Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Outsource Payments
Year Submitted 2017
Awarded Third Prize (Themed Category)
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Josh Tonnos Director Accounting and Treasury
Bryan Boles AVP Financial Services
Patti Latham-Malton Manager Student Financial Services and Accounts Receivable
Name of Institution Brock University
Office Address 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way
Financial and Administrative Services
St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1
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Telephone: 9056885550 x6133
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Bryan Boles
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) AVP Financial Services
Office Address 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way
St. Catharines, Ontario L2S3A1
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Telephone: 9056885550
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Abstract

Brock University processed all student refunds, expense reimbursements, supplier invoices and ad hoc payments in house by printing cheques on a daily basis. Processing payments was subject to significant operational risks and was labour intensive. Outsourcing payments to Scotiabank allowed Brock to eliminate dependance on a single check printer and access to the office to ensure payments could be processed in a timely manner.

 

 

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.
Transferability

All University accounts payable and student accounts departments make payments to supplier, employees and students. The risks eliminated and efficiencies realized would be comparable across Universities.

Risks eliminated: Inability to make payments due to restricted access to the office in a labour disruption or due to a technical failure of an internal cheque printer.

Quality Impact

Students now have immediate access to their refunds and deposit them directly from their smartphones into their bank accounts via online banking at a cost lower than printing cheques in house.

Brock printed approximately 2,500 cheques per month prior to this initiative. With outsourced cheques being batched weekly and all student payments moved to e-mail money transfers the number of checks printed in 2016-17 has been reduced by 50%. This also reduces the risk of cheque fraud.

The cost of outsource cheques was fully offset by cost savings of printing cheques internally and as a result the University gained resources to work on other value added tasks in accounts payable for the costs already built into the operating budget.

Productivity Impact

Reduced bank reconciliation time with 50% reduction in cheque volume, eliminated student calls regarding lost cheques, eliminated the need to print/stuff/mail cheques internally.

Innovation

One of the major innovations is the outsourcing of student refunds done in the form of e-mail money transfers. As most institutions would understand, students mailing addresses on file are not always reliable. Many cheques to students for refunds would go lost resulting in labour hours to cancel cheques and reissue payments. Brock University partnered with Scotiabank (the first University in Canada) to implement e-mail money transfers for all student refunds. This form of payment is very common with young people and was accepted by the student population with no complaints or concerns. The University simply sends a file to the bank with the email address, dollar amount and password and the student then receives an email to their university email account to deposit their refund directly to their bank account. This practice virtually eliminated all requests for student payment reissues since there are no cheques to go astray. The cost is nominal, $1,10 per transfer, which is comparable to the hard costs of postage and printing of cheques. There are also no set-up requirements for the student. Students simply use online banking that they are already familiar with. Students did not require any advance notice of the change. Brock simply switched to email money transfer on a Monday and students adopted to depositing via e-mail with no challenges.

Secondly, all supplier invoices and ad hoc payments were outsourced to Scotiabank to print and mail cheques on behalf of the University. This ensured payments would never be delayed as a result of limited access to the office, an onsite printer malfunction, stock out on cheques, etc. Brock also had a full-time clerk working on printing cheques, stuffing them in envelopes and mailing them. This position was redeployed to areas of need in the University. The cost to outsourcing cheques is variable based on volume; however, the average cost is approximately $1.30 per cheque. This outsourcing also allowed the University to batch payments to suppliers and send less individual cheques. Payments would be mailed on a daily basis when printed internally to keep up with the workload; however, through outsourcing, a file is sent once a week which groups approved payments to suppliers into one check vastly reducing the number of cheques printed.