INNOVATOR 2005: Arizona State University


Full-Life-Cycle Chemical Material Management SystemArizona State University / SciQuest
Arizona State University (ASU) needed to provide a full life cycle, chemical material management system that could be widely used by the university research community, provide increased control over laboratory materials, aid investigators in their research efforts, and comply with federal and state mandates on chemical and biological safety. The ideal system would be easy to use and could be replicated in the more than 1,060 university labs.

Technology Choice/Project Design

According to Director of Purchasing and Business Services, John Riley, “We were a happy user of a previous eProcurement system, but it did not support our laboratory security and safety initiatives. SciQuest ( offers a Web-based system, the LifeCycleT materials management solution, with a method of ordering and managing lab materials while also enhancing the research effort; it seemed to be the only supplier in the industry that met our research needs with a suite of usable products. Due to their experience with eProcurement, we knew what to look for, including standards, scalability, and extensibility. Our SunRISE system (Research Intensive Systems Enhancement; utilizing the SciQuest technology is integrated with our financial management system, Advantage, from American ManagementSystems ( A key feature we were looking for was the ability to rapidly adopt system enhancements jointly developed with the 15 or so other large research universities using at least parts of the system.”

ASU included the following LifeCycleT modules in the deployment: Chemical Manager, Supplies Manager, HigherMarket Selectsite (eProcurement), Spend Director (budget module), and Settlement Manager. Everything integrated with ASU’s WebAuth authentication— a secure, centralized authorization system that provides the user with a single sign-on environment. In fact, adoption of WebAUTH was a key driver, as were the hundreds of scientific suppliers already available in a science catalog, the ability to add ASU’s key suppliers, the ability to adopt business rules that allow approval of ASU purchasing card transactions, and integration of SunRISE to Advantage (although the team did have to build some interfaces that would translate the larger data fields available in SunRISE to the smaller data fields used in Advantage).

Key Players

Although the SunRISE system was initiated by Purchasing and Business Services, many key user departments, plus Administration and Finance IT, play a direct role in its implementation. The system is part of a three-prong Laboratory Security Program being implemented university-wide. The Implementation Team is made up of 55 key individuals from departments that are directly impacted by the deployment of this system. The project is monitored by the VP of Administration, director of Purchasing, and director of Administration & Finance Information Technology. An eCommerce Team was formed in Purchasing and Business Services to drive the implementation and deployment effort.

ASU Department of Police Services and the Tempe Fire Department will integrate SunRISE into their new mobile systems, to identify hazardous materials when responding to laboratory emergencies. The university’s Environmental Health and Safety Department can instantly access the data needed for comprehensive reporting. Key stakeholders (e.g., research specialists/lab managers/lab safety officers; environmental health and safety officers; and departmental administrative personnel) were engaged early in the planning stages of the project, helped make implementation decisions, and also became early adopters. “SciQuest hosted many focus-group meetings for our team and several Webinars in their continuing development of the product,” says Riley. “They continue to be an important part of this project, and we meet on an ongoing basis as each stage is developed.”

Materials and financial management integrate at ASU.

ASU is the first higher ed customer of SciQuest to implement a full-life-cycle chemical management system that tracks chemicals from researching a product, ordering the product, inventorying it in a stockroom, issuing it and then tracking the container, to disposing of it. Says Riley, “Because it is such a huge project that impacts so many different areas, and because of the complexity involved,we are still in the pilot stages of Phase One, implementation of SciQuest’s eProcurement module, and the deployment of the chemical management module.We discovered that many labs needed assistance in entering their existing inventory into the system. Accordingly, Purchasing and Business Services retained three of our most qualified laboratory science students to work full-time over the summer to complete this bulk data-entry project.” Riley also reports that ASU researchers find value in the capability to do advanced product searching, in the improved productivity created by identifying materials by all or part of their molecular structure or properties, in the ability to rapidly obtain internal stock that is excess to another lab’s needs, and in a vastly improved procurement cycle time.

Areas currently using the eProcurement module report that the Web-based system is easy to use, and they find it to be very intuitive. They can easily determine which materials are already available on campus and thus can be delivered rapidly; can compare products to identify the one most suitable for their intended need; and can mark containers as either available for disposal or available for redistribution.

ASU will now be able to facilitate research capacity by reducing the time researchers spend in material acquisition and chemical management. “We expect this system will reduce the time spent in administrative matters by a minimum of one hour per lab per week,” says Riley. “For our 1,000-plus labs, this is a savings of 52,000 hours per year, or the equivalent of gaining the research capability of 25 researchers per year. Competing on the basis of speed allows us to attract premier researchers through our ability to get their respective labs functional as fast as possible. We also now have the ability to expand our research efforts while complying with new security mandates. And the three laboratory safety officers from the Biodesign Institute, Chemistry, and Engineering have been especially effective in developing a master internal chemical database that would compose approximately 90 percent of chemicals used within the campus labs.

“But surprisingly, the greatest impact lies in the cross-functional relationships developed among the various laboratory staff engaged in the implementation and deployment. These people now collaborate on a wide range of tasks in many areas. Prior to our start of the SunRISE initiative, these people tended to limit themselves to only their own lab complex.”

Says Riley, “SciQuest did not have a great deal of experience with how higher education institutions function, in general. There were communication gaps that caused frustration on both sides. And because SciQuest products are continuously being enhanced, sometimes very rapidly, the sales people did not always know about new features. To their credit, however, we found SciQuest very responsive in resolving these concerns.”
Next Steps
ASU will continue to target specific departments for training in Phase One, while working with SciQuest to develop a comprehensive chemical database as the university moves into implementation of Phase Two.
ASU chose to be a beta site for the implementation of SciQuest Chemical and Supplies Manager. “Our greatest advice,” says Riley, “would be to make sure you conduct a complete feasibility study as to what your needs are versus what the product can deliver. Overall, this will save an enormous amount of time during kickoff and implementation.”