They say that an educated or a well-informed customer is your best customer. Well, the Strategic Procurement Department is definitely on the right path to keeping their customers informed. They decided to respond to the OBFS Transparency Initiative challenge by creating a communication plan, which included adding web pages to the OBFS website. These web pages are dedicated to explaining their role in the purchasing process and to providing information about Strategic Procurement awards available to campus end-users.
First, what does Strategic Procurement do?
Strategic Procurement is part of Procurement Services. This department works with the three campus purchasing units to: identify strategic opportunities, determine the applicability of a contract for purchase, and to address contracted vendor related issues. One thing that sets Strategic Procurement apart from Purchasing is that they do not handle transactional purchases requested by an end-user through a requisition.
A large part of their responsibility is to review the University’s collective spend across the three campuses to identify commonly used supplies or services like computers, office supplies, or travel agency/online booking services. Then they determine if there is an opportunity to leverage the collective spend to enter into a single agreement to provide these supplies or services, which results in cost savings due to the volume of spend. For example, Strategic Procurement’s online travel booking tool award to a single travel agent that provides online booking services (iTravel) resulted in an estimated cost savings of $250,000.
The department’s transparency goal was to establish a communication plan to: (1) familiarize campus end-users with what Strategic Procurement does, (2) provide information about strategic procurements available to campus end-users, and (3) establish a way to receive feedback about how Strategic Procurement vendors are performing.
How is Strategic Procurement achieving its goal?
Strategic Procurement added web pages to the OBFS Purchases website to:
- Explain its role in the purchasing process;
- Provide information of awards available to end-users; and,
- Give end-users an interactive vendor feedback form for relaying vendor performance information.
On the Strategic Procurements web page you can access the pages dedicated to Strategic Procurement awards and the Vendor Feedback Form on the left-hand side of the page.
“Communication is key. With the implementation of the Strategic Procurements website, customers are more informed.” –Mark Taylor, Director of Strategic Procurement
By achieving this goal, Strategic Procurement has increased visibility of awards available to the campuses. This visibility will increase the use of strategic procurements and provide benefits to the University through cost and time savings, contractual protections with suppliers and value added benefits to the individuals making purchases.
The communication plan established does not end here. Strategic Procurement is also looking to create a web form for submission and review of potential opportunities. This form will give end-users the ability to recommend potential strategic procurements. Recommendations will be analyzed for potential solicitation and this analysis will be shared with the individual who provided the recommendation. These results will also be kept in a database to document the analysis completed and to retain the information for future consideration.
For more information about Strategic Procurement please contact the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.obfs.uillinois.edu/purchases/strategic-procurements/.