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University System Optimizes Purchasing Process with Cooperative Purchasing

Hilary Steinman UC Sr Category Manager Professional Services


An Interview with the University of California’s Systemwide Procurement Senior Category Manager for Professional Services, Hilary Steinman. 

Having nearly 12 years of experience in the procurement world, Hilary brings a wealth of knowledge to the team at the University of California. She has been with the UC Systemwide Procurement/Strategic Sourcing Team for almost two and a half years now, helping to guide various departments as they make financial decisions.  

Professional Services is a diverse sourcing category within the Procurement department at the UC with multiple stakeholders, impacting faculty and training. It requires input from various parties to assess and lead effectively. Defined roles in HR and insurance, for example, benefit from these services. Proper stakeholder involvement is crucial for successful projects, ranging from learning software to IT consulting. 

The University system faces various challenges in procurement, including Union rules, regulations, and the specificity of service-based projects. Unlike physical items or mature categories like hardware, professional services as a contract category lacks commodification and often involves undefined scopes. Category managers navigate a landscape where individual consultants and multinational firms compete, and academia's niche requirements further complicate procurement. The highly specific needs of campuses can limit supplier options, leading to fewer responses to an RFP and complex procurement processes. Overall, understanding the full scope of campus-wide needs while finding suitable solutions that align to the mission of the UC system as a whole, remains a significant challenge for the university. 

One of Hilary’s main goals is to centralize the process and have more of a strategic approach to purchasing. She wants to ensure they have solid system-wide contracts to bypass each campus than having to go through the bid and RFP process each time they need to procure something. 

Let’s take a closer look at how cooperative purchasing has helped Hilary do her job more efficiently.   

Overall utilizing cooperative purchasing has helped Hilary and the rest of the procurement team at UC become more centralized and focus on an overall purchasing strategy.  

For example, the university was facing challenges with IT consulting procurement because of disparate spending and fragmented collaboration across campuses. Each campus independently contracted with incumbent firms, leading to time-consuming scope creation. By leveraging OMNIA Partners' expertise, they analyzed total spend, existing supplier relationships, and the IT marketplace to develop a comprehensive RFP. Although negotiations are ongoing, the university has already awarded contracts to 5-6 suppliers through OMNIA Partners. Early feedback indicates improved efficiency, with streamlined approval processes and reduced administrative burden for campus staff when making requests. 

Working together towards the same strategic goals, OMNIA Partners and UC are providing higher education solutions systemwide. Partnering together in resources and relationships, they are not only able to offer compliant solutions to each of their campuses, but also other public agencies nationwide.   

About The University of California  

The University of California (UC) and OMNIA Partners are proud to offer UC campuses and affiliated institutions a portfolio of cooperative contracts through the Lead Agency Marketing Partner (LAMP) program. These contracts have been competitively sourced by the UC, formally adopted on behalf of the UC System, or competitively sourced by another public institution and are available for the UC System to utilize. Follow the link below to learn more about the contract portfolio and how it can support a streamlined procurement process and compliance with UC procurement policies and procedures.  

About OMNIA Partners  

As your ally in the purchasing process, OMNIA Partners is dedicated to improving the way your organization identifies, evaluates, and procures what they need at the best value. With free membership, you'll gain immediate access to our portfolio of leading national suppliers as well as OPUS — our e-commerce platform where you can buy online and check product availability. Additionally, access to spend visibility, analytics, and guidance from subject matter experts collaboratively identify more strategic and efficient ways to procure.  We are here to help you optimize procurement for your organization.