April 12, 2021
Confederation College is a culturally diverse, close-knit community, delivering exceptional education and training to an average of 7,000 combined full- and part-time students per year, offering 58 full-time postsecondary programs across eleven areas of study. The College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967, in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres (about the size of France), with its main Campus in Thunder Bay, eight regional sites and a Distance Education division. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $643.4 million annually.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented demand in personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the province of Ontario. The college requires significant quantities of PPE to support various projects in the nursing, and dental training departments. Yet, there was no mechanism in place for the college to know the total quantities being procured, issued, and expended by the various nursing and medical departments. As the province responded to shortages in the PPE, a requirement was introduced by the Ministry of Health that all stores of PPE should be tracked and reported. The college needed a practical solution, implemented rapidly, to track and report its use of PPE across all departments.
Choosing the Right Solution
The college elected to assess the Stores and Inventory module of the Banner® Finance ERP system. This assessment revealed a potential way forward that avoided any additional investment in technology and the associated costs with onboarding and implementing new systems to support this requirement.
The college contracted the Strata Information Group (SIG) to provide advisory consulting and support. The implementation approach consisted of:
- Initial training delivered to relevant users and stakeholders in the college on the functions and features of Banner Finance Stores and Inventory module.
- Analysis of how the tracking of PPE stores will impact financial accounting and reports.
- Establishing the rules and validation values that would govern the college’s policies for the tracking of PPE supplies including the administration of the Ontario harmonized sales tax (HST).
- Process analysis to integrate the procurement, receipt, and issuance of PPE supplies into the existing procurement budgeting, requisition, and approval processes.
- Training of the best practices for supporting the enhanced processes in the Banner Finance Stores and Inventory module. This included incidental post-implementation support to guide the growth in the numbers and expanded distributions of these supplies through the peak and impact of the pandemic.
The college realized immediate value from implementing the selected approach. The benefits included:
- The ability to see the full college-wide levels of PPE supplies that are on requisition, received, issued, and expended by department.
- The ability to balance the use of PPE, avoiding over accumulation in one department at the expense of other departments and thereby maximizing availability and use of PPE supplies.
- The college can comply with the tracking and reporting obligations with regular reports to the Ministry of Health and other external funding and emergency response agencies.
Dean Richard Gemmill commented, “As our programs, especially the ones that required on-campus deliveries, became more impacted by the pandemic, the ability to rely on timely deliveries of the required PPE and sanitizing supplies from Central Stores made our jobs much easier. The requisition system is relatively straight-forward with the proper training, and the deliveries are timely.”
Sharon Hollinsworth, Project Manager, Confederation College
Tony Roach, Account Executive, Strata Information Group