School district procurement departments often struggle with processes that are inefficient and not user-friendly. El Paso Independent School District (ISD) was no exception. When Ron Gatlin (now retired) was appointed Executive Director of Procurement and School Resources at El Paso ISD, he quickly realized the district’s need to transform procurement. Gatlin had heard about emerging technology that could help simplify and control spend, and expedite shopping, while also complying with Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) and other state purchasing requirements.
Gatlin’s required features for the new platform were:
■ Easy implementation
■ Punchout capabilities
■ Multiple catalogs for EDGAR compliance
■ A one-stop-shop
■ The ability to identify local suppliers
Gatlin and colleague Leticia Rivera (Assistant Purchasing Director of Procurement and School Resources), took the lead in innovating El Paso ISD’s outdated procurement process. Their first step was to implement an electronic bidding system along with a K-12 enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, “TEAMS by Frontline,” for organizational management. Their next step was to integrate EqualLevel’s procure-to-pay solution to further extend their ERP system.
“This eliminates several steps and immensely speeds up the process.”
With the help of EqualLevel, Gatlin and Rivera created a procure-to-pay marketplace that offers a single, seamless platform to facilitate all processes associated with the shop-order-pay transaction. By eliminating any maverick spending and ensuring that staff is only purchasing through approved contracts, the district can demonstrate that they are being fiscally responsible with public funds. “Our staff can now go in and shop for what they want, push a button and it automatically turns into a requisition. They no longer have to type in the description, specs, or pricing, and can be ensured that all of those details are accurate and compliant,” Gatlin said after implementation. “This eliminates several steps and immensely speeds up the process.”
El Paso ISD also utilizes the EqualLevel Savings Advisor (ELSA) in their marketplace. ELSA is powered by artificial intelligence to automatically optimize spending and comparison shop punchout items to identify the best savings. In the first six months that ELSA was in use, the district saved $44,000.
Fewer purchase order changes and less invoice reconciliation.
EqualLevel’s marketplace was able to integrate more local suppliers, enabling El Paso ISD to support the community in which they work and live.
“The purchasing department was viewed as slowing down the process. Now campus staff is happy to have a more streamlined and efficient procurement process in place,” said Gatlin after implementation.
When the need arose to work remotely, procurement staff were able to continue their operations without interruption.
“The campus staff love it. They can go into the marketplace and shop for whatever they want in the online store and know that they are getting the best savings on products that are EDGAR compliant,” said Rivera after implementation. “We went from horse and buggy to the Starship Enterprise.”
Digitizing the procure-to-pay process has put El Paso ISD at the forefront of public procurement. Not only has it improved its complete purchasing process and the support provided to their campuses and classrooms immensely, it is allowing El Paso ISD to deliver efficient and effective management of its funding.
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