Public Sector - ERP - Digital Transformation

Digitised processes move University to cashless campus

SOA People’s SAP Extension Center delivers fast, efficient and cost-effective request-to-pay apps that provide process improvement and process visibility to Leiden University
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Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of the leading international research universities in Europe, with nearly 31,000 students and 7,000 staff. It additionally hosts some 4,000 international and exchange students on its Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes each year, as well as more than 800 visiting academic staff from all over the world.

Benefits

  • Cashless university: The shared financial services desk doesn’t have to handle cash so there’s no cash transfers and less risk of error.
  • Digitalised audit control: approvals for gift cards are digitalised so there’s no lengthy paper trails with authorised signatories, and internal audit tracking is 100% visible.
  • Fast and efficient request-to-pay: With the three easy-to-use apps staff and third parties can easily submit requests and track approvals, while managers monitor the process and ensure essential tax documentation is in place
  • Compliance with tax regulations: The University is confident in its ability to comply with the latest tax regulations for its payments to staff and third parties
  • Transparent financial controls: The University benefits from tighter financial control across its request-to-pay process
  • SAP integration: The three apps for Request, Approval and Monitoring are seamlessly integrated into the University’s SAP environment.

The Challenge

With 16 Nobel Prizes and a reputation for playing a leading role in academic research and education, Leiden University has very high standards to uphold.

Monetary gifts and payments are often given in exchange for delivering external services and activities, such as guest lectures or training courses, and for refunding members of staff or students. The university needed to modernise the way it provided these cash, gift cards and debit card payments to staff, students and its large quantities of visiting third parties. Payments had to be accurately documented and fiscally managed so they could ensure compliance with the latest tax regulations.

Peter Magielse, SAP Manager, Leiden University says, “There was a considerable amount of manual admin and paper trails because we were physically distributing cash payments from the desk.”

Tighter financial controls and transparency would involve digitalising request-to-pay processes. For example, its current process did not allow the university to easily link payments to third parties with IB47 declarations or record data that needed to be fed through to the tax authorities. Self-service web-based applications would make it much quicker and easier to manage payments, provide automated checks, dramatically reducing paperwork and labour-intensive administration.

“One of the principles at the university was to minimise cash payments. We wanted to move to becoming a cashless university campus,” Peter explains.

Solution

Leiden University selected SOA People for its SAP expertise and in its functional and technical capability. SOA People was engaged to design and deliver a single SAP-integrated solution to digitalise the university’s request-to-pay process.

As the university was already running SAP Cloud Platform to develop applications for its on premise environment, SOA People was able to maximise the platform’s tools, services and technologies to create custom-made user-friendly Fiori apps via the customer’s existing system.

SAP Extension Center delivers fast and cost-effective apps

To deliver the project in the most cost-effective and fastest way, SOA People used the services of its ‘one stop shop’ SAP Extension Center to deliver high quality apps that extend standard SAP functionality. To keep costs to a minimum, the SAP Extension Center core team was made up of both senior and junior consultants combined with ad-hoc assigned experts. The competence team worked collaboratively remotely and onsite as required with Leiden University’s own internal technical team, to ensure delivery of the agile managed project.

Peter expands, “It was great to be able to work with the SOA People consultants interactively on site just before Covid-19 during this fast-paced project”.

Next to using the tools from SAP Cloud Platform, SOA People made good use of code-snippets re-used from the SAP Extension code library for specific functionality such as touchscreen signature processing and MS Excel upload and checks.

Creating 3 self-service apps that run request-to-pay

Three self-service apps were created; for requests, approvals and monitoring. These are all linked to an individual’s university account which is in turn linked to the SAP system. They are translatable into English and Dutch.

The Request app allows users to submit requests for payment and the detail of the payment such as how they want to be paid. This is used by employees only and has the same look and feel as other applications, such as My Invoices. The applicant can currently apply for vouchers, cash or a payment card.

Peter explains, “The rapid development and deployment by the SAP Extension Center resulted in one user-facing entry point where up to 5,000 end users can easily submit requests from any device.”

The Approve app is for managers or finance personnel to approve or reject the request. An escalation procedure is applied to the approval of the activity and the budget holder, and reminders and time frames are also featured.

The third app, the Monitor app, indicates whether the payment can be made, for example is there enough cash or gift card certificates in stock. If further action is required, the workflow will ensure further tasks take place. A status is linked to each request and provides insight into where the application is in the process and determines who gets to see what and which actions can be carried out by this person. Any changes to the status are also logged so there is full insight into who and when a status has been converted and how long it has lasted.

All the payment data is captured in workflows and financial documents are created within SAP so that data is continually up to date for tax purposes. The aim of the Monitor app is to be able to recognise the entry as IB47 relevant and that all information for the purpose of the IB47 declaration can be processed and stored, so that it can be included in the IB47 declaration at a later date. This can be done on the basis of the reason of the application that indicates whether this IB47 is relevant or not.

An optimal way of working

The Discover-Design-Deliver approach of the SAP Extension Center meant that Leiden University’s business requirements moved through the stages of development seamlessly and quickly. Together with Leiden University project members, the SOA People consultants worked through the design thinking process from the client’s business requirements, to iterative design, agile development, prototyping, through testing and process control, and to rapid deployment.

The combination of the functional and technical expertise of SOA People and the tools and templates added value and created an optimal way of working and gave Leiden University a quick and easy solution to their request-to-pay process.

“To deliver an application that met 90% of our desired functionality from go live was impressive. The SOA People consultants were experienced and really knew what they were doing in creating the applications we needed. We look forward to working with SOA People again on future projects” Peter Magielse, SAP Manager, Leiden University