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University of Tennessee upgrades to ESM’s new user interface

‘Smoothest rollout in years’

When they went live with ESM’s new user interface, the University of Tennessee’s procurement services staff was prepared to field phone calls from users with questions, concerns and complaints.

After all, with the flip of a switch, every single Tennessee user across the state - would be automatically moved over to the new interface. It was a major change, and there was no phased rollout.

“We were ready, with all hands on deck,” said Blake Reagan, the university’s procurement services department director. “We thought we’d be bombarded with phone calls, which we are happy to take. But, on the afternoon of the launch, I spoke with colleagues and it was kind of eerie how quiet the phones were. It’s been the smoothest rollout we’ve had in the last 10 years.”

Since then, Reagan and his staff have had to answer only a handful questions about the updated online eProcurement platform.

“It is very modern, very intuitive,” said BJ Roberts, communications specialist. “People can get very far with no training at all.”

Online shopping portal makes guiding spend easy

The solution features an online shopping portal that includes only an organization’s approved vendors and negotiated contracts. With it, users can guide spend exactly where it needs to go, allowing for opportunities to boost negotiating power, secure rebates and find new ways to save.

The redesigned solution now features a more intuitive shopping experience that makes it even easier to use. The flexible solution also lets organizations mold its capabilities to their unique needs and workflows.

Highlights include:

  • An updated interface that will look familiar to anybody who has navigated major consumer ecommerce shopping sites with quick links to favorite and preferred items, common product categories and suppliers.
  • A dashboard that provides easy access to items in progress, including received carts and pending awards, all grouped based on their current stage.
  • A notification widget that alerts users when they need to take action on a shipment or order.
  • Visual workflows that make it possible to follow every order through the process.

“It’s been a big improvement,” Reagan said.

New UI requires fewer steps

The University of Tennessee has a presence in all 95 counties in The Volunteer State, so procurement officials needed to reach out to employees across the state to notify them about the new UI and train them to use it.

About a week and a half before the launch, the procurement services staff set up 30-minute online training sessions for existing users. They also created quick videos and handouts that users could refer to on their own as they placed an order.

The online training sessions showcased the new user interface and took participants through a couple of transactions using it. The response was extremely positive. Participants were pleased to see that the new system requires fewer steps and is much more intuitive. With just a few clicks, they can shop, fill their cart, and send an order for approval.

“Almost every day, you had somebody in the chat window saying, ‘Yay,’ or, ‘This is awesome.’ It was always something very positive,” Walker said. “Usually, when we launch something new, we hear things like ‘This is horrible,’ or, ‘This is going to make me retire.’ I don’t think we really heard anything negative about the rollout or the change, which is so rare.”

New users get it

As new employees come on board, Tennessee will continue its periodic user training sessions. But the training materials they created for the rollout already are making it easy for first-time buyers to work their way through the solution and complete purchases.

“The platform is so intuitive,” Roberts said. “Anybody with those materials can pick up how it works and start purchasing at UT. After an order or two, they can really do it and feel confident about it.”

Plenty of support from ESM

There were a few hiccups along the way, said Reagan, but vendors were typically to blame for those issues. And, whatever the hurdle, ESM was quick to resolve it.

“I can count on one hand the problems we had. Usually it was something to do with how complicated some of our transactions are,” Reagan said. “Every time, ESM has been quick to help us narrow it down and fix it.”


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