InRequest is better than the rest!

Purchasing is one of the most critical aspects of the manufacturing process. No production is possible without the raw materials, services and products that support the process. Many ERPs - particularly tier 2 and 3 - do not provide a mechanism to easily and accurately capture purchasing requirements. MRP handles the inventory items and typically will suggest a purchase order but the rest of the equation is left to the organization to handle with some sort of external process. This is where InRequest comes in. InRequest is a web based comprehensive purchase request application that supports centralized purchasing while making the request process accessible to those who actually need the materials and services. With InRequest we have listened to the users and created a tool that maximizes efficiency while still providing the purchasing controls companies need.

Features and Benefits:

Seamless ERP Integration – Application pulls Vendor, Item, Vendor/Item Cross Reference, POAN demand, GL Department, GL Expense Account information directly from Fourth Shift. Purchase Orders are imported directly into Fourth Shift using FSTI and are verified during synchronization. PO Requests are updated when materials are received into the plant. This tight integration extends the ERP’s functionality in an organic and reliable way.

User Notification – Users are notified when their requests are approved or rejected, converted to Purchase Orders, and received into the plant. Approvers are notified when there are requests to review. All notifications are queued up and sent out in batches to reduce email traffic. This keeps users informed and eliminates time wasted checking up on the status of requests as well as gets purchases utilized quickly and efficiently, improving your company’s overall performance.

Ease of Use and Flexibility – The InRequest application is built using Microsoft state of the art Web based technology using full Responsive design. This allows users to access the system from a PC or Mobile device and experience a simple and intuitive yet powerful interface. All that is required to use the tool is a modern browser.

Robust Approval Controls – Up to 5 user approval levels are available and may be defined by department as well as for inventory items. These controls may be deployed in community or cascading modes. Community mode notifies ALL approvers whose dollar authorization exceeds the purchase. Cascading approval mode first notifies the lowest approval level and if approved, escalates to the next level until the level matching the request amount is reached – only notifying upper levels if the purchase passes the lower ones. The former method provides faster approvals while the latter lowers the number of approvals for the upper levels. Having both methods provides a powerful tool to match any organization.

Centralized Purchasing – Because InRequest can handle Expense, Inventory, and even MRP generated PO Action Notice requirement purchases in one place, InRequest provides a centralized purchasing platform for your company. A platform that can be used anywhere – in the office, in the plant, or anywhere in the world.

Independently and Securely Manage Purchases – InRequest operates using its own SQL database that allows your purchasing history to be retained indefinitely. Relevant files – images, drawings, spreadsheets, etc. – may be attached to any requisition and kept for reference. These files along with the application data are stored securely on your corporate servers. Because the application uses its own tables to store vendors, items, etc. it can run independently of the ERP system and can even be used when the ERP is unavailable. Our mediator integration tool simply will synchronize when the ERP is back up and running. This also means that multiple systems may be integrated into a single purchasing platform and legacy data may be warehoused within InRequest.

User Stories:

A metal fabricator located in the lone star state of Texas was undergoing a transformation. They had been dealing with poor management for many years and had slowly been losing their sales and market share. Recently, however, they finally made a management change and things started picking up. As often happens when things start to heat up, some of the little inefficiencies that were manageable start to become a real problem. Purchasing efficiently and accurately is such a key factor in a company’ success. Problems with ordering the wrong materials, cutting too many purchase orders due to not consolidating requirements well, running out of general supplies etc. were really starting to limit their growth. The new leader contacted me and asked me if I could create a simple application to allow them to order supplies on a tablet on the floor. This would eliminate manual sheets being filled out, brought into the office and then rekeyed into their Fourth Shift ERP which added a great deal of manual effort and introduced opportunity for error. We decided we could do even better. We brought in the InRequest application and showed them how it could not only allow them to purchase expense materials on a tablet but consolidate their entire purchasing process! All general requests collected on the floor were combined with POAN purchase notifications imported into InRequest. Now they could cut Purchase Orders from one place and have all items from a vendor consolidated automatically at the click of a single button! Also, for more complicated items that required specification sheets or drawings, those could be automatically attached and sent directly from the application to the vendor as pdfs via email. Not only did this cut down on the time spent purchasing but it dramatically reduced losses due to ordering the wrong items. Losses that could be measured not only in dollars directly as additional freight to return items or restocking fees but also as reductions in delays in the manufacturing and installing process. This made their customers happier and happy customers pay faster and provide better references for additional business. One more benefit this fabricator realized was that because InRequest works independently of Fourth Shift, issues with running out of user licenses were reduced and the application is available anytime and anywhere as it is a web based tool. InRequest was and continues to contribute to the amazing success and growth this fabricator continues to enjoy and build upon!

A successful pharmaceutical company in the midwest had the best problem you can have – constant growth of 15%+ year after year. In fact this company in the last 10 years has gone from roughly 80M in annual sales to over a quarter billion! This sort of growth does not come without its pain however. They have had to continually hire clerical help to try to keep up with the mountain of paperwork – and I do mean a literal mountain! Anyone who has worked in the FDA regulated pharma space knows the tremendous amount of effort that goes into… well… ANYTHING! Purchasing was no exception. Because of the growth they had expanded into 9 separate buildings and one of the key ingredients to their success was tight controls over spending. You can imagine the nightmare of trying to figure out what is needed, purchase what is needed correctly, and do so in an efficient manner! The people working here realized this and had started an internal project to create a purchase request system in Microsoft Sharepoint. Anyone who has done any sharepoint development knows that it typically has 2 main attributes. It is SLOW and EXPENSIVE. We came into this company to do a business process review and one of the areas of opportunity was centralized and controlled purchasing workflows. The project they had been working on had been dragging on for many months and they even had hired a full time developer in house to try to move it along. The end was nowhere in sight and the expense was pushing into 6 figures. We proposed and implemented the InRequest system for them in 2 weeks for a fraction of the expense already incurred! Since then their purchasing process has become far faster and efficient. The built in multi level approval capability allows them to easily control spending by department and even by project. Time formerly spent asking where purchases are in the system has been virtually eliminated. Time spent creating Purchase Orders has been dramatically reduced because the users and the ERP drive this process now. One feature they particularly love due to the multiple site situation is the ability to redirect individual purchase orders to the correct location and notify users within minutes of delivery of goods. Retention of the request data has already saved them grief during a SOX audit and the users love being able to look up what they have purchased since the application was implemented. Another benefit has been being able to explain why purchases are rejected. This has resulted in fewer rejections because users know WHY their requests are being rejected quickly, giving them the ability to correct the request and resubmit for approval. It has been great to hear how much the InRequest tool has saved them in time and dollars and they are now growing faster than ever!

About the Author

Daniel Mindlin is the President, Lead Consultant, and founder of the Mindlin Consulting Group.