It sounds pleasant and equitable enough: allowing individual units to have control over their own data procurement budgets. Teams get the specialized content they need to support their work without the bureaucratic hassle of going through a centralized body which may not understand why they need it.
But a lack of unitary oversight has its own pitfalls, like not knowing how much money your organization is spending or what it’s being spent on. Or why. Not that long ago, the largest academic library in the United States discovered that its dozens of constituent bodies were paying for numerous duplicate subscriptions to some of the most prestigious (and priciest) electronic subscriptions on the market. By centralizing content management and acquisition, the savings exceeded $25 million over six years.
If as well-funded an institution as Harvard University can benefit from centralizing information procurement, your organization certainly can.
Benefits of centralization
The most tangible benefit of centralized procurement is the opportunity to reduce purchasing costs. Rather than having multiple units contract with the same vendor, for example, a centralized procurement hub can negotiate volume licenses for just the right number of seats and with more favorable terms. If you are receiving physical publications, bulk ordering has the added advantage of reducing associated costs such as contract review, usage analyses, seat and renewal management shipping and handling, and so forth.
Saving on licensing fees is not the only advantage of a centralized procurement model. Here are some additional plusses:
Reduced process costs. Think of the costs associated with maintaining a single procurement arm: soliciting and maintaining vendor relationships, negotiating contracts, managing and tracking orders, deliveries and payments. Now multiply those expenses across all of your organizational units, and the benefit to your organization’s processes becomes clear. Assigning procurement to a dedicated team of experts reduces redundant effort and improves efficiencies across the organization.
Improved visibility. No more sifting through numerous organizational budgets to identify line-item expenses. A procurement hub affords greater control through establishing clear purchasing policies. Maintenance of centralized purchasing records means redundant systems can be consolidated. Most importantly: a procurement hub allows far greater insight into your company’s purchasing, resulting in more effective decision-making about how you spend.
Improved vendor relationships. If a given vendor has dealings with five different people in your organization – who in turn are each managing relationships with a number of other vendors as well – what does the quality of those relationships look like? Centralization means an opportunity to deepen the connection your organization has with its suppliers. Consolidating your subscriptions with a single vendor means your account is more strategic for them, leading to a better level of service as well as potential added cost savings.
How to get started
The business value may be clear, but moving to centralized procurement will not necessarily be an easy road if a distributed model currently prevails in your organization. Making the business case for cost savings and improved efficiencies directly to procurement officers and soliciting their feedback can ease anxiety around procurement and budgeting responsibilities being transferred to other organizational areas.
Sharing insights from a centralized source of subscription data like the cSubs Clarity℠ solution helps to illustrate and further strengthen your case. Additionally, your cSubs senior account manager can identify potential efficiencies and savings afforded by our consolidation and subscription management offerings.