Thursday, September 21, 2017

Reducing redundant purchases, reusing unused supplies, and cutting out unnecessary expenses

ASG Team centralizes office supply purchasing in UVAFinance

Let’s say you’re in charge of making your department’s office supply order (a process you aren’t very familiar with, because you don’t do it often), and you accidentally order a case of file folders instead of one box, and you forget entirely to order the highlighters your colleagues requested. It’s not the worst thing that could happen. Some people will be inconvenienced, and you’ll have to find a place to store the extra boxes of folders until they can be worked through, but it’s not the end of the world, right?

Of course not. But what you didn’t know is that last month, your counterpart in the suite next door ordered seven boxes of highlighters that are gathering dust, and the supplier they use is sold out of the very kind of file folder you have stacks of.

Mariah Kier, Deputy Mayor of Carruthers and ASG
Team Member, with some office supplies ready to
be delivered their new homes.
This summer, the Administrative Services Group within UVAFinance set out to make the procurement of office supplies a smarter, easier, more collaborative process. Their aim was not only reduce waste in supply ordering, but also to provide better, more efficient, and more personal service to all departments within the unit.

They started with a thorough audit of all area supplies: ASG team member Mariah Kier inventoried the storage cabinets and supply closets of all UVAFinance departments and built a database of exactly what was located where.

From there, ASG team member Connie Alexander, with expertise gained from years of work in Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services, took over as the point person for UVAFinance purchasing.

Once per month, she gathers up supply requests from each UVAFinance area. All the orders are sourced through a contract vendor (Supply Room), which results in better pricing for all units. Alexander navigates the purchasing process with ease, making recommendations, answering questions, and generally ensuring that each department gets what it needs at the best price.

Supply delivery is also centralized: the goods Alexander orders come to Kier’s front desk in Carruthers, and are then delivered or picked up without anything being misdirected or misplaced.

Another upside to the new process is that it allows UVAFinance to “shop their stash:” orders are only placed for items that aren’t already a part of the inventory in the central supply database.

Piles of over-ordered supplies have dwindled considerably since the implementation of the new process, and several supply needs have been fulfilled without even having to place an order, which, in some emergency cases, has been one of the biggest benefits.

“I was in a pinch and needed a certain size battery the other day,” said Stacey Rittenhouse, ASG team member.

“Connie was able to look in the database and find some for me right away. Normally I would’ve had to go begging from department to department,” she laughed.

After a small period of adjustment, the ASG team found that the new, streamlined process has been very well received.

“Everyone still gets what they need,” Rittenhouse remarked.

“The difference is that now, it’s easier for everyone within the departments to order, and we also save money. And it’s so much easier to analyze our spending when it’s just one amount for supplies per month,” she said.


Questions?  Contact Connie Alexander

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