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How cooperative purchasing of cloud solutions supports the public sector

Cooperative purchasing agreements and group contract vehicles allow higher education and public sector organizations to adopt cloud-based finance, human resources, planning, and student technologies more quickly and efficiently.

The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging every aspect of operations in higher education and the public sector. And, it’s also serving as a catalyst for new business models and positive change. 

It’s no surprise that organizations with flexible, cloud-based enterprise applications are better able to adapt to the shifting conditions and respond to the needs of their workforce and constituencies.

So, how can organizations start moving toward adopting cloud-based finance, human resources, planning, and student technology without expending unnecessary time and resources?

Cooperation is key. Specifically, cooperative purchasing agreements and group contract vehicles can pave the way.  

Supporting a New Path for Procurement 

Higher education and public sector procurement officers have been using purchasing vehicles for goods and services for decades. This trusted method of procurement ranges from state-specific contracts to membership-based consortium agreements.

But, it wasn’t until recently that these entities were offered this procurement path for enterprise administration solutions delivered via Software as a Service (SaaS).     

Today, there’s a rapid rise in the use of cooperative contracts for SaaS enterprise solutions and services. Why? Simply put, it saves time and money. 

Improving Efficiency With Cooperative Contracts

With shrinking budgets, procurement staff are already overloaded with lengthy request for proposal (RFP) processes for individual procurements. Putting together RFPs can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time, consuming entire teams for months at a time.

A trusted cooperative contract can eliminate the time and cost associated with the months needed to gather requirements, create the RFP, review multiple bidders, and make one award for one organization. 

How do cooperative contracts work? Well, the cooperative runs a formal competitive process, following state statutes and procurement codes, to determine which vendors qualify to sell specific goods and services under the agreement.

Organizations have multiple vendor choices using a single, pre-negotiated contract, which shortens the review, selection, and award of the qualified vendor for that entity from months to weeks.

In addition, costs can be significantly reduced for the buyer because the cooperative has already negotiated volume discounts. 

With cooperative purchasing, both the buyer and seller win in a dramatically shortened cycle. When you reduce costs within a government organization or institution, you free up funds for other mission-specific uses. This means that constituents win, too.  

A trusted cooperative contract can eliminate the time and cost associated with the months needed to gather requirements, create the RFP, review multiple bidders, and make one award for one organization.

Considering a Cooperative Contract

Before you consider using a cooperative contract for your next SaaS purchase:  

  • Look for an established, trusted organization that provides cooperative agreements to peer organizations like yours. This is most likely where you’ll find cooperative purchasing done well via a rigorous process that results in a thoughtful contract with required terms and conditions.
  • Evaluate their cloud portfolio of solutions and providers. Look for reputable vendors on the specific contract you’re interested in reviewing.
  • Check with your procurement office and intended vendors on the specific policy or statute that allows your organization to use cooperative purchasing, including how your unique terms and conditions can be accommodated.
  • Include the intent to use a cooperative contract in any pre-planning communications with vendors such as requests for information (RFIs) or even RFPs if you still intend to issue one. Often, the use of the cooperative contract allows the RFP to be avoided altogether, but even if one is still necessary, the cost savings of cooperative contracts are usually considerable.
  • Ensure your business, IT, procurement, and legal leaders are briefed on and agree with the method of procurement.

Workday is pleased to offer our higher education and public sector customers this method of procurement via several cooperative contracts. As a leader in enterprise cloud applications, we see this trend growing in the industry and will continue to engage in these innovations for procurement professionals and business leaders.

Sherry Amos is the Director - Marketing Development, Education and Government at Workday. This blog first appeared on the Workday and can be viewed here.

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