Excel to turbo charge iPOS data entry
I have had the pleasure of being involved in the evolution of the new Excel add-on for IPOS electronic procurement for SunSystems, iPOS XL. It will be released as two components, the first release supports requisition creation and the subsequent release will support invoice creation.
What is iPOS XL and what does it do?
iPOS XL is an add-on to Excel that allows the user to prepare requisition lines in Excel and make use of standard Excel functionality. To ensure normal IPOS validation rules apply, the user is required to log in using their IPOS log in credentials.
As the lines are created the entries are validated. Opening a pre-existing workbook will also validate the requisition lines and highlight any errors for the user. Once the user is satisfied, the details from the spreadsheet are converted into a requisition. Organisations are given flexibility as to whether they will allow a user to create a requisition with errors, allowing others to amend the details in the browser, or whether all validation checks must be passed before creating the requisition. The requisition lines are all processed as per standard IPOS rules.
What are the business motivations to use iPOS XL?
This great idea has arisen from a number of sources. My earliest recollection for an Excel add-on arose from a number of users at one of the annual IPOS user days that Professional Advantage run in London, and now in Sydney.
One of the use cases is the situation when an organisation needs to create a requisition across many lines, say 500 lines, for a half-yearly inspection service. Using standard Excel functions the user can quickly create the 500 requisition lines and may only change one data element, such as house number, in the description or a single analysis dimension. The benefit of this approach is all about using the strengths of Excel to create a table of requisition lines.
Another use case is the creation of templates. Although templates are available in IPOS, the users wanted the ability to create Excel templates to address complexity or volume of requisition lines. Any organisation that has many templates with many lines would benefit from using Excel for requisitioning, particular when dealing with items with fluctuating prices.
The last use case we considered when developing the Excel add-on is if the requisition requires Excel functionality to compute quantities and amounts. For example, proportional calculations and lookup tables used to calculate the values and the big saving is the user would not have to rekey data. We envisage asset management organisations such as a water authority or a housing association would be key users of this add-on.
I am very excited about this new IPOS add-on, especially with this following on from the latest release that included contract procurement. A later version of iPOS XL will support requisition drawdown against contracts.
The release date is not yet finalised but it should happen in the next quarter. It is not expected that the add-on is suited for all IPOS users but I imagine that those who would need it know that already.
You can read other eProcurement blog posts here.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and iPOS here.