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U St. Thomas Streamlines Purchasing Functions with SciQuest

The University of St. Thomas, based in Minnesota, is implementing a service to automate some procurement and accounts payable operations. The four-campus university, which has about 11,000 students, will be integrating SciQuest's e-procurement Web service with its financial system, SunGard Higher Education's Banner Finance.

The adoption of the new program follows on the May 2010 creation of a purchasing committee that was given the job by St. Thomas executive vice presidents of revamping the purchasing process for goods and services, travel, and event planning in order to reduce institutional expenses.

The application from SciQuest combines several modules. A Spend Director module gives the administrator a means to set up a catalog with an e-commerce shopping interface for users. As the user creates a purchase request, he or she is automatically directed to the right suppliers, contracts, or products as defined in the procurement policies. A Requisition Manager provides workflow for approval of purchase requests. Other modules include an order manager for purchase order functions, a sourcing manager to create and manage bids, a contract manager that supplies a central repository for contracts, and a settlement manager that compiles the forms--order, receipt, and invoice--related to a purchase.

"This investment will help to free our faculty and staff from some of the administrative tasks typically associated with purchasing," said Karen Harthorn, director of purchasing and payables. "Automation will also help to streamline our accounts payable operation and eliminate manual paperwork. Most importantly, purchasing services will be able to more effectively aggregate the university's purchasing power in return for better contract terms and conditions from suppliers--savings that ultimately can be applied to high-value activities that directly impact our mission."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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