Case Studies


University of Pennsylvania

Success Story: Sourcing Training

Expanding User Adoption with Change Management

The Challenge:

Creating Sourcing Efficiencies Between Stakeholders

Penn’s procurement group supports more than 2,000 users from across the University and represents close to $1B in annual spend. While each area is responsible for managing its own procurement requirements, Purchasing Services (about 16 employees) is responsible for helping the University establish procurement and sourcing best practices.

Penn’s Purchasing Services’ vision is to be the leader in higher education procurement, as measured by the value delivered to their community through efficient procurement processes and highly effective sourcing solutions. To achieve this vision, Purchasing Services meets with its stakeholders on a monthly basis.

The Purchasing Services team has always been an early adopter of procurement technology. For several years, the University has used SmartSource® to electronically publish its RFPs and run sourcing events to more than 850 suppliers.

However, expanding the impact, reach, and utilization of technology is a constant challenge requiring a combination of training and change management of the stakeholders involved.

As an example, Purchasing Services actively works with Penn’s Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS). Until recently, RHS created RFPs which were then manually transferred into the SmartSource® surveys.

Here is an example of how RHS’s old process worked:

  • To issue an RFP, RHS would develop the content for the RFP.
  • Purchasing Services would then have extensive meetings with RHS Services to understand the goals and discuss the requirements of the RFP.
  • Once Purchasing Services completed the editing phase, RHS would be presented with a final draft.
  • As a final step, Purchasing Services would transfer the information into SmartSource®.

Through these efforts, RFP efforts were often duplicated.

Our role in Purchasing Services is to help bring as much bidding opportunity to our qualified local and diversity suppliers as we can. Leveraging our systems is critical to managing a successful program.”

—Vira Homick, C.P.M.
Director of eBusiness, University of Pennsylvania

The Solution:

Increasing Adoption of Iasta SmartSource with Training Services

After realizing this process was lengthy, cumbersome, and did not encourage collaboration nor knowledge transfer, Purchasing Services decided to bring in Iasta’s professional services for delivering and developing sourcing technology training needed to empower RHS.

To kick-start the training effort, Iasta developed a train-the-trainer curriculum to be delivered to RHS over the course of a few weeks. Using these training materials, Purchasing Services hosted a number of training sessions to encourage using SmartSource® within RHS. During a handful of meetings, Iasta consultants also joined the sessions in-person and via virtual meetings.

At these sessions, Purchasing Services realized that developing a deeper understanding of SmartSource® would benefit not only RHS but members of the greater Penn Community as well by allowing them to take a more hands-on approach throughout the entire sourcing process.

I’ve used a number of well-known sourcing platforms in the industry prior to joining Penn. Iasta SmartSource is the most user and supplier-friendly eSourcing tool I’ve leveraged for my competitive bidding needs.”

—Brent A. Friedman
Strategic Sourcing Manager, IT Commodity, University of Pennsylvania

The Results:

Identifying Additional Savings and Gaining Back Valuable Hours

By getting RHS and other University departments involved earlier in the RFP development process, Purchasing Services maximizes time and reduces the resources involved in the manual transfer of documents into SmartSource®.

In addition, Penn identified RFP savings for a long-standing service resulting in annual savings of $70,000 – 25% of the RHS contract value.

Today, Purchasing Services can devote more time to strategically examining RFPs. Some benefits to both the Purchasing Services team and internal customers include:

  • Streamlined editing process
  • Improved operational efficiencies
  • Increased cost savings opportunities
  • Improved adoption rate and ROI of Iasta SmartSource at the departmental level

In fact, the number of RFPs being published from this collaborative effort has increased 30 percent. Purchasing Services has also produced a more competitive environment for Penn’s suppliers and service providers, resulting in greater cost savings and improved contract compliance. Future plans for the Penn’s Purchasing Services team include identifying opportunities for collaboration through the joint usage of Iasta SmartSource.