Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District, Iowa

PREVIOUS PROCESS

Estherville Lincoln Central CSD – a district of 1,586 students across four schools – had used a traditional paper-based PO process for creating and approving purchase requests:

  • Using four-part request forms, a requestor had to fill out each form by hand, and assign one or more account numbers to each item that was being purchased; a task that was prone to error.  
  • Then, the completed forms went to the Principal’s office for approval.
  • Then, the forms were sent to the Superintendent’s office.  Forms were often difficult to read, which required additional clarification from the requestor – and, further delayed the process.  
  • Finally, when all of the approvals had been made, the Superintendent’s secretary would fax the order to the vendor, and file the paperwork.  This, of course, significantly increased the secretary’s workload. 

The total process typically consumed 5-6 days per purchase request.

Urgent requests were problematic. According to Technology Technician Judy Grethen, “If I needed to order a toner cartridge, and I needed one immediately, I had to drive over to the Superintendent’s office to get the paperwork signed before I could order it.”  A delay in processing often forced a requestor to abandon the designated procedures, purchase the product without approval, and then request reimbursement – a process that complicated the district’s accounting and budget tracking.

“My belief is that POs are requests for permission to purchase rather just notification of a purchase,” says Superintendent Tara Paul. “But, with our previous process, PO request forms came to me in stacks, and I couldn’t always take the time to sit down and analyze them thoroughly. By the time it came to me I thought it was probably OK. I would sign then, and analyze later.” 

THE BENEFITS

The Estherville district began using k-Purchase in early 2012.  Superintendent Tara Paul found the rollout surprisingly easy. "Even our least technology-savvy staff could pick it up and learn quickly,” she says. Business Manager Kate Woods agrees: “Our staff found it easy to learn – most just signed in, and could walk themselves through it. 

The setup was quick, and configured specifically to Estherville’s environment in order to reflect a new, automated purchasing process." I have never worked with a company that is more willing to listen to our requests," says Technology Technician Judy Grethen. The district immediately noticed efficiency benefits that added up to substantial cost savings.

“The results are positive,” says Grethen. “One teacher says that she really likes k-Purchase because she can submit a PO immediately, and it doesn’t get pushed to the back burner at any of the offices.”

Superintendent Paul focuses on the bigger picture benefits: “Our staff members can now view and keep better track of their spending. That creates more individual accountability.”