University Business - September 2011 - (Page 49)

Spotlight on Procurement With cost containment in the front row of institutional priorities, procurement takes a leading role on campus. B By Melissa Ezarik ILL COOPER DIDN’T MINCE WORDS when Stanford University officials contacted him about coming on board as their director of purchasing. “I said, ‘No, I’m not interested in a fragmented function and I’m not interested in an institution that has just a director of purchasing,’” recalls Cooper, who now has an office at ... Stanford. “When you look at organizational structures, you’ve got the CEO, who provides the vision, the CFO who heads up the finance operations, the CIO who is your technology head,” he says. When Stanford approached him, Cooper was associate vice president of management services for the University of Missouri system. And despite the initial response, they called again, this time with a new open position: associate vice president and chief procurement officer. Now Cooper was ready to talk. “There needs to be at this table a CPO,” he says, adding that with the title comes the ability to affect change. “If you’re sitting there with CIOs and CFOs but don’t have a CPO, I think you’re missing the boat.” What he’s not missing is the opportunity to point out why procurement is so important today. “I tell the CFO, ‘All your accountants can do is count money, but purchasing can make you money. Seventy to 75 percent of operating costs are in personnel, salary, and wages. The rest is in supplies and services, and those are the areas where purchasing can have an impact.” At Missouri, there was about $400 million in addressable annual spend. “If you can reduce that by just 1 percent a year, that’s $4 million bucks, and I’d say that’s doing a lousy job. That’s where procurement now is going, that’s why we have a seat at the table,” Cooper says. Across all industries, points out Doreen Murner, CEO of the National Association of Educational Procurement, “the role of procurement has grown incredibly to be a more strategic and valued position. ... The limelight is on procurement.” And it has been for the past few years. Not so coincidentally, this extra attention has coincided with the economic downturn. “We are one of the few administrative groups in the position of showing value right now,” says Ted Johnson, director and CPO at the University of California, San Diego. In his experience, the economic crisis has been “an opportunity to shift how our department is seen by the university.” In the past, administrators may have felt they had to evade the procurement police, out to enforce policy. Now they are realizing that any chance to save money means less department budgets cuts. “When we bring initiatives to the table, they’re much more open to sitting down and listening to us,” he adds. September 2011 | 49

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - September 2011

University Business - September 2011
Editor's Note
College Index
Ad Index
Behind the News
Financial Aid
Money Matters
Internet Technology
Shared Governance
Acknowledging Achievement
Looking Back
Spotlight on Procurement
EduComm 2011
End Note

University Business - September 2011