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Millennium and Copthorne (M&C) Hotels Plc manage CapEx budget with CapEx management software

Seeking to improve the controls around CapEx projects, Millennium and Copthorne (M&C) Hotels Plc implement cloud-hosted CapEx management software to manage their annual CapEx budget.

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Challenge

From new carpets in guest rooms to a major renovation worth millions of pounds, M&C process nearly 2,000 CapEx requests every year. Historically, the lengthy process involved completing a paper form which was signed locally at the hotel before being posted to regional management for approval and often then authorised by the Group centrally.

M&C initiated a competitive tender procedure to procure CapEx management software that would overcome several challenges. These problems included routing CapEx request forms – containing dozens of pages outlining amounts, justifications, ROI projections and different quotes from suppliers – around the world.

Solution

ePC worked closely with M&C to implement the CapEx management software. It links 118 hotels across the world and three central business units, into a real-time system where users can log in and initiate a capital expenditure request form for hotel capital expenses.

ePC understood what we wanted. On a number of occasions, we described roughly what we would like in terms of capability but not in any great detail. They captured the simplicity of what was required without compromising on functionality

Nick Taylor, Finance Director, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Plc

To initiate a capital expenditure request, the hotel-based user will open the electronic form and enter the relevant information. Once completed and all the rules are met, the user submits the eform for approval, they have complete visibility over the approval process.

We love the simplicity of the system. The actual form has not changed much. You now complete it online. It still captures all the same information. Crucially, the quality of submitted requests has improved as certain fields are auto-filled, calculated automatically or contain rules such as a mandatory field or display a warning if certain conditions are not met. We’ve made the process tighter and more consistent

Nick Taylor, Finance Director, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Plc

During a CapEx workflow, at any stage, an approver can send the CapEx request to any other approver for comments or back to the initiator for clarification. At this point, the initiator can either simply respond, returning it to the point in the approval chain it had reached or if necessary they can modify any aspect of the request and resubmit it from the beginning of the workflow.

It’s in your inbox, anyone can see how long it has been there. We can run reports and automated eMails are generated after a week to remind users. It naturally speeds up the process. It’s very transparent

Nick Taylor, Finance Director, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Plc

Once a CapEx request form has received final approval, each participant in the CapEx workflow is notified and a purchase order is created. By default, a CSV file containing the basic header information relating to the request will be supplied to the users, for importing into their local procurement system.

When a senior executive further up the chain authorises the request, they can see all the questions that have been asked; and the answers to those questions. It keeps everything in one place, and makes the approval much easier

Nick Taylor, Finance Director, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Plc

To optimise efficiencies, CapEx management software automatically archives processed CapEx requests and is underpinned by a central repository. This allows users to refer easily to time-stamped approval decisions, documents and comments and run reports identifying how much capital expenditure has been allocated, which hotels are spending their budget and highlight trends and patterns. Previously the business had to interrogate internal finance systems within each hotel to access the information.

CapEx management software features

  • Authorisation based on hierarchy/job role
  • Bespoke web desktops tailored to the role (Initiators, Approvers, Managers, System Administrator) allow users to initiate forms, view tasks lists, search and/or review submitted forms and view live dashboard information relevant to their role
  • User/Business Unit membership with hierarchy granting permissions to lower levels
  • End-user management of back-end database through Excel data import
  • Powerful capital expenditure request form offering:
    • All figures are automatically shown in the user’s local currency
    • Dynamic fields only displayed or mandatory in certain circumstances
    • Hotel capital expenditure budget and current position information including:
      • Period budgets
      • CapEx already approved in the current period
      • Remaining budget available
    • Attachments of any format (XLS, JPG, DOC etc.)
    • Current and archived attachment view to support evolving documentation
    • Photographic attachments are displayed as thumbnails on the form
    • Comment log, for any participant to add time-stamped notes to request
    • Full audit trail including usernames and dates of all events
    • Integrated sanity checks and rules for entered data
    • Printable PDF generation of complete form, including attachments
  • Automated routing of completed forms through bespoke authorisation paths
  • Rejection and clarification CapEx approval workflow
  • eMail prompts and timed reminders
  • Automatic processing of eMail responses based on keyword extraction
  • Dynamic portal-based reporting on live and historic requests
  • Excel-based reporting via dynamic data merges

One of the features we really like is ‘approve by eMail’. Users might receive an eMail with an approval request when they are out of the office, visiting hotels or in a meeting. The ability to send a one-word approve/reject reply on a tablet or mobile has expedited the approval process significantly. We were not particularly looking at implementing this feature but it was suggested to us by ePC and it has worked very well

Nick Taylor, Finance Director, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Plc

Millennium Hotels – CapEx spending approval form (endorsement tab)

Millennium Hotels – CapEx spending approval form (supporting documentation tab)

Result

The time taken to process CapEx requests from submission to approval has been significantly reduced.

M&C can quantify savings effectively and make decisions quickly with fact-based data as the system can highlight patterns around savings, competitive tenders and different quotes. The CapEx management software offers greater visibility of CapEx requests and provides an improved audit trail.

Following this successful implementation, management investigated the potential for the underlying Process Director technology to help the Group manage other paper-based processes such as new supplier enrolment and contract approval, and these have now been successfully implemented.

Great working with you and would definitely recommend ePC going forward, which is a credit to your technical knowledge, customer service and patience

Struan Robertson, Group Accountant, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc
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