December 8, 2003
Changes will streamline purchasing on campus
By Jennifer McNulty
Buying goods and services on campus will soon be more like ordering
a bestseller from Amazon.com than wading through the time-consuming
and paper-intensive process currently in use.
The next forum will be held January 7 from noon to 1 p.m.
The topic will be workers compensation; location to be announced.
Thats the vision driving the UCSC team charged with streamlining
campus purchasing operations. Team members presented their work to an
overflow crowd of about 100 people on Wednesday, December 3. The gathering
was the latest forum sponsored by the Staff Advisory Board to keep campus
employees informed about the work of the Executive Budget Committee.
The purchasing transformation project is designed to make
both shopping and payment easier and more efficient. Ultimately, campus
buyers will be able to browse and make selections online, use an Amazon-style
shopping cart to place their orders, pay for goods and services
electronically, and track delivery of goods online.
UCSCs project coincides with the UC Office of the Presidents
systemwide effort to leverage the universitys buying power by
negotiating contracts with vendors, said Lisa Rose, director of materiel
management. The result will be a pretty spiffy system for doing
your purchasing, she said.
The e-procurement and strategic sourcing teams presentation
was well-received by the audience, and team leaders fielded questions
for more than 30 minutes. Additional questions will be addressed in
coming weeks on the Staff Advisory Board web
Strategic sourcing refers to the process of identifying long-term supply
needs, selecting suppliers, negotiating contracts, and monitoring the
performance of vendors. Systemwide, the university intends to negotiate
contracts for the most common purchases, including things like office
and lab supplies, furniture, and food, said Rose. The majority of goods
will not be covered by systemwide contracts but will be available for
purchase through the same streamlined procedures, she said.
The new system will let campus buyers browse the selection online rather
than flip through dozens of catalogs, said Rose, noting that UCSC is
encouraging local vendors to participate in the bidding process. The
campus spends about $5 million annually in Santa Cruz County, and UCSC
wants to help local vendors remain competitive.
The Office of the President calculates that systemwide annual purchases
total $150 million for lab supplies, $100 million for computers, $25
million for software, $20 million for food, and $30 million for hardware
and tools, she said.
By participating in the systemwide effort, UCSC is able to lobby for
its needs and preferences, including an emphasis on green
products such as low-energy computer monitors and recycled paper.
Complementing the universitys systemwide strategic sourcing efforts,
UCSC is shopping for a new computer system that will enable the campus
to expand its electronic commerce, or e-procurement, activities.
The campus currently uses about 10 different methods to buy and pay
for goods and services, according to Linda Rhoads, director for communications
and systems development.
The goal is to create one standard method and automate many of the
steps that are currently handled manually, said Rhoads. Because the
Banner financial system is being upgraded next year, implementation
will begin next spring, but full implementation is not anticipated until
early 2005. During the transition, campus buyers will use existing low-tech
methods to access new, better prices negotiated by OP.
Roses team has estimated that UCSC will save $800,000 to $2.2
million annually by buying goods and services at negotiated prices,
although full savings wont be realized for five years or so, when
the overhaul is complete. In addition, streamlined procedures could
save staff time that will add up to about $400,000 in annual workload
Asked if the savings will trigger layoffs, Tom Vani, vice chancellor
of business and administrative services, said he wasnt certain.
The e-procurement project is certainly capable of generating savings
without affecting jobs, but the states budget crisis may make
additional cuts necessary anyway, he said.
The next forum will be held January 7 from noon to 1 p.m. The topic
will be workers compensation; location TBA.
Return to Front Page