Vision Multi Academy Trust

Increasing efficiency by automating manual procurement processes

Vision Multi-Academy Trust logo Vision Multi-Academy Trust logo


Vision Multi Academy Trust is a community of schools with a mission to help students thrive, flourish, and achieve their full potential. Serving more than 1,200 children outside the Greater Manchester area, the organisation strives to not only deliver quality education, but also expose students to experiences they may not have in their day-to-day lives. One way they’re supporting students and enriching their education is by providing access to the tools and supplies they need.

“We strive to deliver equity for our children — ensuring that no matter their background or demographic, they have access to really good initiatives, education, and equipment,” says Darren Cosgrove, Chief Finance Officer for Vision Multi Academy Trust.

While the organisation is always looking for value as they source and purchase supplies for their students and educators, their small but mighty finance team is gaining serious efficiencies by maximising their Amazon Business account — helping them free up time to focus on the array of other tasks on their to-do lists. One tool that is helping The Trust streamline their procurement processes is Pay by Invoice, a digital invoice program that gives eligible Amazon Business customers access to net payment terms, consolidated invoicing, and more.

“Our team has thousands of other things we need to do so if I can help them save 10-15 minutes here and there, it releases them to do other things. And that’s a big driver for me as I explore ways to improve efficiency,” says Cosgrove. 


Improving efficiency with automated purchasing approval processes

In 2020, The Trust set up Amazon Business Pay by Invoice, but they weren’t maximising its full potential with a setup that worked for their organisation’s specific procurement needs. They had various accounts set up across the organisation, making it difficult to track and manage spend. Partnering with their customer advisor and customer support, Cosgrove and team worked to optimise their Pay by Invoice setup by centralising their accounts, establishing approval workflows, identifying preferred suppliers, automating previously manual processes, and leveraging consolidated invoicing. 


Establishing purchasing approval workflows

When previously using credit cards, buyers across The Trust used to navigate a lengthy and manual approval process, impacting how quickly teachers could receive supplies. “When you’re working with teachers, they generally want their items yesterday," notes Cosgrove. But with their Amazon Business Prime membership, their teachers have access to the account features they need to make a purchase and then submit approval, which goes directly to the right person who can quickly approve it from there. And by digitising their approval process, the team has been able to map line details into their finance system, which saves their office managers time as they reconcile purchases. 

“With Pay by Invoice, we easily save 30 minutes a day by eliminating the need to type out orders. Over the course of a year, that’s a huge amount of time savings — allowing the team to focus on other activities.” 

— Darren Cosgrove, Chief Finance Officer for Vision Multi Academy Trust

Implementing consolidated invoicing

Like many education institutions, a lot of The Trust’s purchases encompass high-volume, low-value transactions, such as pens and stationary. And while those goods are important for staff and students, these purchases also created a lot of individual credit card transactions and paperwork that weren’t sustainable for officer managers as they reconciled purchases and processed payments.

After implementing consolidated invoicing, Vision Multi Academy Trust now receives just one invoice from Amazon Business every month. The consolidated invoicing feature allows them to choose when they receive their invoices by consolidating them into different invoice frequencies based on their organisation’s needs and preferences. 

“If you’re buying a £4 pack of pens or stationery and receive a single invoice once per month as opposed to receiving an invoice every time you make that purchase (which can be hundreds of times), you really do save time. And that’s something I value quite a lot."

— Darren Cosgrove, Chief Finance Officer for Vision Multi Academy Trust.

Leveraging visibility to establish preferred suppliers

While improving efficiency has been important for the organisation and Cosgrove, compliance is another key theme of their overall procurement strategy. From achieving net-zero and sustainability targets to selecting suppliers — The Trust is looking to reach some of these goals by helping buyers prioritise who they purchase from. Amazon Business Analytics has given Cosgrove the visibility he needs to better understand the organisation’s spend and set up preferences that guide their buyers to prioritize suppliers that align with their sustainability and compliance targets.

As The Trust continues to see improvements in efficiency through their adoption of tools like Pay by Invoice, Cosgrove has his sights set on realizing cost-savings on more expensive items with bulk purchasing. “We’ve had a tablet rollout for our children. So, the next step is to provide each child with a stylus,” Cosgrove notes. “We’re interested in seeing how we can save time and money with bulk orders for those types of items.”

With new goals in sight and purchasing process improvements under their belt, The Trust is seeing how far they can go with their Amazon Business partnership. “It’s not just about the bottom line and cash savings. It’s everything that’s wrapped up in the holistic Amazon Business purchasing experience — including the value we get in the form of time savings, efficiency, and improved sustainability.”

Learn how Pay by Invoice can help your business keep track of invoices, stay organised, and save time.