Meeting summary - Oct 28th

The Advisory group is charged with reviewing current practise and to recommend changes as appropriate with respect to computer purchase and selection. There are many different constituencies on campus (instructional, research, admin, personal, student). Our initial focus will be on departmental purchases. The group may include as part of our discussions with suppliers initiatives for other constituencies such as student purchases.

One of the issues to be addressed includes better leveraging the University's purchasing power i.e. it is believed that we are not getting the best prices based on the University's real volume of purchases. This is in part due to the number of suppliers being dealt with on an individual department basis. It is also a function of not having a "university purchase" model in place for computers. This would involve using an RFP process to select a preferred supplier list (of approximately 4?) - as compared to the 20+ suppliers various departments have dealt with. If appropriate there could be incentives or disincentives to encourage buying from the preferred list.

We discussed service, reliability and support issues including warranties, hidden costs resulting from purchasing systems that were not "compatible" with the University environment, hidden costs of purchasing clones (though fine for home/personal use) where one system may not have the same components as another though they were ordered at the same time for the same price.

The advisory group discussed issues of convenience, availability, the volatility of system life cycles and pricing. It was noted that some suppliers offer "pre-packaging" of software. We also acknowledged that supplier models are changing with many offering direct order models via the web.

Terry Galan and Gary Miller gave a brief report on the status of computer purchases made through Purchasing Services. They will recommend purchases be made through Titles Microcomputer Centre when asked but are often presented with a quote/order requiring a purchase order number after a department member has already made their selection. A list of the suppliers representing computer purchases via Purchasing Resources for the period May through October of 1998. A couple more suppliers names where added to the list and Purchasing Services will rework to identify admin/departmental sales as compared to research.

Ann Lavelle then reviewed the Title Microcomputer Centre model. Part of their mandate is to generate income which supports other student services. They are part of the Canadian Campus Resellers group and currently offer primarily IBM, NEC and COMPAQ (through the public sector pricing model) and SUN (mostly to researchers). University purchases have a low margin added - and in some cases are sold at or below cost using supplier rebates programs. Student computer purchases are small but they do buy peripherals and software. Students often have a computer (old one from home) prior to coming to campus or would need a student lease/purchase plan as incentive to buy here. Admin/departmental purchases were roughly 600K last year. A growing sector of the business is the purchase of portables - mostly high end units by researchers/faculty members. They also sell a large number of printers and peripherals to the campus community. Ann will distribute some figures on sales by supplier and purchaser group (admin, research, etc.) prior to our next meeting on November 11.

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