Bringing eProcurement to Higher Education

Jul 19, 2016 by Rebeka Thomas

Universities are finding a new, smart way to complete their sourcing and bidding process. As educational institutions seek to fight rising tuition and high overhead costs with efficiency and transparency initiatives, e-procurement stands out as a simple cost and time saving solution. Universities have the collective buying power that enables them to achieve savings on everything from technology to office supplies if they have the foresight to make collective purchases and create a competitive bid environment among their suppliers.

At eBid Systems, we had the opportunity to work with both Cornell University and the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) as they implemented effective e-procurement software and reaped the rewards.

Cornell University

Cornell University, one of the country’s oldest and most elite Universities, was an early adopter of e-procurement. In a spirit of innovation, they implemented their first procurement software system in 2004 and another in 2011. Even though this software helped their process in many ways, the benefits were offset by some serious flaws and the university was unwilling to stay tied to an inefficient system. They were looking for flexible and reliable software with the functionality they needed to meet their unique business needs.

After an extensive evaluation of all their e-procurement options, Cornell University finally chose to implement eBid Systems software. Staff members and selected vendors had tested the product and found it user friendly and efficient. They liked that the platform was customizable and allowed them to build their own database of highly qualified suppliers. Since implementation, eBid Systems software has been saving Cornell time and money. The system eliminated paper and postal costs from the bidding process and reduced administrative time. According to Jay Porter, a Strategic Sourcing Manager at Cornell University, “The new system eliminates manual data-entry steps and allows us to easily compare bid responses.”

Today eight sourcing agents are completing around 90 solicitations per year. Benefits to the university are not just financial, eBid software has improved the department’s ability to oversee the sourcing process and encouraged industry best-practices. With functionality that logs transactions, enforces deadlines, and ensures sealed bidding, the software platform innately encourages transparency.

Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education

The Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE), is another educational institution which takes their responsibility in procurement transparency and efficiency very seriously. The procurement department at PASSHE is responsible for policy oversight and system-wide sourcing activities for 14 state owned universities with over 120,000 students. In a setting where over 300 bids occur every month, there was a marked need for effective oversite and a centralized platform to manage the bidding process.

Visionary leadership at PASSHE saw the potential for collective strength in collaboration. With a centralized platform the universities would be able to engage in cooperative purchasing and access a shared database of vendors. When the chancellor’s office rolled out a sourcing solution from eBid Systems, each campus was allowed to buy into the system using its own funding and at its own pace. Participating universities quickly found value in the shared procurement and today all 14 campuses have elected to join the centralized platform. Linda Venneri, the PASSHE Collaborative Contracts Manager said, “A big plus is the ability for each university in our decentralized system to access a single source of vendors.” Together the system of universities has built a database of more than 9,000 vendor profiles of highly qualified suppliers.

The software system solved many of PASSHE’s challenges by standardizing the sourcing process across universities, increasing opportunities for collaboration, and providing centralized access to bid information. Now the procurement department can confidently fulfill their responsibility in sourcing oversight with eBid Systems’ built in transparency tools.

Procurement Solutions

Two very different higher education institutions found measurable savings and process improvements by implementing e-procurement software. The procurement staff at both Cornell University and PASSHE found that eBid Systems software saved them an incredible amount of time and made the entire procurement process more straightforward and transparent. Now these universities have a sourcing system they trust, and increased resources to facilitate the best possible education for their students.