Move over, P-card: UMD’s e-procurement system might be your new go-to purchasing tool

As any UMD faculty or staff member will tell you, the fastest way to make a campus purchase under $5000 is UMD’s P-Card. The P-card was a gamechanger in simplified spending when it debuted 10 years ago; in fact, $60 million dollars is spent every year on goods and services using the P-card. 

But the P-card isn’t perfect. P-card users, or the administrators who manage the books, are saddled with the time-sucking process of re-allocating and rectifying purchases at the end of every month; all told, UMD P-card holders combined spend an estimated 6,000 total hours per year on the administrative processes associated with p-cards. And if you are in the market for a big-ticket item—specialty scientific equipment or consultant services—the P-card isn’t an option. 

But a new tool being developed by UMD’s AMP Procurement Modernization project will provide a more effective option to pulling out the P-card with a robust online shopping portal (think Amazon.com). Developed with the input of 150 campus subject matter experts—faculty and staff from various colleges, central procurement and specialty purchasing, including 85 high level, high volume purchasing staff—the new e-procurement tool will offer a one-stop shop for fast and easy online purchasing, simplifying the way the University buys virtually everything, from textbooks to computer monitors.

What sets the e-procurement tool apart from current processes is where it fills in the gaps. The lack of an effective, universal system for managing the procure-to-pay process has resulted in a variety of “procurement hacks” across campus, with shadow systems—the excel sheets and other data systems often running alongside KFS—prolific and isolated. Much of the feedback from the campus subject matter experts also noted that current practices are not only time-consuming, they are inconsistently applied. From the data collected and analyzed in these discovery sessions, the team was able to devise a plan for a long-term sustained program to transform the procurement function at UMD delivering a useful system for the people making purchases, with less paperwork and more transparency.

The new e-tool offers a centralized location for all purchases, whether it’s for $5.00 or $50,000, and allow faculty and staff to shop, pinpoint and share items, assign the proper account, and request approval, all with just a few clicks. Using input from the Procurement Modernization team, the system will house a comprehensive catalog of faculty and staff-recommended vendors. Once a purchase is in play, staff can easily track their purchases and obtain real-time information.

Equally useful are the analytics the system will provide. The data generated through spending records will help purchasers not only forecast future purchases, but help them negotiate better deals and focus energy on UMDs most strategic vendors. 

On the surface, the e-procurement tool solves a lot of outstanding issues for employees on the front lines of purchasing. It simplifies the process as a whole and unifies the university’s purchasing power, which will lead to better pricing and products. At a deeper level, though, the system is an integral part of a bigger initiative to address the end-to-end procure-to-pay process.  

AMP would like your input on the Procure-to-Pay process. Please visit the following site  (blog.umd.edu/umdprocures), to see what's going on and join the discussion.

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Looking forward to the roll-out!