It usually takes a few sentences to explain to people what Sourcewell is, but trust me, it’s worth it. First, it’s an organization set up to help state and local agencies, nonprofits and school districts expedite purchases. The organization does all the leg work for purchases, including vetting the quality of vendors.
What you see as a purchaser of these products is a select vendors at competitive pricing. If you belong to a state agency, local agency, school district, non-profit organization (including hospitals), tribal institution, etc., your organization can take advantage of this service without additional cost.
So how do you know if your organization should investigate cooperative contracts using Sourcewell? Here are questions to ask...
1. Are you short on time?
Most people we talk to don’t seem to have enough time in the day to get everything done. If they add a huge project, like buying a new phone system for their organization, they may need to set aside other work. This kind of project will cost you time in two ways:
- Calendar Time
Most RFP processes take more than six weeks to complete, and some take as long as nine months. So if you can’t afford that kind of delay in your purchase process, Sourcewell gives you a solution.
- Work Time
After you consider calendar time, you have to figure out how many people or hours your team will need to pour into the RFP process. This process involves research, the actual writing and approval of the lengthy document and then a lot of back and forth between you and the vendors as you figure out the details. So you should figure at least 60 hours of actual work.
2. Is your budget constrained?
If your organization is contemplating a large purchase, like a phone system Marco installs and services, you will probably need to bring in a consultant if you are going to go through the RFP process. That consultant will help you through the process but they typically take between 8-10% of the budget assigned to the procurement of a phone system. So if you want to pursue a purchase without Sourcewell, expect more pressure on your budget.
3. Is your IT Department ready for this?
Often IT departments are not used to purchasing equipment through a cooperative contract. It seems 'too good to be true' for many of them. That’s why we encourage them to bring in a business manager or purchasing professional within their organization to check out Sourcewell to see if it fulfills the statutory or policy requirements for a legitimate purchase. More often than not, the business folks give cooperative contracts the “all clear.”
4. How heavy is your workload?
This is related to the time issue, but the organizations that find Sourcewell a good fit typically have a lot on their plates. Whether it’s a 10 person IT team with enough work for 15 people, or a one-person IT department with the workload of two, Sourcewell begins to make sense very quickly. This is not for the IT department with extra people who are looking for things to do (no, we haven’t actually found any of those departments, but we hear they exist).
5. Do you need a reliable partner after the purchase?
It isn’t part of Sourcewell's service, but if you are looking for a new phone system and a company that can install and service it, we point people toward Sourcewell because of their partnership with vendors. For example, Sourcewell works with Mitel as a vendor partner, who has experienced Mitel dealer partners across the country. Sourcewell can save you a lot of time and money, Mitel can provide the highest quality products, and a vendor like Marco can install and support it with unparalleled expertise.
Now there is only one question left: are you ready?