Procurement Survey - The Results

Thank you to everyone who completed our quick survey about how you select suppliers and make purchasing decisions. We want to use your responses to help improve our service and support our objectives of delivering savings and ensuring sustainable finances for the future.

256 people responded to the survey, 80 per cent requisitioners, 33 per cent orderers, 26 per cent approvers and three per cent with no formal finance role (respondents could select multiple roles).

To select suppliers, 50 per cent of respondents use myCatalogue, 40 per cent use myPurchase or uBase, and the same number consider recommendations from others. 30 per cent of respondents choose items from online, and 22 per cent use the contracts database. Around 25 per cent use the supplier they are asked to use by colleagues.

What’s working well?
You said that the centralised databases of suppliers make the procurement process simpler and are easy to use with myCatalogue particularly helpful because of its comparison system. You agreed that procurement processes help provide good value deals and find the large variety of suppliers on the databases helpful.

Here is a summary of what you said and our responses:


The Contracts Database

Just over 60 per cent of respondents have used the contracts database at some point.

You said:
The contracts database provides assurance that suppliers are approved and trusted.

Our response:
To be on the contracts database, suppliers must have a contract with the University. We know that using preferred suppliers strengthens our procurement power, satisfies legal requirements and can help us reduce and control costs over the longer term.

You said:
The main reasons for not using the contracts database are lack of awareness or uncertainty of where to find it and how to use it.

Our response:
The contracts database can be found at: https://finance.shef.ac.uk/sid/

The database lists the contracts we have in place with our preferred suppliers. These cover 10 categories of goods and services. Ideally this should be your starting point for finding a supplier. If you need to search for goods and service outside of these categories or cannot find what you are looking for, then use the vendor search on myPurchase or uBASE. Vendors here are approved for use but not necessarily on contract.

If you need help call the Procurement Helpdesk on x24493 where you have the option of being put through to the correct category purchasing manager. You can ask for help of any kind, including guidance on finding the right supplier for you. Email procurement@shef.ac.uk.

We will let you know when we have added a new supplier contract or agreement to the database, including the benefits of this supplier.


The Procurement System

You said:
We’d like a simplified system, including a simplified process for adding new suppliers and an improved choice of suppliers.

Our response:
Our processes around setting up new supplier records are standardised to ensure the highest quality of information about who we are paying, for what services and, in particular, the bank details into which the payment is to be made.

You said:
We want more information about how the current system works.

Our response:
To select a supplier:
Step 1: Check the Contracts Database - these are our contracted, preferred suppliers and should be used where possible.
Step 2: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, use the vendor search on myPurchase or uBASE. Vendors here are approved for use but not necessarily on contract.
Step 3: If you need advice don’t hesitate to speak to one of our category managers by calling the Procurement helpdesk on x24493

We are planning to hold drop-in procurement surgeries where you can ask any questions you may have. We will let you know the dates of these in due course. We are also planning a meet the buyer event in September.

You said:
We would like an improved search engine that allows us to search for a specific service and by supplier name and browse freely without having all the relevant information.

We’d like information about whether catalogue suppliers have items in stock. One respondent recommended a pop-up system at the point of order that shows if any cheaper products from preferred suppliers.

You also asked that contact details and vendor numbers be kept more up-to-date.

Our response: We are working with the catalogue provider and your feedback is important in the development of the system. We will continue to pursue these features.


Making Procurement Decisions

You said:
We’d like to see experienced staff being actively involved in procurement decisions, for example, giving people a free choice of suppliers and more effective use of staff feedback about suppliers.

Our response:
We want to hear your feedback so we can let suppliers know, especially about any quality issues. If you have any feedback about a supplier, please email Procurement at: procurement@shef.ac.uk.

If you or a colleague would like to be more involved in procurement decisions, including in contract renewal and selection decisions, we would really welcome your input. Get in touch with the relevant category manager on .x24493 where you can choose the category manager appropriate for the commodity you wish to be involved in.

You said:
You requested greater flexibility and more opportunity to use your own judgement, particularly when ordering low-value goods. You also talked about requirements such as marketing services where cost may not be the primary factor, and professional judgement was required based on the individual situation.

Our response:
We recognise the expertise that individuals bring to the buying process and the desire for greater autonomy especially in relation to low value purchases. However that needs to be balanced against the benefits that have been and are achieved via using suppliers that are contracted. We get better prices from using contracted suppliers and greater assurity around quality/guarantees. We recognise that a lot of the benefits may not immediately be obvious that are associated with using established contacts. We also recognise that sometimes prices/choices appear to be more beneficial from non-contracted suppliers.