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January 6, 1999
TO: McMaster Faculty and Staff
FROM: H. Weingarten, Provost & Vice-President (Academic)
A. L. Darling, Vice-President (Administration)
RE: Department Computer Purchases

During a typical fiscal year, McMaster University purchases in excess of $4.5 million of computer hardware from over 30 suppliers. Within the past several years, it has become apparent that we can reduce the costs for departments and obtain higher customer service when we limit our suppliers for a particular purchased commodity or service. Two examples are stationery products from Grand & Toy and the recent decision on photocopiers from OE Inc..

To that end, an advisory group has been formed to review current options and practises for departmental computer purchases with a view to streamlining the process to achieve savings and higher service for the campus community. It is expected this can be accomplished by reducing the number of suppliers to approximately 3 or 4. An exclusive agreement with a particular supplier would not be in the best interest of the University community due to the rapidity of change in the technology. It is also recognised that for some research activities highly specialised computing capability may be needed.

The advisory group will review the potential for standard configurations of both desktop and laptop hardware that would meet most common requirements as a way of securing attractive pricing. The configuration specifications would be updated regularly to reflect market trends. It is expected there will be situations where the predefined configurations do not match customer needs, particularly in the case of researchers, in which case the preferred suppliers would offer their best available pricing for consideration

The advisory group will prepare and issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) to a number of suppliers with the intent of selecting a limited number as preferred suppliers (3-4). There will continue to be members of the campus community who choose to purchase from outside the preferred list of suppliers but we anticipate there will be obvious benefits to a large segment of the campus who do purchase from the preferred suppliers. This is not unlike the current scenario for acquiring stationery products from Grand & Toy.

Some of the expected benefits include better pricing for industry standard systems, reduced administration as well as fewer support and compatibility problems. A key evaluation criteria to the RFP process is customer service. Service areas to be examined include on-site service with defined turnaround times, extended warranties, technical support programs, system management services, quantity discounts and a choice of purchase or lease arrangements

The advisory group consists of the following members:

Heather Grigg,
Steve Bendo,
John Fox,
Terry Galan,
Andy Hrymak,
Marek Kiela,
Ann Lavelle,
John McKay,
Gary Miller,
Roger Periard,
Annette Rosati,
CIS (Chair)
Social Sciences
Titles - University Bookstore
Advancement Services
University Library
Health Sciences
Comments and suggestions can be sent to the Computer Purchases Advisory Group by email to . The advisory group will send regular updates to the campus community and will post summaries of their meetings and other pertinent information on the web at