A recent project by Virginia Tech's Purchasing Department, Controllers Office, and Banner Finance Team to build an automated procurement system -- integrating "HokieMart" with the university's financial systems and other internal supply-chain systems -- has been recognized with an 2008 InfoWorld 100 Top IT Solutions Award sponsored by InfoWorld magazine.

The InfoWorld 100 awards recognize companies for information technology projects that exemplify intelligent, creative uses of technology to meet business and technical objectives. To be considered, projects must use multiple technologies in innovative ways to serve well-defined business goals.

Virginia Tech was among eight other educational organizations to be recognized with this award this year.

In 2006, Virginia Tech’s team began the development and implementation of one of the largest and most far-reaching efforts to automate paper-based procurement and business processes in higher education.

Under the direction of Tom Kaloupek, director of materials management, the university envisioned a complete business system capable of automating labor-intensive procurement processes; aggregating Virginia Tech’s buying power to achieve savings and more favorable terms and conditions with suppliers; freeing faculty and staff from paper-laden and time-consuming administrative processes; providing the university’s financial leaders with unprecedented, real-time insight into spending; and transforming the procurement department from a processing center into a strategic leader focused on serving users and generating savings.

“Achieving these goals would require the development and roll-out of an e-procurement platform, the creation of an online marketplace, and seamless integration with the university’s existing financial systems and SunGard Banner, said Kaloupek. “Perhaps most importantly, the project would require more than 4,000 users to fundamentally change how they work — all without interfering with year-round, daily operations.”

User adoption was the key to success, noted Kaloupek. “Without the widespread support of users, and the creation of a viable online marketplace, such a system would not achieve the transaction volume required to achieve the university’s goals.”