Fall 2015 Newsletter

This quarterly newsletter is sent to Procurement Services customers to provide announcements and updates regarding ongoing initiatives and procedures. 

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Director of U-M golf courses receives Savings Victors award

Corbin Todd, the director of the U-M (also known as Blue) and Radrick Farms golf courses, is the most recent recipient of the quarterly Savings Victors award from Procurement Services. 
The award acknowledges purchasers from the university community who use procurement resources such as strategic contracts to contain costs and maximize resources on behalf of their units.

“By working closely with our buying teams and contract administrators, Corbin has had a major impact on U-M’s two golf courses from the purchasing perspective over the last few years,” said Michael Counts, strategic sourcing manager, who nominated him for the Savings Victors award. “He’s decreased spending through PCards and made a concerted effort to make purchases through suppliers that have strategic contracts with the university.”

Beyond that, Corbin and his team have created efficiencies at the two golf courses by combining spends across categories and commodities as well as negotiating supplier contracts that can be used by both operations. They’ve also partnered with Plant Operations to realize additional savings on fuel for vehicles and maintenance equipment as well as restructured the financial reporting models for both courses. In total, the collective efforts undertaken by the team have reduced operating expenses by $500,000 per year for both courses.

Corbin received a commemorative paperweight and a $25 gift card to Meijer as a Savings Victors award recipient.  “It was great to receive the Savings Victors award and be acknowledged by Procurement Services” said Corbin. “The partnership between our two areas has proven to be very effective on a number of fronts, including faster and more efficient purchasing as well as significant savings.”

Concur news


Delta E Class flights no longer available in Concur 

There have been several reported instances from employees where there has been a need to cancel or change a flight for an E Class ticket from Delta, resulting in the unit losing money due to the restrictions.  After receiving feedback from across the university, E Class tickets have been removed as an option in Concur, since they’re really not designed for business travel. 

“It’s good that employees want to minimize costs, but E Class tickets, which are labeled as basic economy fares, are not typically conducive to business travel,” said Carolynn Blankenship, supervisor of travel & expense reimbursement . “They’re not transferrable and seat selection is usually very limited. And while the restrictions are noted in the Concur’s “Fare Rules and Restrictions,” many employees overlooked this information.”

While E Class tickets will still be available on Delta.com, given the restrictions that go along with them, the savings offered on E Class tickets appear to be minimal compared to a standard coach class ticket.

Expense It app update

In our summer newsletter, we mentioned we were evaluating the ExpenseIt app, which automatically creates  expense lines based on  pictures of  receipts captured by mobile devices.  Over the past couple months, a small pilot was conducted to get feedback on the performance and user experience of the app. The results of the pilot indicated the app is not ready for implementation at the university.  

Procurement Services has provided feedback to Concur and will continue to work with the company to enhance the ExpenseIt app. 

Have a Concur brown bag in your unit

Procurement Services is currently conducting Concur brown bags across campus. The presentations typically last 90 minutes and include a mobile device demonstration, an overview of what’s new in Concur, a variety of tips and tricks as well as time for questions.

If you are interested in having a Concur brown bag in your unit, please contact us at (734) 764-8212, option 2, or email procurement.services@umich.edu to schedule a visit. We’d love to give you the latest news about Concur and help you make the most of this important resource.      

Vendor spotlight: Sigma-Aldrich CorporatioN

Since 2002, Sigma-Aldrich has been a strategic supplier to the University of Michigan research community.  With its comprehensive selection of 100,000+ analytic products for functional genomics, proteomics, cell biology plus thousands of chemicals, Sigma-Aldrich is a key supplier to labs around the world.

Created in 1975 as the result of a merger between two chemical companies, Aldrich Chemical Co. and Sigma International, Ltd., it’s a leader in the customized manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and diagnostic products. 

In 2014, Procurement Services, in conjunction with a focus team, awarded Sigma-Aldrich as U-M’s preferred supplier for both recombinant proteins and ELISA kits. Under this partnership, researchers can save 10  to 30 percent on recombinant proteins and 10 to 35 percent on ELISA kits. Free shipping is also included for both of these items. 

More information on Sigma-Aldrich Corporation.

Employee spotlight: Paul Labute

Meet Paul Labute, supervisor of the print and professional services team. Paul joined the university in 2003 as a Senior Procurement Agent. Prior to coming to U-M, Paul worked at Kux Manufacturing, where he wore many hats over the years, including production supervision, materials management, systems administration, cost accounting, and production planning and scheduling.

The seven-person Print and Professional Services Team awards agreements for a variety of business services, including consulting, executive coaching, executive search, benefits, financial services,  marketing and communication, and  commercial printing.

Paul’s team is currently working on a number of projects, which include new strategically sourced contracts for U-M’s copier program and graphic and web design services. They’re also participating in various system implementation teams as well as the B&F LEAN initiative to enhance procurement activities such as the sourcing process.

One of the main objectives for the team is providing exemplary service to a wide range of customers across the university. "I often tell our team that it's about the journey, not the destination,” said Paul. “And we need to continuously evolve and adapt our services to better service our customers and serve as good stewards for the university as a whole.”

He lives in Livonia with his wife, Marion, and two of his children—a son, Derek, and a daughter, Caitlin. He has another daughter who lives in Saline as well as a 5 year old grandson, Nolan. In his free time Paul participates in fantasy football and noted he is doing well this season!   

Paul welcomes feedback from customers and can be reached at plabute@umich.edu or (734) 647-0732. 

Local vendors exhibit at travel and event supplier show

Last month, Procurement Services held a travel and event supplier show at the NCRC Dining Hall. Over 200 attendees from various units throughout the university were able to interact with nearly 40 strategic suppliers such as caterers, hotels, transportation companies, and florists to learn more about their offerings. The show continues to be popular and is expected to be offered again next fall. 

Onsite TSA EVENT well attended

More than 600 employees signed up for a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck enrollment event that was held at the Michigan League this week. 

The program enables enrollees to clear airport security faster. Amanda Anderson of Procurement Services (right) checked employees in at the event. Other onsite TSA PreCheck enrollment events may be held in the future.

New online system streamlines bidding process

Procurement Services is now using an online bid management system that provides a number of benefits to both university purchasers and suppliers, including faster turnaround times and decreased costs. The tool automates the entire bid process from submission to award and eliminates the need for suppliers to submit materials through typical approaches such as email, thumb drives, and hard copies. It also allows purchasers to check on the status of their bids as well as view a list of suppliers and their responses.  

Did you know?

There’s a difference between cancelling and closing a purchase order (PO): 

  • The Cancel PO Process is used when an order needs to be canceled with a supplier after a PO has been dispatched. Before the PO can be canceled, you must first confirm with the supplier that the order has not been filled and it’s been deleted from the supplier’s system. The Request to Cancel a PO should include the PO ID number and any other identifying information for the transaction (e.g., Vendor ID, PO Date) and a reason for the request.  
  • The Close PO Process occurs at the end of the purchasing life cycle, after payment has been made to the supplier. POs normally close automatically with the PO Reconciliation Process that runs weekly.  If a PO has not been closed and all payments have been made, you can submit a request to Procurement Services to manually close the PO.  The Close PO Process resets the budget header and restores the PO balance back to the department’s budget.

Helpful tips

Hotel deposits

More and more hotels are now requiring deposits.  These deposits can range anywhere from the cost of one night to the entire stay.  In addition, the deposits may be non-refundable. 

When hotels require a deposit—refundable or not—the details should be listed in its terms and conditions.  When booking in Concur, you will see these terms and conditions under “Accept Rate Details and Cancellation Policy.” You will then be prompted to accept the hotels terms, so be sure to read these details before completing the reservation process.

Airport app

If you’ve ever wondered what restaurants or services are available in the airport terminal in which you’re sitting, try downloading the Gate Guru app on your phone or tablet. This free app will list all the amenities available at your departure or arrival terminals.


Property Disposition held another auction of university vehicles this fall. Approximately 60 vehicles were sold, for more than $350,000.  The next auction is planned for January.  Details about the auction will be posted on the Property Disposition home page as soon as they’re finalized. 


Please contact us with your comments, questions, or concerns at procurement.services@umich.edu or (734) 764-8212, option 2. We enjoy hearing from you and welcome your feedback.


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