University Business April 2018 - 44
Buying strong at small colleges
Services, National Joint Powers Alliance
(NJPA) and National IPA.
Canada underscores the value of
co-op membership with this example:
After switching from its own contract
with UniFirst uniforms to using NJPA's
contract code in the supplier's billing system, Wor-Wic saved $14,000 annually.
Alan Leonard, director of purchasing
at Colgate University, which has about
2,900 students, does more than just take
advantage of the contracts he has access
to through E&I membership. He also
helps shape what's available. Because the
liberal arts college's location in a rural
part of central New York presents supplier challenges, Leonard advocated for
schools in remote areas when he sat on
an E&I bid committee.
"This is something people don't always think about, but it's important to
those of us who aren't located in or near
cities," says Leonard, whose department
has six employees.
Like many other schools, Colgate also
belongs to a regional group, the New York
Six Liberal Arts Consortium, and Leonard
participates in its bidding process.
Canada takes advantage of Maryland's
community college brain trust.
"If you're working on a new roofing project, chances are somebody else
has already done that and can send their
contract to guide you," she says. "People
in these groups are so good about helping
others not reinvent the wheel."
2. Consider e-procurement, even if you
think you can't afford it.
E-procurement systems often pay for
themselves, saving money by directing
users to preferred vendors. These products reduce the time and labor involved
with purchase order approvals, and free
up purchasing staff to focus on highervalue activities.
"For several years, we put in a budget
request for a third person, but now that
we've been using Jaggaer [for e-procurement] for 2 1/2 years, we don't need that
additional staffer," says Canada.
"In addition, because we're not processing orders anymore, we can focus
on strategic initiatives such as looking at
Managing rogue spending at
a small institution
Rogue spending-buying outside a purchasing contract-can be an issue at
colleges large and small. Here's how the small college pros rein it in.
* Help spenders put a face to your name. This is easier at smaller
colleges, says Karen Khattari, director of general services and procurement
at Cedar Crest College. "Everybody knows me, and I know them." That leads
to more control and better accountability.
* Ask vendors to help. At Swarthmore College, Contracts and Purchasing
Manager Cynthia Urick is working with vendors to require people to use the
e-procurement system when they make their own purchases. For example,
the school's office supply vendor will no longer take orders from the college
by phone, fax or the internet.
* Demonstrate the value of purchasing contracts. Jill Davenport,
manager of purchasing and central services at Augsburg College, does
this with education and training. "Everyone here is fiscally conscious and
responsible," she says, "so it's my job to help them see how buying within
our contracts helps get them more for their money."
REMOTE BUYS-Rural institutions such
as Colgate University may have added
purchasing woes because of supplier
our spend data so we know more about
where to put our emphasis in negotiations," she adds.
Jaggaer bases pricing on school size,
operating budget and transaction volume.
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
which formed a purchasing department
and instituted centralized purchasing just
two years ago, uses ESM Solutions' cloudbased system.
"I try to use technology whenever
possible because it saves us so much time,
even when you factor in what's involved
with keeping the system maintained,"
says Cynthia Urick, Swarthmore's contracts and purchasing manager and part
of a three-person department at the college, which has a student enrollment of
In addition to hosting product catalogs in one location online, the e-procurement system processes purchase orders for approval automatically, moving
them through the approval cycle and
then authorizing order fulfillment once
approvals are maintained. These are all
steps that otherwise would have required
3. Study the data.
Urick reviews data from Swarthmore
44 | April 2018
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