UCSF Buyer Partners With Department on $5 Billion Fundraising Initiative

UCSF buyers work with departments every day. But not all get the opportunity to help build campaign that brings in almost $5 billion dollars to the University. Supply Chain Management (SCM) Buyer Bob Puerzer got that chance last year when he partnered with UCSF University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR).

UDAR came to Puerzer seeking help with three initiatives. First, they needed to find an agency that could help them with the largest campaign goal that UCSF has ever undertaken: $5 billion. Next, they needed a vendor who could help them develop a website so that anybody could go to the site and find out where the fundraising stood. The third initiative was to find a film company that could create the professional films and promotion needed to have a successful campaign.

“This is one of the largest initiatives UCSF has ever done,” said Puerzer. “They’ve had other campaigns that have worked in the past and this time they really wanted to pump it up.”  

When project lead Jane Goodman approached Puerzer she was concerned about the challenges they had when working with agencies in the past. UDAR was looking for everything from copy writing to film production to building a website.

Having worked as a creative director for an in-house advertising agency along with his experience in strategic sourcing gave Puerzer an advantage as he helped UDAR put together a Request for Proposal (RFP).

“The first step is the concept. You put together an event overview of what we’re planning on doing. What is the project. What is the timeline. How much do we anticipate this is going to cost,” said Puerzer. “It’s getting an idea of what they’re really looking for and sometimes until you start talking to them, they don’t know exactly they want.”

Once you have the event overview in place, everything else follows. You have timelines. When does the RFP open, when does it close? What is the evaluation process? When will we have a master service agreement in place? 

“It’s like putting a puzzle together. I look at an RFP as putting a puzzle together and how you come up with the end result,” said Puerzer. “And I always send proposals out as an all-inclusive cost initiative, so once we get the bids, we’re able to hold the suppliers to those bids.”

Meanwhile, Puerzer was looking at suppliers who could provide the services and the quality that the University was seeking. This was such a big event that he wanted to ensure that the right agencies were involved. The first step was a Request for Information (RFI) to get some information on suppliers, some of whom UDAR had worked with in the past and others who were known in the industry to be able to successfully handle an event this large.

“With RFPs everybody’s going to say they can do it,” he said. “In something like this, somebody will give you low pricing because they want to be able to say they worked with UCSF, but at the end of the day, the low-end proposal may not get you the quality of the product. It’s like buying anything, you get what you pay for.”

The UDAR RFP resulted in six proposals. Puerzer set up a folder with the proposals as well as a scorecard for the evaluation team to rate each supplier. He said he prefers to have each evaluator score suppliers separately rather than as a group. This eliminates being influenced by the crowd. SCM buyers evaluate the costs and the department does the evaluation of the quality. Puerzer calculates the final score and ranks them from one through six. This is when the department brings the team together to talk about the suppliers. And, this is when he helps protect the department and the University.

“I always tell them, look at it from an audit standpoint,” said Puerzer. “If there was an audit, how are you going to justify that you went with the higher proposal? That’s the importance of the scorecard. If there is an audit, or if there is a protest, since the University allows protests, you have the scorecard that tells the story. Everybody’s evaluated on the same thing.” 

While that’s true, quality is subjective. What works for one person creatively, may not work for someone else. This is when having someone from SCM, like Puerzer, be the middle person and help both sides see the end result. Suppliers who made the second round were invited to an in-person interview so the team can ask any final questions, talk about the communication process and discuss who they’ll be working with. From there, Puerzer takes the scores from the RFP process and interviews, recommends which suppliers qualify for the initiative and the department makes the final call.

Once the suppliers are notified, he develops the Master Service Agreement (MSA). Always thinking one step ahead, Puerzer includes an example of the MSA as well as the University of California terms and conditions (T&Cs) in every RFP. Suppliers are asked to sign a form agreeing or not agreeing to the MSA and T&Cs right from the start. They also are told that there are five areas where they can provide changes, but Puerzer warns, anything above five could affect the outcome of the selection process.

“If they come back later with more changes, I tell them ‘in the RFP process you accepted our terms and conditions,’” he said. “When I put the timeline together for the RFP, negotiating is part of that. If we’re going to go one forever negotiating the contract, did they really want this job?”

Luckily, UDAR and Puerzer avoided any delays and got a contract in place. Agreements for the website and film production suppliers followed a similar process. Beyond getting the contract in place, Puerzer also helped UDAR with the press release and he emphasized the relationship between SCM and the department. 

The whole process took about 10 to 12 months to get through and the fundraising project, to date, has resulted in $4.2 billion in donations to the University. And, the MSA could benefit other departments or campuses because the pricing and terms are set for three years. The MSA is currently valued at $2.2 million, but it’s still open for additional projects, meaning other buyers don’t have to start from scratch on their project.

“MSAs are put in both BearBuy and CaUsource, so every campus can see that we’ve got a contract with supplier ABC,” said Puerzer. “They may not be able to use my contract, but they can see what we implemented. They know what the vendor has agreed to, so it’s an easy step for them to develop their own master service agreement.”

Puerzer enjoyed the challenges of this project because it used a lot of his skills that aren’t always in play when working on requisitions and his everyday duties. 

“It’s the whole creative process,” he said. “It’s how do you put everything together to come up with the best result for your end-users and either at the same or lower cost, but at the same quality.