Procurement process demystified
What do cadavers, an equine treadmill and a telescope that is housed in the Canary Islands have in common? UF Procurement Services played a large part in acquiring all those items for the university—but its role and the benefits it provides to the community go beyond purchasing.
Facilitating regular purchases in myUF Market by providing electronic catalogs and contracts with UF-specific pricing and pre-negotiated terms is one aspect of Procurement. Procurement also manages the public solicitation process for goods, services and complex purchases that are $75,000+ (the minimum set by the Board of Governors). UF Procurement is also the sole department with delegated authority to sign purchasing contracts – and they have the necessary expertise to make sense of the fine print. Procurement is also responsible for mitigating risk when purchases take place and UF’s PCard program.
“UF’s goal in the procurement process is to seek the best value, not the cheapest items,” Procurement director Lisa Deal emphasized. “Competition brings the best value. We’re not interested in the cheapest item you can buy, but the best service for the most competitive price.” Best value is unique to each purchase, and takes into account the quality of the supplier and the quality of the service and staff. Customer references and ratings, as well as the ability to meet defined expectations, are also factors in addition to price.
UF Procurement also makes an effort to build sustainability into its major contracts, and green products can be deeply discounted through myUF Market. UF Procurement is also proud to have won awards tied to sustainability efforts, including the 2011 Sustainable Solutions Awards for Waste Reduction and First Place in the 2003 campus-wide Second Annual Carbon Diet Content.
When purchasing services, it is important for the UF customer to have a clear statement of work prior to negotiating with vendors. “Think of it as the other side of a grant proposal, ensure there are clear deliverables with a timeline,” Deal explained. “Treat your suppliers like you would an employee: you’re going to figure out what you need, put it in a position description, interview candidates, hire them and then check in with them regularly to provide feedback.”
UF Procurement recommends having the following when starting the solicitation or acquisition process:
- Background on what UF is trying to accomplish, the current state at UF and the intended outcome – what the vendor has to provide
- Specifications, requirements and/or scope of work
- If the acquisition includes the vendor providing a service (ex: consulting), include what resources UF will provide (if any), a timeframe and if possible, include service levels required to help clarify what is expected of the vendor
- A list of the criteria that will be used to evaluate the supplier responses – often Procurement can help, suggesting criteria from other acquisitions
- Identify potential vendors (again, Procurement may be able to assist)
- Proposed timeline/when the award needs to be completed
There are several courses recommended to learn more about UF Procurement:
- Procurement 101 – introduction to purchasing best practices and an overview of the policies, regulations and statutes that govern procurement at the University
- A shortened version of this class can be brought to campus unit meetings. Contact Procurement@ufl.edu
- Introduction to Purchasing in myUF Market (PST073)
Online class to learn how to create requisitions and shop in UF’s electronic shopping environment. See contracts and UF-specific pricing available to campus
- PCard – online training (PST076, PST077, PST974, PST975, PST978)
- Procure2Pay (PST 901) – This class discusses and demonstrates best practices for setting up purchase orders and processing payments
To register for any of these classes, visit http://hr.ufl.edu/learn-grow/business-administration/pro3-series/pro3-course-descriptions/fiscal-management-course-descriptions, locate the date for which you’re available to attend, and click ‘Register’.
To learn more about UF Procurement Services, visit http://www.purchasing.ufl.edu/.