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Over $600k Saved at School Districts with EqualLevel’s Savings Advisor (ELSA)

Rockville, MD, Feb.15, 2022 – When schoolteachers or those in K-12 procurement are making purchases for their classrooms, they often just make the most convenient purchase. But, choosing the item at the top of the search results, or going with the supplier they are most familiar with, often leads to unnecessary overspending. The extra dollars spent on these small purchases can add up fast and cost schools a significant amount of extra money each year. The EqualLevel Marketplace, by consolidating supplier catalogs and punchout stores into a single marketplace for comparison shopping, provides a unique opportunity to prevent this overspending.

Our patent-pending EqualLevel Savings Advisor™ (ELSA) combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and a growing database of commonly sourced products for K-12 to automatically identify in real-time the lowest price for your item or the best available substitute from your approved suppliers. This feature enables shoppers to quickly swap in the best price or enter a justification for keeping their current item. Detailed reporting is available on the alternatives suggested, decisions made, and the savings achieved or missed.

To measure the impact of the EqualLevel Savings Advisor, we looked at the spend from 20 school districts utilizing an EqualLevel Marketplace with ELSA in 2021. These 20 districts were from 5 states and integrated their marketplace to 8 different ERP systems — eFinancePlus, MUNIS, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, Skyward, TEAMS, and USAS. In total, ELSA was able to save these districts $642,454 in 2021. These savings were realized directly from ELSA presenting shoppers a lower price from another approved contract for an item in their cart and the shopper choosing to make the replacement. The savings for each district depended primarily on their total spend. The average savings for a district was $32,122, with the highest savings being $282,852 for one of the larger school districts.

For most districts, these savings alone were able to provide an ROI for the marketplace application in just the first year. And even further savings were achieved through the marketplace ensuring contract compliance, increasing productivity, and reducing manual data entry and errors. Also, from the ELSA savings data for these 20 school districts, the savings are increasing over time. As more contracts are added to the marketplace and as the AI engine learns more from shoppers’ behavior, ELSA can identify more alternatives and drive more savings.

For K-12 school districts, a P2P solution can do more than streamline their procurement processes and ensure compliance—it can also drive significant cost savings. By incorporating real-time analysis using an AI engine into comparison shopping, the EqualLevel marketplace is able to prevent overspending and deliver immediate cost savings to school districts that can be put towards the classroom. An EqualLevel Marketplace can complement a variety of financial systems and can be implemented in 60 to 90 days, enabling a powerful return on investment within a single fiscal year.

About EqualLevel
EqualLevel provides an innovative procure-to-pay compliance platform that guides employees to all approved contracts and monitors shopping carts to ensure they never overpay. We simplify organization-wide purchasing with our patent-pending AI powered marketplace. EqualLevel ensures access to high-level transparency on spend, compliance, and savings. We guarantee the fastest ROI with quick configuration, deployment, and adoption.

Blog

Why School Districts Need a Procure-to-Pay Marketplace

The 2020-21 school year is already underway. Many schools continue to struggle with and adapt to the education budget crisis created by the pandemic. Given this reality, districts can no longer afford the inefficient costs of manual, paper-based requisitioning, ordering, invoice reconciliation, and payment processes. Digitizing the procure-to-pay process is now necessary if school districts are to pursue every opportunity for savings and efficiency.

 

What is a Procure-to-Pay Marketplace?

Procure-to-Pay refers to an organization’s operational procurement process, from requisition all the way through to payment.  A procure-to-pay marketplace offers a single, seamless platform that facilitates all of the processes associated with the shop-order-pay transaction.

Organizations that have implemented an end-to-end procure-to-pay marketplace derive many benefits from their systems. To highlight just a few:

  • One-stop-shop. A single site that teachers and staff can access to easily requisition all the goods and services they require from approved supplier contracts
  • Optimize savings. Ability to identify saving opportunities in real-time to eliminate over-spending
  • On-contract, compliant spending. Automated tracking of expenditures per contract to ensure budget, contract, and policy compliance
  • Reduced overhead. Lower transaction costs by eliminating manual, paper-based procurement and payables processing
  • Business insight. Increased visibility and control across the entire procure-to-pay process informs and elevates management decisions

Further, a procure-to-pay Marketplace eliminates the wall between procurement and accounts payable by automating the reconciliation of invoices and creating easy access to historical records that support audit requirements.

Understanding the Procure-to-Pay S-O-P

SHOP.  Shopping/requisitioning is the first step in the procure-to-pay process. In this stage, buyers find the right product or utilize a three-bid process to determine product price, select the supplier, and create a requisition or shopping cart for approval.

The most efficient way to shop and create a purchase requisition is to implement a one-stop multi-vendor punchout marketplace of all district-approved suppliers and contracts.  Teachers and staff can then shop across these suppliers’ catalogs to access real-time product information, and to conduct side-by-side comparisons.  At EqualLevel, our marketplace includes a real-time search across punchout sites and an AI-powered savings advisor that checks items in the cart to suggest lower-cost identical or substitute goods.

Once a cart/purchase requisition is created, a requisition workflow is initiated. These workflows are automated and flexible, allowing them to vary between schools, departments, and in monetary value. Approvers can either accept or reject a purchase requisition after evaluating the need, verifying the available budget, and validating the purchase requisition form. Incomplete purchase requisitions are rejected back to the initiator for correction and resubmission.  Approved purchase requisitions are converted into a purchase order and transmitted to the supplier.

 

ORDER. The next step in the procurement cycle, Order, involves processing, receiving, and distributing the product.

While leveraging a supplier punchout catalog creates efficiencies, these productivity gains can increase exponentially with the integration of purchase orders. With integrated purchase orders, districts can eliminate employees’ time spent placing orders over the phone or sending a pdf via email or fax. Also eliminated is the possibility of data entry and re-keying errors by the supplier. Data is seamlessly transferred and required fields are automatically populated during PO creation.

One of the biggest benefits of integrated POs is the reduction in order processing time. The POs are submitted directly to the supplier’s fulfillment system via XML (Extensible Markup Language) or EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) where orders are then picked, packed, and shipped.

PAY.  This last phase of the procurement process, Pay, lets organizations maximize the benefits of procure-to-pay automation. Suppliers are able to submit invoices electronically, which boosts financial accuracy and processing efficiencies.

Once a goods receipt is approved, a three-way match between the purchase order, the vendor invoice, and the receipt of the good is performed. If no discrepancies exist, the invoice is automatically approved and an okay-to-pay notification is sent to the finance team for payment disbursement. A common frustration for districts processing invoices is missing or incorrect information that often requires valuable time spent hunting down the correct data. If f inaccuracies are present, the invoice can be automatically rejected back to the supplier along with the reason for rejection.

Finance and Accounts Payable Departments want to ensure vendors are billing properly and every order contains the necessary data to reconcile. Integrated invoicing via XML facilitates information accuracy, consistency, and completion. As a result, payments go out the door more quickly.

More dollars for instruction.

School administrators want all of the resources possible to ensure their students’ success. Spending more than necessary on transactions or inefficient systems eats away hard dollars that could have been focused on expanding mission-centric educational programs.

With a proven ROI for school districts ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 students, the EqualLevel Marketplace will help your schools extend their budgets and make the most of every instructional dollar.

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