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Minneapolis Public Schools

"It was vitally important for our school district to implement a comprehensive eProcurement solution. Epylon has enabled us to gain leverage and flexibility in our informal bid process, and has saved us significant time and money. Our informal bid activity is increasing, and the savings we are experiencing with Epylon will be even greater in future years," said Gregory C. Mead, director of purchasing for Minneapolis Public Schools. "With Epylon's financial system integration, we do not have to enter purchasing data twice, and we are confident that our purchasing and accounting systems are always in sync. We are pleased with our selection of Epylon and would recommend their eProcurement solution to other schools."

- Greg Mead, Director of Public Purchasing

Minneapolis Public Schools Case Study

Greg Mead, Director of Public Purchasing

The Challenge
The Office of Purchasing in the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) handles all purchasing for this large urban school district. The six person purchasing department manages a $650 million dollar budget and supports 100 schools sites representing over 49,000 students.

Like many school districts, Minneapolis' Office of Purchasing recognized that its current informal bid process and purchasing system had become increasingly inefficient and costly. It is the district's policy to get multiple quotes on items less than $25,000, even low dollar items, and MPS was looking for a way to improve their informal bid process.

Minneapolis Public Schools also wanted to find a solution that would enable them to leverage their existing ESD/APECS financial system, which they had been using for more than 13 years.

Minneapolis Public Schools conducted a thorough search for a comprehensive eProcurement solution that would meet their criteria. Epylon provided the most cost-effective pricing model and was very explicit about all of the initial costs. In addition, Epylon had examples of other public agencies that had successfully integrated Epylon to a financial system and were using Epylon for informal bidding and purchasing.

The Solution
Minneapolis Public Schools began using Epylon eProcurement and experienced significant efficiencies right from the start. Epylon's eQuote and financial system integration features simplified the purchasing process and provided time and cost savings, while the vendor recruitment and training services ensured a smooth transition to eProcurement.

Minneapolis Public Schools began using Epylon eQuote in place of its antiquated informal bid process, which reduced the number of steps in the quoting process and saved the Office of Purchasing significant time. MPS's old paper-based process required 37 steps from requisition through approvals to purchase order and took a minimum of two weeks. Using Epylon eQuote, MPS was able to accomplish the same tasks in 15 steps and a minimum of a few hours to three days.

Additionally, according to Minneapolis Public Schools' research, the average cost of labor and materials used in their previous informal bid process was $354 per purchase order, and with Epylon eQuote, the labor and materials cost of each purchase has been reduced to $219. On average, MPS does 1,034 informal bids each year, and using Epylon eQuote, the district has trimmed the cost of the process by $135 per transaction which equates to $139,590 per year.

eQuote enables school districts to easily and electronically send requests for quotations to vendors in the Epylon Supplier Marketplace, an aggregated network of more than 10,000 local and national vendors.

Vendor Recruitment
As with all of Epylon's customers, it was important to MPS to recruit their key vendors into the Epylon Supplier Marketplace. Engaging, motivating and enabling vendors to participate in an eProcurement initiative is crucial for its success. As part of the eProcurement rollout, Epylon and MPS conducted a successful vendor fair, where local and national vendors were invited to come learn more about how to register for the Epylon Marketplace and how to conduct eCommerce with Minneapolis Public Schools. Nearly 150 companies attended the vendor fair, and as a result, nearly 120 local Minnesota vendors and most of MPS' national vendors are part of the Epylon Supplier Marketplace.

Financial System Integration
For Minneapolis Public Schools, integration into their existing financial system, ESD/APECS, which they have been using for more than 13 years, is the extraordinary added value of Epylon eProcurement.

Critical procurement tasks, such as budget checking, pre- and final-encumbrance, and the assigning of requisition and purchase order numbers can easily be done by Minneapolis' purchasing department using Epylon. Financial data such as requisition and PO numbers, purchase validations, budget and vendor information are seamlessly exchanged between Epylon and APECS.

Epylon's solution enables MPS' purchasing department to use what they call a "hard fail." If a user creates an electronic requisition, but there is no money in the budget to support the items, Epylon kicks back the requisition to the original user stating that there is no budget and the requisition cannot be sent to purchasing for processing. This hard fail feature is the check and balance that provides accountability for the requisitioner and fulfills the responsibility of the purchasing department.

Implementation & Training
Epylon provided Minneapolis' purchasing department with an account manager to offer guidance and expertise on how to shape the rollout of the new administrative procedures and technology to meet their needs. The account manager also provided consulting on how to map MPS' existing offline processes to Epylon's online solution, and trained MPS personnel on how to use the technology. Minneapolis has used a train-the-trainer program to educate the rest of the users on the eProcurement system.

Next Steps
Minneapolis Public Schools is a visionary district with plans to grow its eProcurement initiative. The next steps for MPS include loading all of their vendor contracts into Epylon, expanding the number of electronic requisitioners within the district, and creating a virtual private marketplace to manage their supply chain. As a key partner, Epylon will be there to support Minneapolis every step of the way.

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