Unfamiliar with Sourcewell contracts? You aren’t alone. For a long time, the benefits of these contracts were a best-kept secret of educational, nonprofit and government agencies. If you've ever wondered how these groups afford quality phone systems and up-to-date business technologies, the answer is Sourcewell contracts. In fact, many organizations are much closer to their ideal phone system than they think.Today, I'm pulling back the curtain on Sourcewell cooperative contracts and revealing how and why eligible organizations can (and should) benefit from the opportunity these contracts provide.
Who is Sourcewell?
Before we jump into the benefits, I want to start by explaining a bit about Sourcewell. Formerly known as NJPA, Sourcewell is a public corporation that serves as a municipal contracting agency. Sourcewell operates under the legislative authority of Minnesota Statute 123A.21 and serves its membership across the United States and in Canada.
Its primary purpose is creating national cooperative contract purchasing opportunities and solutions on behalf of members. Members must be government, education and/or nonprofit agencies. Sourcewell goes through the robust and complex competitive solicitations process so you don't have to. Sourcewell awards contracts to vendors, which are then made available to members.
What this means is members can satisfy their competitive solicitation requirement by using Sourcewell contracts – the documentation is completed and available for review, and there is no duplication of any phase of the RFP (request for proposals) process.
Becoming a Sourcewell Member
Eligible members include any unit of government, education (private or public) or non-profit agencies nationwide. Membership is no-cost, no-obligation and no-liability. Additionally, there are no minimum contract purchasing requirements or commitments.
Joint powers and/or cooperative purchasing laws create the authority for members to work together with Sourcewell. Essentially, these state that, “what two units of government can individually do for themselves, one can do for the other.” Because of this, membership forms are designed to establish an appropriate agreement for compliance with the Joint Powers Laws of qualifying agencies.
Sourcewell's Vendor Selection Process
The way Sourcewell contracts work is very simple. Once you become a member, you can select from the vendors who have been vetted and awarded contracts. For phone and unified communication systems, the authorized vendor is Mitel.
Here is how Sourcewell selects its vendors:
- Research member needs
- Research solutions available in the market place
- Request permission from the Sourcewell Board to issue a solicitation
- Draft and advertise an RFP
- Receive RFP responses
- Evaluate responses
- Make recommendations to the Sourcewell Board
- Award vendor(s)
- Post approved contract documents
- Develop and implement a joint marketing plan with awarded vendors
- Review and maintain contract throughout its term
For instance, Sourcewell used this process to determine that Mitel offers the best solution. As a result, members can specify a phone system from Mitel’s product portfolio and receive it at Sourcewell's already negotiated price.
Your Phone System Options
Through cooperative contracts, you can purchase a phone solution based on your needs and preferences – not a predetermined product. So, whether you are a big business with a contact center, or a small business with traditional handsets, Sourcewell contracts can work for you. Systems ranging from on premise, to cloud based, to private clouds and anything in-between are available.
If you're already working with a technology services provider to identify and develop the right Mitel unified communications system for your business, simply let them know you want Sourcewell pricing. Your service provider can then help you become a member of Sourcewell, or determine if your organization already holds membership, and use the cooperative contract to satisfy your competitive solicitation requirement.
In conclusion, Sourcewell cooperative contracts allow you to purchase a communications solution that meets your needs, fits your budget and satisfies your competitive solicitation requirement.