Louis Nicolosi is the Purchasing Manager for St. Ann’s Community, a health care facility for the elderly who require a medical program in an institutional setting. St. Ann’s provides 24-hour skilled nursing services, physician supervision, physical rehabilitation services and other health-related and social services. Some of these include adult day care, Hospice care, transitional care and outpatient rehabilitation services. They are located in Rochester, NY.
Prior to the implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software, St. Ann’s was on a manual system. There was no materials management package, so all of the documentation and approvals was manual. This was a time-consuming process. Even though the purchasing process became centralized under the manual system, it was inefficient and expensive.
St. Ann’s compared software providers and chose Bellwether Purchasing Software because it fit the needs of their organization and because Bellwether was willing to accommodate what the facility required. They implemented the Purchasing, Requisitions, Receiving and Inventory modules. Once implemented, they conducted in-house training for Bellwether. Louis stated, “The challenge for us was going from a manual to an automated system. In the Health Care industry, innovations are about 5-10 years behind other industries. People are reluctant to change. They are comfortable doing what they have always done, so getting perceptions changed was a challenge. We had to educate them about the Bellwether Purchasing Software system and convince them that this change was going to make the organization more efficient and increase everyone’s productivity. In a month’s time we produce 250+ requisitions, over 500 line items and about 200 PO’s. We spend between $7-$10 MM per year on goods and services.
To ensure the successful implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software, the IT department and I conducted a trial run of Bellwether and set up a lot of parameters prior to launch. With the appropriate people working together, we achieved a successful launch, and everyone understood what the Bellwether Purchasing Software system would do for us. Bellwether delivered the package it promised. We received a lot of support from Bellwether during this period. Our experience with the Technical Staff continues to be good. The company keeps me informed, and anytime we have questions, we get answers in a reasonable time frame.”
St. Ann’s belongs to a large group purchasing organization that, generally, negotiates and provides contracts to them and other member facilities. Bellwether Purchasing Software measures the type of volumes that go through the facility, such as the types of requisitions and amounts of inventory. Prior to Bellwether, all of this was an “unknown.” “Now,” Louis says, “when finance people want to know how much we have spent, I can tell them and provide the hard data. I even have the capability to look at a particular vendor and see what amount of money we have spent with them.”
“Our inventory supplies, such as office and computer supplies, are now in a locked environment. Employees must request supplies, and every item has a price on it, as well as a part number. All office supplies are on an electronic catalog. Using the Bellwether Inventory module gave us the ability to lower inventory levels. Before Bellwether Purchasing Software, we had to physically look on the shelves. Typically, supplies were over ordered because we had no usage history on any particular item. We had ‘mini stores’ in everyone’s closets all over the organization! Now, usage patterns are clear, and reorder points are built in. I can adjust the reorder quantities and points as need dictates. I can even take an item to zero before I replenish it. We have reduced inventory by at least 25%,” Louis said.
Bellwether Purchasing Software has been an integral part of the budget process. Louis stated, “In the past, any financial questions that came to our department, i.e., ‘What are we spending with this vendor?’ were answered through the manual process. We had to find and pull the files and get the calculator out. It was very labor intensive. Now those answers are right in front of us, and users can access Bellwether and see exactly what they have spent. Each department is responsible for its own budget, so ready access to Bellwether Purchasing Software gives managers a much better handle on their spend, and they can authorize purchases before they take place. With pre-set spend parameters; end users have the tools they need to watch what their employees are buying. Maverick spending is now well controlled. Parameters dictate levels of approval, and, if the approver does not feel the item is needed, the order is rejected. Since centralization and automation, employees cannot simply buy what they want. Now, they are more informed. We have tools. We have better contract compliance, and we know what we spend. Bellwether Purchasing Software is a small investment, considering the ROI. A small financial investment up front pays for itself many times over in the long run.”