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Global Top 5 University

In 2011 one of the world’s leading universities was facing a Big Data challenge – how to increase spend penetration in the right commodities with continued demonstrable savings.

Key facts:

  • USD 1.5 Billion Revenue
  • 18 000 Employees
  • 21 000 Students
  • Live with Refresh since 2011
  • Big Data PO Line Items
  • ERP system: ORACLE

Business Challenge

In 2011 one of the world’s leading universities was facing a Big Data challenge – how to increase spend penetration in the right commodities with continued demonstrable savings. The university had already covered significant ground – with an excellent record in increasing the % spend penetrated over the last five years almost one hundred fold.

Even with this substantial success management had targeted even more future spend visibility and spend analysis for the majority of the university’s Purchase items, services and suppliers in the Oracle Financials system.

In terms of in-house software tools, the organization had been running Oracle Financials successfully for many years as well as some best-of-breed reporting tools. However, the current tools were not the main problem – the underlying raw data was the real issue. It was extremely tough to get users to provide trustworthy spend classification across an extremely diverse group of commodity groups from stationery to building services to complex medical equipment.

The main problem remained: how best to automatically tag extremely diverse and sometimes cryptic Oracle purchase line items to UNSPSC?

After investigating the market for a specialist tool and including in-depth live demo test of actual line items sampled from some of the 130 university departments, Refresh™ Desktop software was selected. Some factors which were key in the selection of Refresh™ included:

  • Ease of use allowing the right person to do the job quickly
  • Deep Global International Standards experience & content
  • Pre-Built dictionaries ready to use on day 1
  • Low software license cost and low implementation effort
  • No need to touch the Oracle system / any Oracle resource
  • Fresh’s agility in customer customization of software
  • Coverage of diverse spend categories
  • Ready to use noun-modifier additions for Higher Learning

The Solution

Refresh Desktop was deployed in English within one week of purchase so the standardization of the Oracle purchase lines could commence in record time. The original higher learning Refresh dictionary already included a slightly increased number of noun-modifiers especially from the medical, research, services and chemical families. The total number of individual noun-modifiers in the delivered dictionary exceeded 46700.

The university purchasing team and especially the lead purchasing analyst was extremely good at describing possible enhancements in the Refresh tool. These were incorporated in a delta Refresh version and rolled in to the general product in record time. One of these key enhancements was a way to match especially cryptic purchase order descriptions to UNSPSC through hints and filters related mainly to the vendor type:

Key Business Benefits

The university has been using the Refresh software to cleanse and manage purchase order line descriptions across all departments. Purchase order descriptions are matched against a common hierarchy for all products from all suppliers. True spend is reflected, and a detailed view of what the University is buying is the result, highlighting common purchasing trends across all divisions, and any category areas which require further cost improvement. The Purchasing department can use this data to develop detailed purchasing strategies accordingly, thus ensuring that the University is achieving true value for money from its suppliers as part of the organization’s 3-5 year strategy.

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