On Wednesday, Sept. 2, the Institute will begin a new phase of the SAP rollout focused primarily on purchasing activity. Over the next four months, users in departments, labs, centers and administrative offices will learn to do SAP requisitioning for both external and internal vendors, as well as SAPweb requisitioning using Netscape and SAP requisition approval.
Katherine Cochrane, leader of the Management Reporting Project, is pleased that the end of this phase of the rollout is finally in sight. "Our team has worked really hard to get ready for the beginning of training," she said. "Between SAP, SAPweb, the VIP card and ECAT, there are a great selection of purchasing options for the community. Any of these four are faster and easier than paper, and they provide some significant improvements over the legacy EREQ system."
SAPweb, a Web-based tool developed at MIT that offers a simpler interface to SAP, now allows authorized users to create, change and display requisitions. "We expect that most requisitioners will choose to use SAPweb because of its ease of use and reduced training hours," said Ms. Cochrane. "It's especially geared to the needs of graduate students and occasional requisitioners."
SAPweb screens were specifically designed for MIT. On-line help is available for all entry fields. When the requisition is complete, it's transferred to SAP electronically and sent through the standard requisition approval procedures that the department has set up for all SAP requisitions.
Users who use SAP to look at accounting statements, create journal vouchers, or approve requisitions may prefer to create their requisitions directly in SAP.
Available with both SAPweb and the SAP software is the ability to create a requisition for many of MIT's internal providers such as Catering and the Copy Technology Centers. Requisitioners will follow exactly the same procedure for creating an internal-provider requisition as they do when creating an external requisition. The most significant advantage of this new system is that once saved, the internal-provider requisition creates a recorded commitment to purchase goods or services that appears on accounting statements.
"This will be a great improvement for departments that buy from providers like MIT Catering," said Mark Damian, leader of the Management Reporting Buy-Pay team. "The process is very simple for both the requisitioner and the provider. In addition, staff who monitor accounts will be able to see all the internal requisitions each time they look at their statements." Thirteen providers have been set up initially to accept SAP requisitions.
SAP Training Manager Linda Lancaster wanted to tailor requisitioning training to respond to comments received from the community over the last year.
"People told us that they really liked the tutorial format we used for journal voucher training, and they prefer to work at their own pace with an instructor available to answer questions," she said. "They also wanted classes to be as short as possible -- all-day sessions are just too long -- and to be taught on the main campus whenever possible. Our training program for this fall is designed to respond to these comments."
"We plan to offer SAPweb training classes in lecture halls on the main campus once a week, in a one-hour lecture/demo format," Ms. Lancaster added. "Attendees do not need to preregister for the SAPweb classes, but I would urge them to attend a SAPweb class when their department starts using SAP for requisitioning." The class schedule is available from the school and area coordinators.
Training for SAP requisitioning (2 1/2-3 hours) and requisition approval (2-21/2 hours) will be held at the MIT Learning Center in Building W89. The format will be a brief lecture, followed by self-paced lab exercises with an instructor present. Attendees can leave when they complete the exercises. The school and area coordinators are working with each department to schedule the requisition training.
Major enhancements to the procurement process provide other attractive purchasing options. The MIT VIP card (a Visa card for purchases under $2,500) simplifies the "buy-pay" process, speeding up payment to vendors and reducing processing costs to the Institute. It should eliminate the need for many purchase orders, blanket orders, DAPOs (department-awarded purchase orders), request for payment reimbursements and petty cash transactions.
The electronic catalog (ECAT) continues to provide a Web-based purchasing option that allows users to select items (with MIT-negotiated pricing) from on-line catalogs and place orders electronically with the vendor. An upgraded ECAT system, known as ECAT2, will be available later this fall -- first for NECX (the MIT partner for computers and computer-related supplies) and eventually for other MIT vendor partners. ECAT2 allows for greater flexibility in account assignments and automatically creates a commitment in SAP when the order is placed.
The Institute will provide support to sap users in a number of ways. Extensive on-line documentation can be found on the sap@mit web site. The Business Liaison Team can answer questions about using sap or SAPweb by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (x2-1177).
The school and area coordinators are the primary liaison between the Management Reporting Project and MIT staff. They will be available to answer questions about training and the setup of SAP for requisitioning. Shortly after each area completes its training, one or more of the six coordinators will also visit the area at a prearranged time to assist in the creation and approval of real requisitions.
Finally, the Procurement Office at x3-7241 (renamed from Purchasing) and Accounts Payable (x3-0965) can answer questions about the information displayed in sap or SAPweb.
Portions of this article were taken from a letter that is being sent by Katherine Cochrane to department heads, lab and center directors, and administrative officers.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 26, 1998.