Change Ahead: What's Coming?

Welcome to the Change Ahead: What's Coming elearning module about the main process changes that are involved when UniField is introduced in your mission. In this module we cover general changes, supply-related changes and finance-related changes.  

Audience

You are enrolled in this course because you have worked with the former supply and or finance applications and will be using UniField in the future.

Objective

At the end of this module, you will be able to describe in your own words the changes you'll experience when switching to UniField.

Duration

This course will take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Enjoy the course!

UniField General Changes

Introduction

The use of the new UniField ERP application for Supply and Finance will influence your daily work. To start, it will take some time and effort to get to know the new software; we will try to help you as best as we can to get acquainted with UniField and become a confident user. When you use the application, you will notice some important advantages of the Unifield software compared to the other applications you have used in the past such as BooX and LogX7. In this module, we touch on some of the most important changes. 

On the next pages, you will learn more about each change.

Data Exchange within one Location

Different users in the same location can share information even when there is no internet connection.

As their computers will be linked to each other via a LAN (a connection that doesn’t need the internet but only needs cabling between the computers) they can instantly use the information brought into the system by other users in the same location.

Additionally, users can concurrently work in the system and will see the changes made by others.

So what does that really mean?
Imagine that the original invoice for a purchase made by the Supply team has been approved and paid by the Finance Assistant in your project location. 
As soon as the bookkeeper records the payment in UniField, the record of payment is updated within the purchase order record showing how much has been settled by the bookkeeper; this information is viewable by the Supply Log in your project.

Finance & Supply Integration

An important feature is the full integration of the Finance and Supply information in UniField.

The complete supply and finance value chain from request, purchasing, reception, payment and distribution is now integrated to gain efficiency, consistency and reliability in operations. The integration reduces manual data checks and the possibility for miscommunication between the departments.

So what does this really mean to you?
Better communication between the Supply and Finance Departments! Products and Suppliers will be created by Supply in collaboration with Finance in order to ensure that allocations are accurate (account code, destination, taxation). These are critical for creating purchase orders, which in turn generate commitments against the budgets, and when products are received, generate supplier invoices for payment within the system.

Traceability & Transparency

Transparency can be defined differently for Supply and Finance departments, but for both UniField links records of actions across the system in different locations and by multiple users. References within the system also link to physical documents enabling traceability for better accountability.

What does this mean to you?
An example would be that you will be able to have a record of all actions starting from 'who placed a request' to 'who received goods' to 'who made the payment' and 'how was the payment made.'
Also, batch number, expiry date management and proper code creation are now mandatory in UniField which enables users to trace products from need identification to consumption.

Synchronization between Locations

UniField enables sharing information between users in different locations or on different projects.

As the Internet connection might not always be reliable, UniField facilitates offline working in the application followed by synchronization as soon as the Internet connection is sufficient. In this way, coordination will receive the information sent the different projects in the system and if need be is able to make changes which will be synchronized down to the projects in the field.

The application will always indicate the time of the last synchronization.

So what does that really mean?
Let's imagine that your Supply Manager in the Capital has created five new local products with the appropriate account code provided by the Finance Manager. After synchronization by the coordination location, these items are available in the product catalogue and can be ordered by project locations.

Automated Steps

Documents can be generated automatically by the system, triggered by the tasks of multiple users (review, validation, etc). UniField links the various process flows (requesting, sourcing, procuring, payment for example) and data within both Finance and Supply departments.

So what does this really mean?
An example of an automated step would be: when you confirm a Purchase Order, the system automatically creates a Commitment Voucher (finance document) and a Incoming Shipment record (supply document) for processing. 
Another example would be configuring the system to analyze your consumption for specific products and asking it to generate a Purchase Order based on this data and stock situation, essentially gathering information stored in different areas of the system to create a result.

Supply Changes

Introduction

For Supply, there are six main changes we would like to highlight. 

  1. Automatic Data Exchange from Multiple Locations
  2. Full Supply Chain Visibility
  3. Automated Steps
  4. Supply & Finance Integration
  5. Integration of End Users
  6. Comprehensive Stock Management

On the next pages we will go through each change.

Supply Change 1: Automatic Data Exchange from Multiple Locations

  • Purchase Order information sent from Projects to Coordination
  • Information on Order Status and Amendments made is automatically shared

UniField even enables sharing information between users in different locations or on different projects. As the Internet connection might not always be reliable UniField enables offline working in the application followed by synchronization as soon as the Internet connection is sufficient. In this way changes done at Coordination level for instance, are synchronized down to Projects in the Field and vice versa. The application will always indicate the point of time of the last synchronization.

So what does this really mean?
The Log Admin at a project enters a purchase order in UniField. This purchase order is automatically seen by the Log Supply in the capital. Any changes that the Log Supply does on the purchase order, for example change products, change in quantity or adding another product line will be seen by the Log Admin in the project automatically.

 

Supply Change 2: Full Supply Chain Visibility

 

  • Visibility on Purchase Order, Acknowledgement and Amendments, Sourcing Decision, Reception, Shipment and Transportation, Invoicing and Payment

The whole supply chain from the point of request up to the point of distribution of the goods to the end user can easily be viewed and tracked.

This way users are able to trace the orders they placed and track acknowledgement and subsequent changes that are made to these orders. The procurement method and the moment when the orders items were received in the warehouse are visible. 

An important improvement, enabled by the combination of synchronization and aggregate use, is the interaction between capital supply and project supply. Project supply will be able to track the full supply
chain of their orders in coordination.

So what does this really mean?
The medical team in the project is waiting for a specific order to come in. The Log Admin is getting daily inquiries about the status. Where previously he had no knowledge of what the status of an order is without checking with the capital, he can now respond much quicker by looking it up himself. 

Supply Change 3: Automated Steps in Certain Features

  • Frequently occurring processes can be pre-configured and documents generated in UniField.

By combining information that is stored in the system, UniField offers assistance in several steps. For instance, frequently occurring processes can be pre-configured and documents will be created automatically by the system for approval and validation.

So what does this really mean?
Reoccurring Purchase Orders with the same item lines can be pre-configured thus enabling to generate these documents automatically each time they are needed. 
Another example are automatically generated Purchase Orders based on replenishment figures.

Supply Change 4: Supply & Finance Integration

  • Supply and Finance value chains from request, purchasing reception payment and distribution captured in UniField

Supplier Invoices are automatically generated once an Incoming Shipment has been received in the warehouse, signaling finance to make payments to the supplier.

Products added to the system to be used by Supply also have account codes; the cost center and destination is then added to link with the financial budget. 

Finance and Supply will be integrated in UniField in a number of areas:

  • Purchase Orders can be checked in UniField against the budget by both Finance and Supply departments.
  • Down payments by Finance for orders linked to the Purchase Orders created in by Logistics in
    UniField
  • Commitment Voucher is automatically created when a Purchase Order is confirmed. This voucher represents a commitment to pay and is reflected in the budget once validated by the financial staff.
  • Payment for Purchases created by Logistics will be linked to the Supplier Invoice created in UniField.
  • Supplier Invoices can be refunded, modified or cancelled depending on the information that is received from the supply staff. 

Supply Chain 5: Integration of End Users

  • End users entering requests in the UniField software
  • Tracking procurement process until reception and then managing their stocks and consumption

The same users filling out the paper entries of request forms NOW have the possibility to fill out the digital version of the same in UniField.

With digital version of internal requests, users can now find the products codes in UniField of the items that they want. They can also monitor and manage the information of their orders.

Lists can also be reconfigured in UniField for use in case of regularly occurring requests. An example are the Weekly Medical Request Lists.

So what does this really mean?
Weekly Medical Request List can be imported in UniField. Pharmacist can then go into the system and select this list thereby creating a request for it in the system.
Once it’s been approved by the supervisor and reviewed by the supply log, the supply department will process it.
The pharmacist can then monitor where his order is in the procurement stage, up to when it's been delivered in the warehouse.

Supply Chain 6: Comprehensive Stock Management

Supply Change 6: Comprehensive Stock Management Solutions

  • Replenishment
  • Consumption
  • Forecasting
  • Quarantines, claim, kit management
  • Expiry date and batch management

UniField offers extensive warehouse solutions. Depending on your mission, you will see all of these solutions used from the start, or implemented over time. The tools are:

  • Replenishment tool: Avoids stock shortages, and facilitates the system to prepare purchase orders (in draft status) when it is time to reorder products. Coupled with automatic PO creation, it can calculate and create replenishment orders, with similar algorithm of calculation as a TSR, e.g. whenever stock reaches a pre-determined threshold. So in that sense it can avoid ruptures.
  • Consumption tool: This is a Stock Management Tool which has features of incorporating medical consumption report, internal stock moves & deliveries, enabling automatic stock updates.
  • Forecasting tool: aid in forecasting future stock consumption to inform order planning and replenishment. Running reports on the use and making estimations of the expected use will enable user to create efficient buffers of essential goods.Managing quarantines, claims, scrapped, returned, lost, sample and replaced goods.
  • Kit management tool: enables local kits and facilitates de-kitting to stock kit components separately.
  • Batch recall tool: tracing the locations and quantities of the products in case of a recall.

So what does this really mean?
All these connected information can be used to answer the needs in the most effective manner. Recording all ins and outs moves, all receptions and deliveries, will ensure you immediately know your current stocks levels. Future stock position are also updated automatically, allowing on-demand stock analysis. With a comprehensive stock management application, Logs can hold a more central position within the supply chain.

Finance Changes

Introduction

In the area of Finance, we have identified four groups of changes we'd like to highlight. 

  1. Getting closer to International Accounting Standards
  2. Real-time information flow
  3. In-system automations
  4. Interfaces with Homère (payroll)

On the next pages we will go through each change.

Finance Change 1: Getting Closer to International Accounting Standards

The introduction of UniField at MSF is also a good time to align our finance processes closer to international account standards. Specifically, we will

  • go from cash-based accounting to accrual-based accounting
  • go from single-entry bookkeeping to double entry bookkeeping
  • use registers and journals as intended with double entry bookkeeping

From cash-based to accrual-based accounting

Until now MSF used cash-based accounting, a system of recording expenses at the moment of payment. The disadvantage of this is that we have little or no insight into real cash availability as we do not know what is still to be paid (commitments) or what has been paid by cheque but is not yet debited from the bank.

UniField uses Accrual Based Accounting in which expenses are recorded at the moment of reception of goods and services.

The use of Accrual Based Accounting brings us closer to international accounting standards.

What does this mean for you?
You recorded the expense in the appropriate account in BooX at the moment the payment was made. In UniField expenses are recorded by validating system generated invoices the moment reception of goods and services is done by Supply. The Budget Control Report will now take into account "committed" MSF funds and expense reports will include any pending invoices to be paid giving better insight in financial status of activities.

From single-entry bookkeeping to double entry bookkeeping

With BooX, we use the simple single entry bookkeeping method, which was appropriate for the cash-based accounting method. Basically we only recorded cash movement, payable and receivables, as one record.

With UniField, we are getting closer to international standards of accounting, which include use of double-entry bookkeeping, recognized as more accurate. Although the name suggests extra, double work the automated processes in UniField will smoothly support your work.

In the double-entry bookkeeping system, two accounting entries are required to record each financial transaction. Recording of a debit amount to one or more accounts and an equal credit amount to one or more accounts results in total debits being equal to total credits for all accounts in the general ledger. Every Debit must have a corresponding equal and opposite Credit.

Registers versus Journals

With BooX we have four main types of journals (cash, bank, cheque, various entry books (VEB)) in which we record our transactions.

This set-up was appropriate in BooX with the cash-based accounting system where we could use the single-entry bookkeeping method. 

Journals in UF are different from journals or "books" in BooX. In UF journals are the placeholders for double entries, but we don't actually use them to make entries, the system uses them to record different types of transactions such as:

  • purchases,
  • HQ entries,
  • HR, 
  • exchange rates,
  • revaluation,
  • corrections, etc. linked to different "modules" in the UF system.

The entries are created automatically when the user processes transactions throughout the system. 

In UniField, the register is similar to "journal" in BooX. We use registers in UF to book our payment entries.

There are 3 types of registers: cashcheque, and ​bank. Every single cash box, safe, check book or bank account is linked to one and only one register. Any movement or transaction in the cashbox, cheque book or bank account is recorded in its register.

Finance Change 2: Real Time Information Flow

Real time information flow will 

  • give visibility on orders in pipeline for more efficient and effective planning
  • lead to more accurate and transparent allocations
  • provide continuous feedback on accounting quality

Visibility on Financial Situation

A significant frustration in managing budgets (PCs, HoMs, LogCos, TechLogs, Admins, etc.) was very little insight in the current impact of expenses on their budget, hindering more effective and efficient decision-making and control.

The monthly Budget Control Report (BCR) provides financial information that is already "outdated" since it is produced 3 weeks to 1,5 months after the transactions have occurred.

This will be improved with UniField, as explained in this section.

UniField offers real time exchange of interdependent information between supply and finance and allows exchange of information between the fields and coordination.

So finance responsible users will:

  • be able to efficiently control the purchase orders against the budget accounts before signing off on them
  • get an overview of value of upcoming orders and planned payments
  • better plan cash needs, particularly in the field
  • have visibility on all orders statuses for the project and the mission, depending on
    their instance (location)

This results in more efficient and effective decision-making and planning in operations.

What does this mean for you?
Let's imagine that the generator has broken down and the flying electrician has requested new spark plugs which costs 559 USD.
The PC needs to sign off on the PO, but before doing so wants to know what the impact will be on the budget. The FinAdmin can quickly check in UniField what the status of pending invoices to pay is, how much cash the field has available and check what the PO's impact on the budget will be for that particular account code.
Thus, the PC, in a few minutes, can have significant financial information in order to better analyze the impact of this unplanned order. 

More accurate and transparent allocations leading to better financial analysis and less corrections

The sharing structure of UniField allows for fuller visibility on the procurement, stock and financial status of transactions, and interdependency between the supply and finance departments:

  • Finance can verify and modify allocation of account codes to products
  • Finance supports supply in updating supplier/partner lists and tax status
  • Finance supports supply in proper analytical allocation of purchase orders and invoice splits

This leads to more accurate allocations for better financial analysis and less corrections in bookkeeping.

What does this mean for you?
As a member of the Finance team, you will be much more involved in the accuracy and correctness of financial information managed by the Supply team, which in turns means that by the time we are recording financial data for accounting purposes, we will need to make less checks and corrections on account codes and analytical allocations.

Continuous Feedback on Accounting Quality

In the current system, checking bookkeeping entries is typically done at coordination level at one moment of the month, once fields have made all entries and are ready to close their month in BooX. 

In UniField, data will be shared constantly between the field locations and coordination via frequent synchronization.

Data is also shared between Finance Administration Responsible and Finance Manager Responsible in the field locations. This allows for more frequent checking and controlling of bookkeeping entries and continuous feedback during the month, thus reducing the workload at the end of the month.

Finance Change 3: In-system Automations

More processes can be done within UniField rather than having to go to a different software or tool. For example: 

  • Balance account reconciliations done in-system and not in Excel
  • Donor allocations and reporting done on regular basis and more accurately

Balance account reconciliations done in UniField, not in Excel

In the current BooX system, reconciliation of balance accounts is done manually outside the system using an extract of data from BooX and an Excel sheet to create the balance specification (balspec).

In missions where checks are frequently used, or national staff is numerous, manual matching can be a painstaking activity each month.

Exchange rates were also manually calculated outside the system.

In UniField, balance accounts reconciliation can be done manually or happen automatically within the system, thus providing data integrity and reliability of reports. For example, automatic reconciliation happens for:

  • outstanding cheques imported in to the bank register
  • payment to a supplier invoice(s) when imported through “pending payments” function
  • down payments linked to a Purchase Order created by supply
  • settlement of operational advance through “pending payments” function
  • settlement of security advanced to NS through “pending payments” function
  • payroll entries (when imported into the register through pending payments function)

 

And reconciliation of the following balance account are manually done in UniField:

  • Internal transfer of cash
  • Salary advances
  • Guarantee deposits
  • Payroll entries (if payments done before the import of Payroll)
  • Advances
  • Prepaid expenses

Donor allocations and reporting done on regular basis and more accurately

Most of the analysis and reporting is currently done outside the BooX accounting system and on a very infrequent basis (intermediary and final reporting mainly)

  • Current tools are limited (BooX viewer + Donor format) 
  • Low security (manual works in excel sheets)
  • Difficult to maintain data integrity and reliability of reports (reconciliation to justify that we have no double funding) 

In UniField, we can create very specific donor contract parameters to allocate expenses to report within the system, while still allowing for a variety of donor reporting formats and conditions.

This enables you to

  • have donor contract details in the system for reference
  • have pre-determined donor funding parameters for allocating expenses based on the contract conditions
  • have separate donor exchange rates accessible
  • review on a more frequent basis your donor reporting providing more efficient analysis of modification/amendment needs
  • auditors can track expenses down to document level

What does this mean for you?
When you are recording an expense you will be required to make analytical allocations - cost center, destination and funding pool. 
The funding pools will be defined according to the cost centers and account codes which will need to be reported on. This will link to the donor reporting done by coordination.

Finance Change 4: Interface with Homère (Payroll)

Until now, there was no automatic link between BooX and Homère (the national staff payroll system). With UniField, we will

  • have visibility on accurate per staff cost per month
  • be able to track staff related costs
  • have the possibility of automatic reconciliation of payroll

Visibility on accurate per staff cost per month

Up till now we used the Payroll Booking Sheet to make manual entries which could lead to errors.

Files from Homère can be imported directly into UniField. This provides insight in accurate per staff cost per month, making reconciliation much more efficient.

Tracking staff related costs

We had no details in BooX per staff cost.

Using National Staff data imported from Homère, UniField recognizes each staff as a "third party" allowing us to link each expense or transaction (operational advances, security money) to a specific staff.

Possibility of automatic reconciliation of payroll

Up till now we had to control BooX against Homère externally using the H2B Verification tool. This was very time consuming each month.

UniField allows automatic and manual in-system reconciliation of payroll advances, net to pay, taxes and social security.

Summary

Summary & Additional Information

In this module, we have highlighted the main process changes that UniField brings in general, and in the area of Supply and Finance. 

As you will soon receive your face-to-face training in your mission, we hope we provided some initial insight on what is coming and how the new processes and tool will change your job.

Rest assured that we provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to apply these changes into your day-to-day job activities.

See you soon!