IBC Buying Group Removes Key-Person Dependency While Gaining Peace of Mind with Rebate Management System
Established in 2008, IBC Buying Group is the UK’s fastest growing buying group for Independent Builders Merchants, now representing over 200 members. Piers Windsor, Group Systems Manager, oversees all of IBC Buying Group’s IT systems while also managing their financial data and collecting monthly turnover data from their suppliers.
Windsor tells us, “I model all of our rebate agreements to make sure we've got a shared understanding of what we are earning from our suppliers and what we are paying out to our member builders' merchants. I'm responsible for the calculation of both supplier and member rebates. And making sure the results of these calculations are passed onto our account systems for invoicing and payments.”
He continues “On a monthly basis, I report to our senior management team exactly what we've earned from our suppliers and paid out to our members. I also report forecasting any future earnings and payments.”
IBC has iterated on how they managed and calculated their rebates numerous times. Initially, before Windsor joined IBC, all the rebate calculations and agreements were stored in spreadsheets, which were incredibly messy and very hard to control. Data was often overlooked or misread, leading to confusion over which data was the most up-to-date.
To solve this manual rebate process, Windsor developed a SQL database to manage IBC’s rebate calculations. This worked well at first and gave the team the flexibility they needed to integrate the data into other systems. But the big problem with it was that it needed a lot of support, and he was the only person who knew how to use it.
A System that Didn’t Support Rebate Complexity
Before moving to Enable, IBC Buying Group utilized a different rebate management system, but it couldn't calculate a large number of their existing rebates — especially if they were complex. Windsor had to turn to manual rebate calculation instead. Windsor says, “We didn't have any easy way to monitor which calculations had failed. And this meant, sometimes, invoices or payments were missed. Also, the existing processes within that system didn't give us the flexibility that we required. It was set up for some other buying groups that just used a different model to us.”
Windsor continues, “The support processes didn't give us the peace of mind that we wanted. We didn't have the data integration options that we wanted for future developments. Getting data into other systems involved quite a laborious manual process. For us, we had no clear roadmap for future developments of that system.”
Automated and Exact Rebate Calculations
IBC wanted a solution that allowed their rebates to be calculated without constant supervision from Windsor. They also wanted to eliminate manual calculations. With Enable, Windsor received tremendous peace of mind. He triggered calculations, and they ran through the power of automation. He didn’t have to monitor a particular rebate to ensure it was calculated.
Windsor says “Enable could calculate everything that we needed calculating. No matter what rebate we've thrown at it, Enable has been able to calculate it.”
He continues, “In terms of the actual process of managing rebates, so from the turnover being supplied to us by suppliers, to calculating those rebates and working out what payments suppliers needed to make to us, to what payments we needed to make to members, Enable gave us the flexibility that we needed to manage those processes as we wanted.”
The Enable Team is Helpful and Responsive
Windsor says, “Lukash, our implementation lead, was incredibly helpful and responsive to all of our requests for our different types of rebate calculations. The implementation led us step by step through all the different features of Enable that we wanted to utilize. This made it very easy for us to onboard our suppliers.”
Intuitive Integration and Forecasting Features
Referring to Enable’s integration capabilities, Windsor says, “We now have the tremendous ability to define all of our trading agreements with our suppliers and members within one system, without the need to have any supporting spreadsheets or databases. From there, we can export those definitions, and the results of any calculations, into our other systems. This is a big benefit for us.”
Windsor continues, “Enable has an excellent API. We also get direct access to the SQL data so that we can integrate what we want from Enable with our other IT systems.”
Enable’s onboard forecasting has also proved incredibly useful for IBC. With this feature, Windsor monitors exactly how much they should be accruing in rebates every month, and he can more accurately estimate what the company should be earning at their year-end.
IBC now has Peace of Mind
Before automating the rebate management process, if Windsor had time off, certain rebates wouldn't be calculated and processes ground to a standstill. In truly critical situations, someone else might have to manually calculate those complex rebates. Windsor says, “Enable has given us the peace of mind that all of our rebates now are calculated exactly as they should be. They're calculated on time. So as soon as we receive that data from our suppliers, they're calculated. And, even in my absence, those calculations are happening.”
Future Plans with Enable
At the moment, IBC’s commercial team still manages their negotiation and signing process manually. But, next year, they'll be managing their agreements via Enable using the collaboration portal.
IBC plans to launch a new member portal in the new year. This will provide their members with live data from Enable. Members will be able to see exactly what they've earned and what has been paid out to them. Windsor tells us, “We want to increase the amount of information provided to our members via the portal. This will include rebate earnings, the turnover that has been supplied by suppliers, payments to members and maybe even pull the exact rebate definitions straight from Enable into the portal. Including things such as member exclusions or product exclusions and presenting that to our members.”
IBC also plans to integrate Enable more closely with their accounting system. For instance, they will be able to pick up any payments, both by suppliers to IBC and their payments to their members, automatically. And then, feed that through into Enable’s rebate management system.
Enable has got an excellent support offering that gave us the peace of mind that our data was secure, that calculations were accurate, and nothing was going to be missed.