trust, staff would submit a hand-written requisition form to their manager. Once this was reviewed and approved, it would be routed to the finance department where a purchase order would be raised.

Because the process was based on handwritten paper forms, it was slow, cumbersome and easy to bypass. There was no audit trail and no simple way to see whether a requisition order had been approved or where it was in the approval process.

To satisfy the concerns of its auditors and gain end-to-end visibility of the process, Hollybank Trust took a decision to digitise and automate the work?ow.

For Martin Wilson, Head of Finance at Hollybank Trust, an obvious starting point was the finance department’s existing information management system. “Since we were already familiar with M-Files, we thought it might be able to meet our needs, but it was only when we met with M-Files partner EBC Group that we realised just how powerful the system was,” he said.

“Not only could M-Files address the issues with our requisition process and improve our auditability, it also had the potential to streamline a number of other processes within the department, as well as allowing us to work almost entirely without paper.”

Paperless workflow

M-Files Gold Partner EBC Group, a workplace technology specialist headquartered in Halesowen, Birmingham, designed an M-Files workflow that automates the entire requisition process from beginning to end.

Now, instead of completing a paper form, employees create a requisition order within M-Files, which is automatically routed to the appropriate manager for approval, based on the monetary value of the order. The manager concerned receives an email notification that they have a requisition order, which they can access, review and approve within the M-Files system.

When a requisition order has been approved, the finance department is notified so that they can generate a purchase order in SAGE. This is saved in M-Files along with the requisition and an email sent automatically to its creator advising them that the requisition has been approved and a purchase order issued.

This workflow has transformed the visibility, auditability and simplicity of a previously challenging process. The trust can now very quickly identify who has raised a requisition, track its progress through a workflow, identify all related documents and look back at previous requisitions when required.

SAGE integration

Integration with SAGE means that all requisition orders, purchase orders, invoices and related documents can be stored and managed in M-Files, including invoices and delivery notes scanned on receipt of the requested goods.

Because M-Files uses metadata when storing documents, all this information can be linked for quick and easy retrieval, giving the finance team a single point of access to all the information they need and ensuring they always have access to the most up-to-date version.

“Everybody picked up M-Files quickly, which is a testament to not only how user-friendly and intuitive M-Files is, but also to the quality of training and support we received from EBC Group,” said Hollybank Trust Head of IT and Facilities Management Ben Batty.

Mobile support

Automating the requisition process is not the only change EBC Group has made to the finance department’s day-to-day operations. It has since created digital workflows for invoice processing, expenses claims and mileage records and introduced an M-Files app so that employees can approve requisition requests, access information and complete tasks when out of the office.

These initiatives have been so successful that Hollybank Trust now plans to extend M-Files to other departments, as part of a strategy to minimise the use of paper across the whole trust. It is also considering the scanning and electronic storage of a large quantity of paper documents, many of which need to be kept for up to 100 years.


M-Files enterprise information management (EIM) solutions eliminate information silos and provide quick and easy access to the right content from any core business system and device.

M-Files has a uniquely intuitive approach to EIM and enterprise content management (ECM) based on managing information by ‘what’ it is rather than ‘where’ it is stored.

With flexible on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployment options, M-Files places the power of EIM in the hands of the business user and reduces demands on IT by enabling those closest to the business need to access and control content based on their requirements. Thousands of organisations in over 100 countries use M-Files as a single platform for managing front office and back office business operations.

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