One of Britain’s leading train leasing companies, Angel Trains leasesrolling stock to 18 franchised train service operators and two openaccess operators in the UK.
Angel Trains, a company that leases and maintains trains in Britain, has successfully used the K2 process automation platform to improve the rigor of its financial approval process. Now, contracts and high value purchase orders are authorized in a fast, consistent workflow, which both enhances the efficiency of the business and reduces financial risk.
Since its foundation in 1994, Angel Trains has invested £5 billion in new trains and refurbishments of existing rolling stock. The company continues to invest heavily in train modernization programs and, as a result, frequently needs to issue and approve purchase orders and contracts with values exceeding £100,000. To increase the rigor of this approval process and improve internal efficiency, Angel Trains wanted to integrate its existing process with its asset and financial systems, as part of a new automated workflow.
In the past, whenever a new business process requirement had arisen, the IT team had developed a bespoke system in house. This approach had, however, resulted in the creation of over ten separate custom business systems, each one of which was effectively a departmental silo with little or no integration with the company’s core asset management and financial systems. This IT landscape was complex and time-consuming to manage and costly to adapt when business needs changed.
Rather than developing yet another bespoke system to meet the needs of the business, the IT team wanted to find a way to create an automated approval workflow by integrating existing systems. “It was important for us to simplify – not further complicate – our existing IT landscape,” says Liam Stirling, Senior IT Development Manager at Angel Trains. The company selected K2’s process automation platform after a K2 partner gave a demonstration of its capabilities. “Everything we saw was impressive,” recalls Stirling. “I could see straight away how K2 could make new IT developments a lot easier for us, and the engagement from K2 was utterly fantastic right from the start.”
With support from K2 and one of K2’s partners, Angel Trains deployed K2 Five. Before it tackled its ambitious financial approvals workflow, the company first developed a smaller workflow for processing requests for third-party user access to SharePoint. This project not only allowed the IT team to build its skills in using the K2 platform, but also significantly simplified and accelerated a key business process.
Then, when Angel Trains turned its attention to the financial approvals workflow, it was able to complete the entire development, with a small IT team, in just 25 working days. “I estimate that Angel Trains created its new financial approvals process in around 25% of the time, and therefore cost, of a traditional software development,” Stirling says.
The use of K2 has integrated existing systems, rather than creating yet another standalone business application. Furthermore, the new K2 workflow will be easy to adapt in the future, as changes occur within the business. “When you have to hard code even a simple business change, like a new department name, in a bespoke system, it can be a nightmare.” Stirling says. “K2 enables us to make process changes very easily in response to business change. That’s another massive upside to K2.”
When the new financial approvals process is fully rolled out to over 160 employees, Angel Trains anticipates that it will improve efficiency within the business by enabling contracts and purchase orders to be approved more quickly. The K2 platform extends to mobile devices so, for the first time, employees will be able to view, action and approve tasks using their smartphones and tablets when they are away from the office, which will reduce unnecessary delays.
Significantly, the new K2-enabled business process will help to reduce risk for Angel Trains. The business has a much clearer process for financial approvals and, as a result, is better able to ensure that procedures are followed correctly and consistently when employees sign off high value new contracts and purchase orders.