Design notes on purchasing

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from Feedback on the materials purchasing system:

Benefits of the existing spreadsheet that should not be lost:

  • everyone can see what's needed
  • one can subscribe to changes (notified by email)
  • comment function gets used a lot for questions and advice
  • cluster orders together to save on shipment and even on cost
  • links to the supplier right next to the item to order

Suggestions for new system:

  • list of things to buy, with filters on it, by type of product, supplier, etc
    • populated manually or from Recipes
  • Every product will have suppliers associated with them, which are rated by the community in for lead time, quality, distance, etc.
  • Members will be able to cluster items together
  • Optimizations can be made for cost, environmental concerns, etc
  • Users would press a PURCHASE button and orders will be sent, if a relation is already established with the supplier, or by email
  • The PURCHASE action would also update the value accounting system with a financial contribution
  • This supposes that every item in the list of things to buy are already associated with projects, which would be the normal procedure of entering things to buy in the system

Additional features

  • Members will be able to add sources for material and tool requirements
  • The new system will require inventory, which means that purchasing will need to be coupled with receiving the purchased items
  • Receiving could be coupled with rating the purchased items for quality etc

Comments on features

The following features could be deferred. That is, purchasing could take place without them, and they could be added later:

  • Comment system
  • Rating system (more on ratings below)
  • Optimizations
  • Sending orders to suppliers
    • Sending orders as emails would be easier than hooking into suppliers' online systems in any way


  • The system can automatically handle many aspects of ratings, for example, actual vs promised lead time (on-time delivery).
    • The system will keep a history of all interactions with suppliers, which can be summarized or browsed in detail.
  • Received items from suppliers can be rated for quality, both when-received and when-used.

So in other words, we can provide more objective supplier ratings than (for example) having members give them stars or up-and-down votes. Those ratings can be incorporated in the supplier's score for the items they