Overflowing manilla folders.

Countless binders.

And a 1970s-era Lektriever electric filing cabinet.

Now they have a better way.


A New Poster Child for 21st Century Spend Management

Outdated is one word to describe the methods that the University of Tennessee system once relied on for procurement, contract management and sourcing. Antiquated is another. With paper, pen, files and so many binders, the university’s process wasn’t efficient or all that effective.

But, since updating systems and processes with ESM’s suite of solutions, they have become the poster child for 21st century spend management.


I’ve had a really good feeling about them right now. And I still do. They’ve been really good to work with. It’s been a great relationship.

Mark Paganelli
Executive Director for Administration and Finance
University of Tennessee System

University of Tennessee’s Spend Management Transformation

With ESM’s solutions, the University of Tennessee overhauled it’s spend management system. Their transformation story is one of deliberate and managed incremental improvements. With a complex system of multiple campuses, thousands of users and cost centers, all using primarily paper-based processes, they needed a solution that would be easy to use, and vendor that was easy to work with. Their transformation includes Contract Management, eProcurement, Bids & Quotes, and Invoicing.

It’s Easier!
“It is easier for our vendors. It is easier for purchasing people.  It is easier for our contract offices.
It is a whole lot easier to get data about what we’re buying and who’s buying what.”

Contract Management Before ESM

Complexity, Paper Cuts, and Lost Contracts

  • Paper cuts: Unwieldy, disorganized paper process.
  • Where, oh where? Some contracts got lost, others took months to sign and others were never signed.
  • Liability issues: System moved forward with some contracts, even though they weren’t signed.
  • No ability to identify bottlenecks in the process.
  • DocuSign was a standalone process

Contract Management With ESM

Simplicity. Visibility. Manageability.

  • Everyone can view the status of their contract, regardless of where it is in the approval process.
  • Easy identification and elimination of bottlenecks.
  • All pertinent contract information available online. Searchable. Reportable.
  • Approvals can be done with mobile devices.
  • Reminders result in faster approvals and no lost paperwork.
  • Docusign integrated. Signatures configured. Contracts automatically activated.

Start: Complex System for Users

Automatic Routing:

Result: Simplified
System for Users

“It’s very slick, and works very well!”

Procurement Before ESM

Not connected:

  • The system had four purchasing offices spread across the state.
  • 70s style: Relied on paper processes, Rolodexes and lots of files and folders.
  • Thousands of billing locations, and thousands of users.
  • …all using manual, paper-based processes.
  • Hard to know who’s buying what from whom.

Procurement With ESM

Automated & Integrated

  • All procure-to-pay activities automated.
  • Online marketplace presents only approved vendors and negotiated contracts.
  • Easy to use. Easy to buy.
  • Better visibility and reporting.
  • Increased visibility of diverse businesses, increasing spend with these vendors.

Rapid Adoption

in the first year…

0 to


$0 to

transactional value

First Year Metrics

Largest Order



Sourcing Before ESM

Rolodex spinning

Rolodex spinning:

Went to an actual Rolodex for vendor contact information.

Hundreds of binders:

Hundreds of binders:

Sent out RFPs to 10 vendors, got back 10 binders from each vendor in return.

Beast fed:

Beast fed:

Stuffed massive Lektrievers, file storage machines, with files and folders.

Sourcing With ESM

Fully automated:

All bid, quote and solicitation activities are fully automated

collaborative online portal

Collaborative online portal:

Making it easy to communicate with vendors

digital communications

All online:

Solicit. Evaluate. Score. Communicate. All digital.

Lektriever retired:

… and surplused. retired

What’s next for Tennessee?


With eProcurement and contract management automated, the institution is now focused on the payables side.  With ESM’s e-Invoicing solution, Tennessee will get:

Full automation of invoicing

including three-way matching capabilities.

Easy collaboration with vendors

Online invoices will come directly from the vendor, saving time and money.

Streamlined processes

Invoices will be matched with the purchase order and fed directly into their SAP ERP system.

“It will eliminate the data entry of thousands of invoices and the delivery of paper invoices by the vendor, saving us considerable time.”

Working with ESM

Other spend management providers are on the market, but Mark Paganelli has no regrets about choosing ESM.

“They are small enough that we know everybody on a first name basis and we truly consider them a partner,” Paganelli said. “They’ve been very responsive to all of our requests and needs. They even reach out to us as they develop new solutions.”

ESM provides the University of Tennessee with a complete spend management solution, but it is more than just the software. They are invested in our success, and have been a good partner in our procurement transformation

Mark Paganelli

Executive Director for Administration and Finance, University of Tennessee

I work with thousands of vendors every year, for various things and various levels of interaction. It is very, very rare that a candor’s staff is as friendly and responsive as the ESM staff.

Blake Reagan

Director of Procurement Services, University of Tennessee System

Ready to move your organization into the the 21st Century?