In June 2020, the University of Alberta embarked on a period of transformation to strengthen our core teaching, research, and community engagement mission and enrich student experience, while addressing the current funding crisis. The transformation, supported through the University of Alberta for Tomorrow initiative, would see a number of strategic goals including one to achieve financial sustainability. As part of this, Procurement and Contract Management (PCM), within Finance, Procurement and Planning (FPP), moved forward with reviewing and redesigning the expenditure strategy for goods and services across the university to find efficiencies and cost savings.
With consultation from stakeholders across the university through the Foundational Procurement Task Force, and support and approval to proceed on recommendations from the Service Excellence Steering Committee (SESC), PCM has focused efforts over the past ten months on redesigning U of A purchasing processes and supporting the community through ongoing communications, information sessions, and the development of website resources to guide and support users through the change.
As part of these efforts, the following critical changes will be implemented on April 1, 2022:
- Mandatory use of Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs),
- Clear understanding and use of university purchasing methods,
- Multiple-quote process for non-PSA vendor purchases between $20,000 – $75,000,
- Discretionary oversight for Request for Proposals (RFPs), and
- Process identification for Contract for Services.
Adherence to university purchasing policies, processes, and procedures will also be enacted. Each of these changes is identified in greater detail below, along with resources for more information.
Mandatory use of Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs)
Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs) have been in use at the U of A for many years. PSAs provide value and increased purchasing opportunities through preferred university pricing, streamlined ordering and invoicing, free shipping (offered by some suppliers) to the university’s central receiving area, extended warranties, and hassle-free returns.
Currently, the university has sixteen preferred supplier catalogues in SupplyNet. These catalogues feature preferred university pricing and allow users to “shop” the approved online catalogues of preferred suppliers, add items to a shopping cart, submit requisitions electronically for approval, and create purchase orders which are then sent electronically to suppliers. These vendors are also set up in SupplyNet to seamlessly process and expedite invoicing through the system without paper invoicing. For preferred suppliers who do not have a Punchout catalogue available, a Freeform requisition in SupplyNet can be used to submit a specific purchase request for the given item(s).
To support the community in using preferred suppliers, the adoption of which will be required on April 1, 2022, the Finance, Procurement and Planning website has undergone extensive updates to improve visibility of preferred suppliers.
Preferred suppliers can now be browsed by commodity and provide users an overview of products and services available through each supplier and options for ordering. To browse our complete list of preferred suppliers, visit our new Preferred Suppliers page and refer to our article The Value of Preferred Supplier Agreements for more information.
Clear understanding and use of university purchasing methods
To support the community leading up to these changes, PCM has released articles through The Quad, held an Information Session on March 14, met with faculties and departments at their request to educate users on upcoming changes and available purchasing methods, held regular engagements with senior leaders, developed a procurement guide to support researchers, and performed an extensive revision of website content.
For previous articles on Foundational Procurement changes, see:
Multiple-quote process for purchases between $20,000 – $75,000
As of April 1, 2022, if the purchase for goods and services between $20,000 and 75,000 is not through a preferred supplier, a minimum of two supplier quotations is required. This new multiple quote process ensures a fair and transparent procurement process by sourcing goods, services, and construction through multiple vendors to increase savings and fair competition. While there is a minimum of two supplier quotations, you can source additional quotes as needed. Purchases related to an existing contract renewal or extension do not require multiple quotes.
When multiple quotes are not received, a Sole and Single Source Justification Form must be completed and attached to your requisition. To support the community in navigating this process, we have developed new templates Quote Checklist, University Quote Template and guidance for following this process Multiple Quote Process.
Discretionary oversight for Request for Proposals (RFPs)
Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) receives each Request for Proposal (RFP) as a requisition in SupplyNet. If the request is equal to or greater than $75,000 in value an RFP is completed and the service or product is purchased. As PCM oversees processing of RFP requests across the institution, there is opportunity to provide additional oversight and review within the RFP process. In many cases, PCM can find opportunities for collaboration or discover alternative methods to deliver the service (in-house support vs external contractor). See Competitive Bid Process for more information and a link to policy.
Process identification for Contract for Services
Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) provides oversight and direction for all Contract for Service (CFS) agreements. All units are required to follow the existing CFS process with the additional requirement to include multiple-quotes starting April 1, 2022. The university is committed to an open and non-discriminatory acquisition process for all goods and services required by university units in support of their operations. The competitive bid process ensures that the university complies with appropriate regulations and trade agreements, applies best practices, and receives the best overall value for the purchase of goods and services. For an overview of requirements and a link to policy, visit Contracting for Services.
What’s coming next
Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) has redeveloped these processes to create efficiencies under the SET program, but also to establish stronger processes to ensure researchers, faculty, and staff receive the best value for the purchases being made. As a post-secondary institution, there are many regulations and best practices that we are required to follow when funds are spent. Our role in PCM is to ensure best value is obtained for all purchases, thus allowing for the reinvestment of resources into our core mission of teaching, research and community. Additional value is obtained through extended warranty, free delivery, payment processing, and vendor support.
We would like to thank those individuals who participated in this implementation, the Foundational Procurement Task Force, attendees at our March 14 information session, and individuals who asked questions and reviewed our Quad articles leading up to this change. We recognize the last two years have been challenging and we thank you for your understanding and participation as we all work through these changes together to better position the university for the future.
PCM is dedicated to providing ongoing support through this transition and we are committed to providing awareness through communications, information sessions, and updating materials on our website as needed. If you would like to request an information session for your department or unit, please contact Darlene Stewart at [email protected]. PCM will continue to work on additional university cost-saving initiatives as identified on the U of A for Tomorrow procurement webpage.