SSAIHQ CMS Display Portlet
SSAI Developed an Application that Streamlines Procurement Tasks – Improving Cost, Efficiency, and Customer Satisfaction
SSAI IT staff developed an application to streamline the company’s procurement process through use of electronic forms and automated approval workflows.
The Electronic Purchase Request System (EPRS) significantly reduced the inefficiencies of the legacy system and has a built-in flexibility that enables all SSAI contracts and internal departments to use it for purchasing, while accommodating the specialized requirements of each group’s approval workflow.
The initial success of the EPRS deployment has not only made the PR creation process more efficient, it has also generated many new and innovative ideas for further improvements to the entire end-to-end procurement process.
In the fall of 2019 individuals within the project management office of one of SSAI’s largest contracts recognized that they had a problem. The level of purchasing needed to fulfill the tasks on this complex engineering contract was overwhelming the existing procurement process, which had many bottlenecks and required manual reentry of detailed parts specifications from the initial purchase request into SSAI’s accounting system. They approached the SSAI IT team that was already automating several other business processes and initiated a project to streamline the company’s procurement process through use of electronic forms and automated approval workflows.
In response to rising procurement demand, SSAI’s IT team successfully developed the EPRS application, which has significantly reduced the inefficiencies of the legacy system by making it easier for users to submit, approve, and track purchase requests and by eliminating the need for data reentry. The system design has proven flexible enough to allow use by all SSAI contracts and internal departments for all purchases while accommodating the specialized requirements of each group’s approval workflow.
EPRS uses Microsoft SharePoint, enhanced with Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflows, to capture data for each Purchase Request (PR) through a web-based electronic form. Custom validation rules in the form prevent the submission of PRs with missing or incorrect data, one of the most common reasons for PRs to be rejected in the previous process. Once submitted, the PR is routed through a chain of approval steps until it reaches the Procurement Department where a buyer is assigned to complete the purchase. PRs are stored as SharePoint list items along with any attachments (detailed specifications, vendor quotes, statements of works, etc.) and are easily exportable to be added to SSAI’s Accounting system.
EPRS is also able to query Costpoint database tables in order to provide information on the electronic form, such as contact numbers, project codes, vendor contact information, and so on, that would have previously required entry by the requestor. The ability to pull data from existing systems into the form saves time and prevents transcription errors.
The initial success of the EPRS deployment has not only made the PR creation process more efficient, it has also generated many new and innovative ideas for further improvements to the entire end-to-end procurement process, including enhanced and more timely reporting and additional integration with existing accounting and HRIS systems. It has encouraged all stakeholders to think more creatively about ways to solve persistent problems. It may have helped solve only a small part of the whole problem, but in doing so it has opened a door to innovative thinking that had previously been closed.
In summary, future benefits of the EPRS system for SSAI and our customers include cost- and time-savings, increased efficiency, increased customer satisfaction, and potential for even more innovation.