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Change is hard, often demanding considerable short-term investment in pursuit of long-term gains.

Take the Commonwealth’s adoption of COMMBUYS. Indisputably, its launch in March 2014 changed users’ day-to-day approach to procurement and purchasing in significant ways, requiring users to diverge from many ingrained routines. It also introduced 21st century tools and provided a mechanism to gather aggregate purchasing data, laying the groundwork for affirmative change.

COMMBUYS Community Growth

Four years following implementation, the number of COMMBUYS organizations has jumped considerably. Today, there are more than 900 buyer organizations in COMMBUYS, among them state agencies, cities and towns, public schools, quasi-public commissions, and non-profits, all with distinct purchasing requirements.  commbuys

Along with COMMBUYS membership, activity in COMMBUYS steadily has grown since March 2014, and momentum continues to build. Over the FY17-18 period, COMMBUYS purchasing dollars grew by 52%, orders placed increased by 17%, and bid postings were up by 28%. Vendors continue to be interested in joining the COMMBUYS community: new vendor registrations over the past fiscal year grew by just short of 4,000, bringing the collective bidder pool to nearly 25,000. What’s more – over its short lifetime, COMMBUYS purchases sum up to more than $1.5 billion!

But how does COMMBUYS engagement help the Commonwealth?

As Executive Department use of the system has continued to deepen and with sustained onboarding of new COMMBUYS organizations, the Commonwealth is amassing a cache of data that brings to light what public purchasers need in ways not previously explored. In the aggregate, purchases and posted bids are providing invaluable information about Commonwealth needs and, in turn, are influencing sourcing decisions.

Paul Short, Director of COMMBUYS Operations, shares that, “COMMBUYS data is helping the Commonwealth develop better bid and purchasing intelligence and it’s transforming how the Commonwealth conducts procurements and builds contracts. This all falls in line with our initial vision for COMMBUYS – it’s enabling us to better serve our customers.”

Building Better Intelligence: Case Study

One of the Commonwealth’s high-volume Statewide Contracts – OFF36 Office Supplies – will be rebid later this year and, as you might expect, a good amount of sourcing activity already is taking place. One set of statistics the sourcing team has been analyzing is four years of contract purchasing data from COMMBUYS, examining the frequency with which items were purchased, quantities, and total dollars spent. The ability to access and analyze this data is providing the team with valuable insights and ideas as to the most critical factors necessary to include in the RFR. Taking this data driven approach, readily available to the team in COMMBUYS, will drive best value responses that align with customer demand once the solicitation is released.

COMMBUYS data is directly influencing our path forward.

So the next time you’re using COMMBUYS to post a bid, make a purchase, or enter an RPA (COMMBUYS after-the-fact purchase documentation), take note of your important role in helping the Commonwealth take some mighty steps forward in the sourcing arena.

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