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Indiana University Purchasing Newsletter

In This Issue

August 2010
Volume 6, Issue 3

All Campuses 

Loss Leaders - Nothing to Gain

A loss-leader is a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other, profitable sales. The loss-lead items shown on Amazon's Deal of the Day, Newegg.com, and other retail vendors may appear tempting at first glance, but purchases made through existing University contracts provide far greater value over the long term.

The apparent savings on a single loss-leader purchase evaporate quickly when considered in the full scope of the University. When multiple departments place multiple orders from multiple suppliers, spend is taken away from our University contracts. That affects the negotiated discounts on the products we purchase most regularly. Aggregated across the entire University, this can lead to a significant loss of savings.

Even for departments and individuals, loss-leaders can be costly. In most cases, loss-lead purchases require a department to pay its own shipping costs, cancelling a significant portion of the initial savings. University contracts typically include free shipping, making the total cost to the department much more competitive.

Also, consider the value of your time. Loss-lead items tend to be fleeting, and often require rebate forms or online membership applications to achieve the full savings. Finding and executing these deals across a range of online vendors takes a great deal more time than using an existing contract, where already stored information and set prices make purchasing simple and easy.

If something were to go wrong with the order, or the product itself, your department stands to lose even more time. You could find yourself waiting on hold with customer service, or filling out forms and faxing receipts. When you purchase from a contracted vendor, our account management team and dedicated customer service center can handle problems quickly, saving you precious time.

Purchasing will work with our contracted suppliers to match low prices whenever possible, but we often cannot match the promotional prices offered on these loss-leader products. However, the contracts we negotiate will continue to provide deeper discounts on core products, system wide purchase volume discounts, service, and simplicity. Please consider all of these points the next time you consider a loss-lead product or promotion.

By Michelle Dugger

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Accounts Payable Consolidation

At the February 18, 2010 Board of Trustees meeting, Neil Theobald, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, announced that Indiana University would centralize Accounts Payable functions. On June 14, 2010, through the diligent efforts of Accounts Payable and Accounting Services, the University accomplished that objective.

The majority of Accounts Payable activities are now performed by Financial Management Services in University Administration (see exception in item #1 below). These activities include:

  1. Processing of invoices and credit memos against purchase orders in EPIC.
    Exception: Invoices for IUPUI PO's, for vendors beginning with the letters I, K, M, N, O, P, Q, S and X, are currently being processed in Account Services to benefit the transition.
  2. FIS Disbursement Voucher review for accuracy and policy compliance.
  3. US Bank procurement card receipt and statement auditing for policy compliance.

If you are involved in any of these functions, the consolidation may have impacted the procedures and contact information you previously used for processing. Accounts Payable appreciates your cooperation as new procedures and tools are implemented, and urges you to contact their office if you are experiencing any difficulty with the transition. Contact information is provided in the links below.

For current best practices and contact information regarding
P-Card statement and receipt auditing:
Best Practices for P-Card Supporting Paperwork Upload (PDF)

For current best practices and contact information regarding
Disbursement Voucher review:
Best Practices For Dv Supporting Paperwork Upload (PDF)

For current best practices and contact information regarding
Invoice Processing:
Billing Information

By Charlie Sinex

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Rave Reviews for Purchasing-L

Confused about the current status of your Purchase Orders or Requisitions? Hitting a snag in EPIC? Not sure who to call?

Send an email to purchasing-l@indiana.edu! This listserv is monitored by a group of knowledgeable Purchasing professionals who are eager to answer your questions. They'll research your query and reply quickly, ensuring you get the information you need.

Give it a try the next time you require purchasing assistance, and you'll soon share the sentiments of Lead Security Engineer Chad Marcum - a satisfied Listserv user.

After receiving a timely answer to his recent request, Chad replied,

“I just told everyone in the Security Office how great and responsive ‘purchasing-l’ is… I‘m a believer!”
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Purchasing Survey

The Purchasing Department recently concluded an online survey to gage user satisfaction following the consolidation. The results will help us to define strategic goals for improved procedures, tools, training, and communication.

We asked a series of eleven ranking scale questions and three open response questions, designed to identify our current strengths and our most pressing areas of need. The survey was distributed to over 1,000 users via the Purchasing Listservs and several other forums frequented by employees who interact with our department. When the survey concluded on August 2, 2010, we had over 425 responses!

This impressive pool of perspectives will be instrumental in our continued progress toward providing the greatest Purchasing experience and value to Indiana University. Look to the next addition of this newsletter for a full analysis of the results.

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Policy 20: A P-Card Clarification

Through a series of discussions with the University community, the Purchasing staff has learned that there is still confusion regarding Policy 20.0 and its impact on p-card usage. Most notably, there is a false perception that we have mandated a zero-tolerance policy for the use of p-cards, suggesting that the cards can only be used in emergencies. This is not the case.

Policy 20.0, issued on February 1, 2010, states the following:

University faculty and staff will use established contracts for goods and services when available.

Purchasing works hard to establish contracts that provide price savings, service, and product guarantees that would not be available to individual consumers. Our success in negotiating these contracts depends upon moving market share to our contracted vendors. To achieve the greatest possible value, we need all IU departments to use contracts whenever possible, and to provide us with feedback when they see opportunities to improve the range and quality of those contracts.

P-cards have become the primary focus of Policy 20.0 because they are the most commonly used means of procuring non-contracted goods and services. Many of us have grown accustomed to swiping the card at the office supply store, or checking-out our carts from online marketplaces. The problem with such examples is not that p-cards are being used, but that potential university contracts are being ignored. Such off-contract spending can create serious risks for the University, and greatly jeopardize our negotiating leverage.

In other situations, p-cards may be perfectly acceptable. For example, we have several contracts negotiated with remanufactured toner cartridge providers that allow University users to initiate contract orders online, using their p-card (for ordering details, view the toner contracts).

As you consider using your p-card for future transactions, we ask that you evaluate each purchase in light of the following restrictions:

  1. If the vendor is a contracted supplier, you must use the available contract;
  2. If the vendor is not a contracted supplier, but, is available in EPIC, use a standard requisition;
  3. If the vendor is not in EPIC, and the purchase is a small one time purchase that does not violate existing p-card restrictions, you may continue to use the p-card as you have in the past.

Unless there is an emergency need that prohibits you from doing so, you must follow these regulations for all your purchases. Also, please be sure to follow any p-card requirements that have been established by your department or organization, and adhere to the policies that govern all University purchases.

As always, if you have any questions regarding a specific purchase, don't hesitate to contact our Purchasing Staff

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EPIC - A Noteworthy Tip

The note feature in EPIC is a useful way to communicate information regarding your purchasing documents, including PO's, requisitions, and payment requests (preqs). However, some users are not completing all the steps needed to properly submit their notes.

To achieve the intended purpose of the note feature, you must save the note and use the built in email routing feature to notify the appropriate individuals or groups that a note has been added to the document.

Follow the steps below to save and send a note for an existing document:

  1. Log into EPIC.
  2. Locate and open the document.
  3. Click the Notes tab, found at the top of the document window.
  4. Enter your message in the document‘s Note: field.
  5. Click the save note button.

    Result: The note is saved with this document.

  6. Enter the appropriate email address in the Send to E-Mail field located below the note. If you do not know the appropriate staff member for a purchasing note, type purchasing-l@indiana.edu.
  7. Click the send email button.

    Result: A notification email is sent to the provided address, prompting the recipient to review the information provided in your note.

By Travis Waugh

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Office of Procurement Services

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