Replacing a manual Purchase Requisition System with an automated SharePoint solution delivers quicker, simplified processes, with full visibility & reporting for tracking and auditing.


Background

WentWest has been part of the Western Sydney community for the past 18 years, delivering support and education to primary care health professionals (general practitioners, practice nurses and allied health providers) and working with key partners to progress the region’s health system.

WentWest’s vision is to build healthier communities, empower individuals and support a sustainable primary health care workforce and system.

In 2020, WentWest sought our expertise to formalise and digitise their Purchase Requisition System to solve a range of issues, including:

  • A heavy reliance on paper-based approval processes
  • Risk Management
  • Lack of visibility and control of the purchase order system
  • Insufficient reporting capability with a paper-based system
  • Reliance of staff members to have a thorough understanding of business rules around purchasing and approvals
  • Inability to identify errors in the system until purchase orders reach the finance team, resulting in unnecessary delays
  • Reliance on a manual system being implemented through email and Excel.

How We’ve Helped

Forsythes Technology developed a SharePoint-based solution to digitise WentWest’s Purchase Requisition System. WentWest’s finance team undertook the business analysis before engaging Forsythes Technology to develop and implement appropriate solutions.

Automation

The system developed by Forsythes Technology aligns with WentWest’s tight approval processes. Every step in the purchase request process can be tracked and traced for auditing purposes.

Purchase requests are categorised based on various business activities. Purchase requests follow different processes depending on the category chosen.

Approvals are carried out at the line item level, rather than the purchase request level, and each program has a series of delegated authorities at different monetary levels. This means that once a purchase request has financial validation, line items are grouped within their unique programs and these are sent to the delegated authority for approval. The system automatically sends the line items through the required chain of approvals.

The previous purchase request process relied on staff members having a thorough understanding of WentWest’s business rules concerning delegated authorities and approval processes. With the automated system implemented by Forsythes Technology, staff members can focus on ensuring the details of their requests are correct without having to know specifics of the approval process.

Integration

Forsythes Technology implemented secure middleware to bounce information between SharePoint and WentWest’s existing finance system (Microsoft Dynamics Business Central). Every time a line item is created in the Purchase Requisition System, information is drawn from the financial system, ensuring the most up-to-date information is being used.

When purchase requests are approved, purchase orders are automatically generated and forwarded to the supplier. Once a purchase request is completed, it is automatically posted to the financial system.

Updating the system

As part of our analysis, we also identified the need to provide a quick, easy and safe way for staff and administrators to update the system without our involvement. While Forsythes Technology is always available to support WentWest, staff members can update approvers and delegation pricing limits and create new departments or other sources of data autonomously.

SharePoint Lists are used to control these aspects of the system, allowing any staff member (with appropriate Administrator permissions) to make changes in the Purchase Requisition System.


Results

From project inception to implementation, Forsythes Technology worked closely with WentWest’s team to provide solutions specific to their business needs. Throughout the project, as issues arose and decisions needed to be made, Forsythes presented WentWest with a range of options and confidently discussed the pros and cons of each, enabling WentWest to make informed decisions.

Using SharePoint and the workflow technology within it, WentWest’s purchase request process is now quicker, more simplified and provides full visibility and reporting capabilities for tracking and auditing. SharePoint provides WentWest with a one-stop-shop for managing purchasing and payments, as well as real-time data on the status of orders.

Previously, the Purchase Requisition System was manual, relying heavily on hardcopy documents, email and Excel. The new automated and integrated system is faster, easier, more accurate and requires less double-handling of data. All approvals are managed through a workflow in SharePoint, removing the need to chase unapproved invoices or orders.

The number one deliverable for WentWest – auditability – has been achieved. WentWest wanted end-to-end process visibility to enable them to confidently and accurately answer questions during auditing.

By automating several aspects of the system and integrating it with WentWest’s existing financial system, end users can create and process compliance-based purchase orders without significant knowledge of the purchase order and finance policies. Enabled by the implementation of the SharePoint workflow, WentWest has also been able to introduce more rigid purchase requisition practices.

The project commenced just prior to COVID-19, therefore the system was developed and implemented whilst both Forsythes and WentWest’s teams were working remotely. Despite this, the project ran extremely smoothly. With the previous system being manual, implementation of the SharePoint workflow and purchase requisition system came at a critical time for WentWest. Staff are now able to raise purchase orders, seek approvals and arrange payments without the need for photocopying, printing or seeking physical signatures on documents.

Since the implementation of the Purchase Requisition System, WentWest has commenced work with Forsythes Technology on further governance systems including a workflow for payment batches and bank approvals.

“This was our first project with Forsythes, and from our first meeting, we experienced expert and professional service. We had a lot of different approvals and workflows, but the team was always there to find the best solution for our needs. It was great to work with Will and Andrew on the technical aspects and have it implemented on time despite our staff working with a flexible working arrangement due to COVID-19. We look forward to continuing our very successful relationship with Forsythes in the future.”

Shazreen Khan – Financial Accountant