U of T saves time, streamlines purchase orders

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Multiple emails, hard copy printouts and a lot of time – this once described the process of creating a high-value purchase order (PO) at U of T. Now, new functionality in the Financial Information System (FIS) will allow staff at the St. George campus to create a PO at or above $25,000 without an FIS purchase requisition.

All related documentation is attached to the PO in the system, which is then automatically routed to Procurement Services for review and release. Staff can also track their PO status in real time and store all back-up documentation directly in the system.

“The previous system was cumbersome,” says Shauna Schwartz, Manager of Purchasing Services and Operations with Procurement Services. “It required users to email an FIS purchase requisition number and include multiple PDF, Excel and Word attachments. We’ve now removed these extra steps for the user. This is the first of many improvements over the next three years to modernize our systems.”

The project, which went live on August 1, was a combined effort between Enterprise Applications & Solutions Integration, Procurement Services and Financial Services.

The functionality was piloted with the Department of Chemistry, the Faculty of Dentistry, and Facilities and Services.

“The new system has some significant benefits,” says Usama Makary, Manager of Finance with the Department of Facilities and Services. “The most noteworthy is the fact that the system allows users to track their respective requests until final release is confirmed – all of this is completed electronically.”

In addition, the new process generates an automated email with a soft copy (PDF) of the PO, which can be forwarded to vendors.

“The value add and efficiencies realized from the new system are truly remarkable,” says Makary, who was part of the pilot group. “We’re witnessing a new achievement that will raise the bar of the quality of services provided and response time.”

Throughout the summer, the Financial Advisory Services and Training team offered five information and training sessions to more than 100 attendees.

In the future, the plan is to monitor the function with staff at the St. George campus and roll it out to the University of Toronto Mississauga and University of Toronto Scarborough.

“We’re excited about where this project will take us,” says Schwartz. “We want to improve processes and the customer experience, and also help staff save time and minimize risk. We’ll be looking at how to streamline other processes in the future.”