U Central Missouri Moves to On-Demand eProcurement
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The University of Central Missouri (UCM) in Warrensburg will implement HigherMarkets Express, SciQuest's on-demand eprocurement application to procurement and bring spending under management. The online program automates tasks such as approvals and the creation of purchase orders that often require significant paperwork.
"Now more than ever, it's absolutely crucial that colleges and universities put the systems in place needed to gain visibility over spending on goods and services, aggregate their buying power and put strategic sourcing agreements in place," said Betty Roberts, vice president of administration and finance at the 11,000-student university. "With HigherMarkets Express, we can now realize our vision for strategic procurement with a cost-effective system that has the potential to redefine how institutions of our size manage spending."
The solution features an online shopping platform, which is inherent in the SciQuest suite, and is also offered in a pre-configured package that allows customers to integrate HigherMarkets Express with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Roberts, who served in lead procurement roles at Pennsylvania State and the University of Missouri prior to joining UCM, noted that mid-sized schools face the same economic challenges and opportunities as their larger counterparts, but often lack the resources required to change existing processes or systems. Nationally, according to SciQuest, less than five percent of all colleges and universities have the technologies in place needed to gain visibility over spending by faculty and staff. And among mid-sized schools, the percentage is less.
"When brought under management, spending on goods and services can be decreased by five to 20 percent without sacrificing quantity or quality--a point of singular importance because these savings can be gained without impacting people or programs," said Michael Sibert, director of procurement and materials management at UCM, and a veteran of municipal government and operations management in the private sector. "At UCM, our goal is to show that you don't need to be an exceptionally large school to maximize the value of taxpayers' dollars. Automation will enable our users to easily buy from our contracts and provide us with the data we need to renegotiate even more favorable terms and conditions with suppliers--all while making it easier and more cost-effective to do business with UCM."
The new system provides an online shopping environment through which UCM's faculty and staff will be able to buy goods and services, similar to those found on popular e-commerce sites. Through the eprocurement platform, users will be able to browse electronic catalogs or "punch-out" to suppliers' Web sites, while using contracted rates.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.