Case study

Streamlining procurement with a SharePoint-based app

Centrally managing purchasing, service records, and product inventory processes can lower business costs and increase efficiency.
Company Size:
11,000
Industry:
Retail
Country:
Poland
Technologies used:
Azure Web Apps
SharePoint

Managing procurement for a large chain can be challenging, particularly if done individually at each location. When each store branch has to negotiate its own prices, service quality can vary and there is no single repository to review requirements or utilization across the network.

Challenge

Our client, a large home and garden building supplies retailer with 64 locations across Poland, had no centralized procurement process. Since each store individually managed its purchasing and pricing negotiations, they were not able to negotiate bulk pricing for the entire chain.

The client needed a user-friendly solution to gather orders from all stores to negotiate competitive pricing. The functionality also had to enable needs analysis, optimization of costs, and usage of products and services.

Product management would be done centrally from the main office. Each product would have a designated supplier, a set price, and conditions of delivery. This would allow procurement officers to conduct replenishment and purchasing with better pricing.

The project aimed to improve and centralize the procurement process for products and services. The Azure-based app in a PaaS model needed to feature the following:

  • Integration with SharePoint and Office 365
  • Interface based on the standard SharePoint UI
  • Access through an Office 365 account
  • Various user roles
  • Product search

Solution

We had already built a SharePoint-based employee portal for this retailer previously. Based on this solution, we could extend the functionalities to centrally manage purchasing for the entire chain.

Our consultants recommended building a data repository for ordering products and services from external vendors. We created an add-in to Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 as PaaS hosted in Azure.

The application features several user roles: Administrator, Product Group Owner, Product Owner, Product Manager, and Requester:

  • Product Group Owners can add products with global pricing, create new product categories and receive feedback about orders that can be exported to Excel.
  • Product Owners can collect feedback from users regarding products (e.g. complaints, requests to change provider due to poor quality).
  • Product Managers can add and edit products.
  • Requesters can browse products and place orders. A user who wants to place an order goes to the list of products, selects the required amount, and places an order at a previously negotiated price.

When designing the application, we wanted to keep it as easy to use as possible. The end-users can easily find products and order any amount within seconds. Items can be found by keyword, category (hierarchical field based on a managed metadata mechanism), Product Owner or supplier. The application is fully responsive and multilingual: it functions well on mobile devices and can be used by different regions.

Results

Since the end-users were already familiar with the interface, the new app was easy to adopt. Also, since the application was created with the Office 365 App model, it is accessible from the Office service and visible in Office 365 app launcher.

Once deployed, the new SharePoint-based app enabled the organization to centrally manage purchasing, service records, and product inventory. Dozens of employees were freed up to focus on more challenging work, and the chain can negotiate bulk discounts with large volume purchases.

Now, the client has one efficient tool for managing their individual locations, saving money and time on negotiation and ordering. They can review service quality across locations and ensure consistent service standards.

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