Emory Report

February 14, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 21

Purchasing goes online

By Eric Rangus

After a year of preparation, the purchasing department is ready to go completely online. As of April 1, all purchase requisitions for items that cost $500 or more must be completed using the online requisition system at http://epic.emory.edu/onlinereq.

"There's been exceptional feedback," said Rex Hardaway, director of procurement and materials services. "The campus is seeing this very favorably."

The system was initially introduced more than a year ago. Now, said Hardaway, the time has come to connect the balance of the campus to the new procedure. Beginning in April, no paper-based requisitions will be accepted without an extenuating circumstance, like the purchaser not having access to the Emory web.

This is the first full-scale, Universitywide paperless system to be implemented at Emory. It's also the first of many the University may experience over the next five years, Hardaway said, so it will be watched closely. It's no small task either, since only about 10­15 percent of the campus used the system at the start.

Because the system will affect all departments, it requires a great deal of flexibility, which accounts for the slow implementation across Emory. This methodical introduction helps ensure that it will meet everybody's needs.

"The system has the ability to accommodate the unique idiosyncrasies of every department," Hardaway said. That includes customers with highly specialized needs like Yerkes and environmental health and safety.

With the cumbersome, paper-based requisition process on its way out, ordering supplies will soon take a matter of minutes.

The new system stores certain customer information such as delivery addresses, so it doesn't have to be constantly retyped.

The system also sends requisitions directly to vendors, effectively eliminating middlemen.

The rollout of this program has experienced few glitches. Perhaps the only one, according to Hardaway, was the fact that several fields in the online application are required to be filled out to complete the process, and that had not been made clear. The system also has built-in safeguards regarding the use of account numbers.

For instance, if an employee attempts to order supplies under an account number for which he or she lacks approval, the system will not allow the transaction, even if the employee has been given verbal permission to place the order.

Approval must be entered into the system electronically by someone with permission to charge the specific account number.

Training classes are scheduled everyday throughout February and March, and they last two-to-three hours. Employee system IDs are set up before they walk in the door, and participants will leave with a training manual, an implementation guide and a hot line number in case they experience problems.

Staffers who want to schedule a training class or request the services of an analyst to devise an implementation strategy should call the training hotline at 404-712-9111.

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