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One year after the Operational Services Division (OSD) launched the COMMBUYS Market Center, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ e-procurement system has seen more than 3,000 bids posted, more than 11,000 orders issued, and approximately 10,000 registered vendors.* The OSD Enablement Team has been traveling around the state working with local governments to demonstrate how COMMBUYS may help save time and money. The City of Lawrence is in the midst of the adoption process, and soon the entire city, including the school system, will be using COMMBUYS for its procurements.

Photo of Rita Brousseau

Rita Brousseau, Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Lawrence

Rita Brousseau, the Chief Procurement Officer for Lawrence, has been in her current role since 2012 and with the City for 30 years. Over the years, Brousseau has watched the volume of purchases grow. “There’s been a huge increase in the volume of projects that are happening, as well as the amount of supplies needed by the different departments, especially the schools. We processed more than 20,000 POs last year,” she said.

The COMMBUYS Market Center offers easy, online access and purchasing from more than 120 Statewide Contracts. Using COMMBUYS’s extensive bid management features, registered buyers are able to create and publish bids, receive electronic responses, manage bid evaluations online, and maintain a complete end-to-end audit trail of their procurement process. In addition to these advantages, Lawrence is hoping to see a financial gain from using the system. “I’m expecting a cost savings. I can use COMMBUYS to post bids, and I’m hoping to reach a larger audience to obtain competitive pricing. In Lawrence, we have a tendency to get the same bidders from a small radius, so it’s exciting for me to widen our reach,” shared Brousseau.

Jackie Abbott, COMMBUYS Account Manager, has been working with Brousseau and the City to ensure a smooth adoption process. Abbott shared, “my goal as Account Manager is to provide Rita and her team with the resources and support necessary for the City of Lawrence to utilize the many opportunities and benefits available through Statewide Contracts and COMMBUYS.”

Jackie Abbott, COMMBUYS Account Manager, has been working with Brousseau and the City to ensure a smooth adoption process.

Jackie Abbott, COMMBUYS Account Manager, has been working with Brousseau and the City to ensure a smooth adoption process.

Brousseau describes working with Abbott and the Enablement Team as a positive experience. “Everybody’s been wonderful, extremely helpful. They explain everything and have been able to answer every question I have regarding Statewide Contracts, as well as COMMBUYS. They’ve offered training materials, slides, all kinds of help. They’re willing to come out and do everything needed to ensure that we’ve made the right decision by opting into COMMBUYS. So it’s been fantastic,” Brousseau said.

The next step for Lawrence is to train City and school staff members who will be utilizing COMMBUYS for their purchases. Brousseau is holding a mandatory training in April, which she hopes will result in “a lot of happy and informed people.” The class will begin with an overview of City of Lawrence purchasing procedures, accounts payable information, and policies. An OSD trainer then will teach participants how to use COMMBUYS to search for items and services on Statewide Contracts, to create and post bids, and to make purchases.

To underscore how important the training and the COMMBUYS adoption are to the City, school clerks who attend the training sessions are being offered a small stipend to enter a live requisition and make a real purchase using COMMBUYS. “Hopefully, the incentive will get them a little more excited about it,” Brousseau shared. “So they can say, ‘wow, I bought this on State Contract and now I get to use it at my desk.’ It helps them to understand how to get the items they need and put into practice everything that they’ve learned that day,” Brousseau added.

While Brousseau and the Enablement Team prepare for the rollout of COMMBUYS across the City of Lawrence, some items already have been procured through the system. When John Isensee, the Director of Public Works, needed a new wood chipper this winter, Brousseau directed him to look no further than COMMBUYS. “The purchase of the wood chipper worked out very well for us,” said Isensee. “Rather than having to hunt down vendors and go look at tons of equipment, we were able to search COMMBUYS and find vendors who had what we needed without having to leave our desks. We have a few additional items to buy soon and definitely plan to use COMMBUYS for those purchases,” he continued.

For more information on COMMBUYS, visit the OSD website.

To schedule a visit with a COMMBUYS Enablement Team member, email COMMBUYSEnablement@state.ma.us.

 

 

*COMMBUYS statistics as of March 20, 2015.

 

 

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