Technology and Strategic Innovation Lead to a Procurement Transformation
Scripps Research, one of the world’s largest independent nonprofit biomedical research facilities, is internationally known for its extensive and far-reaching efforts to better understand and ultimately treat a wide range of conditions, including stroke and heart disease, cancer, neurological disorders, viral diseases , chemical dependency, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and kidney dysfunction. Research is the core and most important activity at the Institute.
The benefits that Scripps Research has gained with JAGGAER are significant and numerous. Perhaps the most important: researchers can now easily and quickly obtain the supplies they need to focus on their scientific work with fewer administrative interruptions.
Prior to the decision to transform its procurement process, Scripps was typical of most research institutions, whether in academia or life sciences, in focusing on its core mission — excellence in its discovery efforts — rather than on supply chain strategies.
It used a manual, paper-based system for procurement in which lab staff searched catalogs and websites for necessary products, filled out paper requisitions, submitted the requests and waited as the procurement department processed the order — a process that could take up to two weeks and require the involvement of 17 people for high-dollar purchases or those that involved regulated materials.
In the race to make discoveries and scientific advancements, it was clear to Scripps senior management that paper-intensive processes slowed the discovery process. The lack of automation became most evident in the face of the ad hoc purchases most often required when preliminary research outcomes shifted without notice — the very efforts that in many cases had the greatest potential to result in breakthrough discoveries. With time of the essence, researchers understandably often made the most expedient purchases, irrespective of cost. These expedited orders also generated significant shipping charges.
Few contemplated how much time researchers actually spent obtaining supplies, which was considered a necessary administrative burden. Was a potential breakthrough lost because critically important items failed to arrive on time? What a world-class scientist’s thought process — one which could take their work to new heights — interrupted by the need to chase down a requisition?
Scripps executives became convinced that automating the entire procure-to-pay process could streamline the process, saving time and money. They envisioned an approach that would provide scientists with faster access to critical lab supplies and the procurement department with unprecedented visibility into spending.
After an extensive search and selection process, Scripps determined that JAGGAER was the most promising option for the core technology, with several notable capabilities and characteristics not readily available elsewhere:
- A shopping platform that enables Scripps to easily create and deploy its own online marketplace where everything used at the Institute can be found quickly and purchased electronically by all staff members.
- An on-demand technology — software-as-a-service delivered via the Internet — that negates the need for costly systems integration and strain on existing IT resources.
- The ability to outsource the expensive and challenging task of creating and managing the catalogs of scientific supplies and services that researchers use — enabling researchers to search hundreds of catalogs within seconds and compare specifications and contracted prices.
- A transparent process that arms purchasers with the critical information needed to aggregate their buying power and negotiate more favorable terms with suppliers.
- Labs now spend 85 percent less time ordering supplies and managing orders.
- Many labs gained 20 hours of research time each week by eliminating purchasing tasks.
- The number of persons required to process orders has been reduced from an average of 17 to 3, depending on the complexity of the order.
- Many labs are saving at least 7 percent on materials purchases.
The Scripps team knew, however, that user adoption would be a daunting task and that the scientific staff would need to be convinced that it was in their best interest to completely change a fundamental aspect of how they work. To that end, they developed a pilot program with voluntary participation and a goal to gradually deploy to 450 users within five years. Instead, word of the advantages of the system quickly spread and just after 3.5 years, more than 1,500 Scripps employees use JAGGAER for their shopping and approvals, representing more than 90 percent of all orders.
The procurement transformation has delivered benefits across Scripps, streamlining the accounts payable process, reducing administrative costs, enabling renegotiations of contracts to save hundreds of thousands of dollars — which means that researchers can achieve far more with the funds they receive through grants — and dramatically impacting the discovery process. “Switching from a manually controlled procurement process to an automated process has enabled us to accelerate research at Scripps,” said June Lombardi, CPM, Director of Purchasing at Scripps Research.