Transforming the buying experience at MIT

It’s complicated. From finding what you need at the best price and starting a requisition to closing out a vendor invoice, buying and paying at MIT can seem more like a maze full of twists and turns than a clear path from point A to point B. Given the volume of annual activity—765,000 transactions with 22,000 vendors by 7,500 authorized Institute personnel purchasing on behalf of 23,000 faculty, students, and staff —streamlining these processes for the MIT community would deliver a tremendous benefit.

The opportunity

The Institute has four very distinct and disconnected methods for making purchases: PCard, external requisitions, eCat (MIT’s electronic catalog), and personal funds. Until recently, the focus has been on upgrading components of the four existing purchasing methods currently in use at the Institute rather than reimagining the entire process.

That is, until now. In January 2015 the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) and Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) began a discovery process to determine the best possible buy to pay (B2P) solution for MIT. The B2P team talked with members of the community who regularly perform tasks related to procurement, as well as staff in the VPF who process a high volume of transactions. They mapped the multi-step processes and documented the many pain points purchasers routinely experience along the way.

Over the coming months, community feedback will continue to be central to the process, with a User Advisory Group—made up of 38 members from across the Institute—at the core of a robust community engagement plan.

The solution

The team thoroughly researched market leaders in the B2P space through a rigorous evaluation process that focused on the customer experience. The selected vendor, Coupa, clearly demonstrated how their solution will serve the vast majority of MIT’s procurement needs.

The launch of the new B2P system will result in an end-to-end reinvention of procurement by providing:

  • Real-time visibility throughout buying and paying processes
  • Mobile approvals and expense capture
  • Intuitive, integrated shopping experience
  • Greater savings through preferred vendors and prompt payment discounts
  • Reduction in data entry and paperwork
  • Strong, cloud-based platform for continuous improvement

The new B2P system will be rolled out to the MIT community in late 2016 into early 2017.

The team

Steering Committee

Glen Shor, Vice President for Finance
Gerry O’Toole, Director of Financial Operations, Office of the Vice President for Finance
Eamon Kearns, Senior Director, Emerging Solutions, Information Services and Technology
Robin Elices, Executive Director, Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Business Lead

Gerry O'Toole, Director of Financial Operations, Office of the Vice President for Finance

Project Managers

Karon McCollin, Office of the Vice President for Finance
Doug Walsh, Information Services and Technology