Virtual Procurement System
The Virtual Procurement System (VPS) was designed as a control and cost containment system with full auditing and reporting facilities. It has allowed one of Canada’s largest financial institutions to realize cost savings between 10% to 20% in their print spend alone over the last fourteen years. Additional cost savings greater than that have been realized in the areas of Direct Mail, Warehouse Consolidation and Management as well as Inventory Control.

VPS is an integrated, browser based procurement management tool for any medium to large size company. Traditional procurement management systems are focused on the supplier or vendor as a means to streamline the estimating and production processes within thier facilities. VPS is positioned to address the needs of the buyer and the processes that encompasses from inception, procurement, production, inventory, and disbursement through to invoice reconciliation and payment.  VPS addresses indent management, electronic quoting, vendor management, catalogue management, Purchase Order Integration, Order Status, Ship Notice, Invoicing, Payment, and contract management. Indent management is the workflow involved in the preparation of quote requests and acts as the project management module of VPS.  This module allows VPS to assemble, define and implement the procurement process.  It facilites the administrative approval process to mantain cost controls as well as enforcing brand, coporate and regulatory compliance.

VPS is provided on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis which reduces the initial investment for clients in hardware, network considerations, support, etc.

It can be implemented in a dedicated environment as well as a multi-tenant evironment for clients who do not require the controls that a dedicated evnvironment offers.
VPS Suite of Tools:
- Docket Creation
- Project Management
- Print Procurement (eQuote)
- Digital Asset Management
- Purchase Order Creation and Delivery
- Workback Scheduling
- Direct Mail
- Reporting
- Client Feedback Reporting/Survey
- Print Specification Management
- Secure Vendor File Transfer
- Quote Approval Process
- Multi-Company/Multi-Divisional
- Multiple Warehouse/Inventory Management and control
- Time Management and Tracking
- Cost Analysis
- Vendor Analysis
- Invoice Administration and Reconciliation
- Vendor Dashboard
- Order/Entry Module*
- Web to Print Module*
- Budgeting Module*
- Mobile Interfaces*
    - Client side
    - Supplier side

* currently in development
Central Management of Procurement
Example: Print Procurement

A sizable component of any corporate budget is print spend.  According to industry estimates, a considerable percentage of revenues are spent on print services and materials on a regular basis.  This percentage can be reduced with VPS by centrally locating the process into one system.  This enables individuals charged with the task of procuring print to perform cost comparisons between vendors on a project by project basis right down to the item or component level.  Based on the estimate responses received, the individuals can make educated decisions when awarding projects to vendors by reviewing past history on this type of project and any costs associated.  Approval processes can also be implemented when awarding projects to vendors if particular projects require regular business procedures to be circumvented. This ensures budget/spend control and provides audit reporting when budgets need to be reviewed.  VPS will help reduce the need for "Requests for Estimate (RFE)", rate cards or having to put vendors under contract to control pricing.  VPS also allows the vendors to respond to estimate requests electonically which speeds up the quote/response process and reduces the need for vendors to produce "quote response" letters.  Vendors will simply recieve an electronic quote request notification, which provides them with the information they will need to pickup the request details, then they perform their internal estimating process and electronically submit their quote numbers.  The requesting VPS user is notified each time a vendor responds to a request which also helps to speed up this process. 

As projects are awarded to vendors, historical information is kept to enable VPS users to create overall ratings of vendors which can help when enforcing contractual agreements if your strategy dictates.  VPS enables the user to report on current work loads allocated to each vendor which will help when making scheduling decisions to meet deadlines. The use of the specification module ensures print production accuracy by maintaining only one current specification for each item at any given time. This approach guarantees that any item selected for production will only have the current active print specification available for selection which will reduce misprints due to users selecting the incorrect previous production run for reprint.

Digital Asset Management
Getting production files to suppliers has always been a problem especially when dealing with confidential data.  VPS utilizes SSL technology and  browser based file transfer processes to securely transfer files to vendors without the need for software installations at the vendor site.  Any electronic file that pertains to a project can be stored in a "workspace" that is allocated to every project that gets created.  As a result of this workspace, what you inadvertantly end up with is a digital archive of all your production files organized by project.  With respect to reprints, this means that you can go to any project, create a reprint of that job and review the production files that were used previously.  In effect, VPS creates a secondary backup to the internal archives that most companies already maintain for thier internal networks.  Once a file is loaded into the workspace, a VPS user can then set permissions on a file or files for a vendor and then send them an electronic notification which contains all the information they will need to pickup the files.  From an agency perspective, files may need to come from outside sources so there is provision for VPS users to create "upload" accounts which allows outside users to upload files into a specific workspace.  All activity on any file within a workspace is maintained in historical logs for audit purposes.  This history is viewable by any VPS user when they select a file in a workspace.
Implementation is Easy, Flexible and Fast
When utilized as a service, VPS is provided as a single system, multi-tenant solution that operates on open standards such as ASP, XML and Java which enables VPS to be deployed rapidly with no installation for the client other than an internet browser and an internet connection.  VPS is highly customizable and can be intergrated with other systems to share data, further reducing workload internally.  The user interface of VPS has been designed to be intuitive and easy to follow making the experience more pleasing and enjoyable. 

At the enterpise level, there is a degree of analysis of existing processes, supplier compliment, standards, compliance loops, existing system integrations, user roles and permissions as well as training definition that will have to be addressed before implementation.  Depending on the amount of data to be retained, this process could take some time but once it has been addressed, the implementation process can be fairly quick.
Integration with existing systems
VPS is currently integrated with a number of systems including the Ariba Buyer Network, HubWoo and a number of custom designed front end ordering systems. VPS has also been integrated with a number of preferred suppliers’ in- house MRP systems as a measure to automate process and ensure production accuracy and billing turnaround time. From a data extract perspective, weekly and monthly processes are run to provide data required by our clients’ inhouse accounting systems such as SAP to process payments to vendors as well as facilitate interoffice billings to recuperate costs. Due to the customizable nature of VPS, it can be integrated with virtually any existing system on both the client side as well as the vendor side.
Industry Application
The nature of the specification module of VPS allows it to be applicable to any industry.  For any procurement event it is essentially a list of requirements to a vendor to which they need to respond with a cost.  The specification module dynamically generates this list of requirements based on the users input.  This allows it to be tailored to any industry.  Further to this, VPS can also be additionally modified to meet any degree of complexity or automation required.© 2004 
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