Sharing a success story
March 19, 2019
Since being introduced in May 2017, acQuire, Queen's electronic Procure to Pay system, has resulted in numerous improvements across the university including replacing the former manual, paper-based procurement and payment processes, increasing efficiencies and transparency, and reducing the carbon footprint.
Numerous private corporations and universities across North America have also introduced the software, created by spend management company Jaggaer, but Queen’s has quickly become a leading implementer of the software’s eProcurement, Accounts Payable and Supplier Management modules, particularly within the post-secondary education sector.
As a result, the Queen’s acQuire team was recently invited to make a presentation at a conference held at the Jaggaer company’s headquarters in North Carolina. The presentation, detailing the implementation process and successes, went so well that the Queen’s team was invited to create a webcast with the company’s media firm to help other program users around the world.
For Nicole Fowler and Nicki Mundell, who head up the acQuire team at Queen’s, the experience and positive response has been a pleasant surprise.
“It went really well. There were a lot of comments and feedback and we actually had a lot of people (current and prospective customers) wanting to exchange contacts with us,” says Fowler, Manager, Senior Procurement, acQuire and Accounts Payable. “Then we got a call from Jaggaer saying that people were still talking about the presentation. After we said we were getting calls as well they said they weren’t talking about clients but Jaggaer’s own development team. I think this shows that Queen’s is really leading in this space.”
Since the presentation and webcast the Queen’s Procurement team has received a number of contacts and several Ontario universities have scheduled visits to see first-hand how Queen’s has implemented, and continues to improve, the system. A network of users is being created that is beneficial for all, including Queen’s, now and in the long term.
“We now have networked to a greater group of people who will help us make this tool just that much better,” Fowler says. “We want to make sure that we are not standing still, and instead look for what we can do to keep making this better, whether it is the user experience or the information we can get out of the tool. There are other users who are doing some very innovative things. That’s great for us because now we can work together to make it better for all.”
The acQuire program was brought in to modernize Queen’s University’s procurement and accounts payable systems. Unlike the majority of education sector users, Queen’s opted for a university-wide implementation. The user-friendly program allows staff and faculty to use a single username and password to access different vendors. Much like an online shopping experience, users are able to place multiple products in their virtual shopping cart and only check out once. The implementation process has been smooth and the majority of feedback from acQuire clients has been positive. Support is quick and readily available for anyone having difficulties.
“Everything is located in one convenient location from the start of researching the product, placing the order, getting approvals, paying the invoice, to helpful links, policies, procedures and forms,” says Bonnie Fleming, Purchasing Assistant, IT Services. “Probably the most important aspect is the support and backup that we know we can always depend on from the Procurement team. Knowing that they are just a phone call away and that they truly care that our experience is a positive one is priceless.”
Other benefits of acQuire include reducing the wait times between placing an order and having it filled by the supplier, fast, electronic communication with suppliers, full transparency and ability to track a purchase requisition to P.O., explains Nicki Mundell, Procurement Systems Analyst and Solution Administrator.
“The change from paper cheque requisitioning to electronic remittance forms was one of our biggest successes with acQuire. The change created transparency for our Procurement and Finance teams as well as the end users,” she says. “The technology enabled us to build specific forms for our client needs, and we now manage about 95 percent of paper payment requests flowing through the system, providing more efficient processing times and cutting the number of steps for the entire process in half.” After a recent analysis, Procurement has also identified that 98 percent of PDF forms related to procurement exceptions are now routing electronically as well – resulting in a significant reduction of paper processing for exception related transactions at Queen’s.
However, the success of the system wouldn’t have been possible without support and acceptance by the Queen’s staff and faculty, both point out.