Getting on the Right Track - Chemical Tracking at Imperial College

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The presentation will give an overview of the implementation of SciQuest Enterprise Reagent Manager (ERM) and outline how the ChemAxon data cartridge has enabled researchers in the College more fully utilize core functionality within ERM. The focus will be on the both the technical and the process related challenges faced by the project team when implementing the system.

Following the Detroit terrorist incident there was a pressing need for universities to change a number of business processes to strengthen the management and control of hazardous products and materials as highlighted in recent visits to College by the police authorities. The police authorities have identified the laboratory supply chain (i.e. identification, acquisition, use and disposal of chemicals) as one area of major risk for higher education institutions in the UK.
The Head of the Chemistry department subsequently reported that whilst our current e-procurement system can identify what hazardous products have been purchased, when and by whom there is not a robust College-wide management system in place to track and control those products from the point of delivery onwards. This represents both operational and reputational risks to College given that we spend £15m per annum on a complex range of laboratory products and materials of which £1.5m is chemicals related. The Head of Chemistry and Head of Purchasing subsequently investigated and identified a chemical tracking system that would allow the College to manage the complete end to end process – SciQuest’s Spend Director catalogue and Enterprise Reagent Manager. Both Proctor & Gamble and Novartis use ERM although the only other university in the UK that uses the system is the University of Edinburgh and only within the department of Chemistry. While the fundamentals of tracking chemicals is the same there are significantly different business needs and business drivers between pharmaceutical companies and higher education institutions and this in turn impacts how the system will be used and how buy-in from the business community will be gained.

The project was then initiated to implement both elements of the SciQuest system. The first phase implemented the Spend Director catalogue within our Oracle e-Procurement system which went live in March 2011 and is now used across the College to procure chemicals from three of the largest chemical suppliers. The second stage of the project focuses on the implementation of the ERM module which will be trialed initially within the department of Chemistry. The intended go-live of the implementation is scheduled for the 1st May 2012 and therefore, it the full picture in terms of benefits and challenges may not be realized until the end of the six month trial.

This second phase of the project was considerably more complex as it involved both a cultural and process change. While the department of Chemistry were strong supporters of the project and have resources in place to absorb the impact the system would have on day to day activities within the lab, others were more reticent to adopt a system that required a tangible administrative burden.

The following elements of the integration will be discussed in turn during the presentation along with the challenges faced by the project team: – Interfaces with other College systems – ERM to I-Procurement and I-Procurement to ERM – Structure searching tools – Creating materials and searching by structure – Supporting integrated but independent products.

Finally, the presentation will outline the challenges faced by the project team and how risks and issues were addressed. If known, at the time of presenting, an outline of how more effectively researchers could use ChemAxon products in conjunction with ERM to maximize efficiency and to streamline the management of their chemical inventory.

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