(This interview was conducted in 2015. Damon Norris is currently Director of Member Services at Arizona Charter Schools Association.)
Damon Norris used to be the Purchasing Manager at Legacy Traditional School, Arizona’s largest K-8 network of public, tuition-free charter schools with 9 campuses and over 650 employees. Damon shared insights into how he helped transform the Legacy Traditional School purchasing process for 10 divisions to save time and money for their organization.
We’d like to start off with a discussion about your organization. Can you describe what Legacy Traditional School does? And, can you give us a sense of the history/vision/mandate of the organization?
Legacy Traditional Schools is Arizona’s largest K-8, highest-quality network of public, tuition-free charter schools. Legacy was founded in 2007 on a traditional, back-to-basics curriculum that combines academic rigor, athletics and the performing arts. We build patriotism, character and self-sufficiency in our students, and ask parents to be involved in their children’s learning.
Legacy is proud to be “A-rated” by the Arizona Department of Education and fully accredited by AdvancED, the world’s largest education community. We have campuses in Maricopa, Queen Creek, Avondale, Chandler, Casa Grande, Gilbert, Laveen and Northwest Tucson. With construction underway on our newest campus in Surprise Arizona!
Can you describe the size and scope of your purchasing process? What do you order? Who does the ordering?
When I came to the company, I came from the private sector, used to SAP or Oracle. At the time the school purchasing process here was done by spreadsheets and waiting for physical signatures.
We have 8 Schools, 1 district office, and 1 Special Services department so in total there are 10 divisions going through our purchasing department. Once the building is built we order everything from decorations to everyday items like books, pencils etc..
Currently the schools place their PO requests through the purchasing department when they need to order items.
Are there any nuances or distinctive characteristics to purchasing in your field? Is there anything unique to purchasing requirements at Legacy Traditional School?
Education brings its own nuances or distinctive characteristics if you will. Coming from a manufacturing firm to a school is different, instead of ordering by the trainload, it can be as small as a box of pens.
We also have to adhere to procurement laws and standards that require bids for certain items. The size of the orders is the biggest challenge having to work on shipping small items as well as large trucks of items always is a challenge.
Why did you choose Procurify?
We chose Procurify because of the sales support, features, and the flexibility. The sales team made sure we understood the system, answered our questions, and made sure the product was a fit for us. From start to finish of the process of comparing Procurify to other systems hands down the support was there, and continues to be there.
How did Procurify help? What specifically has Procurify meant to Legacy Traditional Schools?
Accountability simply, being able to know who “signed” something when, when something is changed, purchased or received a huge plus. Going from an Excel driven system to a cloud based system that has controls in place gave us accountability and security.
Procurify, within the first 2 months has saved us thousands of dollars when it comes to products being re-ordered because they were lost. It has allowed us to revamp our processes and procedures to make sure items were received by a central point at one location and logged into the system. This allows purchasing to follow up on any partial receipts saving time for the schools.
Okay, now for a two-part question.
Now that some help has arrived what does that allow you to do?
The system allows my department to be on the go. We need to be able to be in the field or to on the go with meetings, before PO’s were only able to be cut when we were in, now a PO can be done directly from my mobile phone or tablet. I can monitor things in real time, know when items are received, know when something is approved or denied. Audit trails are in place to know when things are done, and help us prepare for internal audits if needed.
Does this open up potential capital cost savings down the road?
Yes, before items were received by multiple parties, hours were spent populating excel sheets, hours and days spent waiting to get PO’s signed by the right people. Now it’s fast and efficient. Things flow through the process seamlessly, communication is able to happen on the fly. Manpower hours, reduction in duplication alone will pay for this system in the long run.
Was there anything in particular about Procurify that most impressed you, or you found most beneficial?
Being able to use things on the fly, with an android app and apple app this was a huge selling point for us. We are able to use this not only on our office PC’s and laptops but on our devices as well.
Can you comment on Procurify’s customer success? Along with our dedication to design and user experience. How have your interactions with our customer success team been?
The team at Procurify has gone above and beyond. I am able to suggest items that need to change and they do them as long as they make sense for the larger user base they have. Being able to go to them with problems and get fixes right away or ways to work the system better has been great.
I have literally received help when people were home sick because they didn’t want us waiting for an issue, which is above the call of duty. The dedication that has been shown is awesome and at Legacy this means a lot to us.
How important is having remote access to Procurify for your company? At Legacy Traditional School, will you have employees ordering and purchasing from various locations?
With 8 and soon to be 9 schools plus the other areas it’s really important to have remote capabilities. The orders come from the schools so without this we wouldn’t be able to use the system, or rather would be in the same boat we came from.
Remote access has allowed our Purchasing department to go paper free, and cloud based allowing us to work from home, the car, or where ever the need comes up. If I get a call late at night for something that is an emergency I no longer have to drive to the office to make it happen I can log in and make the PO and get the item running.
If you were the star of the next Procurify commercial and you had to deliver a final message on why Legacy Traditional School uses Procurify – what would that message be?
Simplicity moving at the speed of light, Procurify is a system that is not willing to accept the status quo or not continue to get better, instead the team strives to make it better every day, and they deliver without a doubt.