Finding 'quick hits' for savings, service improvement

Three months into its analysis of the university's spending and service levels, the Johns Hopkins University Procurement Initiative has identified opportunities in four "quick hit" categories.

The Procurement Advisory Committee is preparing a set of recommendations designed to bring about both meaningful savings and improved customer service in the coming months, focusing on office supplies and temporary labor as areas to reduce costs, and IT software and laboratory equipment service contracts as areas to target for service improvements.

The procurement initiative is the first phase of the Administrative Excellence Initiative to improve service to the university, reduce its costs, and direct greater resources toward JHU's academic mission in the midst of a challenging economic climate. On addressable spending of approximately $650 million, the procurement initiative is seeking more than $20 million in annual savings over the next three to five years, through careful implementation and endorsement by the university community, as announced in a recent broadcast email.

Since the launch of the procurement initiative in August, the administrators, faculty members, and staff on the project team have been busy: They've completed an extensive spend analysis, received more than 2,000 responses to a universitywide procurement survey, and directly engaged approximately 200 people for their input through committees, working groups, and interviews.

For each quick hit opportunity, a working group made up of expert faculty and staff was formed to tell the project team what is important to purchasers, examine the trade-offs that would come with any changes, and move forward with a realistic plan for improvement. The result is the soon-to-be-released list of preferred providers for office supplies and temporary labor, based on a competitive bidding and vendor evaluation process. At the same time, the other working groups will continue to finalize their negotiations with selected laboratory equipment service vendors, and to source and recommend an improved software distribution solution.

In parallel with completing the quick hits phase of this project, the procurement team is beginning another important aspect of its work: a review of the university's procurement function to examine the existing organizational capabilities, processes, technologies, and policies to better understand areas for improvement. Two examples are the need for better communication and awareness of purchasing policies, procedures, processes, pricing and contract opportunities, and negotiation support; and the need to make the buying experience easier by improving the tools and processes for purchasing.

As the procurement initiative moves forward, the project team plans to communicate updates on its progress and would like to continue to hear from the university community.

Email the team at http://JHUProcureProject@jhu.edu with questions, feedback, or concerns.

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