Police to close e-procurement loop

The police department is aiming for full B2B e-procurement capability following a planned pilot of an internal portal that could eventually be rolled out to 1300 staff.

The police department is aiming for full B2B e-procurement capability following a planned pilot of an internal portal that could eventually be rolled out to 1300 staff.

Last year the department spent $5 million upgrading its internal systems and set up an internal electronic system for purchase-order processing, using the organisation’s SAP suite. The system covers suppliers’ catalogues and workflow for authorisation of orders but the final orders still go out to suppliers via fax.

Now the department is about to pilot an SAP e-procurement module that will allow police staff to directly access the catalogues of suppliers via the internet. This will save the department having to maintain suppliers’ catalogues internally, says national procurement manager Stan Pope. The EBP (enterprise buyer professional) module will allow staff to pull items down to a shopping basket, generate the purchase order and send it to the supplier electronically. EBP will also be able to receive and process electronic invoices.

Taking this next step will close the electronic loop between the department’s procurement systems and its suppliers, says Pope, and although the cost won’t be clear until the pilot is underway, it will probably be about 5% of the original $5 million, he estimates.

In another part of the project, the police are piloting an internal portal for staff involved in procurement. The portal, which will be built using SAP technology, will provide a single log-on point for the EBP and also other applications, for example, human resources or financials, depending on the role of the person logging on.

According to a study by financial brokers Merrill Lynch, the reason organisations often don’t consider a portal is because they can’t come up with a business case. Pope says if the pilot provides proof of concept and a business case the portal will be rolled out to 1300 users through out the country.

Currently user interfaces for the e-procurement system have to be downloaded to each desktop and maintained by IT staff. Pope says because the portal is browser-based, it would remove GUI maintenance costs and issues. Pope says the majority of customisation of the current SAP system is in the user interface.

The major challenge is ensuring the pilot, which involves going out over the internet, doesn’t compromise existing security, he says. The pilot, which will be run with 15 users in Wellington, is planned to go live in five to six weeks and will run for four months.

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