Committed to patients and community since 1906, Jay County Hospital, located in Portland, IN, is a critical access hospital and provides comprehensive care – from diagnosis to recovery – in the full range of emergency, medical and surgical subspecialties. These include emergency, medical intensive care, surgical, obstetrics/nursery, women’s center and pharmacy. The hospital employs around 200 employees.
Claudia Jones, Materials Management Manager heads up the Purchasing Department at Jay County Hospital where she and two other employees under her are responsible for all the ordering of goods and services for the hospital. Her department’s duties include purchasing requisitions, ordering, receiving, distribution, sending out registered mail, stocking shelves and verifying information. Ms. Jones says Jay County Hospital has been a Bellwether customer for at least eighteen years – as long as she has been in the position of Materials Manager.
The Purchasing Department handles around 200 purchase orders per month, covering a wide variety of items, from cleaning supplies to diapers. They work with an average of twenty vendors for routine orders, and other sporadic vendors for specialty items. While ordering patterns are holding steady, the hospital has recently acquired two additional offices which will increase the work load over time.
Jay County Hospital does not make use of P cards; instead, Managers have the discretion of writing Requisitions up to $1,000. Items that exceed that monetary amount must have the approval of their CEO. Eventually, however, every purchase made flows through her department. The Purchasing Department reports monthly all distributions to their CFO. Not counting capital expenses, the inventory budget alone approximates $200,000.
The hospital currently uses the Bellwether Purchasing Software Receiving and Inventory modules and intends to add the Bar Code module.
Ms. Jones commented that one of her first duties after coming on board as the Materials Manager was to move the Department from a manual system to an automated system. She says, “Everything was done by hand, and it was very cumbersome and time consuming. My challenge was to get with the times! Bellwether Purchasing Software came highly recommended by our CEO, Lynn England, who was familiar with the software through Alliance Health Systems. So, we were steered in the direction of Bellwether Purchasing Software, and we have never regretted the choice.
After the challenge of finding and implementing Bellwether Purchasing Software, the next challenge was transferring our entire inventory, vendor information, transaction data, product codes and other information to the Bellwether database. Since we did all of this in house, it took a few months, but the results have been great.” She went on to say that the ease of use of the product is its greatest achievement. “The simplicity of the software is great. We just love it, and the Customer Service Staff is fantastic. Every time I have ever called in, they have been responsive and quickly resolved my problems. This is why, after eighteen years, we are still a satisfied customer.”
Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation (LWCC) is a private, nonprofit mutual insurance company. It was created by a constitutional amendment in 1991 to save the State’s failed comp system by tackling the factors that led to its demise and stabilizing costs.
Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home of the LSU Tigers, LWCC is the State’s largest workers’ compensation carrier, providing coverage to approximately 23,000 policyholders.
Bill Williams has been an employee of LWCC for thirteen years. His official title is Purchasing Facility Manager, and he is responsible for all purchasing within the facility – that could mean everything from leasing equipment to carpet cleaning. His department consists of a total of six employees, three of whom are directly involved in the purchasing process.
Bill said, “Purchasing has always been centralized. That’s because prior to my employment here, I worked at a bank, and its purchasing function was centralized. My boss (at the bank) left to join LWCC. Within a short period of time, he persuaded me to join the organization and work for him. I like to tell people I’ve had the same boss for twenty years!”
“Though we were centralized from the beginning, we were still doing everything manually, like typing all of the purchase orders. If we had to go back to look at something on a purchase order, we had to literally dig through boxes to find the document. Researching something was very time and labor intensive, and we needed to find a better, more efficient method of conducting our business.
Our IT Department provided us with some software companies to evaluate. We looked at five or six companies and researched them thoroughly. For our needs, Bellwether’s Purchasing Software offered an excellent fit.
Bellwether Purchasing Software has solved our research problem. Now, if we need to look at an old purchase order, we simply access it through Bellwether. Vendor files are also easy to access, and items are easy to find on Bellwether Purchasing Software. Once we set up the Master File, implementation was painless. We have about 300 vendors, and we produce about 1,300 purchase orders a year, so automating this process was very important to our organization. We use the Purchasing, Receiving, Requisitions, Inventory, and A/P Interface modules, and we are pleased with the ease of use and functionality of all of them.
With Bellwether Purchasing Software the whole process is vastly improved. Compared to past purchasing practices, like researching purchase orders, Bellwether has made purchasing a snap!” Bill concluded.
MetCom was created by the State legislature in 1957 as a quasi-governmental, non-profit body to supply water and sewer service to the citizens of St. Mary’s County. Located in Southern Maryland, MetCom has been providing services since 1964. MetCom is governed by a board of Commissioners, consisting of seven voting members and one non-voting member. It operates outside of St. Mary’s government. Voting members represent Election Districts and are appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to serve three year staggered terms.
MetCom’s public water systems consist of 27 water systems, pumping 12.5 million gallons of water per day and 4 treatment plants, serving 36,000 people.
Lee Lee is the Purchasing Agent for MetCom, a position she has filled for over ten years. In total Lee Lee has been with MetCom for twenty-nine years, serving in positions such as customer service, accounting and, finally, purchasing. When Lee Lee assumed her purchasing position, there was very little training available for individuals who worked in governmental purchasing, so most of her training was self-taught. She eventually learned of the NIGP (National Institute of Governmental Purchasing,) an organization that offers training for government employees involved in purchasing. Lee Lee became certified through NIGP and continues to keep her certification current. Lee Lee’s responsibilities include supervision of one purchasing clerk, bidding for larger purchases, reporting, approving vendors and administration of the purchasing cycle.
Lee Lee said, “In our early beginning, everything was on a manual system, but since MetCom was small then, with 23 people in total, the situation was workable. As time passed, however, our organization grew to 80 employees, and purchases became more complicated. It was very apparent that we needed to seek out better and more efficient business processes to handle our increasing procurement needs. For example, we buy service contracts, chemicals for wastewater and water treatment plants, construction, engineering services contracts, general maintenance and repair services, lab services and many others. We generate over 100 purchase orders per month.
“MetCom automated its purchasing processes years ago through a customized program supplied by a software vendor. The program worked very well for about ten years; then, the software vendor went out of business,” stated Lee Lee. “We were unable to obtain the source codes, and we were nervous about ‘crashing,’” Lee Lee said. “It was clear to us that we needed to look for another provider.”
Lee Lee went on to say, “We evaluated three software companies by searching the web. All of them provided us trials for us to review. Bellwether was one of those three. We chose Bellwether because it had the functionality we needed and was very user friendly. That was three years ago.
We initially implemented the Purchasing and Receiving modules, and, last year, we added the Requisitions module. Managers have access to the Requisitions module, so they do the requisitioning, which is automatically routed through the approval system.
The implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software went very well. We prepared for it in advance by cleaning up our vendor files and updating other information. We required very little help with the installation of Bellwether. The support materials provided was very easy to follow, and the Bellwether technical staff provided the small amount of assistance we did require. Ongoing support has been excellent, but the product is so easy to use, we rarely require assistance.
We use the Purchasing module a great deal as we do a lot of ongoing bids. The blanket PO is great, and the ability to track PO’s really helps. Now, I can put releases against a blanket PO. If I have to rebid or renew, I can access the history of the PO and find everything I need. The Requisitions module and the Receiving modules are also excellent and easy to use. The reports these modules generate are invaluable tools for our organization.
Bellwether Purchasing Software is user friendly and has the functionality we need. It is a reliable product that does not require a lot of technical support, though the support is great if we need it. We are satisfied customers and may even look to integrate Bellwether with our accounting software, HTE, next year.”
Kathi Weldon is the Purchasing Supervisor for Tower Federal Credit Union, a member-owned non-profit financial institution with headquarters in Laurel, MD. Established in 1953, Tower is the largest federal credit union in Maryland with $1.4 billion in assets and is among the top 50 in the United States. It provides a full array of financial products and services and serves over 111,000 members worldwide. Tower currently serves its local-area members with five branches in Prince George’s, Howard and Anne Arundel counties and five branch locations at the Ft. Meade facility in Ft. Meade, MD.
Seventeen years ago, Kathi began her career with Tower in the accounts payable department. Two years later, she was promoted to the position of purchasing coordinator. After several more years, Kathi became the Purchasing Supervisor. She is responsible for ordering supplies for 300 people. Kathi says, “When I first came on board Bellwether had just been implemented, but we hadn’t started to use it yet. We were dealing with so much paper, it was overwhelming.
We purchased the Purchasing, Inventory and Receiving modules and did some customization. Automation was new for us, but once we had processes automated, we realized so much timesavings and so much less paper. We loved it when the new version came along because it gave us so much more maneuverability. We have not yet implemented the Requisitions module, so the requisitions are paper forms with lots of copies, and sign-off approval goes through inter- office mail.”
Kathi is hoping to implement the Requisitions module to have an end-to-end system. She stated, “requisitions come from all our local service facilities. They are supposed to reach me already approved by the approval hierarchy in that facility. It all goes through inter-office mail, and often we have to send the requisitions back because they are lacking the proper description, the proper sign off, etc. All of this takes a long time. We really need to automate this part of the process.”
Kathi says they use the Inventory module differently than most companies. For example, forms inventory is stocked in the warehouse. When an employee requisitions for a specific form, the order is filled, and the information on the requisition is entered into the inventory transactions field. Then, Kathi’s staff takes that information and charges the cost back to the department, using the reports feature.
“The reports that Bellwether Purchasing Software provides in inventory, receiving and purchasing are invaluable tools, like the PO status report. Anyone looking to save time, paper and labor should invest in Bellwether. We have been a customer since the late 80’s. We like the new releases that keep us up to date. We like the expertise of the technical service department. The technical service staff is very dedicated and knowledgeable. We are looking forward to implementing more modules because we like the product,” Kathi stated.
Founded in 1961, Jackson National Life Insurance Company (JNL) has evolved from a single-channel insurance company offering few products to a $50 billion full-service financial services firm offering multiple products through multiple distribution channels throughout the United States. Purchased by London-based Prudential plc in 1986, JNL has become a core component of the roughly 45 percent of the group’s statutory operating profit in 2003. Jackson National’s objective is to continue building a profitable and sustainable position in the U.S. market that contributes materially to the value growth of the Prudential group.
The Buyer for JNL’s Michigan-based operation is Lynn Arntson, who has worked in the supply chain management field for over 20 years. He has been with JNL for three years and is responsible for all buying within his facility and most of the buying in three other locations and affiliated companies. JNL’s annual spend budget is between $12-15 million dollars, and they execute between 30-40 thousand purchase orders per year.
When Lynn came on board with JNL, the Lawson financial package was in place, and it included a purchasing segment. Lynn says the software was difficult to use and did not provide the functionality or ease of use that they needed; nevertheless, this purchasing software continued in place for two years. “Then,” Lynn said, “we were forced into a decision. We were using an older Lawson version that was not going to continue to be supported. We had to upgrade, which meant a very sizable investment, or look elsewhere for a more reasonable alternative. We chose the latter alternative.” Lynn was charged with the responsibility of evaluating different purchasing software packages, and this search took a year.
Jackson National Life looked at several packages during the year, including Bellwether’s Purchasing Software which he found through The Institute of Supply Chain Management. At the end of the year, the choice of vendors was still not clear, so Lynn decided to look at the choices again. This time, he found that Bellwether had released a new version of Bellwether Purchasing Software, and he liked the changes in the product. He asked for a trial of the software, and he evaluated the product. Lynn stated, “The trail was excellent, and the support materials that came with it was thorough and detailed. We knew exactly how the product would perform, and we were sold.”
Bellwether Purchasing Software is implemented
“When we implemented Bellwether, the first thing we realized was a huge timesavings. It cut our processing time in half. For example, the Lawson purchasing package required 12-15 clicks to get a printout of a PO. Bellwether requires 2 clicks. With 30-40 thousand purchase orders per year, the timesavings were very significant. I don’t know how we functioned before Bellwether Purchasing Software,” Lynn stated.
Lynn is a big fan of Bellwether for a lot of reasons. Here are some reasons he listed.
Bellwether allows the review of the PO document on screen at any time during the creation of the PO. This is important because our department constantly checks for pricing, spelling and part number errors. With the old software, this was not possible because we could view only the last three lines of the PO. We had to print a copy of the PO before we could even review it, which took 12-15 steps. With Bellwether we can easily see, review and edit the entire PO on screen.
Bellwether Purchasing Software has an unlimited number of characters available for PO instructions. The old software had a limit of 180 characters. Sometimes, special instructions can use up 180 characters very quickly, and there is no room left for anything else.
With Bellwether we can attach multiple pre-stored text paragraphs to the PO document. Special text codes allow us to enter phrases that might go on a PO, like “special care” or “extra crating,” instead of typing them in on a comment line. Special text is easy to get to. It’s all in the software header.
Bellwether Purchasing Software can easily “drill down” and display the entire PO document for any purchase order in the database. We can look at the auto-history card, see the number of purchases per vendor and look at most of the text. We can scroll down to any particular PO, click on that line and Bellwether will bring up that PO. We could not see anything but the first line with the old system, and we could not click and open any previous PO’s. Bellwether Purchasing Software really cut down on our “fumbling about” to locate things on past PO’s.
Bellwether’s standard reports are very intuitive. With the old system, there were many reports we could not run. We would have to farm the task out to Accounts Payable, and since running purchasing reports was something they did not do on a regular basis, it was cumbersome and time consuming. With Bellwether we can run any report we need. Everything is here, and we can sort by vendor, date, account code, etc.
“I would recommend Bellwether Purchasing Software to anyone who is looking to save time, become more efficient and improve system flexibility. Bellwether offers extensive functionality at a reasonable cost, and the system is easy to use,” Lynn concluded.
Jiminy Peak, Inc. is a spectacular four-season resort nestled in the New England Berkshires. For winter activities, it is the most popular ski and snowboard destination in Southern New England. For summer activities, such as biking, golfing, theatre, trout fishing and just about anything else a vacationer could want, Jiminy Peak holds the distinction of being named one of the “Top Ten Great Places to Spend Summer on the Slopes” by USA Today magazine. Since 1947, when it was founded by John Clark, John Drummand and John Fisher, Jiminy Peak has grown to be the region’s largest ski resort. Its leaders have been visionary, and while the resort has experienced burgeoning growth, it has been planned growth, the result of two ten-year strategic plans. Over the last six years, Jiminy Peak has invested over $40 MM in its infrastructure and has added new locations by acquisition of other resorts and by new building or expansion of existing facilities.
Mark E. Dushanek is the Purchasing Manager for Jiminy Peak, Inc. He has been with the resort for twenty-five years. “I have actually been with the resort longer than twenty-five years if I count my early part-time experience as a member of the summer crew. My full-time career began when I was hired as a Lift Operator, then promoted to Company Courier then to Purchasing Manager. In my twenty-five year tenure, I have witnessed the company grow from 37 full-time employees to 125 full-time employees and our staff grows to 900-1,000 employees during the winter season. Supporting the infrastructure for goods and services for this resort is a challenge. My department is responsible for ordering supplies and services for twenty different departments, which represents all existing locations. This constitutes 95% of all purchasing needs. I don’t know how we get it all done, but I can tell you that Bellwether Purchasing Software plays a big part in the process.”
Mark develops, implements and supports “Best Practices” policies to help ensure that consistent, measurable performance is carried on throughout the organization’s purchasing cycle. Mark says, “We have over 2,000 vendors who supply us with thousands of different items and services. We have to maintain consistency throughout the system or quality suffers. For instance, even a small item like bath soap must conform in color, size, brand and shape. Maintaining our image of quality throughout all of our facilities, we believe, is critical, and “Best Practices” policies make certain our quality image is maintained.”
Bellwether Purchasing Software
Jiminy Peak’s annual spend for goods and services is over $12 MM per year. In the winter season, they produce over 400 purchase orders per month and over 1,000 purchase orders in the summer season.
Mark’s department has been “paperless” in its purchasing cycle since 1999. A company that ultimately went out of business had provided the software they were using. Mark says, “We were left without product support and without future upgrades, and we knew we could not maintain our infrastructure for very long under those circumstances. Our IT Department wanted supportive software, so we looked at several software packages and chose Bellwether’s Purchasing Software version after participating in a WebEx. We use the Purchasing, Receiving and Requisitions modules, and we have been very pleased. Our users tell me that Bellwether Purchasing Software is better than anything we have ever had in place. Bellwether is easy to use and meets our functionality requirements.
The implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software was simple and quick. The Technical Department at Bellwether helped us transfer data files to a suitable format for their software. We imported all the vendors to Bellwether Purchasing Softwar and 90% of the vendor items. The technical department has always been easily accessible, and they are very knowledgeable about the product. This means a lot to a large, diverse resort like us. We have been a Bellwether customer since November 2005, and we look forward to a long and satisfying business relationship.”
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