Located in Chicago, DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic university and the 12th largest private, not-for-profit University in the country. As an urban university, DePaul is deeply involved and interconnected in the cultural and professional riches of the Chicago community and responds to its needs through educational and public service programs. US News & World Report ranked DePaul #121 among almost 1,800 national universities in 2013. The university procurement department plays a key role in making educational, teaching and community support possible at DePaul.
Streamline Requests through Better Automation
The procurement team had previously partnered with a third-party web application provider to manage asset salvage requests made by university staff. When their last contract ended, the application was retired and replaced with a tedious, manual process utilizing Excel and relying heavily on email to document and archive asset salvage requests.
Incomplete information became the norm. In most cases, university staff printed a form, hand-wrote the answers, and returned their request as a scanned copy— invariably slowing down the process with incorrect submissions resulting from inconsistent data and human error.
The procurement department was eager to simplify and streamline this process. Ideally, they wanted a solution that improved upon the previous web-based application with a customized design that was user friend and fostered a self-service approach. They needed a working solution within a month to make the asset salvage process more efficient in the upcoming fiscal year, and they needed to acquire it on a limited technology budget tailored for their departmental needs that required little or no support from the IT department.
Microsoft Azure Application Development
SPR Consulting recommended Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies to deliver a cloud solution providing the flexibility and scalability DePaul demanded for an improved asset salvage process. The Microsoft Azure approach did not require the upfront investment of more complex IT infrastructure solutions, and DePaul could select and afford only the features they needed. This allows DePaul to retain the option of scaling up when they want to expand their capacity or pulling back if the process could manage without such robust support. SPR handles all the patches and maintenance in a secure environment with over 99.9% uptime.
“Microsoft Azure’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) allowed us to build a secure, scalable solution for DePaul’s procurement department quickly and in a cost-effective way. Without the Microsoft Cloud, this project would have required a significant capital expense that would have either delayed or postponed this effort indefinitely,” describes Don Mishory of SPR Consulting.
Once the approach was agreed upon, SPR created a clean, straightforward application with a user login, a request creation page, and necessary reporting features. Because SPR leveraged their proprietary Microsoft Azure application framework, it was a ‘pickup’ application. As requested, it was developed outside of the university’s IT structure and, along with the database, was hosted in Azure and built using Microsoft technologies. Without any large data load or migration of existing salvage data necessary, SPR built and deployed the application in a short period of time.
Simplicity and Collaboration in One Easy Web App
The asset salvage web application provides an easy online form for end-users to submit assets for disposal when the departments no longer need them. It ensures that key information about each asset—type, serial number and condition—is consistently captured and entered into a secure database. Notably, it provides an administrative view controlled via a login, enabling request reviews and editing as well as report generation.
Features of the asset salvage web application include:
The new custom asset salvage web application freed DePaul’s procurement department from the shoehorned solutions from past vendors and allows them to process information in an efficient and streamlined way. Along with consistent information capture, DePaul adopted a complete self-service design that lessened reliance on IT, in turn freeing up IT to focus on higher-level projects for the university.
The solution allowed the university to extend its commitment to excellence in service to students by improving this process for educators and the administration. What’s more, it provides a structure the Procurement Department can build upon should their needs for asset salvage increase in the future. Because Azure offered an accessible entry point, the financial impact amounted to little more than pennies a day in operation costs.