Irish Examiner

Case Study 3 – Purchase Order System

Another employee saw an opportunity to make an improvement in his own work area.  He identified that the current Purchase Order System was not user-friendly.  Furthermore, there were lots of delays between activities. 

So, they were wasting time waiting for confirmation of completed actions.  Moreover, there were unnecessary requests for clarifications.  This resulted in an unnecessary workload for managers and staff members.  Finally, it was proving impossible to get reports from multiple spreadsheets.

The Irish Examiner is a different and distinct voice in the national discourse, highlighting stories and perspectives not found elsewhere.

Irish Examiner PO System

Key Challenges

  • Firstly, departments have different thresholds.  So, POs will only be issued for values over a certain Euro value.
  • Second of all, there was no reliable logged time data.
  • Finally, this employee advised that data has to be re-input into a master finance Excel file.

The aim of this Lean Project was to:

  • Remove non-value-added activities or duplication of input.
  • Reduce non-value-added time (manual emailing) from the process.
  • Implement automatic email alerts with relevant and descriptive subject to assist managers to identify urgent requests.
  • Include a hyperlink in the email to the specific pre-filled form to allow for immediate updating.
  • Decrease duplication of data input in a master finance spreadsheet.

8-Step Problem-Solving Process

In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:

  1. Problem
  2. Current State
  3. Target
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Select Countermeasures
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluation
  8. Standardisation & Learnings
Irish Examiner Workflow
Irish Examiner Value Stream Map

Key Actions

We introduced a Kaizen Event to identify waste in the process.  It is also an opportunity to focus on doing the things that make changes a customer values.  This brainstorming session brought team members together to “silent share” ideas and issues.  We don’t discard any issues as their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved.  Following this event, the team put all ideas on the Impact/Ease Chart.  Finally, we were able to identify which ideas could be prioritised.

The Impact/Ease Chart can summarise these four activities as follows:

  1. Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
  2. Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
  3. Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
  4. Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.

The company agreed on a number of countermeasures:

  • To start with, they wanted to create a web-based form.  This would integrate email notifications containing hyperlinks to the form request data.
  • Next, they wanted to integrate the web-form with a single Google sheet containing structured data.
  • Finally, the team wanted to provide a user definable report.  This would be used by Finance Department to return required data sets.

Key Outcomes

Before this project, employees used a complicated spreadsheet for gathering Purchase Order Requests.  However, after this employee’s Lean project, team members now use a standardised web form.  As a result, it now takes 1.5 minutes to complete.

  • The company identified projected time savings in email and data re-entry of between 90 and 220 hours per annum.
  • In addition, they have merged multiple spreadsheets into one.
  • Certainly, they have eliminated visual checks through in-built email notifications.
  • As a result, the company has enabled an extensive suite of reports based on new ‘structured data’.
Irish Examiner New PO System


We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation.  This has clearly been the case in the Irish Examiner.  Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.

ETAC has worked with the Irish Examiner to streamline their business and improve their processes.  We hope you enjoyed reading this case study on their Purchase Order System.  You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here.  Case Study 1 – Different Languages and Case Study 2 – Advertising System.  All our case studies are available here.