Oct. 22, 2009

Shop quickly, efficiently on CyBuy

by Anne Krapfl

CyBuy logo

Ten months after it was launched, the university's online "e-procurement" system is processing 60 to 80 orders a day. ISU Purchasing's CyBuy allows any Iowa State employee to shop online with approved vendors and place an order -- without a purchasing card, voucher, paper invoice or check.

So far, the catalogs of eight companies selected through competitive bidding are online at a third-party web site accessible through AccessPlus. Unlike the vendors' home web sites, the prices in CyBuy reflect ISU discounts established in the bidding process.

Current CyBuy vendors


  • ISU Chemistry Stores
  • Fisher Scientific
  • Integrated DNA Technology
  • Invitrogen
  • Qiagen
  • Sigma-Aldrich

Computers/general office:

  • ISU Central Stores
  • CDW-Government
  • Dell
  • Office Max

The ISU Central Stores and Chemistry Stores inventories also are available in CyBuy.

Purchasing director Nancy Brooks said the goal is to finish the bids and load the catalogs of another 10 vendors into CyBuy in the next five months.

"With those 20 catalogs, we hope we can cover 80 percent of what people need and are purchasing," she said. Noting that ISU Purchasing uses nearly 18,000 vendors -- some of them one time for one thing -- 100 percent coverage probably is not realistic.

Employees can buy from multiple vendors in one purchase on CyBuy. Orders may be up to $25,000, but any single item that costs $5,000 or more is sent through the purchasing department for review before it goes to the vendor.

The beauty of CyBuy for university departments, Brooks said, is paying lower prices from pre-approved vendors without chewing up a lot of employee time to make a purchase. She said the online system gives the purchasing department useful data to track volume, conduct quality audits and bid future contracts with vendors.

Using CyBuy

With a built-in system of checks and balances, it takes three people to complete a purchase on CyBuy: the registered employee shopper, a designated department "releaser" who submits the order to the vendor electronically, and a department funding approver who gives final approval to pay the vendor via electronic payment.

All this is completed without vouchers, checks or paper copies of invoices and receipts. Departments control their budgets while allowing employees to order the products they need.

The department registers all these players in the CyBuy system up front to expedite the process when it's actually time to shop.

More than 1,000 employees have been trained to use CyBuy since February and training is held each month. Lesley Lackore is the CyBuy system administrator in ISU Purchasing and coordinates training. There also is a PowerPoint training presentation on the CyBuy web page.

The first step in using CyBuy is to contact Lackore to submit a list of players, schedule training and receive access to the CyBuy system.

"We think CyBuy speeds up the purchasing process, eliminates paperwork and meets some of the expectation for immediacy," Brooks said.