THE PURCHASING PHILOSOPHY
We are on the same team –Even though occasionally it seems that we are pulling in different directions, we are all here to do our part. Think of it like a football game, the ordering people are the backfield, while the people in Purchasing are the linemen trying to make your efforts a little easier. However, as with any game, there are rules to follow and we would hate to make a touchdown only to have it called back because of a rules infraction by one of the players.
The staff in Purchasing is on your team, too, and through better communication, hope to help you understand the rules of the game. In the process, we would also like to learn more about our teammates and their game plans. Remember, we don’t want to block our own players, so if we should do something that makes you think otherwise, let us know! We may not always agree with you, but we are certainly willing to help.
What Requisition Authorization/Purchase Order Signatures Mean
One of the things we signify when we sign your purchase order is that the transaction is the best we can make it for you. If something goes awry, we are held responsible!
In order to know that a given purchase is a good one, and to prove it when asked to do so, we occasionally have to ask questions about it. We may never question your right to buy what you need (provided you have the funds), but we will ask why the particular product you specify, or why the particular vendor you suggest, or why the particular price or delivery conditions.
Remember, when we sign your order, it becomes our order, and we must be able to defend it.
What is a Suggested Vendor
In the Purchasing Policy And Procedures Manual, you will find out how to prepare a requisition. There is a space in which to fill in your suggested vendor. Most of the time, we will not disagree with your suggestion, even though we check other sources to see if we can make a better deal. Sometimes, though, we will want to use a different supplier. There are various reasons for this: lower price, better quality, quicker delivery, after the sale service capabilities, etc. The important thing to remember is that we do not change the vendor for the fun of it; we will not make a change we cannot justify, and we will not substitute material without your approval.
When You Have Picked The Vendor
We realize that many times the item you need automatically prescribes the source, but in other cases, we know that you have collected lots of information and devoted a significant amount of time to make your choice. One of the rules of our game is that we have to document our files so that the auditors can see that a proper job was done. For this reason, we ask that you share your backup material with us. (Of course, if you want to leave the source selection up to us, we will try to do a good job and we may be able to save you lots of time.)
Competition for Business
In general, price competition is the best way to make money go further. We advocate competition whenever practicable, and will really push it when we think it is appropriate. Competition is like any other tool; it must be used wisely, in the right place, and with the right skill.
We have had a lot of experience at this and can often help if given the opportunity. Remember, Policies and Procedures dictate what method must be used especially when spending $15000 or more; we have no option plays.
Furniture and Furnishings
We probably know more about furniture and furnishings( or can find out faster) than almost anyone on campus. Good products still take a long time to get, so let us know your needs early and we will try to accomplish delivery when you want it.
In all likelihood, you cannot get delivery on the same day the order is placed. It is to everyone’s advantage that needs be made known to Purchasing Department as soon as possible. Bids, for example, require at least 15 days(often more) to process from start to finish, and then you must wait on delivery to be accomplished, which can vary from immediately to 30, 60 or 90 days. As you can see, there are times when it takes 3 or 4 months, or more, from the time you submit your requests. Try to be patient, we are following the rules and doing the best we know how. If there is an urgency or emergency, please be sure to make it known to us when submitting your request.
We are responsible for over $20 million a year in purchases, issuing about 2000 purchase orders. Generally, in non-bid situations, we process your requisitions within 24 to 48 hours from the time we receive it. Before you call us, check with your staff to see if it has been typed and cleared through Budget.
Getting Purchase Order Numbers
Getting us to give you a number over the phone is sometimes difficult, especially for large amounts of money. Remember, we are obligated to try to find a way to solve your particular problem within the bounds of policy and good business practices. Just because we cannot always give you a purchase order number when asked does not mean that we will not try to find an alternative solution.
True emergencies do exist; however, in our dictionary, they are circumstances or situations beyond anyone’s control which affect the health, life, or safety of staff or citizens or avoid a financial loss.
We will pull out all the stops to help you with true emergencies! We will go out on a limb or cut any red tape possible to help you in the event a real emergency exists.
We do not like to get complaints about the job we are doing…nobody does! But we also realize that complaints are often the only way we can analyze our problems and learn from them.
We feel that if we are doing something wrong or if a vendor has not performed well, we would like to be the first to know about it. We never ignore your complaints.
It helps to be specific – for instants, if you tell us we are taking too long to process your order, we hardly know where to start looking for the problem. But if you tell us we dropped the ball on P.O. 23456, we can tell from our records how long we have had it. If we just plain goofed, we will admit it. If the complaint suggests that there is something wrong with the system, will take steps to correct it.
There is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
Doing a good purchasing job requires the ability to make objective decisions. We are governed by a written ordinance against accepting gifts or favors which may result in a loss of our impartiality. Then when we have to make a difficult choice between two suppliers or crack down on an errant vendor, we can do it on the basis of what is right.
We also subscribe to the code of ethics promulgated by the National Association of Educational Buyers(NAEB) and the National Association Of Purchasing Management(NAPM). These cover many aspects of our business conduct and include such matters as loyalty to our employers and fair treatment of suppliers.
In the end, we are trying to do our job as professionally, efficiently, and effectively as possible, just like you.
You (just like us) are going to have problems with certain vendors: delivery, pricing, slow processing, etc. There’s simply no way to avoid all problems, but we try hard. If you experience consistent inadequacies with certain orders or vendors, let us know about it. We will take steps to assist you with the current order and avoid future problems.
Let us know when you are talking with a vendor so that we can be aware of your plans and assist you.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM PURCHASING AND CONTRACTS
Fast Action: We place most orders within 48 hours of receipt.
Follow-Up: Our resources do not allow us time to routinely follow-up on every order that is placed. We often follow-up purchase orders we think will need it. Feel free to request special follow-up though.
Freight Claims: We have had some experience in the wacky world of damage claims. If you have one, we want to know immediately in order to help within the time allowed.
Negotiations: If we know about your requirement in advance, we can contact the vendor and assist with pricing and delivery.
Product Information Gathering: We can help get specifications, catalogs, data sheets, etc., from suppliers.
Proposal Information: We can help get price and delivery information for your needs.
Cooperation: You can expect us to be cooperative. Occasionally, though, we will appear reluctant to accept an item we are not sold on…especially if it seems contrary to proper business or competitive practices. Please do not interpret this as an uncooperative attitude. When we feel we simply cannot go along, we will, whenever possible, propose an alternate approach.
SOME DOs, SOME DON’Ts AND SOME “BE CAREFULs”
DO ask for our help in plenty of time to allow us to do a quality job for you.
DO consult us far as in advance of a major procurement as you can. Give us a chance to give you some advice r offer help. We may be able to save you steps and money..or prevent later problems.
DO use the purchase requisition as you would a worksheet, providing as mush background information and giving any special procurement matters.
DO forward, concurrently with your purchase requisition, copies of any pertinent supporting or explanatory documents. Information about the source and price will help us, and often prevent processing delays and duplication of effort.
DO notify us immediately upon noting shortages or damage to received goods.
DO be specific when filling out purchase requisitions. Part numbers, exact sizes, units of measure, quantities, colors, etc., are important. If there is some question about what you want, talk it over with us.
DO be precise and detailed on your purchase requisitions, so that we know exactly what you want.
DO feel that you are an important part of the procurement process. Procurement is a “cooperative” venture at Saint Joseph’s.
DON’T disclose the details of a procurement to an unsuccessful bidder ( this is called “debriefing” ). This is often a ticklish matter and since we are charged with handling relations with losing bidders, we always try to handle the contacts in the most professional matter possible. If you are pressed by an unsuccessful bidder, we suggest you turn the matter over to us.
DON’T play one supplier against the other, disclosing one’s price and inviting the other to beat it. This is called “bid shopping” and is considered unethical. Also, it only works once. It’s the best way we know to alienate good suppliers and destroy old and valuable sources and, in some instances, it is illegal.
DON’T wait until you are in trouble to contact us. Give us an early chance to get involved.
DON’T exceed your authority as delegated to you within the Purchasing policies and procedures of the University.
DON’T accept demonstration equipment from vendors without advising us. We help protect you from later problems( e.g., warranties, damages) if we know in advance.
DON’T give any vendor an order without first obtaining a purchase order from the Purchasing Department. This policy applies to orders exceeding $500 when a requisition is required.
DON’T sign any contracts or agreements. This can result in major liability and responsibility for Saint Joseph’s. Leave the review and signing of contracts to those who are experts in this field and familiar with the legal ramifications. Remember – all contracts must be reviewed by Purchasing. In most instance, only the Director of Purchasing or Vice President of Finance or Vice President of Administrative Services are authorized to sign contracts and agreements.
BE CAREFUL about going out on a limb without contacting Purchasing. If you are negotiating specifications, price, or delivery with a supplier, you probably should have already touched base with us. It may need to go out for a formal competitive bid and prior discussions with vendors to assist in the bid process are inappropriate.
BE CAREFUL when writing specifications, and be even more careful when reviewing specifications which have been written by the supplier. There are different kinds of specifications, and they drastically affect the procurement risk and competition. Whenever you want to buy a non-off-the-shelf item, contact us early.
BE CAREFUL about referencing a vendor’s proposal on your requisition because it seems easier than writing the whole description out. Vendor’s proposals almost always contain terms and conditions which conflict with ours and naturally, they always favor the vendor.