SouthWest One overpaid suppliers £4m in SAP glitch

An £30 million SAP implementation by SouthWest One, a shared services consortium made up of three country councils, a police force and IBM, caused the body to overpay suppliers by £4.3 million in the last two years, the BBC has reported.

An automated payments systems suffered delays causing 2,200 bills to be paid twice, the BBC discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request. Around £200,000 has yet to be recovered from suppliers.

The payments issue was identified soon after the delayed SAP implementation went live in mid-2009. At the time, Conservative councillors in Somerset alleged that invoices under £20,000 were being processed without checking.

"Somerset County Council has always had an excellent reputation with making payments, and their finance department and our reputation suffered quite significantly because of the problems of the introduction of this particular system," said John Wilkins, the chair of the council’s audit committee.

"Southwest One has worked jointly with partners to recover more than 95 per cent of all duplicate payments," the consortium said in a statement today. "We continue to work together to recover the outstanding amounts and improve processes to minimise the risk of further repeats".

SAP told Information Age that this issue has been resovled. "SAP understands that these problems arose at the early stages of the project with SouthWest One. The issue was a business process problem rather than a software fault, where invoices were inputted into the system twice. The customer has now been live on SAP financials for over a year and has recovered more than 95% of the duplicate payments by SouthWest One working jointly with Somerset County Council."
"SAP will work with our partner and SouthWest One to ensure we are continuing to improve all processes risk of any further repeats is minimal." 

IBM did not respond to an invitation to comment.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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