Tech ‘teething problems’ hit supplier payment systems at National Trust for Scotland

Tech ‘teething problems’ have caused supplier payment delays at National Trust for Scotland.

The conservation organisation has been working to fix a ‘bug’ in its new Microsoft Dynamics finance and customer relationship management (CRM) system, which have occured over the last few weeks.

The trust – which is the largest membership organisation in Scotland, with 365,000 members – has been upgrading its IT systems over the course of the last 12 months after embarking on an organisational modernisation programme, which began in 2015.

Simon Skinner, the Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland, issued an apology after two suppliers complained to a national newspaper, with one claiming he had not been paid for months and was considering employing a debt collection agency.-

It follows two related finance system incidents which impacted the trust’s IT last year – in September and November – both affecting direct debit systems for membership fees, the report said.

Mr Skinner said: “In stages over the past year, the Trust has been introducing new IT systems designed to modernise its financial and customer services processes.

“As with every major project of this type, there have been teething problems.

“Unfortunately, these problems have taken longer to resolve than anticipated due to a proprietary software bug. We have been working with the software provider to fix this issue and it is now resolved.

“In the interim, we attempted to notify all suppliers of the issues. We also offered assurances that we had manual systems in place to ensure that they continued to receive payments, but there were inevitable delays, in part due to ensuring the validity of invoices. We are now working hard to ensure all monies outstanding are paid as soon as possible.

“The Trust is in good financial health, continues to be a going concern and is committed to making all outstanding payments quickly.

“Should any supplier be experiencing serious difficulty due to the delays, we urge them to contact us as soon as possible. We regret any upset or concern caused.”

Since 2015, the National Trust for Scotland has embarked on a programme of modernisation, which has included an organisational wide restructuring exercise and investment into modernising the Trust’s website in order to prepare it for ‘interfacing with new systems’.

A five-year strategy was launched in 2018 and is intended to deliver £57 million of further investment by 2023.