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What’s new in K–12 procurement? A look at 4 trends and opportunities

May 06, 2019

When supporting K–12 education customers, it’s always important to know the market landscape—and what changes may be taking place behind the scenes at the district and local levels. That information can help you devise new ways to support their efforts—and can reinforce your position as a trusted technology advisor.
 
4 trends gaining steam in K–12 education
 
Trend: Rise of cloud-based technologies in procurement (and focus on cybersecurity)
As the whole world (including K–12 school districts) adopts digital technologies, cloud-based technologies continue to remove physical boundaries and increase the efficiency and productivity of procurement efforts. But they also give rise to concerns over cybersecurity—with malware and ransomware challenging procurement professionals to keep their data safe. As the shift to cloud-based technologies continues, be sure to promote the value of cybersecurity technologies and help your customers minimize their risk. 
 
Trend: Decentralized K–12 district purchasing
A growing number of K–12 districts are moving away from centralized purchasing and adopting a decentralized approach instead. There are pros and cons, however. By decentralizing, rather than leaving the purchasing control with a single (centralized) department, the authority is granted to K–12 professionals on the local level, who are empowered to make purchases based on their own individual requirements. This often leads to more motivated rollouts and less waste, because only the best and right products end up making it into classrooms. The primary downside, however, is cost, since centralized purchasing typically saves money through bulk discounts and consolidated shipments.
 
Trend: More strategic distinction between purchasing and procurement
In today’s public school districts, the terms “purchasing” and “procurement” have distinctly different meanings. It’s wise to know the difference, so you can target your sales efforts (and technology solutions) to the right group. Purchasing is simple and transactional—they buy something (like paper) and it’s delivered—and the cost is always about the same. But procurement is strategic—it includes buying as well as analysis, planning, cost management and value leveraging.
 
In addition, there are different roles based on the size of the district. For example, in smaller schools, the business officer is often also in charge of procuring and developing contracts with suppliers, but in medium-to-large districts, procurement is part of the larger institutional strategy.
 
Trend: Increasing use of larger buying cooperatives
Some school districts are also turning to large buying cooperatives that can deliver volume buying discounts to their clients. These providers compete for school district business by finding discounts, which can be worth a lot of money. For example, last year’s work by E&I Cooperative Services (Jericho, N.Y.) provided its 4,100 member institutions with access to more than 120 competitively awarded contracts and consulting services, which produced more than $200 million in savings for its members.
 
To learn more about how Ingram Micro can help you capitalize on these and other trends to better serve your K–12 customers, email Sam Guyett or call her at (716) 633-3600, ext. 67123.