Q&A with Alex Ashley-Roberts, UK Sales and Marketing Director at Proactis

Proactis is a strategic spend management partner of Unit4, with decades of combined finance and procurement experience spanning over an official 16-year partnership and 130+ joint customers in both the public and private sector.

We recently sat down with Alex Ashley-Roberts, UK Sales and Marketing Director, to discuss recent successes, how we work together to meet the needs and challenges of our mutual customers, and what the partnership means to Proactis.

Thanks for making the time to speak to us Alex. To start us off, can you tell us a bit more about Proactis?

Proactis is a strategic partner of Unit4 and has been for many years. Our team provides solutions that leverage additional value for Unit4 customers when overlayed into their Unit4 ERP system, without the need for duplication.

Recently, we had the pleasure of presenting Unit4 with the Proactis “Referral Partner of the Year 2020” award at our Partner Summit. This is the second year running that Unit4 has won the award and clearly demonstrates the ongoing success of our partnership.  

To give a little more context about Proactis as a business, we offer spend management solutions that help organisations around the world to control 100% of their spend. We work with our customers to transform their Source-to-Pay processes in order to help them save money, create efficiency gains and reduce risk.  We serve over 1,000 customers and our solutions are used daily by over 3 million people in 100+ countries.

From sourcing projects, contract management and procurement transactions to supplier collaboration and automated invoice processing, we are proud that our integrated spend management solutions streamline and control all purchasing and spend.  

During our 16-year partnership, we have supported Unit4 customers to achieve more, with the addition of the Procurement 4U and AP Automation 4U Unit4 modules. And, for Unit4 Account Managers, we are a key part of their toolkit, helping solve existing customer challenges. We also help those customers ensure that their Procurement teams can operate at a strategic level, rather than simply a tactical one, and that their AP teams are operating as efficiently as possible with the ability to adapt to new, unforeseen scenarios and ways of working, such as those presented by the pandemic. 

How did the Proactis/Unit4 partnership come about?

The early partnership was forged between Unit4 and Intelligent Capture, a company later acquired by Proactis. But, prior to this, Proactis also developed a separate partnership with Unit4, so really, the relationship has roots with both companies and was strengthened as a result of the Intelligent Capture acquisition by Proactis.    

 What changes have you seen working with Unit4 during our 16-year partnership?

A lot can happen, and indeed has happened, in 16 years. We have seen a move to predominantly cloud and SaaS models and we continue to see new technologies driving changes in processes, behaviours and cultures. We have also seen new and exciting versions of solutions from both our businesses, with improved integrations developed along the way. 

More recently, we’ve seen the new Unit4 Partner Ecosystem being developed – something we are delighted to be a part of – which further strengthens our ongoing partnership.

One thing in particularly that stands out over the last 16 years is our joint recognition of the importance of people. Technology is not a silver bullet that can singularly drive our businesses forward. Instead, our success is powered by our people (customers, partners and employees) and we are committed to recognising their value.

Tell us a bit about joint success

There are too many to mention!

Our most recent and publicised success was working with Surrey County Council together, with Proactis providing several modules which integrated into the Council’s Unit4 ERP system. Other recent examples include the Royal College of Art and Guildford Borough Council, who both had the aim of increasing the efficiency of their AP teams. 

Many of our customers have been with us for several years and have seen the benefits continue year-on-year. Two examples are Wigan County Council, which has enjoyed significant annual savings since 2014, and Screwfix Direct, which has been driving efficiencies and benefitting from automating their AP processes since 2005.

As we approach 2021, how do you see us working together to ensure that mutual customer needs are met?

We will continue to do what we have for the last 16 years, looking at the benefits of Unit4 ERP and what that means to ensure our mutual customers continue to leverage additional value. Part of the reason we have such a successful partnership is that we work so closely together to understand and solve challenges and address the opportunity our customers have. Proactis are the experts in spend management solutions, Unit4 are the experts for ERP, and we work together to ensure the client has the best of both!  

If you could have one wish come true for Christmas, what would that be?

While it is looking far more positive than it has before, I’m going to have to use that to wish for an effective vaccine programme, so that we can truly overcome this pandemic – being able to properly start seeing our friends, families and colleagues again, without putting them or others at risk.

"We’ve seen the new Unit4 Partner Ecosystem being developed – something we are delighted to be a part of – which further strengthens our ongoing partnership."

Alex Ashley-Roberts UK Sales and Marketing Director at Proactis