How Spendwise streamlines procurement and strengthens budget controls at Deerhurst Resort
Deerhurst is a world class resort with 400 guest room accommodations, 5 restaurants, 2 golf courses and many seasonal programs. The resort employs up to 500 people throughout the year.
Using paper, PDF files and email to manage thousands of purchasing transactions a month had become increasingly difficult so the resort’s financial controller, Becky Buwalda, began looking for a cost effective easy-to-use system to automate their purchasing processes and discovered Spendwise.
Since implementing Spendwise, the time to process purchase order requests has been reduced by 70-80%, the resort has been able to operate to budget and nearly 100% of spending is pre-approved.
Founded in 1896, Deerhurst is one of Ontario’s oldest continually operating resorts, welcoming generations of guests to its 760-acre Muskoka lakeside retreat.
In June 2010, Deerhurst made history as host venue for the 36th G8 Summit of world leaders. In 2015, a 10-year, $500 million master planned community with hotel, residential and mixed-use buildings received municipal approval, ensuring Deerhurst’s continued growth as a top Canadian tourism and lifestyle destination.
In December 2021, Deerhurst became part of Freed Hotels & Resorts, alongside Muskoka Bay Resort, Horseshoe Resort and a future development at Blue Mountain.
About Becky Buwalda
Becky Buwalda joined Deerhurst as financial controller in September 2018. As financial controller, Becky’s responsibilities included overseeing the resort’s finance and purchasing operations. Becky holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Dalhousie University and is a Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE). In December 2022, Becky started in a new role as Assistant Director of Revenue at Deerhurst.
Purchase orders are raised for every aspect of the business and authorize the purchases of everything from fertilizer and grass seed to food, drink, bed linens, and more.
Over the years, the resort has tried different ways to manage purchase orders across the business: from three-part carbon copy and paper POs to PDF files and email, but each fell short of what the resort needed.
Paper-based systems, for example, resulted in “stacks and stacks of paper” and with so many people working outside of the office it was difficult to process paper which resulted in delays and non-compliance with purchasing policies.
Using PDF files and email to manage POs reduced the amount of paperwork involved but required a lot of manual intervention. “For example, the person responsible for sending the PO for approval had to add the right signatures to the right POs manually and then send it out via email. Then, when it came back approved, they had to update a shared tracking document”, explains Becky.
Each of the methods the company tried lacked the tools needed to track what was happening which made it hard to know what was outstanding, what was actually approved, or if there were duplicates.
Why Deerhurst chose Spendwise
Recognizing the need for an automated solution to streamline the resort’s purchasing processes, Becky began doing her research and asking colleagues for recommendations. She soon found a solution that seemed like a good fit, but, following a demo, she had second thoughts.
“My hesitation came when they said we needed to make a multi-year commitment with them. And then certainly the price point didn’t fit for us.”
After searching for alternatives, she discovered Spendwise which had all the features she needed but at a lower price and without a requirement to commit long-term.
“Spendwise became the obvious solution, especially considering that we were in the middle of COVID and kind of price sensitive without the ability to commit long-term.”
Implementing Spendwise was quick and easy, according to Becky: “I set it up in an afternoon. It actually took less time to set it up than it took for me to demo the other system. By the end of that day, I had Spendwise in place and was very happy with the solution.”
Adoption from the team was straightforward thanks to Spendwise’s interface, which “looks and feels like a Google product”. She continues: “It was much easier than what they had been using, so they were eager to jump on board.”
Because of its impact, Spendwise was recognized near the top of a big list of successes for the year.
Quicker PO approvals
Before implementing Spendwise it took days or even weeks to process purchase order requests. With Spendwise the resort has reduced the time to process purchase orders by up to 80%.
Now when someone submits a purchase order request they are able to see exactly where it is in the approval process, receive notifications when it is approved or rejected, and can follow up as needed.
Approvers receive notifications when there are purchase order requests they need to review and are reminded of any requests they have not yet acted on. They can review and approve purchase order requests on their computer or phone from wherever they are which “has definitely been helpful and a significant improvement over anything that was in place before”, Becky explains, adding that “across the board Spendwise has been very helpful in reducing timelines.”
Greater budget accountability
Prior to implementing Spendwise it was almost impossible to know if spending was tracking to budget until it was too late. Since introducing Spendwise, the resort has gained the visibility it needs to manage its spending to budget in real time.
“It certainly holds us accountable to our budget, which was the biggest thing for us,” explains Becky. “Spendwise helps us understand if we are tracking in the right direction.”
In addition, Spendwise has made it a lot easier to capture expenses in the correct period. “Performance is measured monthly so it is important for us to capture all expenses in the right period. Spendwise helps us do that by allowing us to export data into CSV files which we use to create month-end accruals.”, Becky explains.
Increased control over spending
Because of how cumbersome processes were before, policies were often circumvented. Now, with Spendwise, policies are followed and nearly all purchases are pre-approved.
Spendwise’s user-friendly design makes managing purchase orders straightforward and onboarding new team members easy. But the benefits don’t stop there, according to Becky.
“It’s very intuitive, user friendly, and easy to navigate. Plus, because it’s web-based, we can easily deploy it across the team and people can access it anywhere from any device.”
Improved team communication
The notes feature in Spendwise has made it easier to communicate about purchases.
“The other thing that I really like about Spendwise is the notes section in the POs and being able to send a note mentioning a user. It helps me keep the correspondence about purchase orders in the PO system instead of in a bunch of email inboxes”, Becky explains.
Easier communication has helped lead to faster processing and increase compliance with purchasing policies.
Stacks of paper
Time consuming processes
Non-compliance with policies
Lack of visibility
70-80% faster processing
Near 100% compliance