Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance (LEAP) Fund for performance audits
Process Automation (Procurement)
Process Automation is a general technology term that is used to describe any process being automated through the use of computers and computer software. Processes that have been automated require less human intervention and less human time to deliver.
Fundamental steps for implementing process automation include:
- Map the process through flow charts drawing out the process from beginning to end
- Study the sequence of the process
- Identify areas for improvement by looking for redundant steps or places to automate the procurement process
- Develop or purchase procurement software. Procurement technology improves both the shopping experience and scalability
- Evaluate your strategy, decentralized purchasing process vs. centralized
Procurement Automation and Supplier Solutions Empower Organization and Members
Inter-University Council of Ohio (IUC)
Since 1939, the IUC has been a voluntary educational association that fosters collaboration among Ohio’s 14 state universities to improve the quality of a public higher education. The IUC also engages in research and acts as a government liaison on behalf of its member institutions.
The IUC Purchasing Group (IUC-PG) is a purchasing consortium within the IUC, comprised of the 14 IUC-member universities, working with Ohio’s 13 community colleges and 7 technical colleges on group purchasing agreements that provide optimum quantity discounts.
Recently, IUC Purchasing Group adopted the use of technology that enables procurement automation and supplier enablement solutions that empower the organization to realize the potential of strategic procurement. The on-demand source-to-settle solution suite software makes the entire purchasing process transparent. Users easily purchase the goods and services they need online in one system that provides procurement and financial leaders with the real-time visibility over spending they need to negotiate preferred contracts, achieve volume discounts and enforce contract compliance—all while eliminating the time-consuming paperwork and administrative tasks that govern the typical purchasing process.
Modernized Process Shrinks Turnaround Time
Ohio Shared Services
In 2008, several Ohio agencies banded together to build a first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art shared services center that would use a new ERP system to answer invoicing and related questions for government agencies and vendors, as well as provide shared back-end financial services for participating agencies.
These efforts resulted in a new division called Ohio Shared Services and a series of other changes designed to maximize the new ERP suite’s value. The division is housed in a center designed to facilitate teamwork and flexibility. The center makes wide use of virtual servers and desktops so that IT resources can be easily deployed where needed.
Ohio Shared Services, a division of the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), performs a number of back-end tasks – accounts payable and invoice processing, fielding invoice inquires, document imaging, travel expense reimbursement, and vendor maintenance and management - that were previously siloed in the individual agencies.
The shared services include a modernized process for expense reporting and reimbursement.
What was once a tedious “receipt and staple” workflow handled in the finance offices of individual agencies has been transformed into a mostly paperless process in which state employees fax or scan their receipts to the center through a more efficient system that allows the state to cut checks in as few as two days.
Purchasing Software Eliminates Paper, Reduces Staff Time
Vermilion Local School District (see audit page 1-4)
The District uses purchasing software that is web-based and accessible anywhere, enabling a quicker approval process. Department heads or grade-level leaders were trained to use the software and in turn, train others who use it. The capabilities of the software include: requisitions; approval; purchase orders; receipts; payments; and reports.
Once requisitions are created, a notice is sent to the approver that the document is awaiting approval. Once it is approved, a confirmation of the purchase order is created. After the item is sent, a receipt and invoice are also sent. A payment voucher is then created with a copy of the payment. Additionally, various reports are available as needed to record the different types of transactions and historical purchasing records.
The software is linked to Ohio Schools Council and various catalogues, enabling the district to take advantage of cooperative purchasing and competitive bidding. According to the treasurer, the district is a sample site for other schools to view how the software works. The system costs $2,000 per year, eliminates paper, and makes the process quicker since the approval process is easier. Furthermore, according to the treasurer, the users have the capability to pull up last year’s requisitions so the purchaser can determine what they previously purchased. It has reduced administrative staff time while other required tasks increased eliminating the need to hire additional staff.