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7 best practices to set you up for Ellucian Spend Management success

"They’ve strengthened their buying power across the multiple campuses and satellites, and have automated their existing processes."

Since the 1960s, Central Community College has been serving students in their Grand Island, Nebraska community. They’ve expanded over the past 50+ years, growing to three main campuses and four satellite centers providing 36 programs across 25 counties.

But up until recently, their procurement processes looked like a blast from the past. When Carmen Taylor joined Central Community College as purchasing manager in 2015, she discovered that the college used a six-page purchase order, printed on a dot-matrix printer. The process was paper-based, manual, and error-prone and orders took months to fulfill. Clearly, something needed to change.
 
Under Carmen’s leadership, Central Community College implemented Ellucian Spend Management, which allowed the college to digitize and automate its manual procurement processes and reduce the time to process a PO from weeks or months to hours or days. And along the way, the team uncovered seven best practices that helped them ensure implementation success.

 
7 Best Practices to Guide your Ellucian Spend Management Implementation

1. Identify what’s broken
For Central Community College, the challenge was obvious. Outdated, manual processes resulted in procurement errors and long turnarounds to complete order fulfillment. But the problem at your institution may not be quite so obvious. Take stock of your current processes and identify areas for improvement. Assess where you can make the process more efficient, faster, or more accurate. Document what’s broken so you can report back when it’s fixed.
 
2. Articulate the benefit of making a change
Change is hard, especially when you’ve been using the same processes for 50+ years. Carmen found many staff were set in their ways and resistant to change. To break through the resistance, you must clearly articulate the value that making a change will bring to your institution. Whether it’s getting supplies in the hands of instructors faster or improving the accuracy of the process, make sure everyone knows how they will benefit.
 
3. Start with baby steps
Before you even embark on the implementation of a new system, consider incremental changes you can make that reap rewards. In the case of Central Community College, introducing email into the process was a baby step that made a huge difference, allowing the college to begin reducing the time it took to process and approve a PO. Look for similar baby steps you can take and begin to implement them now.
 
4. Find your cheerleaders
Every procurement department has a few people who are itching for a change. The ones who are eager to embrace a new way of working and will evangelize it to their peers. Seek out these people and get them on board with the new process and new technology. Include them in the implementation and testing. And they will help more skeptical colleagues through the transformation.
 
5. Identify the “must-haves” in a new solution
For Central Community College, integration with Ellucian Colleague and higher education experience were two non-negotiables. And Ellucian Spend Management delivered, providing what Carmen calls “the ideal solution.” Through their proven integration through Ellucian Ethos and ESM’s deep experience working with numerous higher education institutions, Ellucian Spend Management not only provided a spend management solution that met all of Central Community College’s needs, but they also shared recommendations and best practices gleaned from their work with other colleges and universities. This was huge for Central Community College, as it helped them avoid extra work throughout the process.
 
6. Include lots of people in testing
User testing is a critical step in any implementation. Carmen’s advice: the more people, the better. Include as many people as you can from your procurement department and instruct them to try and “break the system” – because it’s easier to fix in a test environment than it is in production.
 
7. Set up an internal help desk
New users – especially the ones who are “stuck in their ways” – may need some extra support when the new system and processes go live. By creating an internal help desk, you give them a place to go if they have questions, are unsure what data to enter, or are just confused about what steps come next in the process.

 
Modernizing spend management at Central Community College was a tall task. But today, the college is live on Ellucian Spend Management and reaping the benefits. Carmen and her team can now see a full life-cycle view of their purchase orders. They’ve strengthened their buying power across the multiple campuses and satellites, and have automated their existing processes.
 
Users are seeing benefits, too. While the implementation of Ellucian Spend Management occurred during the throes of COVID-19, the team didn’t miss a beat. In fact, they realized that Ellucian Spend Management is built for a virtual environment. Users found that they didn’t need to be at their desk or workstation to place an order. And approvers could approve from anywhere, regardless of if they were working remotely or simply working from another campus.
 
Through Ellucian Spend Management’s Ethos-proven, modern, scalable solutions, Central Community College modernized its spend management by bringing together people, processes, and technology across its campus. To learn more, CLICK HERE

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