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Case Study: SEC Hub
Operations hub for a storage outfit specialist with health and safety reporting, supplier invoicing, and timesheet submission functions
SEC Group is the home of award-winning workspaces. SEC Storage specialises in the development, supply, and outfit of intelligent warehouse storage solutions. SEC Interiors designs and installs uniquely innovative office interiors for commercial premises.
Both sides of the business are increasingly digitalised. The group relies on data collection and analysis to inform the creation of efficient spaces.
SEC Hub is a multi-faceted web application which provides a digital focal point for SEC's everyday operations. This case study documents three of SEC Hub's major functions.
Health and Safety Reporting System
Heron Web began working with SEC in late 2018 on a separate software project. The earliest version of SEC Hub was delivered in mid-2019. It had a small subset of the functionality that exists today.
One of the first features was a reporting system for health and safety events where major injury was narrowly avoided. In SEC's parlance, these are termed Near Misses and Potential Incidents (NMPIs). They primarily relate to accidents that occurred while contractors were installing a new storage system.
SEC Hub ensures that any project manager can submit NMPI reports without delay, as and when they occur. Each report identifies the contractor involved, references common incident consequences and causes, and includes a written synopsis of what happened.
SEC's Health and Safety Manager can access all submitted NMPI reports to take follow-up actions and eventually mark incidents as resolved. The NMPI dashboard screen includes visual summary graphs to aid quick analysis of the near misses that have occurred.
Prior to the system's introduction, SEC collated health and safety data using predominately paper-based methods. SEC Hub makes incidents quicker and easier to file, encouraging prompt reporting and preventing physical forms from being mislaid.
The digital data is also more convenient to analyse. It helps SEC's health and safety team to effectively identify common near misses and implement additional workplace protections in response.
Supplier Invoicing System
SEC Hub's Supplier Invoicing System is a transformative set of functionality developed during 2020.
SEC can exchange thousands of purchase order and purchase invoice documents with its suppliers during a month. This process was being managed manually, using PDF documents sent in emails. The accounts department was spending so much time issuing purchase orders and triaging incoming emails that staff were unable to prioritize other tasks that would have a more long-term impact on the business.
The Supplier Invoicing System aims to automate the exchange of purchase orders and purchase invoices. It provides a self-service interface where suppliers can login and view the purchase orders that SEC has submitted:
Selecting a purchase order reveals its details and provides the option of raising an invoice:
When raising an invoice, suppliers provide their own reference, the document date, and the due date (this may be automatically calculated using pre-agreed payment terms). The supplier also uploads the original PDF document they've generated for the invoice.
The supplier next enters the amount they're raising, breaking it down into multiple line items by tax code:
This information is then automatically stored in SEC's database where it eventually transitions into the company's accountancy software ready for payment. The accounts department is no longer tasked with opening, reading, and performing data entry for each invoice received from a supplier.
Suppliers can login to the system at any time to view the status of the invoices they've submitted:
It's also possible for suppliers to receive an email or a notification on their device whenever one of their invoices changes status.
The system incorporates several safeguards to defend against over-invoicing, whether accidental or otherwise. In some cases over-invoicing is allowed up to a pre-configured margin. In others any invoice that exceeds the value of the target purchase order is automatically queried. The supplier is alerted prior to submission that the invoice will be manually reviewed by SEC.
Constraints are also imposed around the earliest and latest dates that a supplier can submit an invoice in order to make the month's payment run. The system has built-in provisions for payments made under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), which necessitates special treatment of invoices.
It is estimated that full adoption of the Supplier Invoicing System will save SEC's accounts department multiple days of tedious work each month.
Timesheet Submission System
SEC approached Heron Web during 2021 to commission the addition of timesheet submission functionality to SEC Hub. The system allows storage installation contractors to report their on-site hours as a prerequisite to being paid.
Timesheets are submitted on a daily basis with separate components for morning and afternoon work. The individual selects the SEC project they've been assigned to, inputs the number of hours they've worked, and indicates whether any additional hours have been recorded. To ensure timely submission, users receive a weekly timesheets reminder as a system notification on their device.
An objective of this system is encouraging contractors to promptly report any NMPIs (see above) that occurred during the day's work. Timesheet submissions require users to explicitly confirm they've reported NMPIs that they witnessed. If there was an NMPI that's not yet been logged, it can be recorded using the timesheet screen.
Including NMPIs in the timesheet submission process makes it much more likely that contractors will commit to recording health and safety incidents. Reporting NMPIs has been promoted to a condition of payment. The risk of contractors either forgetting to report or intentionally not reporting is lessened when they're required to make a confirmation that reporting has occurred. SEC Hub's self-service Timesheets system not only reduces the administrative burden associated with organising timesheets, but also maximises health and safety compliance and consistency.
Timesheets are reviewed for correctness after they're submitted. Users can login at any time to view the status of the timesheets they've created.
An interface is also available for administrators to review submitted timesheets within the SEC Hub application. Approving a timesheet indicates the contractor's record is accepted and no further action is required. Rejecting a timesheet sends an email to the user who submitted it, advising them that a dispute has been raised.
SEC Hub has several additional capabilities beyond the three features detailed above. There's a wide array of supporting controls, such as a granular role-based access management system and a messaging facility for internal use by SEC's staff.
Heron Web can deliver similar bespoke solutions to match your organisation's specific requirements. Please contact us today if you'd like our input on your own software project.
SEC Hub is not accessible to the public. The content of all screens shown in images in this case study has been falsified. The content is not intended to be representative of any actual SEC Group data.