Spring is the season of new beginnings, resiliency, and resolve. Many institutions are buzzing with conversations about fiscal uncertainty, confusion, and lack of clarity about the future. Both internal and external pressures are fueling the conversations, and while we’ll all be impacted differently, we struggle to understand how these changes will affect us and our departments.
Fortunately for us, our NAEP Members and our peers in educational procurement are some of the most collaborative and helpful people across the country. Whether you need help with a procurement transaction, a strategic initiative, or an operational change, NAEP Members are just a phone call or forum post away. NAEP fosters collaboration and information-sharing across the industry. The Exchange has been buzzing with topics and issues impacting both Higher Ed procurement and our institutions at large.
As institutions look to streamline operations, the procure-to-pay function is frequently investigated. Procurement card (Pcard) programs can align to a payment function traditionally paired with the other payment mechanisms, or they can be managed in alignment with other purchasing vehicles. Cory Harms (Iowa State University) has polled the NAEP Exchange, asking where the Pcard functions across the country reside and if Payables reports to Procurement. Of the institutions responding, 61 percent reported that Pcard reports to Procurement. No institutions responded that Payables does so, and 10 percent indicated that Payables and Procurement were combined.
Certificates of Insurance
Similar to Pcard programs, obtaining and storing supplier certificates of insurance (COI) is managed differently across institutions. Cherieé Dawson (Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City) is looking to re-structure internal processes and asked the NAEP Membership for input. Responses on ownership seemed to differentiate between collection, retention, and policy management, with most procurement departments owning the collection of COIs. Retention and policy resided primarily with Risk Management or HR.
Accessibility & Ergonomics
Speaking of outside influences, federal regulations play a major role in shaping the responsibility of procurement departments. Often, we are charged to ensure supplier compliance with federal law. NAEP President Rosey Murton (Florida State University), asked the membership about managing accessibility requirements relative to software applications and development, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA). Several members answered back with suggested contract language. Cynthia Urick (Swathmore College) recently asked if non-public, non-student facing software (which is not governed by the ADA) is still being managed in the same way.
From a procurement perspective, the ergonomic furniture market seems to be getting more competitive. Sit-to-stand desks have been available from few providers, with one manufacturer, Varidesk, currently dominating the market. In a recent NAEP Exchange post, one Member compared her institution’s pricing outcomes to that experienced with Apple, whose pricing is rigid and void of discounts. Members were quick to point out that the sit-to-stand desks were, in fact, available through channel partners and that volume discounts are possible. Additionally, Members shared that new suppliers have entered the market and are providing products at very competitive prices.
These are just a few examples of the information being shared among your peers. Jump onto the NAEP Exchange by clicking on the Exchange link on our homepage: https://www.naepnet.org.
Greg Macway is Director of Strategies & Communication in Supply Chain Management at the University of California, San Francisco/Berkeley. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the NAEP Educational Procurement Journal. Email: Greg.Macway@ucsf.edu.