14-Campus University System Enhances Collaborative Procurement with Shared Portal

The Challenge

The Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) encompasses 14 state-owned universities with undergraduate and graduate enrollment of 120,000 students.

PASSHE university procurement departments operate independently with general policy oversight and responsibility for system-wide sourcing initiatives provided by the chancellor’s office at Dixon University.

With each university managing its own vendors, there was substantial duplication of effort and the process was burdensome for suppliers to maintain their accounts with multiple customers across the state-wide system.

Each university resorted to maintaining lists of suppliers in spreadsheets or had no vendor list at all.  Because they individually lacked scale, each campus had not implemented electronic sourcing and at best listed sourcing opportunities only on their own websites.

The lack of a consistent procurement process for vendor management and sourcing made it difficult for the central procurement organization in the chancellor’s office to fulfill its role in compliance oversight.  Additionally, the lack of visibility meant the chancellor’s office had difficulty in monitoring sourcing activities system-wide or seizing opportunities for cooperative purchasing.

The Solution

PASSHE realized that they could improve procurement process efficiencies at each campus, as well as across the entire system, and achieve their goal of increased visibility and transparency with an integrated supplier management and sourcing system.  Because the chancellor’s office could not compel each campus to adopt its recommended approach, they knew the solution had to also be easy-to-use and affordable.

Initially, the chancellor’s office rolled out a sourcing solution from eBid Systems and established a framework agreement that would allow each campus to buy into the system using its own funding and at its own pace.  The central procurement organization quickly proved the value of a shared procurement portal and a shared supplier database.

Today all campuses have elected to join the central procurement portal, each has access to more than 9,000 vendor profiles of highly qualified suppliers.  In addition to relieving each campus from independently managing vendor lists they also have access to a greater number of vendors in each category.

Although each university has access to a shared vendor database and a portal where all bid opportunities, each procurement department has unique administrative access to its own sourcing opportunities.  This approach provided the benefits of a shared system along with the privacy and security desired by individual campuses

With the solution provided by eBid Systems, PASSHE now has a robust, central supplier management and sourcing system that provides an efficient and standardized process framework, facilitates increased supplier competition, and allows for increased transparency of procurement activity system-wide.