Specsavers automates its finance processes with an eye to growth

Specsavers is reaching the end of an 18-month project to transform its finance systems to better support the expansion of the business.

Specsavers is reaching the end of an 18-month project to transform its finance systems to better support the expansion of the business.

The optician chain said it faced a cut in its profit margins of up to 1% if it continued to expand its business without transforming the processes used in its Guernsey-based finance department.

Two years ago, the firm set a target of increasing its total number of outlets to 1,000 and boosting revenue to £1bn by 2009. To achieve this, Specsavers realised it would have to automate the manual processes used by its finance department.

Specsavers finance director Karen Dicks said, “We will reach our targets by keeping the same level of staff, but we will target staff at work more effectively.

“If we had not brought in the technology, we would have had to hire extra people. We would have had to increase our headcount by about two people per store.”

The company will spend more than £2m before the end of this year on four projects to transform its finance function. A £500,000 contract was awarded to the supplier of the firm’s core finance system, Cedar­OpenAccounts, at the beginning of the project some 18 months ago.

Earlier this year, Specsavers went live with its first two transformation projects: an electronic expenses system and a self-service payroll application from KCS. Both systems are accessible through its IQ intranet.

The third project, to electronically capture all documentation, is about 65% complete. The retailer is using software supplier Version One’s DbArchive and DbCapture systems, which use optical character recognition technology, to read incoming documents.

Dicks said the finance IT project had already replaced many manual processes. “It is not necessarily about reducing the complexity of the business processes; it is the complexity of pushing huge amounts of paper around that is reduced,” he said.

Specsavers will go live with its fourth project, an e-invoicing system from CedarOpenAccounts, before the end of the year.

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