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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 21, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 23
Purchasing Procedures at University and Health System to Get Overhaul

By Jeanne Johnson

Each year, employees of the university and health system purchase thousands of goods and services using a variety of methods — traditional purchase orders, confirming orders, procurement transactions, coded invoices, check requisitions, petty cash and more.

Now Johns Hopkins is getting ready to change the way that employees make those purchases, exchanging a complicated, often manually intensive system for one that is more streamlined and integrated.

Under a new system being implemented through HopkinsOne, the process will be simplified to take advantage of the automated capabilities of an online, integrated brand of computer software known as SAP. Where appropriate, employees will continue to use procurement cards in conjunction with SAP.

"Current purchasing methods are often cumbersome and manually intensive and place a great deal of stress on departmental purchasers and corporate purchasing support alike," said Betty Gibula, director of purchasing for the Johns Hopkins Health System and co-chair of the HopkinsOne supply chain user group. "Under this new purchasing model, processes should become more streamlined and efficient, resulting in better customer service [and] higher customer satisfaction levels, as well as cost savings."

SAP will automatically check for overspending — resulting in better budget management — and will use controls to improve compliance with internal purchasing policies as well as external regulations, said Dow Weeks, HopkinsOne supply chain project manager. It also will improve efficiency, Weeks said, as managers and department administrators will have better visibility of the entire pay-to-procure process, including the ability to instantly query the status of orders, approvals and payments. In addition, faculty and staff will be able to request travel and other reimbursements through a user-friendly Web interface.

The HopkinsOne initiative is designed to transform many of the business and administrative systems of The Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Health System. Project leaders are working with personnel throughout the institutions to tie together and streamline functions such as purchasing, payroll, accounts payable, grants management, general ledger, materials management and human resources.

Begun in 2003, HopkinsOne is currently entering the "realization" phase, which involves initial testing of the project's software, with completion targeted for summer 2008. Administrators expect key components of the system, such as purchasing, to be operational by summer 2006.


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