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How to Get Immediate Access to Solutions in a Challenging Market

It’s no secret that the world is always changing with new trends and issues continuing to emerge. Between the pandemicsupply chain backups, and the labor shortage, there’s been more stress on procurement professionals than ever before. Partnering with a cooperative purchasing organization can help futureproof your organization and set you up for success even in the most challenging situations.

With the help of cooperative purchasing, many schools were able to react quickly and get their students and staff back on track with virtual learning during the pandemic. The use of a cooperative was especially critical for Olathe Public Schools in Kansas where Scott Carpenter, CPPO serves as Assistant Director of Business & Finance. 

“Cooperative purchasing provides flexibility and the ability to make quicker decisions about purchases when time is of the essence. If we had tried to bid every purchase of hand sanitizer or face masks we purchased for students and staff, we would not have been able to deliver within our timeframe.” 

Cooperative purchasing has long been accepted as a best practice by procurement, but the recent struggles within the economy have brought to light the benefits of a cooperative’s immense buying power and market-leading suppliers.  

We’re taking a look at how partnering with a cooperative can help purchasing teams prepare for the worst and recover from the unexpected by driving speed to savings, immediate access to what you need when you need it, and full transparency and compliance in all contracts. 

Speed to Savings

“There wasn’t time to analyze,” says Region 4 Education Service Center CFO Robert Zingelmann. “We had to convert face-to-face to virtual within weeks.”

When something unexpected happens, you don’t have time to start from scratch. At the start of the pandemic, school purchasing teams didn’t have time to sit back and prepare an RFP, review bids, negotiate terms and award a contract. In some cases, the school year would’ve been over before they were able to purchase what they needed.

For this reason, many agencies leaned on their cooperative because all of those tedious steps are already done for you by the powerful lead agenciesRegion 4 Education Service Center has been one of OMNIA Partners' lead agencies for 20+ years helping countless organizations get their hands on what they need in a timely fashion. Every contract produced by Region 4 has been competitively solicited in adherence with state and local requirements. You can rest assured that the contract you're using has been publicly awarded and led by a powerful lead agency alongside the OMNIA Partners cooperative. 

Immediate Access for All

Partnering with a cooperative gives you easy access to countless contracts right away. When the unexpected appears, you don’t have to scramble to find resources, you can look to your cooperative for readily available high-quality products and services.  

“What we also learned from a lead agency standpoint, is that there are times when it’s reasonable to have contracts for a category that’s not directly relevant at the moment—but will be relevant if the need arises,” says Region 4 CFO Robert Zinglemann. 

Before the pandemic, there were many resources we all never dreamed we would need, such as PPE and plexiglass barriers. Having relationships with the suppliers in your cooperative’s portfolio ensures you’ll be the first to know when something new is developed. Procurement gets a front-row seat to the innovative products and solutions that the cooperative’s industry-leading suppliers create for what you need when you need it.  

Transparency and Compliance

Cooperatives that use the lead agency model ensure that even the most restrictive agencies nationwide can access valuable products at affordable prices through a completely transparent process.  

The lead agency publicly issues a competitive solicitation that incorporates language making the agreement accessible nationally to agencies in states that allow intergovernmental (i.e.“piggyback”) contract usage. 

“I’ve had attorneys call and ask me to demonstrate that we followed all of the procurement requirements and each time I send them to the OMNIA Partners website," says Region 4 CFO Robert Zingelmann. "There they can find the full RFP, every bid tab, and the contract, along with all the information that shows how that award came to be. I don’t think we’ve ever had someone call back with additional questions.”

The contracts in the OMNIA Partners portfolio have been crafted so all participants are in compliance with state and local requirements. 

The Case for Cooperative Purchasing

Cooperative purchasing’s vision is to deliver solutions that benefit public sector organizations by providing value, efficiency, and effective products and solutions. 

The use of cooperative contracts reduces the cost of goods by leveraging the purchasing power of our lead agencies across the nation. All our contracts are competitively solicited and publicly awarded to ensure maximum value.