Gateway-Serving Higher Education's Purchasing Requirements through eProcurement Services

Article excerpt

Looking Back to the Future

It's not too difficult to recall those days when purchase orders were handwritten or typed on carbon copies, stored in loose-leaf binders and sent to vendors via mail. Sounds so old-fashioned, or is it? How many schools still depend on 20th-century purchasing processes?

Although purchase orders are now prepared electronically--with forms readily accessible from university servers--how much of the selection, bidding, approval and purchasing chain are still done by separate people on separate computers, exchanged via e-mail, printed and faxed to the vendor? Old work habits ate hard to let go--don't you agree?

Although higher education provides an array of IT services, from telephone to e-mail to wireless communications, staff often confront barriers to change practices. Few people utilize the suite of tools and services at their disposal. Take Administration and Finance (A&F), which certainly would like to realize time and cost efficiencies for all university processes. Yet, the time from selection to purchase to product arrival often seems like eons. Wouldn't administrators like to authorize their approvals and get the purchase orders out the door in a matter of seconds?

Isn't it time to select products, get bids and approvals, and purchase these fully online? Wouldn't it serve IT--often the largest purchaser of university products and services--to team with A&F and migrate to a totally electronic procurement process? Now that's more representative of 21st century workflow!

Offering Customers Best Practices

Gateway's philosophy is to operate in the business world under the concept of Humanology--to integrate technology know-how with human understanding, to respond to technical requirements with a range of products from digital cameras to notebooks, routers and servers. Gateway is a large enough company to offer competitive pricing, but small enough to listen carefully to each and every customer.

Customers want and often demand fast and individualized service, with purchase orders fulfilled as soon as they arrive. If backlogs occur, the repercussions cost plenty--for the buyer and the vendor. Additionally, tight fiscal times like these mean that schools must get the "best bang for their buck" through time and cost efficiencies.

Gateway recognizes these demands, and unravels problems by offering customers simple solutions in the selecting, bidding, approving and purchasing chain. Gateway models its business practices on customers' requirements and offers a fun spectrum of services in the supply chain management.

Gateway addresses each school's unique, complex buying needs and processes by providing reliable eProcurement services for today's eMarketplace.

eProcurement Solutions

Some customers say they have a unique way of managing their purchasing workflow. Gateway responds to its customers' practices by providing a variety of platforms that users can easily integrate into existing applications and thus "tread gently" into the eProcurement mode.

Gateway's eSource offers a flexible extranet that allows customers to manage all of their technology purchases through a single customized Web site.

Gateway works with customers to establish the system, product configurations and pricing by teaming with a university's procurement staff to set up its own eSource site. Gateway builds the extranet on the procurement applications and processes that staff are accustomed to using.

Gateway's eSource tailors the procurement process to meet each organization's needs. Gateway's eSource saves time, lowers operating costs and streamlines the purchasing chain--while also offering discounts on Gateway products.

Gateway builds and hosts a personalized online catalog of pre-approved Gateway products with a customized discounting structure. There's even a personal shopping cart that allows users to buy the items they want, or to save them as a quote for future reference. …